March 14, 2010 11:47 PM Subscribe
Does anyone know the title of this book? The setting is a metal-poor prison planet where the people have segmented into vaguely feudal societies that trade with their guards in orbit for iron. The protagonist's society has developed really fast regeneration, with the side effect that some of them start growing extraneous body parts which are harvested and sold up to orbit. Another society has learned to experience time at any speed, and yet a third has no particular super-powers but is the wealthiest of them all because they've got fantastic scholars whose theorems and designs are sold for iron. I read this novel in a school library seven years ago, as a hardcover with a picture of a guy lifting himself out of a hole or well in the ground.
posted by d. z. wang to Writing & Language (3 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
The protagonist is a prince who drops from the line of succession when he starts developing extraneous ovaries. He then travels the world, having various adventures. He finds the time-manipulating people, learns their skills, and uses it to travel the world in three objective years murdering some ridiculous number of people (I forget why).
There's also a touching scene where someone (the prince's lover?) moves into really slow time. The prince joins her there, and these two frozen lovers become a local curiosity for the decades (centuries?) it takes for him to talk her back into normal time.
Eventually he finds some people who are filthy rich with iron, so rich they can wear it as jewelry. It turns out that their export is scholarly work, like designs for faster-than-light spaceships. Then the prince realizes that they're all imprisoned on the planet not as punishment for their ancestors' crimes, but because they've actually developed well beyond their captors.