Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Worthing Saga

Mix Brave New World and Foundation, throw in a few interesting ideas and tell it in the "short story" style of I, Robot, and you end up with The Worthing Saga
What if you could sleep for years at a time, thereby "extending" your life years in to the future? Would this give you "eternal life", or just cause you to "skip" through life.
What would happen if everybody but one person in an isolated colony lost their memory? Would that one person be a deity?
If people had the ability to eliminate pain in everyone in the world, should they?

This "novel" explores all these topics in a series of short stories. The first two-thirds of the book are tied together with a strong thread. The last third are thrown in, and, while often including similar characters or settings, are not well tied together. (They were pushed previously in a couple different collections.)

This is some of Card's earliest work, and also some of his strongest. Many of the ideas are explored in greater detail in his other books (especially the Ender and Alvin Maker books) It opens many questions, while answering few. It brings out some strong characters in Jason Worthing and Abner Dune, but leaves the reader to make judgments. Is one good and the other bad? Or are they good in their own ways? Is destruction a way of building up? Is enforced good a form of evil?

A few of the stories at the end of the book are weaker than the earlier stories, however, they still remain pretty good. Two stories provide the same event from different point of views - with significant differences in details and names. This actually works by declaring one a "third-hand recollection" of the story.

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