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A man in a ship lands on a planet with nothing but sharp grass and quadrupeds. He is trying to find out what happened to a colony ship that supposedly landed there. I don't remember why, but he starts eating the grass. Even though it cuts him up as he eats it, he loses control and cannot stop.

He eventually stops and finds he's been turned into one of the quadrupeds. In this new form, he is still able to get back into his ship and fly away with the colony ship's computer. The computer (I think its name was Moses) had created the grass to keep the colonists alive, because the planet was hostile to them.

I read this book in the late 1970s. I don't remember much more than enjoying it immensely; it was the first book I ever read more than once. I hope this is enough to find the book again.

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  • Hi, welcome to the site. Did you actually read the book before 1980, or is that just an estimate of when you think it was published? If you read it more recently, in approximately which year or decade was that? Mar 22 at 11:05
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    I read it in the late 1970s. Didn't know the exact date.
    – Kraege
    Mar 22 at 11:06
  • We'll see if we can ID this for you. If someone posts a correct answer, you can mark it as accepted by clicking on the check mark beneath the voting buttons, as per the tour. Mar 22 at 11:13
  • First part is reminiscent of a Silverberg story, but IIRC the protagonist doesn't leave in that one. Mar 22 at 11:14
  • You could improve this question by going through the checklists here and editing in any relevant info you can think to add.
    – Valorum
    Mar 22 at 11:14

1 Answer 1

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The Web of the Chozen (1978) by Jack L. Chalker...?

From Goodreads:

NOBODY BEATS BAR HOLLIDAY

He was paid to find Terraformable worlds, new planets for his corporation to plunder. Up until the day he came upon the Peace Victory, an abandoned generation ship hovering ominously above a definitely habitable planet, he believed nobody ever could.

NOBODY BEATS BAR HOLLIDAY

..because he was never satisfied with anything lower than first place, because he was always the oddball, in charge of his own welfare, his own destiny... a man determined to make his mark in the world and win all games at any cost.

NOBODY EVER BEATS BAR HOLLIDAY

...because he only took the wrong chances at the right times. But on the planet Patmos, where everything looked safe, but nothing was, Bar Holliday had at last met his match!

From Wikipedia:

The Web of the Chozen is a novel about Bar Holliday as he is physically transformed into a quadruped by a mutant virus on a lost colony.

The Google Books preview of the book brings up multiple hits for the search term "moses".

enter image description here

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    Why am I not surprised that a book about weird transformations is by Chalker? Now all we need is a bunch of sex and teenage girls... :-P
    – FuzzyBoots
    Mar 22 at 12:53
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    @FuzzyBoots, I totally understand. Reading about the weird transformation I immediately started thinking of Jack Chalker (or maybe John Varley) but I don't think I've ever read this particular one.
    – CitizenRon
    Mar 22 at 21:12
  • I seem to recall that both he and his wife regarded that as “the only real dog he ever wrote,” and he later said he wrote it on a bet. On another occasion, he said that it was an allegory about the ideology behind the Khmers Rouges.
    – Davislor
    Mar 23 at 3:14

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