I have been trying to recall what this book is from almost thirty years, I read it as a teen. I think it was published in the 1980s.

The story takes place in a distant space faring future, where everyone is catalogued and designated by a galactic A.I. super-computer (space S.S. of a sort). The galactic government is tyrannical, and a small time private detective is recruited by a rebel faction to be the perfect weapon/spy to bring down the computer and government.

In this novel's universe, some people are born with mutations and abilities. The main character is a mutant whose power is that he can not be remembered for more than a day by anyone that has encountered him. Consequently, he is the perfect foil to this A.I. computer, as no one could ever remember him as to record his birth, thus he's off the grid and technically does not exist.

I recall that he may also have either a mutation that has caused him to have one hand that is larger than the other, or it's a transplanted hand from person a dark skinned Sub- Saharan descent. The main character is Caucasian (per the cover).

  • The transplanted hand sounds vaguely familiar, FWIW.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Dec 3, 2018 at 17:22
  • 2
    I can't remember reading such a story. Commented Dec 3, 2018 at 18:23
  • 2
    I recall a story where the protagonist worked as an administrator/managerial position? He was a mutant. But he could not make people forget him, his power was that NO ONE would remember him. (he could not turn it off, or make specific people forget him) A couple scenes I remember, in the opening chapter, he is eating at the cafeteria and the server asks A or B, and he comments to himself he has chosen B for the last ## days, and she never remembers. His Secretary though, is keeping notes for herself and does sort of remember him by reviewing her notes every morning when she comes to work.
    – NJohnny
    Commented Dec 3, 2018 at 18:29
  • The title Mutie was what I thought the title of the book was, but a few google searches turns up nothing. Maybe that was the chapter title where the protagonist was introduced. Everything I remember, happened in the first chapter where the character was introduced. I remember nothing else of the story.
    – NJohnny
    Commented Dec 3, 2018 at 18:39

2 Answers 2


I suspect this MAY be a slightly misremembered A Gift from Earth by Larry Niven.

The action takes place on the planet Plateau in Tau Ceti. It is so-named because the only habitable portion of the planet is a huge flat mountain that rises out of the deadly atmosphere. The plateau is about the size of California, and divided into three areas bounded by large "steps" between them, with the lowest section being the largest.

When they landed, the crew of the original ship created a serf-like government by using the steps as borders and putting the colonists on the lower sections. They live on the smallest section at the top, and police absolutely anything. Any violation, no matter how small, is punishable by death and organ harvesting.

The plot involves a man who has the ability to make people simply not notice he's there. It takes him a long time to realize he even has this power. All he knows is that when he talks to people their eyes glaze over and they wander off. So for most of the book he thinks he's just really boring.

He further realizes that the effect is purely visual, so even things like security cameras ignore him as long as it's ultimately a guy looking at a screen. Only motion detectors and such are any threat.

When he realizes what's going on, he begins to use his "power" to bring down the government. The name of the story is due to a second plotline, the recent arrival of a package sent from Earth, containing a sort of artificial heart. This means you no longer have to harvest hearts, and the same tech can be used for other organs as well, threatening to overturn the entire "economy".

  • 2
    The inhabitants actually called their plateau, and the planet, "Mount Lookitthat" -- named by a comment of the original slowboat crew as the forty mile high mountain came over the horizon.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Commented Dec 3, 2018 at 20:25
  • 1
    This was my first thought too, but the AI supercomputer and the mismatched hand made me doubt it. Commented Dec 3, 2018 at 20:30
  • I don't recall anything about a hand, but it does fit in with the theme of organ transplants driving the economy. I recall a minor recurring theme is that his father had a penis transplant and he always wondered by he got the vas deferens hooked up. Commented Dec 3, 2018 at 20:33
  • @MauryMarkowitz That was Castro, the half-crew supervisor of the Hospital (don't recall his first name). His father had a testicle transplant, from a colonist "donor", leading to that question about the vas deferens -- and making Castro a "half-caste" in a society with a very deep crew/colonist social divide.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Commented Dec 3, 2018 at 20:35
  • 4
    @OrganicMarble You might be conflating other books in Larry Niven's "Known Space" -- Gil "The Arm" Hamilton had a transplanted arm, there was "The Jigsaw Man" and much later The Patchwork Girl. A Gift from Earth was essentially the culmination of Niven's "Organ Banks" story arc within Known Space.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Commented Dec 3, 2018 at 20:37

You are thinking of Mute by Piers Anthony.

Mute is science fantasy of mutation and psi: special mental powers. The protagonist, Knot, is a double mutant: he has a physical deformity, and the psi power to make others forget him.


Mute is a novel in which the mutant named Knot and the galactic agent named Finesse combat the Lobos who want to take over the Galactic Co-ordination Computer.

Cover of "Mute"

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.