5

It's an old pulp sci-fi novel of my dad's that I read in the 80s that I think came from the late 60s to early 70s.

The basic plot was that a hazardous mission to explore a distant planet was crewed with "freaks", people who had suffered accidents or had genetic abnormalities, and as a result were tougher and stronger than regular folk. The leader was a guy with no arms, whose face could light up after exposure to a dangerous chemical. Another guy had no legs, but massively strong arms. There was a fat woman who wore an acid filled suit to retard the constant growth of her flesh.

That's all I can remember about it as I read it 30 or so years ago, but it made a strong impression on me.

  • "face could like up after exposure"? Could you clarify that because I can't make sense of it. – FuzzyBoots May 23 '16 at 16:28
  • Ah... "light up", perhaps. – FuzzyBoots May 23 '16 at 16:37
  • @FuzzyBoots I mean "light up" not "like up" and have corrected my post. – supermeerkat May 23 '16 at 22:19
6

I suspect that this is Address: Centauri by F.L. Wallace, an expansion of his story "Accidental Flight" which first appeared in the magazine Galaxy Science Fiction in 1952. From the Wikipedia article:

The novel concerns people with incurable injuries and defects (biocompensators) who volunteer for the first interstellar flight.

....

  • Docchi - Formerly an electrochemical engineer, an accident mangles him and tosses him into a tank of cold lighting fluid. He survived but the accident left him armless. The fluid also permeated his system, causing him to glow.
  • Nona - Essentially a living computer. Cannot comprehend spoken language.
  • Jordan - Half man, his lower torso was severed in an accident.
  • Anti (Antoinette) - Ballet dancer who crashed on Venus. Her body was permeated by a Venusian fungus that causes a symbiotic overgrowth of tissue.
  • Doctor Cameron - Medical doctor and administrator for Handicap Haven.
  • Maureen - Her body lacks the glands to produce male hormones.
  • Jeriann - Unable to drink. Gets fluid through absorption capsules.

As with most classic sci-fi, it's been released with a variety of covers, but here is one of them:

Book cover

  • 1
    For what it's worth, I found it by searching on science fiction short story exploration suit acid "no arms" in Google. The Internet Archive copy of the issue of Galaxy Science Fiction's release of "Accidental Flight" is the first result, although I'd clicked on a few results and searched for keywords before seeing that one was a good match (IA's archive copies tend to have a lot of scanning errors). A second search on the title and author found the nicer Project Gutenberg text and the Wikipedia article. – FuzzyBoots May 23 '16 at 18:51
  • 1
    Yes! That's the one - when I saw the name Docchi, it all came flooding back! Thank you so much! – supermeerkat May 23 '16 at 22:26
  • 1
    James Alan Gardner's League of Peoples series also has the theme of deformed/semi-disabled people selected as "expendable crew members" for dangerous missions. – Joe L. May 23 '16 at 22:26

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