Read New America Online

Authors: Poul Anderson

New America

 

FOUR SCORE AND SEVEN YEARS FROM NOW…

In the 21st century, Planet Earth was in the grip of an orientalized, paternalistic World State that gave all—and took all. Only in the land that was once the United States were the principles of freedom paid so much as lip service, and even there liberty flickered toward extinction. In such a world as this the Jeffersonians were a band of hopeless visionaries, political cranks, a quixotic underground dreaming of the reinstitu-tion of the American Constitution.

But then a star drive was developed and the Jeffersonians were sentenced to eternal exile. On a world twenty light years and a century from their homes they set out to create a society conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that the individual is more important than the state. They are the New Americans. This is their story.

SPECIAL BONUS: The Hugo and Nebula Winning THE QUEEN OF AIR AND DARKNESS, and HOME,

 

 

 

 

 

This is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in this book are fictional, and any resemblance to real people or incidents is purely coincidental.

NEW AMERICA

Copyright © 1982 by Poul Anderson

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form.

A TOR Book

Published by Tom Doherty Associates, Inc., 8-10 W. 36th St., New York, New York 10018

First TOR printing, December 1982

Second printing, May 1984

ISBN: 0-812-48553-0

Cover art by Tom Kidd

Printed in the United States of America

Acknowledgements: The stories contained herein were first published and are copyright as follows:

“My Own, My Native Land:”
Continuum I
, copyright ©1974 by Roger Elwood

“Passing the Love of Women:”
Continuum II,
copyright ©1974 by Roger Elwood

“A Fair Exchange:”
Continuum III
, copyright© 1974 by Roger Elwood

“To Promote the General Welfare:”
Continuum IV
copyright© 1975 by Roger Elwood

“The Queen of Air and Darkness:”
The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction,
copyright ©1971 by Mercury Press, Inc. “Home:”
Orbit I,
copyright ©1966 by Berkeley Publishing Corporation

“Our Many Roads to the Stars:”
Galaxy
, copyright© 1975 by Universal Publishing and Distributing Corporation.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

My Own, My Native Land

Passing the Love of Women

A Fair Exchange

To Promote the General Welfare,

The Queen of Air and Darkness

Home

Our Many Roads to the Stars

 

 

MY OWN, MY NATIVE 
LAND

 

 

The boy stood at sunrise on the edge of his world, Clouds torrented up along the gap which clove it They burned in the light Wind sang, cold and wholly pure.

A spearfowl broke from those mists to soar further aloft, magnificence upon wings the hue of steel For an instant the boy did not move, He could not Then he screamed, once, before he fled.

He took shelter in a thicket until he had mastered both tears and trembling. Boys do not tell anyone, least of all those who love them, that they are haunted.

 

“Coming in, now,” said Jack O’Malley over the radio phone, and got to work at a difficult approach.

On its northeastern corner, that great tableland named High America did not slope in mountains and valleys, to reach at last the sea level which lay eight kilometers straight beneath. Here the rim fell in cliffs and talus until vapors drowned vision. Only at one place were the heights climbable: where a fault had driven them apart to make the Cleft. And the drafts which it channeled were treacherous.

As his aircar slanted toward ground, O’Malley had a clear view across the dropoff and its immense gash. At evening, the almost perpetual clouds that lapped around the plateau were sinking. Rock heaved dark and wet above the ocean, which billowed to the horizon. Their whiteness bore a fire-gold tinge and shadows were long upon them; for the Eridani sun was low in the west, barely above the sierra of the Centaurs. The illusion of its hugeness could well-nigh overwhelm a man who remembered Earth, since in fact its disc showed more than half again the width of Terrestrial Sol. Likewise the ruddier hue of its less ardent G5 surface was more plain to see than at high noon.

Further up, O’Malley’s gaze had savored a sweep of country from Centaurs to Cleft, from Hercules Mountains to Lake Olympus, and all the grasslands, woodlands, farmlands in between, nourished by the streams out of yonder snow-peaks. Where the Swift and Smoky Rivers joined to form the Emperor, he should have been able to make out Anchortown. But the rays blazed too molten off their waters.

Instead, he had enjoyed infinite subtleties of color, the emerald of man’s plantings mingled in patchwork with the softer blue greens of native growth. Spring was coming as explosively as always on Rustum.

Raksh, the larger moon, stood at half phase in a sky turning royal purple. About midway between the farthest and nearest points of its eccentric orbit, it showed a Lunar size, but coppery rather than silver. O’Malley scowled at the beautiful sight. It was headed in closer, to raise tides in the dense lowland air which could make for even heavier equinoctial storms than usual. And that was just when he wanted to go down there.

His pilot board beeped a warning and he gave his whole attention back to flight. It was tricky at best, in this changeable atmosphere, under a fourth more weight then Earth gives to things: Earth, where this vehicle was designed and made. He wondered if he’d ever see the day when the colony manufactured craft of its own, incorporating the results of experience. Three thousand people, isolated on a world for which nature had never intended them, couldn’t produce much industrial plant very soon.

Nearing ground, he saw Joshua Coffin’s farmstead outlined black against sky and some upsurgings from the cloud deck. The buildings stood low, but they looked as massive as they must be to withstand hurricanes. Gim trees and plume oak, left uncut for both shade and windbreak, were likewise silhouetted, save where the nest of a bower phoenix phosphoresced in one of them.

O’Malley landed, set his brakes, and sprang out: a big, freckle-faced man, athletic in spite of middle age grizzling his red hair and thickening his waist. He wore a rather gaudy coverall which contrasted with the plainness of Coffin’s. The latter was already, courteously, securing the aircar’s safety cable to a bollard. He was himself tall, as well as gaunt and crag-featured, sun-leathered and iron-gray. “Welcome,” he said. They gripped hands. “What brings you here that you didn’t want to discuss on the phone?”

“I need help,” O’Malley answered. “The matter may or may not be confidential.” He sighed. “Lord, when’ll we get proper laser beams, not these damn ‘casts that every neighborhood gossip can listen in on?”

“I don’t believe our household needs to keep secrets,” said Coffin a bit sharply. Though he’d mellowed over the years, O’Malley was reminded that his host stayed a puritanical sort. Circumstance had forced this space captain to settle on Rustum—not any strong need to escape crowding, corruption, poverty, pollution, and the tyranny on Earth. He’d never been part of the Constitutionalist movement. In fact, its rationalism, libertarian-ism, tendency toward hedonism, to this day doubtless jarred on his own austere religiousness.

“No, I didn’t mean that,” O’Malley said in haste. “The thing is—Well, could you and I talk alone for a few minutes?”

Coffin peered at him through the gathering dusk before he nodded. They walked from the parking strip, down a graveled path between ornamental bushes. The stellas were starting to flower, breathing a scent like mingled cinnamon and— something else, perhaps new hay—into coolness. O’Malley saw that Teresa Coffin had finally gotten her roses to flourish, too. How long had she worked on that, in what time she could spare from survival and raising their children and laying the groundwork of a future less stark than what she had known of Rustum? Besides science and ingenuity, you needed patience to make Terrestrial things grow. Life here might be basically the same kind as yours, but that didn’t mean it, or its ecology, or the soil that that ecology had formed, were identical.

The small stones scrunched underfoot. “This is new, this graveling,” O’Malley remarked.

“We laid it two years ago,” Coffin said.

O’Malley felt embarrassed. Was it that long since he’d had any contact with these people? But what had he in common with farmers like them, he, the professional adventurer? It struck him that the last time he’d trodden such a path was on an estate on Earth, in Ireland, an enclave of lawns and blossoms amidst rural bondage and megalopolitan misery. Memory spiraled backward. The sound of pebbles hadn’t been so loud, had it? Of course not. His feet had come down upon them with only four-fifths the weight they did here. And even on High America, the air was thicker than it was along the seashore of Earth, carried sound better, made as simple an act as brewing a pot of tea into a different art—

A volant swooped across Raksh, warm-blooded, feathered, egg-laying, yet with too many strangenesses to be a bird in anything than name. Somewhere a singing “lizard” trilled.

“Well,” said Coffin, “what is this business of yours?”

O’Malley reflected on how rude it would be to make Teresa wait, or the youngsters for that matter. He drew breath and plunged:

“Phil Herskowitz and I were running scientific survey in the deep lowlands, around the Gulf of Ardashir. Besides mapping and such, we were collecting instrument packages that completed their programs, laying down fresh ones elsewhere—oh, you know the routine. Except this trip didn’t stay routine. A cyclops wind caught us at the intermediate altitude where that kind of thing can happen. Our car spun out of control. I was piloting, and tried for a pontoon landing on the sea but couldn’t manage it. The best I could do was crash us in coastal jungle. At least that gave us some treetops to soften impact. Even so, Phil has a couple of broken ribs where the fuselage got stove in against his chair.

“We didn’t shear off much growth. It closed in again above the wreck. Nobody can land nearby. We put through a distress call, then had to struggle a good fifty kilometers on foot before we reached a meadow where a rescue car could safely settle.

“That was five days ago. In spite of not being hurt myself, I didn’t recover from the shock and exhaustion overnight.”

“Hm.” Coffin tugged his chin and glanced sideways. “Why hasn’t the accident been on the news?”

“My request. You see, it occurred to me—what I mean to ask of you.”

“Which is?”

“I don’t think a lot of the wreckage can be salvaged, damn it, but I’d like to try. You know what it’d be worth to the colony, just to recover a motor or something. Salvagers can’t feasibly clear a landing area; they’d have no way of removing the felled trees, which’d pose too much of a hazard. But they can construct a wagon and slash a path for it. That’d at least enable them to bring out the instruments and tapes more readily—I think— than by trudging back and forth that long distance carrying them in packs.”

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