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Charles Sheffield

Sight of Proteus

Proteus: Book 1

Charles Sheffield

In the 22nd century a combination of computer-augmented bio-feedback and chemo-therapy techniques has given man the ability not only to heal himself, but to change himself - to alter his very shape at will. But Form Change has its darker aspects, ranging from unautorized experimentation on human subjects to a threat to the very essence of humanity.

Proteus Unbound

Proteus: Book 2

Charles Sheffield

There were problems with the Form Change process. One or two malfunctions at first: people emerging from the tanks in an incorrect form or completely unchanged.

For three years it had been getting worse. Now there had been deaths, and on the Space Farms panic was setting in. People were refusing to go into the tanks. Yet out in the Cloudlands, they needed continuous small form corrections just to stay effective. As the faults increased, their society was on an exponential curve to disaster.

Behrooz Wolf, down in the Inner System, was sent for. But far gone in despair, he was in no state to help. He himself was going mad.

Like a hallucination, the Dancing Man would come capering across his field of vision. Dressed in skin-tight scarlet, he danced up to him, mouthing gibberish, then skipping backwards, tantalisingly, out of sight.

While, hidden in the Kernel Ring, Black Ransone bided his time, waiting for the disintegration of the empires, waiting to inherit the universe.

Proteus in the Underworld

Proteus: Book 3

Charles Sheffield

In the 22nd century biofeedback techniques to control by will the processes of one's own body have reached their ultimate expression: the ability to transform the body into virtually any viable form whatsoever. What began as an innocent technique to reduce anxiety without recourse to drugs has raised fundamental questions about what it is to be human, since form is no longer sufficient nor even relevant.

Enter the Humanity Test: in a future when other techniques can change the forms of animals, so far it has been a guaranteed one hundred percent successful means of determining if a life form started out as human. But now strange life forms, vicious and bestial, are proliferating throughout the Solar System. They are clearly not human, and clearly their nervous systems are too underdeveloped for them to have been human. But though the beasts threaten havoc and death to all the far flung isolated stations, the simple solution of shooting the varmints is impossible: for life forms that according to the Humanity Test started out human the law is very clear: Thou Shalt Not Kill.

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