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It was a series of 3 or 4 books. The crew of a ship were on a mission to recover something ( rings I think) from different planets. Humans had been genetically altered to live on each planet. Volunteers were permanently altered to blend in on the planet to complete their missions.

marked as duplicate by Otis, Jason Baker, Blackwood, Au101, sfhq_sf Oct 7 '16 at 3:40

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Not sure anything I know of fully fits your question.. but it COULD be Jack Chalker's "Four Lords of the Diamond" series, although there are no rings to retrieve. The main character has his personality cloned (basically) 4 times, and stuck into 4 bodies, each of which travels to one of the four planets of the Warden Diamond. On each, the 'wardens' (basically a planet-specific adaptation of a kind of virus) modified each person in a way consistent with the specific planet.

They were very much NOT volunteers, though, and each one, waking up thinking he was the original, became quite upset to realize he was simply a clone, but eventually reconciled it by deciding to follow whatever life they could have. The 'original' monitored what each did/thought/experienced all thru the series. The planets were used as Prison planets, and each of the cover identities was someone who was consigned to there, so they were pretty fully set to blend in.


A second series (also by Chalker) that could be what you are thinking of is the 'Rings of the Masters' series. Although not the primary focus of it, there was a way to modify people down to the cellular level, that allowed them to be changed into any other life form, and a number of the characters did so, in their quest to retrieve the rings; it's a one way change, as multiple changes to the same cells caused death.

  • Thank you. I think it was the "Rings of the Masters". – Darla Oct 24 '11 at 7:25
  • Don't forget to 'accept' the answer once you are able to confirm :) – K-H-W Nov 5 '11 at 16:40
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Jack Chalker has a series from the late 80's called Rings of the Master that includes modifying humans to fit into the societies of aliens to find five rings.

The books are:

  1. Lords of the Middle Dark
  2. Pirates of the Thunder
  3. Warriors of the Storm
  4. Masks of the Martyrs
  • LOL While I was being longwinded, you came up with the (partially) same answer... Lets hope this means one of us is right! :) +1 – K-H-W Oct 17 '11 at 4:23
  • I thought about the Four Lords of the Diamond series but since it didn't have the rings decided to stick to the Rings of the Master series. Jack has several other series that involve people changing bodies in different ways. Seems to be a speciality/fetish of his. – Nathan Kinsinger Oct 17 '11 at 4:35
  • Yeah; he seems to have a strong affinity for things that raise the question of what makes up identity. Body changes, memory changes, copied identity, conditioning... Heck, one of his earlier works seems to be the template in some ways.. 'The Identity Matrix.' But MOST of his stories have someone change bodies, sexes, species or something :) – K-H-W Oct 17 '11 at 17:26

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