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Joe Haldeman - Starbound

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Joe Haldeman - Starbound

    Table of Contents Title Page Copyright Page Dedication

    ? PART 1 - THE SEED Chapter 1 - NATIVITY SCENE Chapter 2 - HISTORY LESSON Chapter 3 - GERM THEORY Chapter 4 - NO ORDINARY HERO Chapter 5 - LOGICS Chapter 6 - EARTH AND MARS AND IN BETWEEN Chapter 7 - INTRODUCTIONS Chapter 8 - FAMILY MATTERS Chapter 9 - SECRETS

    Chapter 10 - NEW WORLD Chapter 11 - GOOD-BYES Chapter 12 - GROWING THINGS

    ? PART 2 - THE PLANT Chapter 1 - GRAVITY SUCKS Chapter 2 - YEAR ZERO Chapter 3 - RECORD Chapter 4 - WEIGHTY MATTERS Chapter 5 - SWEET MYSTERIES OF LIFE Chapter 6 - PRIVATE PARTS Chapter 7 - KAMIKAZE Chapter 8 - WATER SPORTS Chapter 9 - ADULTERY FOR ADULTS Chapter 10 - SWEET MYSTERY OF LIFE Chapter 11 - HEROES Chapter 12 - MEDICAL HISTORY Chapter 13 - TRAUMA DRAMA Chapter 14 - LOVE AND BLOOD Chapter 15 - SEX AND VIOLENCE Chapter 16 - INJURIES Chapter 17 - THERAPY Chapter 18 - ANNIVERSARY Chapter 19 - YEAR TWO

    ? PART 3 - THE FLOWER Chapter 1 - YEAR THREE Chapter 2 - TURNAROUND Chapter 3 - THE GRAND TOUR Chapter 4 - OTHER-NESS Chapter 5 - TURNAROUND Chapter 6 - ADJUSTMENTS Chapter 7 - ABOUT TIME Chapter 8 - LOOSE CANNON Chapter 9 - RELATIVITY IS RELATIVE? Chapter 10 - RAMPAGE Chapter 11 - DEAD WORLD Chapter 12 - NO SURVIVORS Chapter 13 - END OF A WORLD Chapter 14 - PREDICTIONS

Chapter 15 - CHANGES

    Chapter 16 - MOONBOY SPEAKS

    Chapter 17 - CLOCK-WATCHING

    Chapter 18 - RESPONSES

    Chapter 19 - INFALL

    Chapter 20 - THE LONGEST JOURNEY BEGINS WITH A SINGLE STEP

    Ace Books by Joe Haldeman

WORLDS APART

    DEALING IN FUTURES FOREVER PEACE FOREVER FREE

    THE COMING

    GUARDIAN

    CAMOUFLAGE

    OLD TWENTIETH A SEPARATE WAR AND OTHER STORIES

    THE ACCIDENTAL TIME MACHINE

    MARSBOUND STARBOUND

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    Ace Books edited by Joe Haldeman

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    BODY ARMOR: 2000 NEBULA AWARDS STORIES SEVENTEEN SPACE FIGHTERS

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    Ace Books by Joe Haldeman and Jack C. Haldeman II

    THERE IS NO DARKNESS

THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP

    Published by the Penguin Group

    Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

    375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA

    Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)

    Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

    Penguin Group Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin BooksLtd.)

    Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.)

    Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi—110 017, India Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, North Shore 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)

    Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196,South Africa

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    Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

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    This is an original publication of The Berkley Publishing Group.

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    This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product ofthe author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons,living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. Thepublisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author orthird-party websites or their content.

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    Copyright ? 2010 by Joe Haldeman.

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    All rights reserved.

    No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronicform without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrightedmaterials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

    eISBN : 978-1-101-17143-1

    1. Married people—Fiction. 2. Human-alien encounters—Fiction. 3. Interplanetary voyages— Fiction. I. Title.

    PS3558.A353S73 2010

    813’.54—dc22

    2009040932

    http://us.penguingroup.com

For Gay, Judith, and Susan: Muses, Graces

PART 1

THE SEED

1

    NATIVITY SCENE

    An hour after my children were born, we went up to the new lounge to have a drink.

    You couldn’t have done any of that on the Mars I first knew, eleven years ago. No drink, nolounge, no children—least of all, children born with the aid of a mother machine, importedfrom Earth. All of it courtesy of free energy, borrowed energy, whatever they wind up callingit. The mysterious stuff that makes the Martians’ machines work.

    (And is, incidentally, wrecking Earth’s economies. Which had to be wrecked, anyhow, andrebuilt, to deal with the Others.)

    But right now I had two gorgeous new babies, born on Christmas Day.

    “You could call the girl Christina,” Oz suggested helpfully, “and the boy Jesús.” Oz issort of my godfather, the first friend I made in Mars, and sometimes it’s hard to tell whenhe’s joking.

    “I was thinking Judas and Jezebel myself,” Paul said. Husband and father.

    “Would you two shut up and let me bask in the glow of motherhood?” The glow of the settingsun, actually, in this new transparent dome, looking out over the chaos of construction to thefamiliar ochre desert that was more like home now than anyplace on Earth.

    It wasn’t much like conventional motherhood, since it didn’t hurt, and I couldn’t pick up oreven touch the little ones yet. On their “birth” day, they were separated from the machine’sumbilicals and began to ease into real life. As close to real life as they would be allowed toexperience for a while.

    Josie, Oz’s love, broke the uncomfortable silence. “Try to be serious, Oswald.” She gavePaul a look, too.

    A bell dinged, and our drinks appeared on a sideboard. Paul brought them over, and I raisedmine in toast. “Here’s to what’s- her-name and what’s-his-name. We do have another week.”Actually, there was no law or custom about it yet. These were the first, numbers one and two ina batch of six, the only twins.

    Children born naturally in Mars hadn’t done well. They all got the lung crap, Martianpulmonary cysts, and if they were born too weak, they died, which happened almost half thetime. When it was linked to an immune system response in the womb, in the third trimester, theyput a temporary moratorium on natural births and had the mother machine sent up from Earth.

    Paul and I had won the gamete lottery, along with four other couples. For all of us, the spermand ova came from frozen samples we’d left on Earth, away from the radiation bath of Mars.

    I felt a curious and unpleasant lightness in my breasts, which were now officially justornaments. None of the new children would be breast-fed. None of them would suffer birthtrauma, either, at least in the sense of being rammed through a wet tunnel smaller than ababy’s head. There might be some trauma in suddenly having to breathe for oneself, but so farnone of them had cried. That was a little eerie.

    They wouldn’t have a mother; I wouldn’t be a mother, in any traditional sense. Only

    genetically. They’d be raised by the colony, one big extended family, though most of theindividual attention they got would be from Alphonzo Jefferson and Barbara Manchester, trainedto run the “creche,” about to more than double in population.

    My wine was too warm and too strong, made with wine concentrate, alcohol, and water. “Theylook okay. But I can’t help feeling cheated.”

    Josie snorted. “Don’t. It’s like passing a loaf of hard bread.”

    “Not so much the birth itself, as being pregnant. Is that weird?”

    “Sounds weird to me,” Paul said. “Sick all the time, carrying all that extra weight.”

    “I liked it,” Josie said. “The sickness is just part of the routine. I never felt morealive.” She was already 50 percent more alive than a normal person, a lean, large athlete.“But that was on Earth,” she conceded.

    “Oh, hell.” I slid my drink over to Paul. “I have to take a walk.”

    Nobody said anything. I went down to the dressing room and stripped, put on a skinsuit, thenclamped on the Mars suit piece by piece, my mind a blank as I went through the rote safetyprocedure. When I was tight, I started the air and clomped up to Air Lock One. I hesitated withmy thumb on the button.

    This was how it all began.

2

    HISTORY LESSON

    Carmen Dula never set out to become the first human ambassador to an alien race. Nor did sheaspire to become one of the most hated people on Earth—or off Earth, technically—but which ofus has control over our destiny?

    Most of us do have more control. It was Carmen’s impulsiveness that brought her bothdistinctions.

    Her parents dragged her off to Mars when she was eighteen, along with her younger brother Card.The small outpost there, which some called a colony, had decided to invite a shipload offamilies.

    A shitload of trouble, some people said. None of the kids were under ten, though, and most ofthe seventy- five people living there, in inflated bubbles under the Martian surface, enjoyedthe infusion of new blood, of young blood.

    On the way over from Earth, about halfway through the eight-month voyage, Carmen had a briefaffair with the pilot, Paul Collins. It was brief because the powers-that-be on Mars found outabout it immediately, and suggested that at thirty-two, Paul shouldn’t be dallying with animpressionable teenaged girl. Carmen was insulted, feeling that at nineteen she was not a“girl” and was the only one in charge of her body.

    The first day they were on Mars, before they even settled into their cramped quarters, Carmenfound out that the “powers”-that-be were one single dour power, administrator Dargo Solingen.She obviously resented Carmen on various levels and proceeded to make the Earth girl her littleproject.

    It came to a head when Dargo discovered Carmen swimming, skinny-dipping, after midnight in anew water tank. She was the oldest of the six naked swimmers, and so took the brunt of thepunishment. Among other things, she was forbidden to visit the surface, which was their mainrecreation and escape, for two months.

    She rankled under this, and rebelled in an obvious way: when everyone was asleep, she suited upand went outside alone, which broke the First Commandment of life on Mars, at the time: Nevergo outside without a buddy.

    She’d planned to go straight out a few kilometers, and straight back, and slip back into herbunk before anyone knew she was gone. It was not to be.

    She fell through a thin shell of crust, which had never happened before, plummeted a couple ofdozen meters, and broke an ankle and a rib. She was doomed. Out of radio contact, running outof air, and about to freeze solid.

    But she was rescued by a Martian.

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