I can’t remember a lot of the body of the book but it’s set in an undetermined place in space (not Earth). It had a boy who was orphaned by his mother because he had some mental ability (empathic?) which scared his mother. He ends up meeting some guy that recognizes his ability because he put him in a situation that tested said ability (something to do with a wild animal hunting the boy down and the boy uses his skills to survive). Boy eventually becomes a space pilot on long range missions where they go into suspended animation.

I distinctly remember the last part of the book. The boy (now an adult space pilot) is shuttling a bunch of colonists on a long-range mission and the ship is struck and badly damaged. He has a number of surviving colonists but only half as many recorded brains/consciousness and he has to figure out how colonize this planet. He ends up waking a few people every so many decades and introduces them into this new and primitive colonized group, then he goes back to the spaceship (which is underwater) and goes back into suspended animation, and does this for hundreds of years until all the colonists have been integrated into this society.

The culture makes up a legend of this guy bringing them “lost members” of their people, teaching them skills and then going away until eventually the stories turn into myths and all the while, the spaceship is sitting at the bottom of the deepest part of their ocean and he is in permanent suspended animation.

  • Hi. Welcome to SF&F SE! This is a very good first question. I have one thing which confused me (this is for posterity's sake, as you got your answer already). What do you mean that the boy was "orphaned" by his mother because something about him scared her? Since she probably did not actually die because he scared her, I suspect you meant something other than "orphaned"? Perhaps "abandoned"?
    – Basya
    Commented May 10, 2023 at 18:14
  • Thanks so much for identifying this book! I read it such a long time ago and forgot who wrote it! I was able to find it online and read the whole thing in one day! I wish there was a longer story about it, such a fascinating premise!
    – Alexx
    Commented May 13, 2023 at 2:12
  • see also scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/227442/… (about the anthology)
    – Otis
    Commented Oct 11, 2023 at 14:50

1 Answer 1


That's Hot Sleep (sometimes called The Worthing Saga) by Orson Scott Card, which partly follows the story of Jason "Jazz" Worthing, a "swipe" or telepath.

An interesting feature of the novel is that the suspended animation process gives you total amnesia, so your brain is "taped" just before the process takes place. The actual process is incredibly painful, but you never remember it, so every time it happens you are filled with absolute terror, believing something has gone wrong.

It's these tapes of memories that are destroyed for pretty much all the colonists in the crash.


  • 1
    "The actual process is incredibly painful, but you never remember it, so every time it happens you subject fills absolute terror, believing something has gone wrong." I'm having difficulty passing "you subject fills absolute terror". Is that correct syntax? Commented May 9, 2023 at 14:38
  • I supposed it should read "feels" instead of "fills".
    – Erik
    Commented May 9, 2023 at 15:32

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