The Worthing Saga by Orson Scott Card
The Worthing SagaLared and his family live in a small village where his father is a blacksmith and his parents own the local inn. Everyone living on the planet lived a charmed life. Then the Day of Pain came. Nothing was the same. Now people could get hurt and die of injuries. A cut hurt when it occured, bled, and didn’t heal immediately. Lared never forgot the screams of the young neighbor girl who fell in the fireplace flames and was burned to death.
Right after the Day of Pain, Jason Worthing shows up with his granddaughter, Justice. Although Lared can work in the fields, around the inn, and in the blacksmith shop, he prefers reading and studies. Jason knows that Lared is the person to write his thousands year story of his life, Capitol, his offspring, and Somec. But Jason can’t just tell the stories. Justice gives them to Lared in dreams.
Capitol (with firm roots taken from Foundation) is a planet that is all city. Somec is the sleep drug star pilots use to travel long distances. Now, anyone has the chance to use it. The more influential, rich, or powerful you are, the longer you can sleep and the less you’ll be awake. The very rich can live 1,000 years and be not much older than their 40’s or 50’s in physical age. Jason Worthing is a star pilot with telepathic abilities. Abner Doon is the man who destroys Capital and mankind to save it.
In the dreams, Lared believes he is Jason. He feels and sees what Jason experienced in each of the stories that tells the saga of Jason’s life. He feels the pain as well as the joy. He experiences the first steps Jason takes to start a new world and civilization with normal people and the exceptional ones, the ones with powers like his own. Finally, Lared learns the reason of the Day of Pain and the redemption of mankind.
Orson Scott Card is one of the top science fiction and fantasy writers currently alive. The Worthing Saga shows why. Card readily admits that when he first wrote the short stories that appear after Lared’s story and the novel that was originally titled Hot Sleep back in the 1980’s was some of his earlier writing that needed work. Hot Sleep was reworked and renamed The Worthing Chronicles. Then the short stories he had written about Capitol and Somec were combined with The Worthing Chronicles were bundled together for this novel. This collection is powerful.
Jason Worthing is a complex character – is he the devil or mankind’s savior? The Worthing Saga is full of religious undertones, but they didn’t hit me very hard. (Perhaps it is since my basic beliefs are similar despite our difference of organized religion.) The novel works well because it doesn’t just concentrate on Jason. It includes Lared and his family – the problems and the happiness. We see Lared go from the last bits of boyhood as he grows into and is accepted as a young man. He is often at odds with his parents, especially since Jason came, yet the family affection is strong.
The span of time that Jason’s stories cover is long, giving the reader a good overview of how mankind falls and rebuilds itself. This is a novel of hope and justification. Its current version (he disparages the original Hot Sleep) is spellbinding. Orson Scott Card has another winner in The Worthing Saga.