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The Worthing Saga

Orson Scott Card

  The Worthing Saga

  Orson Scott Card

  “But Dal,” Bergen protested. “Somec is like immortality. I'm going on the ten-down-one-up schedule, and that means that when I'm fifty, three hundred years will have passed! Three centuries! And I'll live another five hundred years beyond that. I'll see the Empire rise and fall, I'll see the work of a thousand artists living hundreds of years apart, I'll have broken the ties of time—”

  “The ties of time. A good phrase. You are ecstatic about progress. I congratulate you. I wish you well. Sleep and sleep and sleep, may you profit from it. But Bergen, While you fly, like stones skipping across the water, touching down here and there and barely getting wet, while you are busy doing that, I shall swim. I like to swim. It gets me wet. It wears me out. And when I die, which will happen before you turn thirty, I'm sure, I'll have my paintings to leave behind me.”

  “Vicarious immortality is rather second rate, isn't it?”

  “Is there anything second rate about my work?”

  “No,” Bergen answered.

  “Then eat my food, and look at my paintings again, and go back to building huge cities until there's a roof over all the world and the planet shines in space like a star. There's a kind of beauty in that, too, and your work will live after you. Live how you like. But tell me, Bergen, do you have time to swim naked in a lake?”

  Bergen laughed. “I haven't done that in years.”

  “I did it this morning.”


  The Folk of the Fringe

  Future on Fire (editor)

  Future on Ice (editor)

  Harts Hope

  Lovelock (with Kathryn Kidd)

  Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus



  The Worthing Saga


  Seventh Son

  Red Prophet

  Prentice Alvin

  Alvin Journeyman



  Ender's Game

  Speaker for the Dead


  Children of the Mind

  Ender's Shadow


  The Memory of Earth

  The Call of Earth

  The Ships of Earth




  Maps in a Mirror: The Short Fiction of

  Orson Scott Card (hardcover)

  Maps in a Mirror; Volume 1: The Changed Man (paperback)

  Maps in a Mirror; Volume 2: Flux (paperback)

  Maps in a Mirror; Volume 3: Cruel Miracles (paperback)

  Maps in a Mirror; Volume 4: Monkey Sonatas (paperback)

  NOTE: If you purchased this book without a cover you should be aware that this book is stolen property. It was reported as “unsold and destroyed” to the publisher, and neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this “stripped book.”

  This is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious, and any resemblance to real people or event is purely coincidental.


  Copyright © 1978, 1979, 1980, 1982, 1989, 1990 by Orson Scott Card

  All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this' book, or portions thereof, in any form.

  Cover art by Wayne Barlowe

  A Tor Book

  Published by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC

  175 Fifth Avenue

  New York. NY 10010

  Tor is a registered trademark of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.

  ISBN: 0-812-50927-7

  First edition: December 1990

  Printed in the United States of America

  10 9 8

  Copyright © 1978, 1979, 1980, 1982, 1989 by Orson Scott Card

  “Lifeloop” copyright © 1978 by The Condé Nast Publications Inc. (First published in Analog, October 1978.)

  “Killing Children” copyright © 1978 by The Condé Nast Publications, Inc. (First published in Analog, November 1978.)

  “Second Chance” copyright © 1979 by Charter Communications, Inc. (First published in Destinies, Ace Books, January 1979.)

  “Breaking the Game” copyright ©' 1979 by The Condé Nast Publications Inc. (First published in Analog, January 1979.)

  “Tinker” copyright © 1979 by Orson Scott Card. (First published in Eternity SF #2.)

  Capitol: The Worthing Chronicle copyright © 1979 by Orson Scott Card.

  The Worthing Chronicle copyright © 1982 by Orson Scott Card. (First published by Ace Books, The Worthing Chronicle superseded and replaced Hot Sleep, the author's first novel, also published by Ace.)

  “Author's Introduction” copyright © 1989 by Orson Scott Card

  “Afterword” copyright © 1989 by Michael Collings

  Author's Introduction

  This book brings together all the Worthing stories for the first time in one volume. In a way, the Worthing tales are the root of my work in science fiction. The first science fiction story I ever wrote was an early version of “Tinker”; I sent it to Analog magazine when I was nineteen years old.

  At the time, Analog was the only science fiction magazine that listed itself in Writer's Market; since I had never read a science fiction magazine in my life, I knew of no others. “Tinker” reached Analog just at the time that longtime editor John W. Campbell died. His immediate successor rejected the story, but sent along an encouraging note.

  I took this to mean that I was on the right track, and continued working on “Tinker”, and several related stories—“Worthing Farm,” “Worthing Inn,” and a much longer but never finished work about the first contact between the children of Worthing and the outside world. Soon after, while living in Ribeirao Préto, Brazil (I was serving as a missionary for the LDS church), I used my spare time to plot out and begin writing a novel-length prequel that explained why these people had psychic abilities and how they came to live on the planet Worthing. It was then that I thought of somec, with its torturous but forgotten pain; the planet Capitol; and the rather bizarre starship that Jason piloted. At the time my grounding in both science and science fiction were weak. I had read Isaac Asimov's Foundation trilogy—Capitol's derivation from Trantor should be obvious. But I had read little else, and as a result spent much time reinventing the wheel— so to speak. Eventually I left the work unfinished as I turned my hand to play writing and, after my mission was finished, to starting the Utah Valley Repertory Theatre Company.

  In 1975, my theatre company in dire financial straits, I turned back to fiction. Since “Tinker” had received an encouraging note from Analog, I pulled out the manuscript and reread it. Apparently I had learned much in the intervening years, because I found it necessary to rewrite it from beginning to end. Again I sent it to Analog; again it was rejected with an encouraging note. This time, however, Ben Bova, who had since become editor, let me know why the story wasn't working. “Analog doesn't publish fantasy,” he said, “but if you have any science fiction, I'd like to see it.”

  It hadn't occurred to me that “Tinker” was fantasy; I knew that there was ample science fictional justification for everything that happened. Furthermore, I had read a collection of Zenna Henderson's stories and knew that tales of people with extraordinary powers were within the realm of science fiction. Yet the impression “Tinker” leaves is that of fantasy— medieval technology, lots of trees, and unexplained miracles. I toyed with the idea of going back to the story of Jason Worthing, which would establish “Tinker” and all the other stories as true science fiction, but I was too impatient to work with a novel. Instead, I wrote the novelet
te “Ender's Game,” which became my first fiction sale and the foundation of my career as a fiction writer.

  Still, it was not long before I returned to the Worthing stories. Even had I been inclined to neglect them, I could not have forgotten them: My mother kept asking me what I was going to do with my “blue-eyed people.” She had typed those early manuscripts for me—I was already a fair typist, but I couldn't match her error-free 120-word-per-minute artistry—and, as the first audience for the stories in the Forest of Waters, she believed, as I did, that there was some real power in them, even if I did not yet know how to tell the stories as well as I should.

  By then I worked at The Ensign, the official magazine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons). Two other editors there, Jay Parry and Lane Johnson, were also working on fiction writing. We would spend lunch hours down in the Church Office Building cafeteria, eating salads, drinking nasty cheap soda pop, and developing story ideas. Most of my stories immediately after “Ender's Game” emerged from that creative maelstrom. It was then that I began using the idea of somec in stories like “Lifeloop,” “Breaking the Game,” and “Killing Children”; but the stories were never about the science fiction elements. Always they were about people and how they created and destroyed each other.

  When Ben Bova invited me to submit a novel to him for a new series of books he was editing with Baronet and Ace, I immediately thought of my Jason Worthing novel, and started writing it. I showed the first fifty pages or so to Jay Parry, who told me it was too long. Too long? In fifty pages I was most of the way through the story. If I cut any more it'd be nothing but an outline. Then I realized that what Jay was really telling me was that the story felt long. I was trying to rush through the story so fast that I merely skimmed over the surface, never pausing long enough to show a scene that would allow the reader to become involved in the story, to care about a character.

  I went back, slowed down, started over. Still I had trouble structuring the story as a coherent whole. My only experience was writing short stories, so in desperation I rethought the story as a series of novelettes, each from a different character's point of view. The result was a pretty good story marred by a weak, diffuse structure. Even so, it was deemed publishable, and under the title Hot Sleep it began to wend its way toward publication. In fact, he finished the final draft the night before my wedding to Kristine Allen, and on the morning of the wedding I photocopied it and dropped it off in the Church Office Building mailroom before going through the tunnel leading under Main Street to the temple, where my bride was waiting for me. She had some understandable doubts about what it meant to our future that I was a few minutes late for the wedding because I had to get a manuscript into the mail.

  In the meantime, Ben Bova suggested that I collect the somec stories he had bought for Analog, and some new ones, and publish them in a collection with Baronet. The result was the book Capitol. Some of the new stories were good enough that they have found their way into this book. Some, however, were purely mechanical and soulless, and I have, out of mercy to you, dear readers, let them quietly expire. Yet at the time I wrote them, they were the best I could do with the subject matter, and Capitol came out in the spring of 1978 as my first published book of fiction—roughly at the same time as the birth of my first child, Geoffrey.

  Hot Sleep followed a year later, with a hideously ugly cover from Baronet that embarrassed me doubly because it faithfully illustrated a scene in the book. I learned then—as I have relearned since-that if there is a scene in a novel which, if depicted on the cover, would destroy the effectiveness of the book, that is the scene that will appear on the cover. Worse yet, the blurb writers had written “Hugo Award Winner” on the cover, even though I had come in second for the Hugo Award in 1978; it was the John W. Campbell Award (for new writer) that I had won at the Phoenix WorldCon (World Science Fiction Convention).

  Soon after the book's publication I received a letter from Michael Bishop, a writer I had admired for some time, but had not met. He was apologizing in advance for his review of Hot Sleep in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. The review had not yet appeared, but it was too late to correct it, he said—he had criticized me for allowing “Hugo Award Winner” to appear on my book, only to discover a short time later that his own publisher had done the same thing to him, crediting him with awards he had not received. Thus began a friendship that continues today, though not without occasional tensions caused by our very different ideas of what good story telling consists of.

  His review of Hot Sleep was highly critical, but it was also the most helpful book review I've ever seen. He called attention to the structural flaws in the novel in a way that helped me see what I had done wrong. I was then beginning work on my third novel, Songmaster, and was set to use a fragmented, diffuse structure just like the one in Hot Sleep; with Bishop's review as a spur, I found ways to bind a long story together as a single whole. It was the beginning of my understanding of story structure; my narratives came under my conscious control, and a whole new set of tools was available to me.

  In the meantime, though, what could I do about Hot Sleep? I now knew how to write it properly and was deeply dissatisfied with it in its current form. Yet it was also selling steadily, which meant that to some readers it was adequate at least. Furthermore, I was now quite unhappy with the weaker stories in Capitol— and it too was still selling, bringing readers to associate my name with stories I no longer approved of.

  I discussed this with Ace editor Susan Allison at dinner during a convention in Santa Rosa; she agreed to withdraw Hot Sleep and Capitol from print in favor of a new novel, called The Worthing Chronicle, which would tell the same general story, but with much stronger artistry. I did not write the new book until the autumn of 1981, as I was in the midst of my first semester as a graduate student at Notre Dame. By then I was aflame with my new found passion for medieval literature and my theories of how and why story telling works, and, armed with the marvelous book The Lost Country Life as a resource for details of daily life in a pretechnological society, I made The Worthing Chronicle the most structurally complex yet thematically unified of my works of fiction. Far from being my weakest novel, the story of Jason Worthing was now my best.

  Years passed; my old books went out of print. This is always painful to an author; like a parent whose children have stopped writing, the author thinks wistfully of his out-of-print books and wishes he could hear from them again. I'm grateful that Tom Doherty and Beth Meacham, my publisher and editor at Tor, have seen fit to let me assemble in one volume The Worthing Chronicle, the better stories from Capitol, and the original fantasylike stories that started me, not just on this series, but on my entire career as a writer of science fiction.

  In the process of writing The Worthing Chronicle, I did not have the original Worthing stories at hand— “Worthing Farm,” “Worthing Inn,” and “Tinker.” So where I needed elements from them, I relied on memory, and freely adapted to fit the needs of the novel. Now, going back over the original stories, I find that they are so inconsistent with the novel that to reconcile them would require rewriting them completely. I even made notes on how to revise them, but finally decided to publish them here as they were originally. After all, one of the major themes of The Worthing Chronicle is the nature of storytelling; it is more true to the intent of this work if I present these stories in such a way that you can see how the tales have been transformed over time. Some of the transformation arises from the fact that I became a better writer over the years. Some of the differences come from the fact that I have lived a bit longer now, and understand people a little better. Most of the changes, however, arose from the needs of the novel. The stories became what I needed them to be. I believe that's what all our stories are. Not just our fiction, but our news, our gossip, our histories, our biographies, our memories. They are what we need them to be.

  Yet I believe in these tales. I have lived with them in my memory since I was in my teens.
It took me a long time to acquire the skill to tell them as I wanted them told, yet I never ceased caring about them over the years. Now I offer them to you in the hope that you will find them powerful and true.

  The Worthing Saga

  For Laird and Sally

  because the right tales

  are true to you

  1. The Day of Pain

  In many places in the Peopled Worlds, the pain came suddenly in the midst of the day's labor. It was as if an ancient and comfortable presence left them, one that they had never noticed until it was gone, and no one knew what to make of it at first, though all knew at once that something had changed deep at the heart of the world. No one saw the brief flare in the star named Argos; it would be years before astronomers would connect the Day of Pain with the End of Worthing. And by then the change was done, the worlds were broken, and the golden age was over.

  In Lared's village, the change camel while they slept. That night there were no shepherds in their dreams. Lared's little sister, Sala, awoke screaming in terror that Grandma was dead, Grandma is dead!

  Lared sat up in his truckle bed, trying to dispel his own dreams, for in them he had seen his father carry Grandma to the grave—but that had been long ago, hadn't it? Father stumbled from the wooden bedstead where he and Mother slept. Not since Sala had been weaned had anyone cried out in the night. Was she hungry?

  “Grandma died tonight, like a fly in the fire she died!”

  Like a squirrel in the fox's teeth, thought Lared. Like a lizard in the cat's mouth, trembling.

  “Of course she's dead,” Father said, “but not tonight.” He took her in his vast blacksmith's arms and held her. “Why do you weep now, when Grandma has been dead for such a long time?” But Sala wept on, as if the grief were great and new.

  Then Lared looked at Grandma's old bed. “Father,” he whispered. Again, “Father.” For there lay her corpse, still new, still stiffening, though Lared so clearly remembered her burial long ago.