A Patusian trader on an intergalactic mission awakens to discover that his space ship is gone. His eyes and ears are missing and only gaping holes remain of his nose and mouth. In place of his normal senses he has inexplicably gained the power of telepathy, which he must harness as his only defense against the ferocious and highly evolved aliens, the drogan Kin, who hunt him for food.
Maranth, a beautiful young doctor, was briefed about the depravities of sex, violence, and intoxication before she left her cultured home planet, Veddi, to practice medicine at an off-world mine. But when Afthari raiders attack the mine and enslave her, she finds herself in a world frighteningly different from the perfect, structured society in which she was raised.
Against all odds, the trader finds his way into the Afthari raider colony and uses his telepathy to communicate with Maranth, the only kind soul he finds there. Together, they embark on a daring journey to return home. In the process, these two very different people regain what they’ve lost, and much more.
Set in a tumultuous future, The Trader: Man With No Face raises difficult questions about the nature of love, social perfection and identity.
How The Trader Came About:
The core image of the Man With No Face came to me years ago in a dream. The story slowly built itself as I wrote the screenplay. Eventually, the screenplay became the outline for this book. At 86,000 words, the novel expands and matures the original story and characters. I’ve sought to keep a lively pace, while accomplishing a true science fiction work that stands on its own.
Entering/reading another mind, seeing a future event in dream or vision, and being able to sense the location of someone on the move are not story devices. I have personally experienced all of these, though not as reliably as presented in this novel. As for telepathy being blocked by dirt, rock or force fields, that part was made up. For me, sentient beings with a different sensory toolbox that includes reliable telepathy is as logical as a toolbox containing echolocation (used by dolphins and bats).
Social Perfection Trap:
In The Trader, there are two perfected societies, the Veddi and the drogan Kin. Each culture has eliminated social conflict as well as natural dangers. The human Veddians are very recognizable from a Euro-Western perspective, while the alien Kin are very different. When they confront each other, each fails to recognize the opportunity and risks posed by the other. The ability to recognize danger and adapt to change has atrophied in both cultures from simple lack of use…
Personal and social changes are inevitable as we bioengineer much longer lifetimes for ourselves. Not many of us would want to gain the extra years in an old body. So I assumed our descendants live their extended lifetimes as 20-something adults. The Trader sequel will also continue to explore the consequences of such long lives, but in a different social context.
How Telepaths Might Evolve:
On a world like ours, such beings might evolve in a stable climate, one free of ice ages. The ecosystem would be mild enough to support a large biomass of plants and animals. For a relatively small unspecialized predator, coordinated hunting and defense provides a way to outcompete and fend off bigger predators. What is a better social hunting advantage than telepathy? For such a predator, thinking and information can be distributed through the social group quickly and silently. The group then possesses the greater intelligence. Its individuals do not need to increase their caloric intake to feed larger brains, as humans must do. Our big, intelligent brains developed in an environment where survival had more to do with mastering the severe climate shifts of the ice ages. Not only did climate change threaten us directly, but it reduced or eliminated our food and our predators. As social hunters, we evolved better vocal communication (speech) to survive. We also became more intelligent via bigger brains. This intelligence gave us the flexibility to adapt to climate change and new environments. Though humans are consistent meat eaters, we are also omnivorous, able to eat most anything. This food flexibility must have given our ancestors a survival advantage in such iffy conditions. As big brains require more calories, no doubt cooking food was decisive in the evolution of our brain size. Cooking makes more nutrition available from a given amount of raw food. Thus we grew our calorie hungry brains without needing to eat more.