Orson Scott Card
Date: 01 November, 1988 — Book
Fiction, Science Fiction
This is a reworking of Card's earlier book, A Planet Called Treason. It is the story of Lanik Mueller, the heir to the Mueller family on Treason. At least, he is the heir until it is discovered that he is a radical regenerative, one in whom the Mueller trait of swift regrowth has gone haywire, giving him extra limbs and organs. His father chooses not to send him to the pens, where the rads are kept as extra limbs grow until they can be cut off and placed in the machine Ambassador.
Because the Muellers, like every other family on Treason, are trapped on a planet where there are no accessible heavy metals on the surface, trapped for a revolt that their ancestors committed thousands of years ago.
Lanik is instead sent to be an emissary, disguised as a woman. He discovers the source of a marauding family's wealth in iron just as they discover his ruse, and he is hunted down, only to end up in situation after situation that highlights the changes that have happened on his planet, and eventually, he has to make a decision about the future of the planet.
Which is a rather clutzy writeup, I know. Treason is really a coming-of-age novel, set in an unusual locale. We know nothing about the outside galaxy, or of the revolt which placed the families on Treason; or why the galaxy still keeps them imprisoned after thousands of years. We only know what Lanik knows, and understand things from his point of view. This book as a whole is superior to his other early books (Wyrms and Hart's Hope) even in its unrevised format because its clarity allows the bizarre structure of the Families to be in stark relief.