I read a book about 15 years ago that revolved around a single male human protagonist with constant headaches who ends up landing/crashing on a planet inhabited by a ?bug?-like race. On this planet his headaches go away, and he finds that he can heal the local inhabitants with his advanced technology.

Eventually one kingdom or group of inhabitants gets angry that he is healing one side and they send a bug with a suicide-bomb. After the explosion the protagonist decides he has to leave to another planet.

I can't remember much else. I have the feeling that the story is part of a collection and isn't the first novel because I think there was a back story to the protagonist. The ship may have also had some sort of AI-voice system to keep him sane. No other humans were involved in the story.

Does anyone have any clue?

Edit I believe it was a large hard cover book; unfortunately I can't remember the cover art. I read it in the United States and was in English. By collection I mean that I think that the book was part of a series of books e.g. like the Harry Potter Novels. There were no other stories in this book.

  • Hi, welcome to SF&F! Any idea what the cover art looked like? Was it a long book? Paperback? When you say you think it's part of a collection, do you mean that there were other stories in this book?
    – DavidW
    Apr 5, 2021 at 19:46
  • Hi DavidW, I added the answer to your questions with an edit in the question. I'm not sure if I'm supposed to answer the questions in the comments or in the edit. Apr 5, 2021 at 20:28
  • 1
    Definitely add any more details you can think of to the question. You can come back and update it any time you recall something else; the more information the better.
    – DavidW
    Apr 5, 2021 at 20:47

1 Answer 1


Somewhat similar to the story Gift of a Useless Man by Alan Dean Foster.

What matches:

  • Protagonist named Pearson crashes on a planet (and is paralysed).
  • Is found by a bunch of intelligent bugs.
  • Decides to help them.
  • A rival bunch of bugs try to capture Pearson for themselves. There is a brief war which Pearson ends, and announces that he will help all of them, not just one faction.
  • No other humans, until the last page where humans arrive to find a thriving bug civilization.

What doesn't match:

  • It's a short story, not a whole book.
  • He doesn't heal the bugs. What he does do is to shed flakes of skin and hair which they can use as a building material, provide them with tomato seeds from a sandwich, advise them on the basics of agriculture, his poo fertilizes their farms, and so on.
  • I don't recall that the war involved a suicide bomber, nor do I recall that the protagonist had headaches.
  • He doesn't leave the planet. He stays there until he dies of old age.

If correct, it's a duplicate of this question.

  • Note also that the bugs were tiny and telepathic and there's definitely no advanced technology involved.
    – DavidW
    Apr 6, 2021 at 2:27
  • Hi Pete, thank you for your response. Although the story does sound similar; I don't believe it is Gift of a Useless Man. I'm fairly confiden the "bugs" were large, the book was a novel and not a short story and there definitely was a suicide bombing. Apr 6, 2021 at 7:18

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