The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

In the future Charles Sheffield describes, shape-shifting is commonplace; anyone, with enough money, can be transformed into a replica of Albert Einstein, Marilyn Monroe, or anyone else desired. Behrooz (commonly known as Bey) Wolf is an agent of the Office of Form Control, charged with blocking the creation of illicit forms.

As Sight of Proteus begins, Wolf is investigating a series of mysterious losses of data on form-change patients at Central Hospital, where most of these operations take place. With his colleague, John Larsen, he searches the hospital’s computer files. He uncovers several mysterious codewords (PROTEUS, JANUS, LUNGFISH, and TIMESET) and decides to question Robert Capman, the hospital’s head. Wolf and Larsen discover that Capman has conducted illegal mutation experiments on children. They go to Capman’s office and discover that he has vanished.

Four years later, Wolf and Larsen investigate three more deaths caused by illicit form-change. Because the transformed humans were citizens of the United Space Federation (which rules the Moon and the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter), they are visited by Capman, who has transformed himself into Karl Ling, a high-ranking official best known for theorizing that the asteroids are the remnants of the exploded planet Loge. As part of his investigation, Larsen injects himself with DNA from the dead men. “Ling” then reveals that Loge was the home of aliens and that Larsen has injected himself with a virus containing genes that will transform him into a Logan. “Ling” then disappears.

“Ling” wrote several...

(The entire section is 666 words.)