I read a sci fi book roughly 20 years ago (late nineties) but for the life of me I cannot remember the title nor locate the book on Amazon or elsewhere online. I don't know when the book was actually written. It is quite an unusual book filled with somewhat bizarre scenes. I don't know if it's hard sci fi exactly but it's certainly for mature audiences only, not for kids. Here are the details I remember (just bits and pieces):

It's set in a very technologically advanced universe and the setting is loosely Star Wars like. It's about a small ragtag group of I think refugees who are escaping from some sort of totalitarian government or organization.

They fly in a spaceship which I believe was named the Lightning or something similar.

One of the main characters is a tribal woman who works as some kind of agent for a giant supercomputer that rewards her successful achievements by flooding every pleasure center of her brain, causing her to pass out from sheer pleasure. This reward is effectively her payment, and she continues to work for the computer for these pleasure hits.

Either this woman's tribe, or some other tribe in the book, is totally female, except the Alpha Female, who turns male. If the Alpha Male dies, the next female in the hierarchy becomes male and becomes the new Alpha Male (quite bizarre, but clownfish from the "Finding Nemo" animated movie also actually exhibit similar behavior called sequential hermaphroditism).

The ragtag band flees from planet to planet. On one planet, they are asked to implant one of their crew member's minds into the body of the planetary fairy queen, a woman of considerable power, perhaps somewhat psychic or magical power.

The leader of the ragtag group asks one of his crewman, a big burly guy, whether he would like his mind transferred into the fairy queen's body. The big burly guy seriously considers it, but finally declines, and they choose a female crewmember instead, who becomes the new fairy queen. Part of the process involves removing her previous memories however, so she no longer remembers her old crew and truly becomes the queen of the planet.

I may not be remembering everything exactly correctly, but this is the gist. I think the book may have been part of a series. If anyone knows the title of this book, please let me know! I've been searching forever but just can't find it. Thank you!


I read a set of books long ago that seems to match. The series is called "Rings of the Master" by Jack L. Chalker, and is composed of

  • Lords of the Middle Dark
  • Pirates of the Thunder
  • Warriors of the Storm
  • Masks of the Martyrs

The setting is that a computer (the master) took control of the human race because it had been asked to protect it, and that was the easiest way. It then sent humanity across the stars, but instead of terraforming the world, it changed the humans. Each of the worlds had a different human species. Each world was low-tech, except for the few ones that were asked to guide their people for the master.

The team found that a set of rings could give back control to humanity. Each ring HAD to belong to a human of power, by program (thus master could not destroy them, but nothing said that the human had to know). The team has to steal the ring from 5 planets. Each time one of the members has to be transformed to match the population. Since this transformation could only be done once, you have to become something that is not the same "human" than you, and in some case this can be difficult to adapt ("becoming one of them, a cow?").

There was an hermaphrodite world, similar to your description, and at the end of the stealing, one of the members had to be transformed into a goddess (in fact an android with hypno-beam) to fool the master, and this was easier with the smallest of the team.

The "Thunder" was their ship, controlled by a AI called "eagle". Another (fighter) ship was called the lightning. An artificial creature was called "Vulture". Several of the team where from American-Indian heritage. One was called Raven. Others were from China (china-girl, and two sisters).

hope this help


Yes I read it. Aurhor is Storm Constantine. Sign for the Sacred and Hermetech are 2 of her books in that world

  • 4
    Can you expand on this a bit? – Shevliaskovic Sep 28 '15 at 11:37

I am not an expert or anything, but it sounds similar to a book by Ursula K. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness. Maybe it is another book that she wrote.

  • 2
    No. Never in a million years. – WhatRoughBeast May 19 '14 at 12:00

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