DERMALIAN by Sylvia Toy: The Story
DERMALIAN has 3 main characters:
A member of the Creative Caste
A member of the Librarian Caste (The Librarian, borne from a Dermalian human couple, was born 98% human without the ability to transform himself into a Dermalian. He resents being human and being treated like an experiment and has vociferously fought for a “cure” for his congenital defect.)
The Shakespearean Zombie: A Creative linguist, who was part of one of the first earth expeditions and who is credited with discovering NYPL and deciphering human language. He became a Shakespearean actor as a hobby/art form.
They are in a space ship on the way to earth. The Zombie can’t completely die because even though his human anatomy is dead and has to be continually repatched with synthetic stem cell tissue, the Dermalian part of his anatomy is still alive. (Backstory: The Zombie was given human form in the earliest stage of Dermalian to human surgery before the advanced surgical techniques that could make Dermalian completely human while retaining the ability to transform.) The Zombie can no longer transform because he’s sleepwalking and one has to be conscious in order to transform.
The Dermalians don’t understand human death. They think it’s a disease and don’t grasp the how, what, why of this human “disease” that’s afflicted The Zombie. They are sending this expedition in order to prevent an epidemic among human Dermalians.