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I remember reading a trilogy of books during the '80s or '90s. I was in the USA and the books were in English. The first had the appearance of pure fantasy (and I thought it was). The second shifted pretty seamlessly to science fantasy. In the third you realized the whole story had been science fiction.

Half-remembered details include

  • the world being transformed or terraformed, though it was habitable to begin with
  • people were transformed too. All men became horny, handsome, ripped hunks, while the women became over-boobed, horny bimbos. I say that because the transformation affected their minds too, not as an insult. Even though their minds were affected, they could still strive to and succeed in think(ing) normally and rationally. ... This will sound weird, but I don't think this plot point came off as farcical.
  • two types of mages: those who could change matter and those who would use illusions. The illusionists might have been considered the more powerful.
  • a realm of heavy mist or fog. The illusionists may have been strongest when there.
  • one of the lead females unexpectedly gaining male genitalia. I think she eventually became an over-boobed bimbo too. Eventually I think she became fully female again. Oh!! -- I think it was a switch! A guy got her crotch, and she got his.
  • the author may have been pretty prolific at the time (multiple books per year)

(response to "duplicate" notice)

  1. The series Soul Rider is indeed the short answer to both questions.
  2. The original question, however, provides only background information (so far as I could tell) for the first 3 volumes -- written and published as a trilogy. Instead the question apparently concerns itself with volumes 4 and 5, which was/were prequel story(ies) published after the trilogy. From book summaries, they are science fiction telling of an interstellar human civilization and how it eventually came to found a colony on an isolated planet and begin terraforming it. The question describes them losing track of technology.
  3. The events in item 2 probably predate the trilogy by hundreds or thousands of years, with different characters. The first volume of the trilogy, where my question begins, appears as a fantasy story about a medieval civilization with magic. Over the course of the trilogy you learn more about the world, and by the third volume you realize that it has been a science fiction story all along.
  4. The questions are completely different, describing different things. But if it is common practice in SF&F to declare::link as duplicates such questions if they have the same answer, I have no objection. Hopefully the linkage will go both ways though, so people with knowledge only of the trilogy can know about the prequels, and people who know only about the prequels can find the trilogy.

    • Q1: I'm looking for a series of movies about a little boy who rides a flying speed racer. He grows up, makes friends, has adventures, and fights a lot of people. He doesn't like sand. I think he yells near the end, like he was really sad or something. But maybe he didn't.
    • Q2: I'm looking for a series of movies, a trilogy I think, about a teenage boy. He meets some robots and an old guy, and then his parents are killed by some bad guys. He makes more friends, has adventures, and fights a lot of people. One of the bad guys can't breathe very well and wears a big helmet. Now he says he's the kid's father. In the end there is a big fight, and they blow up the really big spaceship of the bad guys. Then they do it again, this time with help from a bunch of teddy bears.
    • Once they have answers, are Q1 and Q2 duplicates?
  • Welcome to Science Fiction and Fantasy SE. Take a look at this guide to help jog your memory and edit any more details. Specifically things like when you read it, or where? – Edlothiad Feb 12 '17 at 14:55
  • @Edlothiad Thank you. I added a few more details. – RichF Feb 12 '17 at 15:01
  • Thank Valorum, somehow that guide never seems to fail. Is there any chance you could provide any more plot points, or possibly the name of a character? – Edlothiad Feb 12 '17 at 15:02
  • The mixed genre reminded me of Pern, since it came up on Literature lately. I'm not sure, since I haven't read it. – Gallifreyan Feb 12 '17 at 15:10
  • 3
    The bits-swapping and farcical mood, plus crazy prolific author, puts me in mind of Piers Anthony, although of the two more adult books I know from him, neither plot matches.... nevermind, I'm tired, read that completely wrong.... Oy. – Radhil Feb 12 '17 at 16:00
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That sounds like Jack Chalker's Soul Rider series, published from 1984 to 1986. Chalker was prolific and, as the comments on your initial question indicate, many of his storylines involved people having their bodies altered in various ways, from mere physical "enhancement" of their sexual attributes to mental enslavement to alteration into other species entirely, which was the essence of the Well World series.

Chalker wrote about 60 novels, publishing as many as four per year during his most productive periods.

I only vaguely remembered the Soul Rider storyline until I found this summary:

In “Spirits,” Dar is captured by a sadistic wizard who has his genitals mutilated. Dar survives and eventually the wound is “magically” transformed into fully functioning female genitals. Later in the series, when Dar and Suzl try to have the “curse” lifted, the spell backfires and leads Suzl to develop a fully functioning, oversized set of male genitals. In “Masters,” we learn that Coydt van Haas has a similar “curse” in which he feels like a “man” but was involuntarily given magically created female genitals that he is unable to have changed back. The reactions of the three are telling. Both Dar and Coydt are overwhelmed with distress, shame and anger; yet Suzl accepts the change and just goes with it.

The Amazon description of the first book, Spirits of Flux and Anchor is:

Cassie did not feel the soul rider enter her body...but suddenly she knew that Anchor was corrupt, and that, far from being a formless void from which could issue only mutant changelings and evil wizards, Flux was the source of Anchor's very existence.

The price of her new knowledge is exile, yet Cassie and the Rider of her soul are the only hope for the redemption of both Flux and Anchor.

Eventually it is revealed that the magic of the universe is actually based on technology.

  • Yes, that's it! Thank you. I see there were 5 volumes in the series. I'm pretty sure I only read (or even knew about) the first three. Maybe I'll reread from the start. (... after giving spoiiers to everyone who reads this page. The good news is that sometimes I misremember stuff, so a lot of those points above could be wrong.) – RichF Feb 13 '17 at 2:04
  • I think the later books were prequels; Chalker was pretty shameless about exploiting a premise. – jeffronicus Feb 13 '17 at 2:29
  • At 4 books/year I'd be pretty shameless too! (That's Asimov-level madness.) While you've still got good memory of that world, why not take advantage of it? // "... Suzl accepts the change and just goes with it." That fits with a quarter-memory of mine. After everyone transformed, she was quite satisfied with her voluptuous body and accentuated manhood. – RichF Feb 13 '17 at 3:00
  • Book 4 was a prequel, book 5 was a sequel to the original trilogy. – Forral Feb 14 '17 at 15:39

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