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The Worthing Saga by Orson Scott Card
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The Worthing Saga (1983)

by Orson Scott Card

Other authors: Michael R. Collings (Afterword)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Consider me a fan of Orson Scott Card. More specifically, consider me a fan of most of the books he wrote in the 80's and 90's. The Worthing Sage is from that era and is a crafty blend of science fiction and fantasy, and it succeeds in addressing themes generally out of reach for other genres.

Through the scientific magic of somec, a drug that allows for extended periods of ageless sleep, one can now exist past a normal life span, and, with the right technology, one can also travel immense interstellar distances to colonize worlds across the galaxy. This is the story of Jason Worthing's journey across time and through space, and of the new world he built and would ultimately alter it forever.

This book is actually a compilation of an earlier novel, The Worthing Chronicle, and a series of short stories starring some of the secondary characters. ( )
1 vote Daniel.Estes | Nov 22, 2016 |
This book needs it’s own blog post, or two. As a writer – just reading this book you learn so much abut the writing process and how to see other characters through one character’s eyes. You can also learn how to weave, I think it was 20,000 years of history into a story, and literally thousands of characters as well, and the story still makes perfect sense. Not only that, he also picked a current time, and wove the telling of the ancient story within the current storyline in an excellent manner.
Also, a bit Tolkeinish – he kept his originals of some of the stories of characters and included expanded versions of their stories as separate stories at the end of the book. By the end, you really know the minor characters much better, and are glad to get to know them. The last two short stories, didn’t match as well, with the main storyline, yet that is sometimes how original drafts of a story work – they change.
Whether you are a writer, or a reader, this is an excellent universe to enjoy. This is one of those twenty four hour stories – have plenty of food, water, time, and a nice pillow available, as you can’t put the book down! ( )
1 vote AprilBrown | Feb 25, 2015 |
This novel is collected together with a number of earlier-written short stories from the same narrative universe, some featuring common characters or locations. One can clearly see Card's improving craft if one compares them chronologically, with the novel demonstrating a more intricate structure and higher-stakes drama. The novel takes a wider timescale perspective and has more recognizably SF elements: FTL space travel, time dilation, interstellar empires, etc. While a few of the short stories likewise have these elements, the majority are set in more Medieval, post-technological societies where the psychic gifts possessed by the Worthing family descendants are presented more like magic. For this reason, I found them slightly less interesting than the novel which accompanies. One major theme throughout is the impermanent and evolving nature of tales related across generations, paralleling the genetic drift across those same generations. This perfectly compliments the continuity lapses and minor differences between events and characters appearing in multiple stories when the author revised and adjusted them in later stories. I did find it a bit repetitive, anti-climatic and slow-paced to read the short stories after first reading the novel, and found myself wishing it would all finish up already. ( )
1 vote SciFi-Kindle | Apr 19, 2014 |
The first half or so of this book is a novella about the life of Jason Worthing, a telepath born thousands of years before. Jason's world revolves around Somec, a drug that basically puts people into suspended animation and is distributed out based on merit, not money, to preserve the "most valuable" individuals for future generations. The greater the value of the person, the greater the ratio of time asleep to time awake, with the Empress at the highest Somec levels: awake one day for every five years asleep. Like a pebble skipping across a pond, these people skip across time, and ultimately the human race stagnates, as the most innovative minds are never awake long enough to accomplish anything. This is also the story of Jason's colony started from scratch, the colonists adults with the minds of infants. This part got a little preachy - one of the examples of how degenerate life in the capital city had become was how the citizens found defecation more offensive than fornication - but most of the rest of it was pretty good. The latter half was a bunch of short stories, some retelling tales from earlier in the book, others new stories of Somec. Though some of them were kind of interesting, the addition felt unnecessary. All in all, well, this book passed the time. It wasn't especially engaging. I find Card to be hit or miss; this wasn't a complete miss, but it wasn't a hit either. ( )
1 vote melydia | Jun 10, 2012 |
The Worthing Saga is a collection of Card’s works originally published separately that depict the zenith, subsequent collapse and rise again of a far-future human society. In this culture, a drug called somec, which produces a state of suspended animation, has made long-distance spaceflight a possibility, but has also engendered a pseudo-immortality for the rich and privileged, who sleep away years of their lives and only awaken for brief periods. As a result, they are like stones skipping along the surfaces of their lives, rather than actually living them.

In the opening novella, The Worthing Chronicle, Jason Worthing relates the history of this culture. His family has genetically inherited psychic abilities, but a massacre caused by Jason’s father has made all the Worthings outcasts. He grows up on a planet called Capitol, which has been completely covered by buildings and infrastructure. Learning of a plot to bring down Capitol, Worthing leaves for an unsettled planet with a pre-selected group of colonists: his own enemies and detractors. But an accident during the journey causes the colonists’ memories to be destroyed while they are under the somec. Essentially, they are adult infants who Worthing must teach and raise, giving him the opportunity to create a culture entirely from scratch. Eventually, he leaves his fledgling society in the hands of his descendants and goes to sleep for several thousand years, until they have advanced enough to figure out how to awaken him.

While Worthing is sleeping, his family’s genetic abilities are augmented by inbreeding, until they become so psychically powerful that they are able to control the lives of their subjects. They eliminate pain, grief and accidental death, creating a veritable paradise, one in which human progress is essentially stalled, however. Then one day, pain returns to the world, as does Jason Worthing.

This history, related by Worthing through dreams to a young scribe, is fascinating and often harrowing, covering tens of thousands of years of history and leading up to an explanation for why pain, death and sorrow have returned. The short stories that follow fill in the gaps left by the novella, detailing some of the more critical events in the history of Capitol and Worthing. Card has fully realized several societies in The Worthing Saga, and his answers to the what-if questions he poses — What if immortality were possible? What if pain and suffering were eliminated? — are both epic and meaningful. ( )
  sturlington | May 5, 2011 |
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Card, Orson Scottprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Collings, Michael R.Afterwordsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Barlowe, WayneCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rodgers, NickCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedication
For Laird and Sally

because the right tales are true to you
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In many places in the Peopled Worlds, the pain came suddenly in the midst of the day's labor.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
The Worthing Saga is divided into three parts:
The first part was previously published in its entirety as The Worthing Chronicle.
The second part consists of selected stories from Capitol:
- Skipping Stones
- Second Chance
- Lifeloop
- Breaking the Game
- Killing Children
- What Will We Do Tomorrow?

The third part contains Card's first stories (previously unpublished) set in the world of Jason Worthing:
- Worthing Farm
- Worthing Inn
- The Tinker
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0812533313, Mass Market Paperback)

It was a miracle of science that permitted human beings to live, if not forever, then for a long, long time. Some people, anyway. The rich, the powerful--they lived their lives at the rate of one year every ten. Somec created two societies: that of people who lived out their normal span and died, and those who slept away the decades, skipping over the intervening years and events. It allowed great plans to be put in motion. It allowed interstellar Empires to be built.

It came near to destroying humanity.

After a long, long time of decadence and stagnation, a few seed ships were sent out to save our species. They carried human embryos and supplies, and teaching robots, and one man. The Worthing Saga is the story of one of these men, Jason WOrthing, and the world he found for the seed he carried.

Orson Scott Card is "a master of the art of storytelling" (Booklist), and The Worthing Saga is a story that only he could have written.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:07 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Gathering every story about Jason Worthing, this volume includes "The Worthing Chronicle," as well as all of the other stories set on Capitol and later on Jason's colonized planet. It was a miracle of science that permitted human beings to live, if not forever, then for a long, long time. Some people, anyway. The rich, the powerful--they lived their lives at the rate of one year every ten. Somec created two societies: that of people who lived out their normal span and died, and those who slept away the decades, skipping over the intervening years and events. It allowed great plans to be put in motion. It allowed interstellar Empires to be built. It came near to destroying humanity. After a long, long time of decadence and stagnation, a few seed ships were sent out to save our species. They carried human embryos and supplies, and teaching robots, and one man. The Worthing Saga is the story of one of these men, Jason Worthing, and the world he found for the seed he carried.… (more)

» see all 3 descriptions

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