Author Philip José Farmer blasts into space, races into the future, and travels back in time in three astoundingly original and thrilling science fiction adventures.
The Lovers: Linguist Hal Yarrow catches a lucky break with an assignment on planet Ozagen, allowing him to escape the theocracy on thirty-first-century Earth. But he can’t shake Pornsen, his gapt—something like a personal guardian angel—who harangues him for even the slightest wrongdoing. Yarrow submits to Pornsen’s constant chaperoning, until he meets Jeannette Rastignac. She’s not his wife, his faith says any contact with her is sin, and there are other, odder warnings about Jeannette. But Yarrow’s in love . . .
Dark Is the Sun: Fifteen billion years in the future, the Earth is cooling and dying. All the planet’s life forms have wildly mutated, civilization is primitive, and the sun is cold and black. Deyv, a young member of the Turtle Tribe, is on the hunt for his stolen soul egg, which has been purloined by the thieving creature Yawtl. Without his egg, he won’t be able to mate, so Deyv and his companions set out on a quest, leading them across a continent, through many wonders and terrors, to the lair of a mysterious off-worlder who may hold the key to an escape from their rapidly perishing planet.
Riders of the Purple Wage: This Hugo Award winner introduces Chib, a young artist hiding out from the IRS in the ultimate welfare state, a society where everyone receives the same wage from birth and stays connected through a personal video device called “fido.” Chib must win a grant at his next art show—or he’ll be shipped to another society as part of a government exchange program. But his tendency toward provocation and blasphemy may be his undoing.
Showcasing the epic range of Farmer’s imagination, these varied tales are brilliant, provocative, and endlessly entertaining.
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About the Author
His first published novella, “The Lovers” (1952), earned him the Hugo Award for best new author. He won a second Hugo and was nominated for the Nebula Award for the 1967 novella “Riders of the Purple Wage,” a prophetic literary satire about a futuristic, cradle-to-grave welfare state. His best-known works include the Riverworld books, the World of Tiers series, the Dayworld Trilogy, and literary pastiches of such fictional pulp characters as Tarzan and Sherlock Holmes. He was one of the first writers to take these characters and their origin stories and mold them into wholly new works. His short fiction is also highly regarded.
In 2001, Farmer won the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement and was named Grand Master by the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America.
Read an Excerpt
'I've got to get out,' Hal Yarrow could hear someone muttering from a great distance. 'There must be a way out.'
He woke up with a start, and he realized that he had been the one talking. Moreover, what he had said as he emerged from his dream had no connection at all to it. His half-waking words and the dream were two discrete events.
But what had he meant by those mumbled words? And where was he? Had he actually traveled in time or had he experienced a subjective dream? It had been so vivid that he was slow in returning to this level of the world.
A look at the man sitting beside him cleared his mind. He was in the coach to Sigmen City in the year 550 B.S. (Old Style 3050 A.D., his scholar's mind told him.) He was not, as in the time travel dream, on a strange planet many light-years from here, many years from now. Nor was he face to face with the glorious Isaac Sigmen, the Forerunner, real be his name.
The man beside him looked sidewise at Hal. He was a lean fellow with high cheekbones, straight black hair, and brown eyes which had a slight Mongoloid fold. He was dressed in the light blue uniform of the engineering class and wore on his left breast an aluminum emblem which indicated he was in the upper echelon. Probably, he was an electronics engineer with a degree from one of the better trade schools.
The man cleared his throat, and he said, in American, 'A thousand pardons, abba. I know I shouldn't be talking to you without permission. But you did say something to me as you awoke. And, since you're in this cabin, you have temporarily equated yourself. In any event, I've been dying to ask you a question. I'm not called Nosy Sam for nothing.'
He laughed nervously and said, 'Couldn't help overhearing what you told the stewardess when she challenged your right to sit here. Did I hear you right, or did you actually tell her you was a goat?'
Hal smiled and said, 'No. Not a goat. I'm a joat. From the initial letters of jack-of-all-trades. You weren't too mistaken, however. In the professional fields, a joat has about as much prestige as a goat.'
He sighed and thought of the humiliations endured because he had chosen not to be a narrow specialist. He looked out the window because he did not want to encourage his seatmate to talk. He saw a bright glow far off and up, undoubtedly a military spaceship entering the atmosphere. The few civilian ships made a slower and unobtrusive descent.
From the height of sixty thousand meters, he looked down on the curve of the North American continent. It was a blaze of light with, here and there, some small bands of darkness and an occasional large band. The latter would be a mountain range or body of water on which man had not yet succeeded in building residences or industries. The great city. Megalopolis. Think — only three hundred years ago, the entire continent had a mere two million population. In another fifty years — unless something catastrophic happened, such as war between the Haijac Union and the Israeli Republics — the population of North America would be fourteen, maybe fifteen, billion!
The only area in which living room was deliberately denied was the Hudson Bay Wildlife Preserve. He had left the Preserve only fifteen minutes ago, yet he felt sick because he would not be able to return to it for a long time.
He sighed again. The Hudson Bay Wildlife Preserve. Trees by the thousands, mountains, broad blue lakes, birds, foxes, rabbits, even, the rangers said, bobcats. There were so few, however, that in ten years they would be added to the long list of extinct animals.
Hal could breathe in the Preserve, could feel unconstricted. Free. He also could feel lonely and uneasy at times. But he was just beginning to get over that when his research among the twenty French-speaking inhabitants of the Preserve was finished.
The man beside him shifted as if he were trying to get up courage to speak again to the professional beside him. After some nervous coughs, he said, 'Sigmen help me, I hope I ain't offended you. But I was wondering ...'
Hal Yarrow felt offended because the man was presuming too much. Then, he reminded himself of what the Forerunner had said. All men are brothers, though some are more favored by the father than others. And it was not this man's fault that the first-class cabin had been filled with people with higher priorities and Hal had been forced to choose between taking a later coach or sitting with the lower echelon.
'It's shib with me,' said Yarrow. He explained.
The man said, 'Ah!' as if he were relieved. 'Then, you won't perhaps mind one more question? Don't call me Nosy Sam for nothing, like I said. Ha! Ha!'
'No, I don't mind,' said Hal Yarrow. 'A joat, though a jack-of-all trades, does not make all sciences his field. He is confined to one particular discipline, but he tries to understand as much of all the specialized branches of it as he can. For instance, I am a linguistic joat. Instead of restricting myself to one of the many areas of linguistics, I have a good general knowledge of that science. This ability enables me to correlate what is going on in all its fields, to search out things in one specialty which might be of interest to a man in another specialty, and to notify him of this item. Otherwise, the specialist, who doesn't have the time to read the hundreds of journals in his field alone, might be missing something that would aid him.
'All the professional studies have their own joats doing this. Actually, I'm very lucky to be in this branch of science. If I were, for example, a medical joat, I'd be overwhelmed. I'd have to work with a team of joats. Even then, I couldn't be a genuine jack-of-all-trades. I'd have to restrict myself to one area of medical science. So tremendous is the number of publications in each specialty of medicine — or of electronics or physics or just about any science you might want to mention — that no man or team could correlate the entire discipline. Fortunately, my interest has always been in linguistics. I am, in a way, favored. I even have time to do a little research myself and so add to the avalanche of papers.
'I use computers, of course, but even the most complex computer complex is an idiot savant. It takes a human mind — a rather keen one, if I do say so myself — to perceive that certain items have more significance than others and to make a meaningful, association between or among them. Then I point these out to the specialists, and they study them. A joat, you might say, is a creative correlator.
'However,' he added, 'that is at the cost of my personal time for sleeping. I must work twelve hours a day or more for the glory and benefit of the Sturch.'
His last comment was to ensure that the fellow, if he happened to be an Uzzite or a stool for the Uzzites, could not report that he was cheating the Sturch. Hal did not think it likely that the man was anything other than what he looked, but he did not care to take the chance.
A red light flashed on the wall above the cabin entrance, and a recording told the passengers to fasten their belts. Ten seconds later, the coach began decelerating; a minute later, the vehicle dipped sharply and began dropping at the rate — so Hal had been told — of a thousand meters a minute. Now that they were closer to the ground, Hal could see that Sigmen City (called Montreal until ten years ago when the capital of the Haijac Union had been moved from Rek, Iceland, to this site) was not a single blaze of light. Dark spots, probably parks, could be made out here and there, and the thin black ribbon winding by it was the Prophet (once St. Lawrence) River. The palis of Sigmen City rose five hundred meters in the air; each one housed at least a hundred thousand selves, and there were three hundred of this size in the area of the city proper.
In the middle of the metropolis was a square occupied by trees and government buildings, none of which was over fifty stories high. This was the University of Sigmen City, where Hal Yarrow did his work.
Hal, however, lived in the pali nearby, and it was toward this that he rode the belt after getting off the coach. Now, he felt strongly something that he had not noticed — consciously — all the days of his waking life. Not until after he had made this research trip to the Hudson Bay Preserve. And that was the crowd, the densely packed, jostling, pushing, and odorous mass of humanity.
They pressed in on him without knowing that he was there except as another body, another man, faceless, only a brief obstacle to their destination.
'Great Sigmen!' he muttered. 'I must have been deaf, dumb, and blind! Not to have known! I hate them!'
He felt himself turn hot with guilt and shame. He looked into the faces of those around him as if they could see his hate, his guilt, his contrition, on his face. But they did not; they could not. To them, he was only another man, one to be treated with some respect if they encountered him personally because he was a professional. But not here, not on the belt carrying this flood of flesh down the thoroughfare. He was just another pack of blood and bones cemented by tissue and bound in skin. One of them and, therefore, nothing.
Shaken by this sudden revelation, Hal stepped off the belt. He wanted to get away from them, for he felt that he owed them an apology. And, at the same time, he felt like striking them.
A few steps from the belt, and above him, was the plastic lip of Pali No. 30, University Fellowship Residence. Inside this mouth, he felt no better, though he had lost the feeling he should apologize to those on the belt. There was no reason why they should know how he had suddenly been revolted. They had not seen the betraying flush on his face.
And even that was nonsense, he told himself, though he bit his lip as he did so. Those on the belt could not possibly have guessed. Not, that is, unless they, too, felt the same pressing-in and disgust. And, if they did, who were they to point him out?
He was among his own now, men and women clothed in the plastic baggy uniforms of the professional with the plaid design and the winged foot on the left chest. The only difference between male and female was that the women wore floor-length skirts over their trousers, nets over their hair, and some wore the veil. The latter was an article not too uncommon but dying out now, a custom retained by the older women or the more conservative of the young. Once honored, it now marked a woman as old-fashioned. This, despite the fact that the true-caster occasionally praised the veil and lamented its passing.
Hal spoke to several he passed but did not stop to talk. He saw Doctor Olvegssen, his department head, from a distance. He paused to see if Olvegssen wished to speak to him. Even this he did because the doctor was the only man with the authority to make him regret not paying his respects.
But Olvegssen evidently was busy, for he waved at Hal, called out, 'Aloha,' and walked on. Olvegssen was an old man; he used greetings and phrases popular in his youth.
Yarrow breathed with relief. Though he had thought he was eager to discuss his stay among the French-speaking natives of the Preserve, he now found that he did not want to talk to anybody. Not now. Maybe tomorrow. But not now.
Hal Yarrow waited by the door of the lift while the keeper checked the prospective passengers to determine who had priority. When the doors of the lift shaft opened, the keeper gave Hal's key back to him. He said, 'You're first, abba.'
'Sigmen bless,' said Hal. He stepped into the lift and stood against the wall near the door while the others were identified and ranked.
The waiting was not long, for the keeper had been on his job for years and knew almost everybody by sight. Nevertheless, he had to go through the formality. Every once in a while, one of the residents was promoted or demoted. If the keeper had made the mistake of not recognizing the new shift in status, he would have been reported. His years at this post indicated that he knew his job well.
Forty people jammed into the lift, the keeper shook his castanets, and the door closed. The lift shot up swiftly enough to make everybody's knees bend; it continued to accelerate, for this was an express. At the thirtieth floor, the lift stopped automatically, and the doors opened. Nobody stepped out; perceiving this, the optical mechanism of the lift shut the doors, and the lift continued upward.
Three more stops with nobody stepping out. Then, half the crowd left. Hal drew in a deep breath, for if it had seemed crowded on the streets and on the ground floor, it was crushing inside the lift. Ten more stories, a journey in the same silence as that which had preceded it, every man and woman seeming intent on the truecaster's voice coming from the speaker in the ceiling. Then, the doors opened at Hal's floor.
The hallways were fifteen feet wide, room enough at this time of day. Nobody was in sight, and Hal was glad. If he had refused to chat for a few minutes with his neighbors, he would have been regarded as strange. That might have meant talk, and talk meant trouble, an explanation to his floor gapt at least. A heart-to-heart talk, a lecture, and Forerunner only knew what else.
He walked a hundred meters. Then, seeing the door to his puka, he stopped.
His heart had suddenly begun hammering, and his hands shook. He wanted to turn around and go back down the lift.
That, he told himself, was unreal behavior. He should not be feeling this way.
Besides, Mary would not be home for fifteen minutes at least.
He pushed open the door (no locks on the professional level, of course) and walked in. The walls began glowing and in ten seconds were at full bright. At the same time, the tridi sprang into life size on the wall opposite him, and the voices of the actors blared out. He jumped. Saying, 'Great Sigmen!' under his breath, he hastened forward and turned off the wall. He knew that Mary had left it on, ready to spring into life when he walked in. He also knew that he had told her so many times how it surprised him that she could not possibly have forgotten. Which meant that she was doing it on purpose, consciously or unconsciously.
He shrugged and told himself that from now on he would not mention the matter. If she thought that he was no longer bothered by it, she might forget to leave it on.
Then, again, she might guess why he had suddenly become silent about her supposed forgetfulness. She might continue with the hope that he would eventually be unnerved, lose his temper, and start shouting at her. And, once more, she would have won a round, for she would refuse to argue back, would infuriate him by her silence and martyred look, and make him even angrier.
Then, of course, she would have to carry out her duty, however painful to her. She would, at the end of the month, go to the block gapt and report. And that would mean one more of many black crosses on his Morality Rating, which he would have to erase by some strenuous effort. And these efforts, if he made them — and he was getting tired of making them — would mean time lost from some more — dare he say it even to himself? — worthwhile project.
And if he protested to her that she was keeping him from advancing in his profession, from making more money, from moving into a larger puka, then he would have to listen to her sad, reproachful voice asking him if he actually wanted her to commit an unreal act. Would he ask her not to tell the truth, to lie by either omission or commission? He surely could not do that, for then both her self and his self would be in grave danger. Never would they see the glorious face of the Forerunner, and never ... and so on and on — he helpless to answer back.
Yet, she was always asking him why he did not love her. And, when he replied that he did, she continued to say he did not. Then it was his turn to ask her if she thought he was lying. He was not; and if she called him a liar, then he would have to report her to the block gapt. Now, sheerly illogical, she would weep and say that she knew he did not love her. If he really did, he could not dream of telling the gapt about her.
When he protested that she thought it was shib for her to report him, he was answered with more tears. Or would be if he continued to fall into her trap. But he swore again and told himself that he would not.
Excerpted from "The Lovers, Dark Is the Sun and Riders of the Purple Wage"
Copyright © 1985 Philip José Farmer.
Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Dark Is the Sun,
Riders of the Purple Wage,
About the Author,