This is one of the most influential books in my personal history. It’s the story of the growth and transformation of Sumner Kagan, a “white card” bearer in a future dystopia. His white card indicates that he’s a genetically pure human, untouched by the mutations that have ravaged the race in this far-future Earth.
Due to his genetic superiority, he’s prime breeding stock, and given regular access to females in order to assist in the recovery of humanity. There’s far more to it, of course.
Sumner Kagan moonlights as the “Sugarat” – a mass-murderer of street gangs. Using his own corpulent self as bait, Kagan lures bullies to hideous deaths, leaving his calling card in the form of graffiti.
It’s only a matter of time before he’s caught and punished, but due to his white card status, he isn’t killed but conscripted.
This is where Kagan’s true journey begins, as a Ranger tasked with rooting out colonies of mutants and destroying them, he undergoes a radical transformation. From the pampered overweight murderer he was, to a finely honed killing machine who comes to regret his brutal nature and ultimately rebels against it.
He discovers in the process that he is far more than just another white card, but I’ve already dropped enough spoilers so I’ll leave that surprise to the book.
The reason this book was so influential on me was that it started me on the path toward my own journey of transformation and spiritual awakening, by posing questions and suggesting possibilities I hadn’t even begun to consider.
I read the book in adolescence, when my mind was especially primed to accept new ideas about the nature of reality and humanity’s place in it.
It’s not the best book I’ve ever read, but because of its role in my personal journey, I’ve got a soft spot for it, and re-read it periodically in order to recapture a sense of who I was as a younger man, the dreams, the hopes, the fears, the possibilities.
For people who haven’t been exposed to Attanasio’s way of thinking, it’s a mind-bending read at any age, so I’m confident in recommending it to anyone with an open mind and a love of new ideas.