I just got an answer to one of my question that sent me refresh my memory about Vernon Vinge’s “Zones of Thought” Universe. There I saw the word “Blight”, and this reminded me of something which might have deserved that name. But it is not it at all a “malevolent super-intelligent entity”, as Vinge's Blight, but a kind of infection.

It is some kind of weird illness that makes people and machines blend into each other. I remember in particular a very striking case of the captain of a spaceship whose head and torso were still human, but whose legs had become huge, metallic, essentially a part of his ship. His case was a bit extreme, but it was by no means unique, the “illness” was quite extensive. And IIRC, it is mentioned in several books in a series.

Ideally, I’d like to find the book with this unfortunate captain. But just the name of the series would be enough. I guess I could try book after book till I find the right one.

I read it about 10-15 years ago. I think it was pretty recent then, but I could be wrong, it might be much earlier, but it does not "feel" like an "old classic"..


1 Answer 1


This could be the novel, Revelation Space, by Alastair Reynolds, published in 2000. It features a disease called the "Melding Plague" which causes nano-machines to go haywire. Many humans use nano-machines to augment themselves, and the Melding Plague causes them to be fused with their augments and then other nearby technology. The captain you mention could be the captain of the Nostalgia for Infinity, an interstellar starship. The captain is partially fused with the ship and is kept in a near frozen state to delay the progression of the melding plague.

Revelation Space is the first novel of a series by the same name, and it does indeed mention the plague in other stories. The Melding Plague first surfaced in Chasm City, a recurring location in the series, and the capitol of the planet of Yellowstone. It was so bad there that the buildings, which were infused with nano-machines melded with their occupants and deformed into half-melted shapes. Many rich people who stayed in Chasm City ride around in robotic palanquins, which shield them from infection.

  • Oh yes, this is the right one ! So the captain is in the first book of the series, but the plague goes on. Thanksto yo uI just found his name in the "Fandom" website : John Brannigan
    – Alfred
    Commented Dec 5, 2019 at 22:49
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    @Alfred The captain you're referring to is in the first book, Revelation Space, but as I recall he is more prominent in the sequel Redemption Ark. The origin of the Melding Plague was more heavily featured in the prequel Chasm City, if you're interested in the plague itself, though its effects have had omnipresent consequences in all of the stories which take place after Chasm City.
    – Upper_Case
    Commented Dec 6, 2019 at 17:54
  • Thanks a lot. Now that I know the name of the series, I can "navigate" between the various books.
    – Alfred
    Commented Dec 7, 2019 at 19:21

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