In Worlds, Worlds Apart, and Worlds Enough and Time, the acclaimed Hugo and Nebula Award–winning author of The Forever War imagines a near future rife with exhilarating and terrifying possibilities, when hundreds of thousands of human beings have abandoned the Earth’s surface to live in man-made habitats orbiting the troubled planet.
Haldeman’s science fiction saga follows Marianne O’Hara, a young inhabitant of the World known as New New York, from her arrival on Earth as a student who becomes seduced by radical politics, through her coming of age amid the Worlds’ war and the habitats’ devastation, and ultimately to Marianne’s emergence as a leader—and possibly the last hope of the human race as it heads toward the stars.
Stephen King said of the first book in Haldeman’s trilogy, “There are scenes in Worlds I will remember forever.” These gripping novels will enthrall anyone interested in the future—that of our planet and of the human race.
About the Author
Haldeman sold his first story in 1969 and has since written over two dozen novels and five collections of short stories and poetry. He has won the Nebula and Hugo Awards for his novels, novellas, poems, and short stories, as well as the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, the Locus Award, the Rhysling Award, the World Fantasy Award, and the James Tiptree, Jr. Award. His works include The Forever War, Forever Peace, Camouflage, 1968, the Worlds saga, and the Marsbound series.
Haldeman recently retired after many years as an associate professor in the Department of Writing and Humanistic Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He and his wife, Gay, live in Florida, where he also paints, plays the guitar, rides his bicycle, and studies the skies with his telescope.
Read an Excerpt
The Worlds Trilogy
Worlds, Worlds Apart, and Worlds Enough and Time
By Joe Haldeman
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 1992 Joe Haldeman
All rights reserved.
You can't know space unless you were born there. You can get used to it, maybe.
You can't love the surface of a planet if you were born in space. Not even Earth. Too big and crowded and nothing between you and the sky. Things drop in straight lines.
But Earth people do visit space and Worlds people do visit Earth. Always to come back changed, sometimes leaving changes.CHAPTER 2
The world didn't end in the twentieth century. It did take a beating, though, and through most of the next century the psychic scars of the recent past were a prominent part of the human landscape; more prominent, perhaps, than present wonders or future hopes.
Many people, though not a majority, thought that the only real hope for the human race lay out in the Worlds, the orbiting settlements whose population, by the eighties, was approaching a half million. It looked as if the Worlds gave humanity a place to start over, clean slate, unlimited room for expansion. It looked that way from the Worlds, to most people, and from the Earth, to some.
They were called "the Worlds" for convenience, not as an expression of any significant degree of political autonomy or common purpose. Some, such as Salyut and Uchuden, were simply colonies, with populations that were still loyal to their founding countries. Others owed their first allegiance to corporations like Bellcom or Skyfac or, in one case, to a church.
There were forty-one Worlds, ranging in size from cramped little laboratories to vast New New York, home to a quarter of a million people.
New New York was politically independent, at least on paper. But after forty years of exporting energy and materials, it still owed huge debts to the United States of America and New York State. It had looked like a sound long-term investment back in 2010, since smaller-scale energy farms like Devon's World (then called O'Neill) were making fortunes. But then came cheap fusion, and New New could barely charge enough per kilowatt-hour to keep up interest payments. Two things kept the settlement in business: foamsteel and, surprisingly, tourism.
New New started out as an asteroid named Paphos and a philosophy called "economies of scale."
Paphos (its real name was 1992BH) was a small asteroid whose orbit brought it, once each nine years, to within 750,000 kilometers of Earth, about a half million miles. It was a nickel-iron asteroid, which meant it was made of nearly pure steel.
Two hundred and fifty trillion tonnes of steel is a prize worth going after. In 2001, an orbiting factory intercepted Paphos and latched on to it. For the next nine years, hundreds of carefully calculated nuclear blasts warped its orbit, bending it in toward Earth. In 2010, it slid into a geosynchronous orbit — a new star hanging still in the skies of North and South America, unblinking, brighter than Venus.
The bombs that had steered it were "shaped charges," and so did double duty, excavating the planetoid while moving it. When Paphos arrived at its new home, its middle had been scooped out, providing a hollow where people would eventually live. It had been made to rotate much faster than any natural planetoid, spinning to provide artificial gravity on the inside.
The megatonnage that brought Paphos into orbit and started it spinning had been donated by the United States (scavenged from obsolete weapons left over from the previous century's arms race), in return for perpetual "most favored nation" status. One percent of New New York's mass would supply the United States with steel for a thousand years, and it would be the only country that didn't have to pay duty.
They sealed off the open end and filled the hollow with air, soil, water, plants, light; landscaping the interior into a combination of carefully planned wilderness and manicured parkland. Then the people started to come. Miners at first, with huge mole-machines that chewed steel out of the solid metal ground beneath the growing grass and forest. The steel was worth its weight in money to any country or corporation that was building structures in orbit. Normally, ninety-nine percent of the cost of building materials was launch expense. New New York could transfer steel to any orbit for pennies, via slow solar-powered tugs.
After the miners had been tunneling for a year or so, the construction crew came in, to make city of the corridors and caverns. Like its namesake, New New York was to have a Central Park — more literally central in the case of New New — to provide a place of greenery and open spaces for people who would live most of their lives in metal caves.
The cheap fusion that had undermined the energy market also made space travel accessible to the merely wealthy. Tourists came to strap on wings and fly (effortless along the zero-gravity axis) or to sit for hours in the observation domes, lost in the terrible wheeling beauty. Honeymooners and others came to consummate themselves in weightlessness, which is wonderful unless you start spinning, and to enjoy the extravagance of paying two thousand dollars a night for a small room in the Hilton. Oenophiles scrapped their life savings to come up and sample the wines that were never exported: the Saint-Émilions, the Châteaux d'Yquem and neuf-de-Pape that had no vintage years because every year was the same; every year was perfect; the wine of the century down to eight decimal places.
The tourism worked both ways, of course. Nearly every man, woman, and kiddo on New New wanted to see Earth. Balance of payments forbade it for all save one in a thousand.
Marianne O'Hara was one of the lucky ones. Depending on how you look at it.CHAPTER 3
Unlike most of her contemporaries, O'Hara was not obsessed with genealogy, so she didn't know anything about any ancestors beyond her great-grandmother, who was still alive and in fact also lived in New New York.
She had to learn, though, facing menarche and the prospect of taking a mate. The prevalence of "line families" in the Worlds could generate a lot of relatives. They joked that before you went on a date, you had to check a computer to see what degree of incest you were liable to commit. O'Hara was fourth-generation Worlds, and was related to six different lines, three of them because of her grand-mother, who in her time had been a one-woman population explosion.
Various families' records went back to a striking red-haired woman who had left a bad marriage and Prussia in the late nineteenth century and came to America. This woman married a blacksmith in Pennsylvania and they had seven children. One son went to wicked Chicago and made his living, eventually, as a courier of money and sometime pickpocket. He was good at both trades, and at being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and was machine-gunned to death, which was not an unusual way to depart, for a young criminal in Chicago. He'd left a son in a prostitute, who left it in an orphanage. The son was encouraged by a gaggle of nuns, and eventually became a stodgy professor of Attic Greek. He had a daughter (the Prussian woman's red hair coming back) who through a curious sequence of emulation and rebellion wound up with a doctorate in biochemistry, in a specialty that required some work in orbit. In orbit she had a bastard daughter. This daughter stayed in space, joining the New New York Corporation, and eventually became the great-grandmother of Marianne, who would take the name O'Hara.
Her mother was annoyed at Marianne for choosing the name O'Hara. A girl-woman usually chose her name to honor someone; they didn't even know anyone named O'Hara. She said she'd picked it because she liked the sound (and it did sound better than "Marianne Scanlan," her root name); actually, she had pored over lists and lists, looking for one best name, until she had lost all power of discrimination.
The night before her menarche party, her body full of private outrage, her head foggy with the drugs that would precipitate fertility, she'd looked at the reading list for her course in twentieth-century popular novelists, and honored John O'Hara because he was near the middle of the alphabet, so she'd never be at the end of a line.
Did her mother have a tin ear, to name her Marianne in the first place? No; at the time of her birth, her mother's name had been Nabors. They didn't join the Scanlan line until Marianne was five, her mother all of seventeen.
Most of the people in New New belonged to line families; everyone who wasn't a groundhog was at least related to a line. The custom had its roots in America, just before the turn of the century, born of taxation and sexual freedom.
Line families first became widespread in New York, where inheritance taxes could gobble up as much as ninety percent of an estate. One way around this was to redefine your family as a corporation, with everybody on the board of directors. A best-selling book explained the simple legal process.
The State retaliated by proving in court that a corporation whose board was entirely blood-related had to demonstrate that it had not been set up purely for the avoidance of taxes. This generated a loud chorus of outraged editorials and pious pronouncements by temporarily out-of-work politicians. Another best-selling book, complete with tear-out forms, explained that the simplest way to get around the new law was to effect a merger: join forces, on paper, with some family that was not related to you.
At this time America was enjoying a return of sexual permissiveness, so a lot of the joining was done on beds as well as on paper. There was also a fashion for communal living, which started in rural areas but was widely embraced in cities — especially New York — when it was shown that a corporation of tenants could make a landlord very cooperative. The term "line family" became common in California, where members of these consensual corporations took the same last name; the custom moved east, and up.
In the Worlds, as on Earth, line families encouraged both nonconformity and rigidity. Over a couple of generations, experiment would become habit would become tradition — and if you don't like it, why don't you go start your own line; all right, I will.
For instance, the Scanlan line was made up of three-mate marriages called triunes. Triunes occasionally interlocked to form larger units, but that was considered racy. The Nabors line was less formal. In general, young men paired up with older women and young women with older men, with frequent changes of partners. That Marianne's mother was only twelve when she gave birth did not raise any eyebrows. But when it turned out that the father not only was not a Nabors, but was a groundhog as well, mother and child were unceremoniously disowned.
To become a Scanlan, a person only had to be of proven fertility, and had either to find a compatible broken triune or to apply with two other fertile people (all three not to be of the same sex). Marianne's mother took the latter course: she applied with two men, her current lover and Marianne's father, who returned to his Earthside wife a week later, as had been prearranged.
Thus Marianne was a fatherless prefertile adjunct to a broken triune, with a mother young enough to be her sister (Scanlan women normally postponed children until their thirties). She was different, and the other children were not kind. The boys were unkind and bigger than she was, which might be one reason she delayed womanhood as long as possible.
When she did become a woman she was striking, rather than beautiful, with the genes that had come from Prussia two centuries before: thick dark red hair, eyes the color of copper, skin as pale as wax. People would stare at her.CHAPTER 4
A menarche party is fun for everybody but the guest of honor. Old wine doesn't mix well with new hormones. Smug sympathy while your girlhood is being torn bleeding from your body.
O'Hara knew she was drinking too much wine, trying to wash away the acid taste of vomit. That had been because of too many pain pills. The cramps were still there, gentle pressure, waiting for the medicine to wear off. If she sat still she imagined she could feel meat growing, shoving up beneath her boyish nipples. But she couldn't sit still; no position was comfortable for long. And she couldn't stand up without feeling nauseated. She had moved the party outside, upstairs into the park, which had helped for a minute. Now there was no place else to go. Except out the airlock. That sounded like an attractive proposition. She wasn't even bleeding yet, raped by stiff cotton. She would not cry. If one more woman tried to put her arm around her, she'd knock the bitch's teeth down her throat.
"My poor baby." Can't hit your own mother. "You're so pale. You aren't going to be sick again?" "Thanks," she said through clenched teeth. "I'd almost forgotten."
"You really shouldn't drink so much wine, you know. It doesn't help."
"Mother. I always throw up at parties. Nerves. I'm all right now. Once always does the trick."
She smiled uncertainly and cocked her head at her daughter. "I can never tell when you're being serious."
"Never serious. Morose, sometimes. Never serious." She swallowed hard and blew her nose. "Boy. Wish we could do this every year."
"Well, you brought it on yourself. You know what Dr. Johnson said." The gynecologist had been after her for five years. The longer you put it off, the more it was going to hurt. Finally, approaching seventeen, she had to menarche or face real trouble with her pelvic girdle later on.
"Dr. Johnson knows as much about this as I know about peeing standing up."
"It's true; he's never told me anything I didn't know. He just likes to poke around inside little girls."
"Don't be crude."
"Big girls, too."
"He's a nice man."
"Sure. Keeps his instruments in the refrigerator so they'll be nice and fresh."
She shook her head. "Poor girl. I know what you're going through."
Marianne leaned back and closed her eyes. "In a goat's gap, you do. You were twelve, weren't you?"
"Eleven. I was twelve when I had you."
"So don't call me 'girl.' In another five years I'll be twice as old as you."
"Just help me up, would you?" She held out a weary arm. "I have to find the john."
"Are you going to be sick?"
"No. If you must know, I want to check and see if it's started yet." She minced away and muttered: "My glorious fucking womanhood."CHAPTER 5
Her misspent youth
When she was a girl, Marianne knew she annoyed some people and frightened others. It would be years before she made any conscious effort to put people at ease; until then, she was socially something of a monster.
She was single-minded and broadly talented. Under New New's merit-examination system, she was graduated from high school at age twelve; by fifteen she had baccalaureate certification in American Studies and World Systems. She earned medals in handball and gymnastics and played in the orchestra. Papers she wrote while a graduate student were published in academic journals in the Worlds and on Earth. New New's Academic Council gave her the rare opportunity to go to Earth for a year of postgraduate work.
Her mother, who had dropped out of school at the tenth-grade level, thought that Marianne was using her education as an excuse for delaying menarche, and she was not completely wrong. To Marianne, dating sounded like a boring waste of time and sex sounded gruesome. She knew that wasn't true for most people, but she also knew she wasn't like most people. So she exercised her legal right to put off adulthood.
For the first couple of months after menarche, Marianne had reason to wish they still did it the old-fashioned way. She cramped constantly and lost so much blood she had to have two transfusions. Her new breasts and hips ached from rapid growth and bumping into things. She felt clumsy and sore and messy and unnecessarily hirsute.
Once recovered from the transition, though, she went about becoming a woman with characteristic speed and thoroughness. She read all about it, of course, and asked innumerable embarrassing questions. She took a light academic load and kept an eye out for a likely-looking male. She found an unlikely one.
Students in New New, no matter how gifted, were not allowed to be passive beneficiaries of everybody else's labor. O'Hara was required to do agricultural work on Thursdays and construction on Saturdays. It was while slapping paint on seemingly endless acres of wall that she met Charlie Increase Devon.
Excerpted from The Worlds Trilogy by Joe Haldeman. Copyright © 1992 Joe Haldeman. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
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