I'm looking for a story (novelette, short, etc) I've read in an anthology, about a human running from pursuit who lands in a planet and enters in a cave where something falls on his shoulders and he faints. Upon awakening he discovers he's bonded to an alien, still on his shoulders, that gives him mind powers.

  • Some resemblance to J. F. Bone's novelette "Insidekick" but it doesn't happen in a cave, and the alien symbiote (Zark) is inside the host (Albert Johnson), not riding on his shoulders.
    – user14111
    Dec 1, 2021 at 0:09
  • 1
    Not an answer because it's been a really long time since I read it and I don't remember the details, but this is reminding me of Timothy Zahn's Dragon and Thief? If that is the correct answer I'll type it up into something you can accept, but I don't remember much at all about the book besides a vague feeling that this is it.
    – Hearth
    Dec 1, 2021 at 6:23
  • @Hearth, I immediately thought of the same book, although not sure that it is correct based on the "mind powers" mentioned. And it is the dragon's crashed ship, not a cave.
    – pladams9
    Dec 1, 2021 at 16:35

4 Answers 4


I wonder if you are remembering the novelette Pard by F Paul Wilson.

The reason I say this is that your description sounds almost exactly like the opening chapter of Healer as suggested in Fuzzyboots' answer, and the novel Healer was adapted from the novelette Pard published in Analog in 1972. Specifically Pard evolved into the first chapter of Healer.

The scene in Pard where the protagonist Steven Dalt is attacked by the alaret is almost exactly the same as in the novel. He has landed on the planet Kwashi and is attacked by tribesmen. He hides in a cave to escape them, and an alaret lands on his head and he faints from the pain. When he comes to he finds he has the alien as a mental symbiote. The only difference from your description is that the body of the alaret dies and falls off after it has infected Dalt. It does not remain on his shoulders.

If you read Pard in an anthology somewhere that would fit your description but without the huge scope of Healer.

  • 1
    First of all, my apologies to all who have provided an answer to my question. Seems that "Pard" is the right answer. After I read the story, what remained in my mind was the nature of the relationship between the human and the alien. I haven't read any sequel to the story, that is why I called "far spanning". The cave sequence, the augmenting of perception and the dialogues fit the gaps in my mind. Thanks to all who have helped me to live again that moment. I look forward to read the story again and the sequels as well. Dec 1, 2021 at 20:11

Could it be F. Paul Wilson's Healer?

In The Healer, a human, Steven Dalt, travelling to another planet finds himself in a cave, where an alien creature fuses to him forming a symbiotic relationship. Steven was an ordinary person with nothing fantastic about him, but once the alien attaches to him, he becomes this superhuman immortal. The alien creature has incredible knowledge and skills that Steven does not. On the other hand, Steven has the body the alien did not. He becomes The Healer, capable of healing almost anything, including himself. The story goes on for centuries across galaxies and eventually comes to a conclusion.

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    Thank you for trying to help me, but I think the story I'm looking for is not so far spanning as this one by F. Paul Wilson (LaNague series). Nov 30, 2021 at 22:32

Wilson wrote a newer book with the same alien symbiote: Double Threat, June 2021.

  • 7
    Hi, welcome to SF&F. If you're proposing this as an answer, you should add some details that show how it matches the question, like the cave incident. On the other hand, if you're just commenting on the existing answers, then that shouldn't be an answer; when you earn some reputation you'll be able to leave comments. You might want to take the tour.
    – DavidW
    Dec 1, 2021 at 18:29

Warren Peace #1 Who Goes Here?

Bob Shaw


  • 3
    Hi, welcome to SF&F. Please note that this question already has an accepted answer. If you think you have a better answer you need to prove it with some quotes, or at least a detailed description of the story, to show it is a better match.
    – DavidW
    Dec 1, 2023 at 12:38
  • I thought of this one too. Probably wrong, though, since the OP has accepted a different answer. Even so, you should add a few plot details supporting your answer.
    – Pete
    Dec 2, 2023 at 14:14

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