I'm trying to find the name of a science-fiction book I read at least 20 years ago (late 1990s), though it was most likely a second hand book so I can't say how much older than that it might be. I can only remember a few details though some are quite specific:

  • It was mostly (possibly completely) set on a recently colonized planet (not in our solar system)
  • The planet had some kind of plant or fungus that covered most of the surface
  • This plant formed some kind of symbiotic link with the human colonists, making them more empathetic and reduced conflict
  • There was some kind of galaxy spanning religion that was specifically against forms of mind control (and so distrusted what this plant was doing)
  • One very specific part of this religion I can remember, is that the members didn't cut their hair because someone long dead that they viewed as a prophet said something along the lines of "Don't let anyone mess with your head" which they took to mean condemn mind control plus don't cut your hair!

The only other thing I can remember is that this plant/fungus was completely benign and I think ended up with one of the religious types being "infected" and realizing this.

  • Could this be Grass? Not posting an answer because I don't remember the book well enough to be sure whether all the elements you mention are present.
    – terdon
    Sep 12 '18 at 19:15

I believe this is Sheri S. Tepper's Raising the Stones, which was also the answer of another recent question. Quoting from the review I link to in the title:

Hobbs Landers may not subscribe to a specific religion per se, unlike other ethnic groups that populate the rest of the star system, such as the Voorstoders, an over-the-top mysogynistic and violent culture; the Baidee who eschew coersion of any kind, the Gharm, a humanoid race that have been enslaved by the Voorstoders; and the bureaucratic and militaristic arms of the the local governments who are mainly interested in trade relations, quotas, and safety of the population.

The natives of Hobbs Land are long dead, but their small, mushroom shaped temples remain, as do the god statues that reside inside them. A few people from each settlement took it upon themselves to keep the native temples clean and looked after, and became known as the “Ones Who”. When an elderly One Who passes away, it’s felt it’s only proper to bury him near a temple. A few months later, the colonists exhume him to find something new, something special, something that is and both isn’t his body, and is and isn’t similar to the God statues that resided in the temples. He is brought to the local temple. Hobbs Land has been given new Gods. and they are awake.

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The quote you're thinking of is from the prophetess Morgori Oestrydingh:

Her last and greatest commandment was said to be the words she had whispered to her favorite disciple just before she left. “Even when people are well-meaning, do not let them fool with your heads.”

  • Excellent. Turned out I'd forgotten a LOT of the plot! As soon as I read the name Hobbs Land though I realised you were right. Cheers been niggling at me on and off for years
    – Unity
    Sep 13 '18 at 13:59

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