ADDRESS: CENTAURI or “Accidental” Flight by F. L. Wallace

"The author has done a good job in making his twisted people real and their problems logical. A good idea, well worked out." —Astounding/Analog

Medical science has created a world of perfect people, no matter what birth defects or devastating accidents they suffer, science can fix them. No one is deformed or even unattractive anymore. That is, except for a handful, who have suffered calamities beyond even the power of future surgery to make perfect. They are "the Accidentals."

Exiled on a tiny asteroid between Mars and Jupiter, to the rest of humanity the Accidentals are pathetic and deformed, half- or quarter-men and women, fractional organisms masquerading as people. To many they are just "circus freaks"—but to themselves they are still members of the human race.

Their leader is Dochi, who had been a electrochemical engineer with a degree in cold lighting. Then he became the victim of a particularly nasty accident, badly mangled and thrown into a vat of basic cold lighting fluid. His arms gone, his ribs crushed into his spinal column, his regeneration hadn’t been easy. The semi-organic cold lighting fluid had both preserved him, and in part replaced his blood, permeating every tissue until Dochi’s body had adapted. The adaptation couldn’t be reversed. Now Dochi, his arms and back muscles gone, must wear prosthetic arms for appearance's sake but can’t move them, while the metabolism of his ruined body pulses with light like that of the firefly.

There is also Nona: deaf, non-speaking, seemingly unintelligent—and a genius in her rapport with machines. And, "Anti," the ballerina who was infected by a Venusian fungi until she became a shapeless thing living in the pool of acid, her body a ceaselessly growing mass of flesh being eaten away by the acids, least she someday outweigh the world. Among them are Jordan, gone from the waist down, and Jeriann, her digestive tract destroyed. None of the perfect people on the Earth or in the solar system even want to be reminded of the existence of the "Accidentals." Hence, their asteroid exile.

So, when the Accidentals learn the first interstellar flight is in preparation, they decide to hijack the ship and seek a world they can make their own. The stars are very, very far away and the exploratory trips will be very, very long. But the medical skills which have kept them alive have also given the Accidentals incredible endurance and made them nearly immortal. They know that while there may be no place for them in the worlds of ordinary humanity, their unique metabolisms make them ideal candidates for interstellar exploration.

There is only one problem: The "perfect" people don't want a bunch of freaks as humanity's first emissaries to the stars. And they are willing to blow the Accidentals' ship out of space to stop them. What Earth can't possibly anticipate is the difference the Accidentals' strange talents can make. Like Nona's strange empathy for machines…

"Personalities whose courage you will respect and admire. Definitely worth reading." —Fantastic Universe

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Categories Science Fiction , SF - Novels
Author Page F. L. Wallace's Futures Past Editions eBooks