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I read this some 40 years ago.

A colonised planet, largely inhabited by humans, lies on the fringes of the galaxy. It forms part of a powerful multi stellar-system civilization, but lies far from the core of the civilisation, which is militarily powerful but distant. Communications with the "centre" are erratic and take a considerable time.

The planet is invaded by hostile, body transforming, aliens. The author's description of the re-forming of some of the humans is pretty graphic and horrific. An example involved arthropods or coral polyp structures "bursting" from a poor victims body.

The aliens are usually careful to only attack planets with societies they can easily defeat. They come to realise that they have overreached themselves and have invaded a planet which, although distant from, forms part of a significant and potentially dangerous galactic adversary.

I seem to recall that one of the protagonists belong to the Hindu community of the said planet. They are instrumental in "getting the word out".

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  • Sounds somewhat like Dan Morgan and John Kippax's Venturer Twelve - Thunder of Stars, Seed of Stars, etc - series. There were aliens experimenting on colonists (all sorts of body horror) and it was written in the 1970s.
    – Cassfrank
    Commented Feb 12 at 6:05

1 Answer 1

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I think this is The Military Form by Christopher Rowley, which is part of his Vang series.

The Military Form

The Goodreads description isn't obviously related to your memory but lots of elements in the book match. The Military Form is the a member of the Vang race of aliens, and it invades the planet Saskatch. The Hindu is a girl called Pandi, which is short for Pandamon.

The Military Form warps humans in exactly the way you describe. For example this is the scene where it warps Pandi's father Pramod and mother Tili:

New organs of several kinds had been added. Things like large orange chrysanthemums grew from the eye sockets. Sheets of pink sensory tissue were grown out through the shoulder region. A forest of small tentacles had sprung from the wrists, and beneath the jaw a mass of thick green polyps had appeared, but beyond these changes the Pramod form remained recognizably human.

Indeed, the Military Form had not yet subsumed the mind of Pramod Beshwan, which in a macabre half-life, survived inside his brain. For a moment the aboriginal brain was required. It was a good brain and easily controlled since it was highly differentiated.

and:

Tili was no longer even approximately human. Her body was lean and gaunt and stood close to six-feet high. Her head had shrunken, changed shape to resemble something more like an arrow head than a human skull. The orange chrysanthemum things waved an inch or two from her face on their pink stalks.

There are lots of these gratuitously obscene body horror descriptions, but I'll spare you any more of them. I did think the tentacles growing from anuses was a nice touch as body horror goes.

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  • Thanks John, you nailed it. I am rereading the whole series this time, starting with Starhammer. Classic 80s SF. Thanks again. Commented Feb 14 at 19:59

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