When I was in my early teens, I read a science fiction novel I have since lost track of, and can remember neither the title nor the author. I can remember only a few details about the novel, but perhaps they'll jog someone's memory.

The basic concept seemed to be that only so-called "sub-standard" humans were sent on exploratory missions into space, so our heroine is a young woman who has a mutation of the face -- I seem to recall it as a sort of huge raw patch that often oozed. She is employed on a spaceship full of others like her, though the only other character I can remember with any accuracy is a young man whose face was a golden pharaonic-style mask; he was described as promiscuous and very attractive. The planet they eventually reach is populated by (I believe) dinosaurs or something very like them, and I vaguely remember a scene in which our heroine flees from aliens resembling raptors. There may also have been archaeology involved.

Many searches over the years have failed to turn up the title of this book, which I believe was the first in a series. Ringing any bells?

  • 2
    You say you read it in your teens, does this mean it was classed as a Young Adult book? Also, when were you in your teens (what year)? Commented Aug 16, 2012 at 23:43

2 Answers 2


This sounds like Expendable by James Alan Gardner. It's been a while since I've read it and I don't remember it that well, but it definitely:

  • Features explorers who are societal misfits in some way, and so deemed expendable.
  • Has a main character who is a woman with a large birthmark on her face.
  • Is the first in a series.

ETA: My girlfriend says that Radiant, from the same series, has a young woman with an oozing facial deformity (whereas the birthmark in Expendable is more prosaic), and also has a guy in a pharaoh mask. So it's probably that.


There is a sub plot in Hitchhiker's where all the middle people in society are on a ship. You knowhairdressers, lawyers, telephone sanitisers, and other such "worthless jobs".

  • An edit (quote, further explanation, etc) would improve that answer, by showing how it matches what OP remembered. Especially since this is most likely a partial answer only; mutated oozy woman and pharaoh's don't remind me of HHGTTG)
    – Jenayah
    Commented Mar 2, 2019 at 1:34

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