Angus McIntyre makes his debut with The Warrior Within, a mind-bending science fiction adventure about a man with many people living in his head
Karsman has a dozen different people living in his head, each the master of a different set of skills and hoping to gain mastery of Karsman’s body. He survives on a backwater planet dominated by the Muljaddy, a mostly ambivalent religious autocracy, where devotion and prayer can be traded in for subsistence wages and enough food to survive. Surrounded by artifacts of a long dead civilization, the population survives off its salvage, with Karsman eking out an uneventful life as the unofficial mayor of his small town.
But that life is soon interrupted, when a group of commandos arrive, coming from the wastelands as only off-worlders could. They've come to kill a woman, or so they say. At first the commandos merely threaten as they search. Unable to find what they're looking for, they begin to ratchet up their measures, separating the men from the women, instigating violent encounters, and eventually staging a coup against the Muljaddy and his Temple.
Faced with the task of protecting his quiet town and a woman he might love from the commandos who could want to kill her, Karsman must balance between maintaining his personality and harnessing the personas whose skills he desperately needs.
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Short fiction writer McIntyre turns to long-form writing with a strong novella that intricately captures a slice of life on a dusty backwater planet. Karsman is a stoic mechanic and unofficial mayor of a town of shacks along the Road, a planet-girdling ribbon that runs through the desert. He spends his days salvaging metal from the long-abandoned towers erected by the ancient Builders. He is also badgered by numerous personalities vying for attention in his mind: Warrior, Strategist, Diplomat, and Doctor. They were implanted in his head by the autocratic Muljaddy, a family of augmented-human priests who rule the planet atop mobile temples moved by enormous wheeled machines. Each time a persona surfaces, Karsman loses memory and time. When three off-world mercenaries enter his town to find and kill a woman, he believes they want Mera, a gentle woman he met at a festival. The mercenaries also attract the attention of the Muljaddy. As the Muljaddy uncharacteristically defer to the mercenaries, Karsman fears that momentous change is coming to his insignificant world; what he's not prepared for is the part that he and his additional personas will play in bringing that change about. McIntyre creates a vivid setting, resilient characters, and comprehensive mythology that deserve many more stories.