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This is a "Wild Mass Guess" entry, where we pull out all the sanity stops on theorizing. The regular entry on this topic is elsewhere. Please see this programme note.
Brian's Saga
Brian has a Jekyll & Hyde personality
Isn't it a bit odd that Brian gets into two separate predicaments as a result of someone dying or coming close to it in his presence? In Brian's Return, it is revealed that he can get pretty violent. Perhaps, in the first book, he snaps as a result of the stress surrounding his parents' separation and attacks the pilot in a fit of rage. After dealing with the trauma of being stranded in the wilderness, he (reluctantly) returns in The River, where the government researcher is nearly killed. Could Brian have suffered some kind of panic attack returning to the wilderness where he attacking the pilot? Was it lightning, or was it Brian, that resulted in the man's serious injuries?

Brave StoryWMG/LiteratureA Canticle for Leibowitz

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