“Every bit as appealing as the Riverworld saga,” this brilliant high-concept dystopian novel features an overpopulated Earth under strict government control (Booklist).
Only by being watched may you become free.
It’s 3414 AD, the rise of the New Era, and Earth has become massively overpopulated. The worldwide government has recently implemented a system that allows human civilization to continue: Each person lives only one day a week. For the other six he or she is “stoned”—placed in suspended animation. To keep everyone to their particular day, the activities of all citizens of the Organic Commonwealth of Earth are closely monitored.
Jeff Caird is an “immer,” one of the rebels secretly working to infiltrate the government to gain influence and loosen the surveillance on citizens. He’s also a “daybreaker,” avoiding stoning and thereby conscious all seven days a week. He operates under a different identity every day, delivering sensitive messages between rebels.
Jeff is dedicated to his cause, but maintaining seven separate identities, including jobs, families, and friends, is no small feat, and when the juggling finally begins to take its toll, the immers determine that Jeff is a liability who must be eliminated. Now, he’s fighting for survival and on the run from both his fellow rebels and the authoritarian government that considers his mental state incurable and punishable by death.
From the Hugo Award–winning author of the Riverworld and World of Tiers series, Dayworld is “an excellent novel, set in a constructed society that is unique and fascinating” (Science Fiction Chronicle).
About the Author
His first published novella, “The Lovers” (1952), earned him the Hugo Award for best new author. He won a second Hugo and was nominated for the Nebula Award for the 1967 novella “Riders of the Purple Wage,” a prophetic literary satire about a futuristic, cradle-to-grave welfare state. His best-known works include the Riverworld books, the World of Tiers series, the Dayworld Trilogy, and literary pastiches of such fictional pulp characters as Tarzan and Sherlock Holmes. He was one of the first writers to take these characters and their origin stories and mold them into wholly new works. His short fiction is also highly regarded.
In 2001, Farmer won the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement and was named Grand Master by the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America.
Read an Excerpt
When the hounds bay, the fox and the hare are brothers.
Today, Jeff Caird, the fox, would hear the hounds.
At the moment, he could not hear anything because he was standing in a soundproof cylinder. If he had been outside it, he still would have heard nothing. Except for himself and a few organics, firefighters, and technicians, he was the only living person in the city.
A few minutes before entering the cylinder and closing its door, he had slid back a small panel in the wall. Behind the control panel in the wall recess was a tiny device he had long ago connected to the power circuits. He had voice-activated the device, thus ensuring that "destoning" power would not be applied to the cylinder he now occupied.
Though power was absent, the city monitoring computer would receive false data that power had been turned on in his cylinder.
His cylinder or "stoner" was like those of all other healthy adults. It stood on one end, had a round window a foot in diameter in the door, and was made of gray paper. The paper, however, was permanently "stoned," and thus was indestructible and always cool.
Nude, his feet planted on a thick disc set in the middle of the cylinder, he waited. The inflated facsimile of himself had been deflated and was in the shoulder bag on the cylinder floor.
The figures in the other cylinders in the room were nonliving things whose molecules had been electromagnetically commanded to slow down. Result: a hardening throughout the body, which became unbreakable and unburnable, though a diamond could scratch it. Result: a lowering of body temperature, though it was not so low that it caused moisture to precipitate in the ambient air.
Suddenly, in one cylinder in the room and in hundreds of thousands of others in the silent city, automatically applied power surged from the discs and through the statuelike bodies. Like a cue stick slamming into a group of billiard balls, the power struck the lazy molecules of the body. The balls scattered and kept on moving at the rate determined by Nature. The heart of the destoned person, unaware that it had been stopped, completed the beat. Exactly fifteen minutes after midnight, the people of Tuesday's Manhattan were no longer uneatable and unrottable pumpkins. For the next twenty-three hours and thirty minutes, they could be easily wounded or killed.
He pushed the door open and stepped into a large basement room. He bent slightly from the waist, causing the ID badge hung from a chain around his neck to swing out. As he straightened up, the green disc surrounded by a seven-pointed star settled back against his solar plexus.
The sourceless light had come on when destoning power had been applied. As he did every Tuesday morning, he saw the shadowless light-green walls, the four-foot-wide TV strips running from ceiling to floor, the thick brown carpet with a swirling green pattern, the clock strip, and twenty-three cylinders and coffin-shaped boxes, the "stoners." Twenty frozen faces were framed by the round windows. Twelve seniors (adults) in the vertical cylinders. Eight juniors, young children, lying horizontally in the boxes and facing the ceiling.
A few seconds after he had left his stoner, a woman stepped out of hers. Ozma Fillmore Wang was short, slender, full-breasted, and long-legged. Her cheekbones were broad and high on her heart-shaped face. Her large black eyes had slight epicanthic folds. Her long hair was straight, black, and glossy. Large white teeth shone when she flashed a wide-lipped smile.
She wore nothing except her ID disc-star, lipstick, eye shadow, and a great green grasshopper painted on her body. It was standing up on its back legs, and her black-painted nipples formed the centers of the black staring eyes. Sometimes, when Jeff was making love to his wife, he had the feeling that he was coupled with an insect.
She came to him, and they kissed. "Good morning, Jeff."
"Good morning, Ozma."
She turned and led him into the next room. He reached out to pat her egg-shaped buttock, then withdrew his hand. The slightest encouragement would inflame her. She would want to make love on the carpet in front of the unseeing witnesses in the cylinders. He thought that it was childish to do this, but she was, in some ways, childish. She preferred to call herself childlike. OK. All good artists were childlike. To them every second birthed a new world, each more astonishing and awesome than the previous. However ... was Ozma a good artist?
What did he care? He loved her for herself, whatever that meant.
The other room contained chairs, sofas, tables, a Ping-Pong table, an exercising machine, a pool table, TV wall strips, a door to a bathroom, and a door to the utility room. Ozma turned just outside this door and went up the steps to a hall. On their left was the kitchen. They turned right, went down a short hall, and turned right to the steps. The upstairs held four bedrooms, each with a bathroom. Ozma preceded him into the nearest bedroom, which lit up as they entered.
At one end of the large room, by some shuttered windows, was a king-size bed. At another wall, by a large round window, was a table with a large mirror. Nearby were shelves holding big plastic boxes containing brushes, combs, and cosmetics. Each box bore the name of its owner.
Along one wall was a series of doors with name-plaques. Jeff inserted a point of his ID star into a hole in the door bearing his name and Ozma's. It slid open, and a light came on, revealing shelves holding their personal-property clothing. From a shelf at eye level, he picked out a crumpled ball of cloth, turned, placed a section between his thumb and first finger, and snapped the ball. It unrolled with a crack of electrical sparks from its hem and became a long, smooth Kelly-green robe. He put it on and tied a belt around his waist. From another shelf he took two socks and a pair of shoes. After putting these on, he sealed the tops of the shoes with a firm pressure of fingers.
Ozma straightened up from her inspection of the bedclothes.
"Clean and done according to specifications," she said.
"Monday's always been good about house duties. We're luckier than some I know. I only hope Monday doesn't move to another house."
She spoke a codeword. A wall sprang into light and life, a three-dimensional view of a jungle composed of gigantic grass blades. Presently, some blades bent, and a thing with bulging black insect eyes looked at the two humans. Its antennae quivered. A hind leg raised and rubbed against a protruding vein. Grasshopper stridulations rang through the room.
"For God's sake," Jeff said. "Tone it down."
"It soothes me to sleep," she said. "Not that I feel like sleeping just now."
"I'd like to wait until we've had a good rest. It's always better then."
"Oh, I don't know," Ozma said. "Why don't we give it a scientific test? Do it before sleep and after and then compare notes?"
"That's the difference between forty and twenty-five. Believe me, I know."
She laughed and said, "We're not a December–April match, darling."
She lay down on the bed, her arms and legs spread out.
"The Castle Ecstatic is undefended, and its drawbridge is down. Charge on in, Sir Galahad, with your trusty lance."
"I'm afraid I might fall into the moat," he said, grinning.
"You bastard! Are you trying to make me mad again? Charge on in, faint-hearted knight, or I'll slam the portcullis down on you!"
"You've been watching reruns of The Knights of the Round Table," he said.
"They turn me on, all those violent men on their big horses and maidens ravished by three-headed ogres. All those spears thrusting. Come on, Jeff! Play along with me!"
"I seek the Holy Grail," he said as he eased down. "However, it's more like the Holy Gruel."
"Can I help it if I overlubricate? You keep this up, and I'll paint you brown and flush you down the toilet. Don't spoil it for me, Jeff. I have to fantasize."
He thought, Whatever happened to good old unimaginative sex? But he said, "I've just taken a vow of silence. Think of me as the mad monk of Sherwood Forest."
"Don't stop talking. You know I love it when you talk dirty."
Fifteen minutes later, she said, "Did you apply for a permit?"
"No," he said, breathing hard. "I forgot."
She rolled over to face him. "You said you wanted a child."
"Yes. Only ... you know I had so much trouble with Ariel. I wonder if I really want another child."
Ozma stroked his cheek gently. "Your daughter's a wonderful woman. What trouble?"
"Lots after her mother died. She got neurotic, too dependent. And she's very jealous of you, though she has no reason to be."
"I don't think so," Ozma said. "Anyway ... trouble? What trouble? Have you been holding out on me?"
"We'll talk about it during breakfast," she said. "Unless you'd like to talk about it now. You know, I thought for sure that you wanted a child. I had some misgivings myself. I am an artist, and I should give my all to my art, excluding of course what I gladly give to you. But a child? I wasn't sure. Then —"
"We've been through that," he said. He mimicked her low husky hint-of-gravel-grinding voice. "'Every woman is an artist in that she can produce a masterpiece, her child. However, not all women are good artists. But I am, I am. Painting is not enough.'"
She hit his arm with a tiny fist. "You make me sound so pompous."
"Not at all." He kissed her. "Good night. We'll talk later."
"That's what I said. But ... you'll apply today?"
Though they could have sent in their application via TV strip, they had a much better chance of acceptance if he used his connections as an organic (a euphemism for policeperson, who represented the force of the "organic" government). He would talk face to face with a superior official of the Reproduction Bureau for whom he had done some favors, and the application would not go through regular channels. Even so, it would be a subyear before the Bureau's decision came through. Jeff knew that they would be accepted. Meanwhile, he could change his mind and cancel the application.
Ozma would be angry if he did, which meant that he was going to have to think of a good excuse. However, many events could happen before the day of wrath.
Ozma went to sleep quickly. He lay for a while, eyes closed but seeing Ariel's face. The immer council had already rejected his request to initiate Ozma. He had expected that, but he had thought that Ariel would be accepted. The daughter of immers, she was very intelligent and adaptable, highly qualified to become an immer. Except ... she had shown some psychic instability in certain matters. For that reason, the immer council might reject her. He could not deny that the council had to be very cautious. But he was hurt.
Sometimes, he wished that Gilbert Ching Immerman had not discovered the elixir or chemical compound or whatever it was that slowed down aging. He also wished that, since the elixir had been discovered many obcenturies ago, Immerman had made the discovery public. But Immerman, after some agonizing, had decided that the elixir would not be good for humankind as a whole.
As it was, the stoner society eliminated many generations that would have been born if the stoners had not been invented. It took a person one hundred and forty objective years to reach the physiological age of twenty. Thus, six generations were lost every one hundred and forty years. Who knew what geniuses and saints, not to mention the common people, were never born? Who knew how many people who might have led the world in scientific and artistic and political progress were missing?
Immerman had thought that the present situation was bad enough. But if the existing slowing-down of living and of birth was increased by seven, then the loss would be even greater. And this global society, the Organic Commonwealth of Earth, would become even more static and would change even more sluggishly.
Whether Immerman's decision was ethically right or wrong, he had made it, and its result, the secret immer family, was living today.
Immerman had not, however, been selfish in keeping the secret for himself, his descendants, and those initiated into the family. The immers would be hidden rebels against the government. In a slow and subtle revolution, they would infiltrate the upper and middle echelons of the commonwealth. Once they had enough power, they would not change the basic structure of the government. They did not want as yet to abandon the stoners. But they did want to get rid of the constant and close monitoring of the citizens by the government. It was not just irksome; it was degrading. It also was not necessary, though the government claimed that it was.
"Only by being watched may you become free" was one of the government's slogans often displayed on the strip shows.
At the age of eighteen subyears, Caird had been told of the immer society by his parents. He had been studied by the council, weighed in the balance and found more than satisfactory. He was asked if he wanted to become an immer. Of course, he did. Who would turn down the opportunity of a much longer life? And what intelligent youth would not want to work for greater freedom and for an eventual position of power?
It was not until some subyears later that he realized how anxious his parents must have been when they revealed the secret of the immers. What if, through some perversity, their son had refused to join? The immer council could not allow him to live, even though it was unlikely that he would betray the family. He would have been taken away in the dead of night and stoned, then hidden where no one would ever find him. And that would have grieved his parents.
When Caird had realized that, he had asked his parents what they would have done if he had rejected the offer. Would they have turned against the immers?
"But no one has ever refused," his father had said.
Caird had not said anything, but he had wondered if there had been people who had turned down the offer and no one except those immediately involved had known of it.
At nineteen, Caird had been approached by his uncle, an organic whom Caird suspected might also be on the Manhattan immer council. Did his nephew wish to become a daybreaker? Not just the ordinary type of daybreaker, a common criminal, but one who would be protected and helped by the immers. He would have a new identity on each day, he could have many professions, and he could carry messages verbally from one day's council to the next when recorded messages were dangerous.
Entranced, eager, the youthful Caird had said that he certainly would like to be a daybreaker.
Thinking of this, Caird finally fell asleep. And he was in a chapter of a serial dream, though he had never been in this cliff-hanger before. He was sitting in a room that he somehow knew was part of the long-abandoned sewer system buried by the first great earthquake to level Manhattan. This room was just off the middle of a huge horizontal sewage tunnel blocked at both ends but accessible by rungs down a vertical shaft. A single unshaded light bulb, a device not used for a thousand obyears, lit the room in archaic fashion.
Though the light blazed harshly, it could not keep at bay the dark mists rolling in from every side. These advanced, then retreated, then advanced.
He sat in a hard wooden chair by a big round wooden table. He waited for others, the others, to enter. Yet he was also standing in the mists and watching himself seated in the chair.
Presently, Bob Tingle walked in as slowly as if he were moving through waist-high water. In his left hand was a portable computer on top of which was a rotating microwave dish. Tingle nodded at the Caird in the chair, put the computer on the table, and sat down. The dish stopped turning, its concave face steady on Caird's convex face.
Jim Dunski seemed to float in, a fencing rapier in his left hand. He nodded at the two, placed the rapier so that it pointed at the Caird at the table, and sat down. The blunt button on the rapier tip melted away, and the sharp point glittered like an evil eye.
Wyatt Repp, a silvery pistol-shaped TV camera-transmitter in his left hand, strode in. Invisible saloon batwing doors seemed to swing noiselessly behind him. His high-heeled cowboy boots made him taller than the others. His sequined Western outfit glittered as evilly as the rapier tip. His white ten-gallon hat bore on its front a red triangle enclosing a bright blue eye. It winked once at Caird and was thereafter fixed lidlessly on him.
Excerpted from "Dayworld"
Copyright © 1985 Philip José Farmer.
Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
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