I am looking for the name of a SF book about a person who gets all the kinds of diseases that exist in the universe. People want to kill him to protect the universe from his diseases, but they can't because he also makes the antidotes in his body, and they need him for that.

It was written before 1990. That is all I know.


2 Answers 2


Could this be To Die in Italbar by Roger Zelazny?

Cover of DAW release of To Die in Italbar

The protagonist, H, has both the power to heal anyone around him wherever he goes, and conversely the power to kill anyone around him if he stays in one place for too long.

The cover blurb reads:


H was the name he was known by.

H was unique in the galaxy, for he had the healing touch. Where there was plague, sickness, pain, H was the universal cure.

But H also had the slaying touch. Where he went death and disaster often followed. Where there had been health there would be left desolation and desert.

The talent alternated. It reversed itself — and H always warned people of this. To live in Italbar or TO DIE IN ITALBAR, that was always the question.


This sounds like To Die in Italbar (1973), by Roger Zelazny.

The plot summary, per Wikipedia:

Heidel von Hymack, known to all as "H", is a man with the power to cure people of incurable diseases. He travels from world to world healing people by touching them. However his healing powers have a dark side: after a while they reverse and he becomes a spreader of deadly diseases. Avoiding contact with others is almost impossible because of his celebrity, so his most dedicated followers tend to die horribly. He does not know why he has this power, though he dreams of a mysterious "Lady" who rules his life. In fact he has been accidentally joined to a deity of the Pei'an religion, a goddess of disease and healing whose changing moods determine whether he saves or kills.

Zelazny actually hated the book, personally. He first threw it together when he was in need of money, and he was never satisfied with the way the threads came together. His publisher rejected it anyway, so he wrote a new ending, making it a sequel to Isle of the Dead (1969). This provided the tie-in to the superpowers associated with the living avatars of the gods of alien Pei'an religion from Isle of the Dead, and thus provided an explanation of why H could both cure and cause any disease. However, Zelazny still felt the result was an inferior effort.

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.