So I’m still on my Orson Scott Card kick and recently finished The Worthing Saga. It’s a collection of stories with a similar theme or at least related from the same concepts.
The main story, previously titled Hot Sleep, but renamed to Hot Sleep: The Worthing Chronicle is very much worth reading. But the other stories (which come after the main story) didn’t really add to the original story and in fact, show several divergences because they are from earlier versions.
SPOILER WARNING: Plot ending and/or details follow.
So when I speak of The Worthing Saga, I am speaking mostly about Worthing Chronicle. The main story is fabulous. The concepts behind this story were some of the earliest ideas Card had tried to publish and influenced much of his later work. One can somewhat tell that this book is one of his earliest as the characters aren’t as full as Ender’s Game, Magic Street or Lost Boys.
But the social and moral dilemmas are still present and shape the characters and story. Jason Worthing is a boy with a unique gift. An ability to “look behind the eyes” of people. He can read minds. Through unique circumstances, he finds himself having to settle a new planet with adults that have no memory of their past and are basically infants except in body.
He debates with himself over the best way to create this new society and what values to instill within the culture. Whether to allow religion and if so, which one to teach. Eventually the people end up worshiping Jason (even throughout his constant objections) as he is the one who has power and knowledge that he graciously gives to everyone. This is the first interesting philosophical dilemma. The second one, I think, is even better.
Through lots of inbreeding, the Worthing gift mutates and takes on different forms. From the ability to control the weather to the ability to heal the body and alter memories, his gift to read minds becomes much more.
Eventually, his descendants (who at this time include females who have the gifts) decide to dedicate their lives to protecting the entire human race (spread throughout the universe) from any kind of pain. They heal bodies and alter memories so individuals never knew they were injured. They prevent death. When natural causes finally take a body, memories of loved ones are altered to believe the death took place a year ago and so they are more comfortable and at peace with the death. Emotional pain is minimized through memory modification.
So in summary, a very well written book as usual. With the trademark moral and philosophical dilemma we can expect from Card.
I think next up on the Card list is the Alvin Maker series. I’ve been avoiding it, but I’ve heard it’s quite cool.