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Radix (novel)

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Wikipedia article

'Radix' is a science fiction novel by A. A. Attanasio, published in 1981. It was nominated for the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1981. It is the first of four books in Attanasio's Radix Tetrad, followed by In Other Worlds in 1984.

The novel is being re-issued by Phoenix Pick, an imprint of Arc Manor Publishers in 2010.

Plot introduction

'Radix' is the story of a young man's odyssey of self-discovery, from dangerous adolescent to warrior, from outcast to near-god, in a far-future Earth dramatically changed from the one we know.

Chapter summaries


*'Firstness' - The Sugarat kills the Northungs, and decides to go to the voors for some money (Zords).

*'Pictures of the real Universe' - Sumner leaves his home city of McLure fleeing the Massebth Protectorate. On the way to Jeanlu's cottage, he recounts the story that led to the conception of his son Corby.

*'Teeth Dreams' - Sumner meets Nefandi and takes him to Jeanlu's cottage. On his return to McLure, the Massebth Protectorate arrests him.


*'The Mysteries' - Jeanlu's death attracts other voors, who find Corby and take him with them. Sugarat is beaten by the police before being sent to Meat City, where he meets Dice. Sumner is recruited by a special-forces division and trained by a man called Mauschel, who cut off his own legs to remove signs of mutation.

*'The Emptying' - Sumner befriends the Serbota tribe of mutants and the seers of the community teach him how to channel energy and use the powers within him.

*'The Blood's Horizon' - Using his voor powers, Corby shows Sumner the history of the Delph.


*'Destiny as Density' - Sumner peaks into godmind.

*'Trance Port' -

*'The Untelling' -

*'Epilogue' -


Sumner Kagan's alter-egos

;Sumner Kagan : The novel's hero, an overweight rebellious young man from a dysfunctional single-parent family. Father of Corby.

;The Eth : One of Sumner Kagan's alter-egos, a powerful being created by accident by the Delph's fears.

;Lotus Face : The name the Serbota tribe give to Sumner Kagan because of a facial scar in the shape of a lotus.

;Sugarat : One of Sumner Kagan's alternate identities, an unlikely vigilante who exacts a brutal revenge on local gangs that have negatively affected his life in some way.

Sumner's companions

;Corby : A voor, child of Jeanlu and Sumner Kagan. Eventually he puts his mind into Sumner Kagan's body.

;Nefandi : An artificial man bioengineered by the eo. He serves the godmind called the Delph in return for a drugless brain stimulator called Coobla.

;Dice : An inmate at a military prison called Meat City who befriends Sumner Kagan.

;Ardent Fang : A member of the mutant Serbota tribe.

;Drift : A n, also a member of the Serbota tribe and a genderless being with telepathic abilities.

Minor Characters

;Zelda : Sumner Kagan's mother, who makes a living as a spirit guide.

;Johnny Yesterday : A lodger at Sumner Kagan's mother's house. An old man whose genetic mutations allow for "deep mind" abilities, which occasionally manifest themselves telekenetically.

;Jeanlu : A voor, who lives in the Rigalu salt flats. Mother of Corby.

;Broux : The commander of Meat City who trains Sumner Kagan.

;Bonescrolls : A long-lived being who has had many different bodies. He has powerful mutant abilities and is a protector of the Serbota tribe.

The Delph

;The Delph : A godmind whose powerful mental abilities are waning.

;Jac Halevy-Cohen : A mutant from an earlier time whose mental abilities evolve him into the Delph.


;Godmind : A powerful mutant whose mental abilities allow it to shape the universe to its will.

;Deep Mind : A mutant whose mental abilities allow for some unusual powers.

;The Massebth Protectorate : A military regime that controls a large area of land. The Massebth does not tolerate people with genetic mutations and works hard to eradicate individuals such as mutants and voors.

;Ort : An artificially created being designed for menial or military use.

;Voor : A being who arrives on Earth by traveling along a stream of radiation and who exists in a humanlike form for the duration of its stay.

;Brood : A nomadic community of Voors.

;Brood jewel : A gemstone created by a voor using glandular excretions. It permits enhanced psychic states or visions of the future. It can be of varied size, shape and colour.

;Coobla : A drugless device that stimulates the pleasure centres of the brain.

;Deadwalker : An Ort.

;Deep : The Massebth name for a seer.

;Deva : An artificial being that lives in the ionosphere and uses the solar wind to sustain itself.

;Distort : A human being who has been mutated by cosmic radiation.

;Dorga : A criminal who has been turned into a drone worker.

;Howlie : The voor term for anyone that cannot communicate telepathically.

;Iz : The voor term for the Line of cosmic radiation.

;Kha : Biospectral energy.

;Kiutl : A plant that has been mutated by the cosmic radiation and, when consumed or smoked, allows normal humans telepathic abilities.

;Lusk : A voor ability to merge with and suppress another being.

;Olfact : An inhaled mood changer.

;N : A genderless mutant, often with psychic powers.

;N-futhorc : An alphabet used by the n.

Review excerpts

*"RADIX is sheer pleasure to read: brimming with living characters, splendid adventures....It is an exhilarating novel." - 'Minneapolis Tribune'

*"Attanasio invents language, customs, hardware, history, small animals, and more good supporting characters than most writers can get into five books." - 'Newsday'

*"Here stands a high talent; a truly amazing, original, towering talent." - 'L.A. Times'Taken from the 2nd edition (1983)

*"Alive with enough zest and daring to rise above the sf/fantasy run-of-the-mill" - 'Kirkus Reviews'Taken from the 2nd edition (1983)

*"An instant classic" - 'Washington Post'Taken from the 2nd edition (1983)

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