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About 20 years ago I read a series of books that had the main character transfer into the body of prisoners on four moons of Jupiter.

Would anyone know what the name of the series was?

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  • Hi, welcome to SF&F. Good start, but you should check out the suggestions to see if it helps you remember any additional details to edit into the question.
    – DavidW
    Commented Jun 14, 2019 at 22:41
  • All at once, or one moon at a time? Why did the main character do this, or was it involuntary? Was the main character a man, woman, child, alien, robot?
    – user14111
    Commented Jun 14, 2019 at 22:54
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    One moon at a time, and it wasn't voluntary. I don't remember who made him, what he needed to do, or how they made him do it. It was a man, but one body he entered was female.
    – Sylv
    Commented Jun 14, 2019 at 23:31
  • possibly the same as scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/81151/… (which is the target of other closed duplicates)
    – Otis
    Commented Jun 19, 2019 at 14:05

1 Answer 1

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I once read a book that collected the texts of what had originally been a four-volume series, with a very similar premise, except it wasn't set in our own solar system. But since each volume featured a copy of the same character's personality infiltrating a different "prison planet," I figure there's about a 99% chance that we are remembering the same thing.

"The Four Lords of the Diamond" is a science fiction series written by Jack L. Chalker. The individual volumes were originally published in paperback by Del Rey in the years 1981-1983. Those volumes, with the first word of each title being the name of the world which would serve as that book's principal setting, were:

  1. Lilith: A Snake in the Grass
  2. Cerberus: A Wolf in the Fold
  3. Charon: A Dragon at the Gate
  4. Medusa: A Tiger by the Tail

Here's a collection of cover-scans I found for what the original paperback editions of all four volumes looked like:

enter image description here

I will quote a plot summary from the Wikipedia article I linked to the series title, above; then I'll add some additional commentary on what was going on, and why it fits well with what you remember.

The Warden Diamond is a system of four planets, ruled by their own lords, collectively called "The Four Lords of the Diamond". Each planet of the Diamond has its own special "Warden Organism", a symbiotic microorganism that lives within the inhabitants of the planets. The organisms destroy their host when he or she leaves the Warden Diamond, making the planet system the ideal prison colony for the Confederacy, a massive space empire.

An android clone that successfully infiltrated a government facility on a central world and downloaded vital defense information, transmits the information to a source and is destroyed in the process. The Confederacy discovers and tracks the clone towards the Warden Diamond, whose four lords are cooperating with an alien race to plan a mutiny against the Confederacy.

The government sends its best agent to investigate. Through technological advances, the government duplicates the personality of the agent (who remains unnamed throughout the series) and implants "him" into four brain-dead host bodies. The four hosts are then sent to four different planets in the Warden system and have no choice but to fulfill their assignment of locating and defeating each of the Four Lords, delaying the expected alien invasion and finding out vital information on the infiltrators.

Something that summary doesn't clearly state is that, on each of the worlds of the Diamond, the local "Warden Organism" helps humans to acquire what might be called "psychic" or "supernatural" powers. But the details of those powers are different on each planet! Thus, in each case, the local version of the narrator (a different version of his original personality for each of the four books) acquires some interesting powers, and/or becomes well-acquainted with other people who have been there longer and have become very powerful indeed -- sometimes using such catchy terms as "witch" or "magic," which can thus sometimes make you feel as if you are reading a fantasy novel which just happens to have a thin veneer of "scientific rationale" for people's strange abilities.

Regarding what you said in a follow-up comment about the main character ending up in a female body at one point: The narrator in Book Two wakes up in the body of a convict, and realizes someone had decided it would be funny to put him in a woman's body. A new experience for him, I believe. Fortunately, the world in question -- Cerberus -- is one where the local superpowers include the possibility of having two people's minds swap places overnight if they've been sleeping closely together. So the narrator quickly realizes the best way to get himself back to "normal" is to offer to have sex with a male convict in a young, healthy body -- until one morning they wake up to discover that their minds have swapped while they slept side by side, and then the narrator refuses to swap back. (And local laws do not require him to do so, as I recall.)

Looking on Amazon just now, I found that if you wanted to order the four books as Kindle downloads, you'd have to pay several bucks apiece, but if you wanted to buy the same version that I once read -- one fat hardcover -- you could get a used copy for as little as $2.51 USD (plus shipping & handling). That might be the right way to go, if you want to refresh your memory of the whole thing -- I found the series mildly entertaining, once upon a time, but I couldn't honestly recommend that you spend several bucks per installment on it. I wouldn't, anyway! (You may have different tastes.)

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    I thought of this just an hour ago, but couldn't get to the computer... I'm pretty sure this is it; the only detail that misses is Jupiter. Especially the bit about transferring into a female in one instance.
    – DavidW
    Commented Jun 15, 2019 at 2:37
  • @DavidW Around the time I was finishing up that reply the other night, it occurred to me that the fact that 3 of the 4 Diamond worlds had names shamelessly swiped from Greek mythology might have something to do with why Sylv, when trying to remember an old reading experience, thought those books might have been set on some of the moons of Jupiter.
    – Lorendiac
    Commented Jun 17, 2019 at 1:03
  • This is awesome! Thanks so much for the information :).
    – Sylv
    Commented Aug 14, 2019 at 16:05
  • @Sylv Glad I could help. I discovered this site a few years ago when I was in much the same situation as you -- I remembered the general plot of something I'd once read, but I couldn't recall the title or the author's name. Someone was able to help me out pretty quickly, and since then I've sometimes been able to help other people in the same way. If you think I've correctly identified the series you were asking about, then you could click on the checkmark that's over to the left of my answer, thereby "accepting" this as the correct answer to your question.
    – Lorendiac
    Commented Aug 15, 2019 at 0:17

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