I read this book probably in the late 1990s. I assume the intended audience is teenagers/youth because I checked it out of my junior high library.

In the book there is a boy on a plane and the plane crashes, but right before it does he is transported off somehow and onto another planet. The planet he's on, he finds out, is the home of the being that owns and runs the earth. This being is very advanced and is part of a civilization that basically runs the universe. They believe in order and not allowing any bad things to happen, so all the known worlds (except a few) are perfect paradises where nothing bad ever happens. But this guy, he values freedom of choice over order, which is why the earth has so many problems, he lets people make choices.

In addition to the boy from earth, I also remember there being a wild, Amazonian-type woman that the planet-owning guy took from one of his other planets right before she died. I don't really remember much about her except that she killed a bird at one point because she was hungry and the advanced alien guy got ticked, because his civilization values life very highly. He then brings the bird back to life.

He's allowed to continue his "experiment" for a while, but his political opponents constantly threaten to take away his planets. Eventually, they do take away his planets, saying that he has been negligent and allowed things to get out of hand (because on earth there's about to be a nuclear war). He gets exiled and his civilization sends a fleet of battleships to basically subdue the earth and force humanity to be good from that point on.

At the end, his biggest political opponent realizes (too late) that her own progression as an individual is now going to be halted because she will no longer have anyone to fight/disagree with and that her growth will now be stagnant. Before, she grew a lot as a person as she struggled to find a way to take out the guy who ran the earth, but now that he's gone she doesn't grow anymore, and she realizes he was right: people need diversity of thought to help them grow and become better.

That's about all I remember.

  • 3
    I don't know if the story, but maybe you will have some luck looking through works by Orson Scott Card? The theme of "bad actions being allowed to be taken by humans because God values choice" is actually a huge foundation of Mormon doctrine. Especially if it ends, as you say, with the prot/antagonist coming to the conclusion that allowing choice was right, either the author is actually a mormon or philosophically a mormon and doesn't know it :).
    – msouth
    Commented Oct 2, 2014 at 8:03
  • 4
    The doctrine of free will is fundamental to all Judeo-Christian-Islamic faiths, and most other religions as well. It's certainly not a strictly Mormon belief.
    – Joe L.
    Commented Dec 17, 2014 at 13:15
  • 1
    I've spent a considerable amount of time digging through literature to try to find this book. Are there any other details you can remember? Even vague recollections might help.
    – lswank
    Commented Jun 22, 2015 at 7:33
  • 3
    Have you tried asking on other sites? E.g. I've found the BookSleuth Forum at Abebooks.com to be quite good at answering story-id questions, and I've gotten some answers there that I couldn't get here.
    – user14111
    Commented Jun 22, 2015 at 7:42
  • 1
    There are definitely elements of Robert Heinlein's Job: A Comedy of Justice in your description. Its also far enough off that it probably isn't what you're looking for.
    – Erik
    Commented Nov 3, 2015 at 19:58

1 Answer 1


Keeper of the Universe by Louise Lawrence

Also called Ben-Harran's Castle.

I posted this question to Goodread's "What's the name of that book???" group and it was answered in 10 hours by Tab, who quoted from the School Library Journal:

Gr 7-12-- Christopher is an English teenager on board a flight to Athens, heading for a hotel job that he hopes will help him escape the tedium of school and family. A sudden explosion cuts the flight short; he wakes up some time later in a barren room within a strange castle, accompanied only by a barbarian queen and the Erg Unit, an introspective and occasionally too conscientious robot.

Christopher gradually learns that Ben-Harran, the owner of the castle, is one of a race of Galactic Controllers, highly evolved beings who have taken on responsibility for maintaining peace and harmony throughout the known universe. Ben-Harran is responsible for the galaxy that includes Earth, and is presently in deep trouble with the rest of the Council for his refusal to use the Overseers and mind-control methods that guarantee peace.

Because his insistence on free will allows his "subjects" to determine their own fates, Ben-Harran's foes are holding him responsible for the deaths of all the inhabitants of Zeeda, an Earthlike planet recently wiped out in a self-induced conflagration of total warfare.

  • Good find. There are some substantial elements of similarity here. Now let's see if the OP agrees :-)
    – Valorum
    Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 15:58
  • This review from School Library Journal is quoted on a few sites, but I didn't see it on slj.com itself so I haven't linked to anything except Tab's answer on Goodreads. If someone can find a link for the original review on slj.com please add it.
    – browly
    Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 15:59
  • It would appear that that review was published in hard copy only since it's not on the SLJ website.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jul 6, 2016 at 16:00
  • Tab at Goodreads clarified that you can access the School Library Journal review through a book database called "Novelist Plus", which he has access to through his local library.
    – browly
    Commented Jul 7, 2016 at 2:40
  • 4
    @browly - That's it! Thanks so much for finding it, I have been looking for this book for a long time. Pass along my thanks to whoever got you the information on Goodreads.
    – Cooper
    Commented Jul 14, 2016 at 17:22

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.