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Isle of the Dead by Roger Zelazny

Book cover for Isle of the Dead
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Francis Sandow is the last surviving human born in the 20th century. An early space colonist, he spent long centuries of space travel in suspended animation, and then suddenly woke in a far future world where everything had changed. Desperate for something to hold to, he sought out a mentor, who happened to be a member of a slowly dying alien race, the Pei'ans. Under this tutelage, Sandow eventually became a telepath and "worldscaper". Worldscapers have the ability to create and/or terraform planets. The process of becoming a worldscaper culminates in a mystic rite called Naming that binds the mortal to one of the gods in the Pei'an pantheon, and it is believed that the worldscaper is actually acting as an avatar for the god. There are only twenty seven worldscapers in existence; Sandow, bound to Shimbo of Darktree, Shrugger of Thunders, is the only non-Pei'an among them (although outworlders are welcome to practice the religion, which is called Strantri; Sandow opines it will be the first major religion to outlive its founders). While the rite of Naming was once reserved for the high priests of the Pei'an religion, modern Pei'an worldscapers tend to think of their relationships with the gods much more in terms of mental constructs, and Sandow is a confirmed agnostic as far as the objective existence of the gods is concerned.

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