Authors: Joe Haldeman
Tags: #Science fiction, #Adventure, #General, #Fiction, #Space Opera, #Short stories, #Science, #Juvenile Nonfiction, #Fiction - General, #Life Sciences, #Body, #Mind & Spirit, #Aeronautics, #Astronautics & Space Science, #Technology, #Parapsychology, #ESP (Clairvoyance, #Precognition, #Telepathy), #Evolution
WHAT MUST HUMANITY LEARN ABOUT ITSELF TO SURVIVE?
“Haldeman creates real, human characters.
They are three-dimensional in pain, fear, and love.”
... soars into speculation on the future of humanity.
I couldn’t put it down!”
Cleveland Plain Dealer
. . . . Haldeman knows exactly what he is doing.”
The New York Times
Science Fiction Review
SELECTED BY THE SCIENCE FICTION BOOK CLUB
This book is for my teachers at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop:
William Price Fox
Dos Passos, pro forma
The quotation from the I Ching in Chapter Two is taken from the James Legge translation, copyright © 1973 by Causeway Books.
A division of
The Hearst Corporation
959 Eighth Avenue
New York, New York 10019
Copyright © 1976 by Joe Haldeman
Published by arrangement with St. Martin’s Press, Inc.
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 75-26185
All rights reserved, which includes the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. For information address St. Martin’s Press, Inc., 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York 10010
First Avon Printing, February, 1978
TRADEMARK REG. U.S. PAT. OFF. AND IN
OTHER COUNTRIES, MARCA REGISTRADA,
HECHO EN U.S.A.
Printed In Canada
Denver pissed him off.
Jacque Lefavre had managed a
ong weekend pass from the Academy, and at the last minute decided to go to Denver instead of Aspen. It looked like rain.
Indeed it rained in Denver, bucket after cold bucket, time off at midnight for sleet. In Aspen, he learned later, it had been eight inches of good powder snow.
He went to the Denver Mint and it was closed. So was the museum; government holiday. He went to a bad movie.
He was walking along with his overcoat open and a cab splashed him from collar to cuff. Traveling light, he’d brought no other outer clothes.
The hotel’s one-hour dry cleaning service took twenty hours. They wouldn’t admit they’d lost the trousers.
He drank too much room-service booze, sitting in his room watching daytime TV in his underwear.
When he got his uniform back, they had neglected to roll the cuffs. He would have to re-iron them when he got back to Colorado Springs.
The desk clerk would allow him neither student discount nor military discount. He had to shout his way all the way to the assistant manager, and then they only gave him the reduced rate to get rid of him.
The train broke down and was six hours late. He stomped his way through the sleeping dormitory, in mild trouble for coming in after curfew, and smelled fresh paint when the elevator stopped at his floor.
His roommate had painted their room flat black. Walls, ceiling, even the windows. Jacque had painted the room at the beginning of the semester, to cover up the government green. Now he discovered a curious thing.
There was a limit to rage.
“Uh, Clark,” he said mildly. “What, you didn’t like beige?”
Clark Franklin, his roommate, was stretched out on the bed, chewing a toothpick and studying the ceiling. “Nope.”
“Personally, I thought it was rather soothing.” He felt deadly calm but abstractly realized that his fingernails were hurting his palms. He stood at the foot of Franklin’s bed.
Franklin shifted, crossing his ankles. He hadn’t looked at Jacque yet. “Chacun à son goot.”
“’Goût.’ I don’t like the black very much.”
“You should have asked me first. We could have arrived at a compromise. I would’ve helped you paint it.”
“You weren’t here. I had to paint it while I had the time free.” He looked at Jacque, lids half closed. “The beige was distracting, I couldn’t study.”
“You lazy son of a bitch, I’ve never seen you crack a book!” A neighbor thumped the wall and shouted for them to keep it down in there.
Franklin took the toothpick out of his mouth and inspected it. “Well, yeah. Couldn’t study in the beige.”
The next morning the registration clerk told Jacque he would have to wait until next semester to get a new roommate. Four months.
Actually, Franklin moved out a few weeks early. He left three teeth behind.
I’ve never used a voice typer before but I know the general idea you’ve got to damn you’ve got to press the character button and say period. . . . There. Comma,,,, It works, how about that. Paragraph button now.
My name is Jacque, spelling light comes on, Jacque Lefavre. If it were a French machine it probably would have spelled out “Jacques” and the hell with it, but no, that’s right the way it is up there, without the final ess.
This is for the archives, I mean ARCHIVES damn. Got to touch the capitals button then get off it before you say the word. Starting over.
This is for the Archives of the Agency for Extraterrestrial Development. Motivational analysis and training evaluation survey. Highly confidential, so get your eyes back where they belong.
Begin at the beginning, my freshman composition teacher used to say, and I could never figure out whether that was profound or stupid. But all right, the beginning. I was conceived sometime in the spring of 2024. We’ll skip the next eighteen years or so.
But I should say something about my father because that is important. And if what they say is true, that this won’t be read (spelling light again, crazy language) for another twenty years, then people will probably have forgotten who he was.