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I'm trying to identify a collection of short stories I read about twenty years ago. It was a collection by a single author and the stories were linked in that together they told a larger narrative. The broader narrative is that there is a group of humans that develop healing powers and they use these to make Earth a paradise where no-one ever comes to harm. However they come to realise that this is stifling the development of humanity, and they lock themselves away behind a crystal hemisphere and are quickly forgotten about. The stories cover the effect on people when pain and injury return to their lives, and the eventual re-emergence of the healers and restoration of healing.

The only individual story I can remember in any detail is set in a small village where there is a man who has some healing powers (though puny compared to the group of healers mentioned above). It's a very severe winter and injuries and frostbite are so common that the healer becomes worn out and tries to recover by spending some time healing wild birds. The villagers become resentful of the healer apparently wasting his skills healing birds rather than people, and they start killing all the birds. The healer flees the village, but is eventually driven back some days later by cold and hunger. On his return the villagers mob and kill him. I've probably made this sound a bit banal, but I found it a very moving story.

That's it I'm afraid. I can't remember any names or other specifics that might jog memories, so I can only hope someone remembers the story I've described above. For some reason I had thought it might be the Worthing Chronicles. They are similar in that they are linked stories about a group with psi powers, but I recently bought the two Worthing Chronicles books and they aren't the stories I'm thinking of.

  • When you say that you "recently bought the two Worthing Chronicles books", that may be your problem. There are four books, not two, although the last only contains reprints from earlier volumes. – Mike Scott Aug 2 '14 at 20:52
  • numaroth: thanks for the suggested edit, but mob is a verb meaning "to move close to (someone) in an excited way : to crowd around (someone) in an aggressive, excited, or annoying way". – John Rennie Oct 22 '14 at 5:17
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It sounds like you are thinking of the story The Tinker, one of the short stories that is part of The Worthing Saga.

Plot Summary:

John Tinker spent every winter at his cousin’s inn in the town of Worthing. While in town John healed the town’s people with a special gift he inherited from Jason Worthing. On a particularly bad winter when the snow was very deep John did his best to help the sick people of Worthing but some of them died anyway. The town’s people blamed John for the deaths and killed some of the birds that he has also been taking care of. When John found he was unable to help his nephew, people thought he was refusing to help because of the dead birds and ran him out of town. After he left a very bad snowstorm hit Worthing and more than half the people in town died. When the storm finally ended John returned to Worthing and was beaten to death by the remaining town’s people.

  • That's it! Excellent, thanks, it may have taken six months but I knew you guys would get it :-) I hadn't realised there's a separate book called The Worthing Saga that's distinct from the Worthing Chronicles. That will be the book I read all those years ago. – John Rennie Aug 3 '14 at 4:43

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