Treason

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9780312921095: Treason

For the first time in paperback, here is Card's classic masterpiece, A Planet Called Treason, totally revised. Treason is a planet torn by warring factions and imprisoned by a superior human race. But now, the seeds of revolution are being sown. HC: St. Martin's.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Orson Scott Card is the author of the novels Ender's Game, Ender's Shadow, and Speaker for the Dead. Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead both won Hugo and Nebula Awards, making Card the only author to win these two top prizes in consecutive years. There are seven other novels to date in The Ender Universe series. Card has also written fantasy: The Tales of Alvin Maker is a series of fantasy novels set in frontier America; his most recent novel, The Lost Gate, is a contemporary magical fantasy. Card has written many other stand-alone sf and fantasy novels, as well as movie tie-ins and games, and publishes an internet-based science fiction and fantasy magazine, Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show.  Card was born in Washington and grew up in California, Arizona, and Utah. He served a mission for the LDS Church in Brazil in the early 1970s. Besides his writing, Card directs plays and teaches writing and literature at Southern Virginia University. He lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with his wife, Kristine Allen Card, and youngest daughter, Zina Margaret.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

TREASON (Chapter 1:Mueller)

I was the last to know what was happening to me. Or at least I was the last to know that I knew.

Saranna realized it when her hand glided up my chest and instead of smoothly cresting the pectorals made lean and hard by hours of sword and javelin and archery, her fingers snagged on a looser kind of flesh. Her hands remembered that same discovery on her own body not that many years before, and being a true daughter of Mueller, with a sharp eye and an uncompromising mind, she knew it all at once, knew all my future history, knew all that was now impossible between us. Yet, being a true daughter of Mueller, she said nothing, nor did she grieve; it simply happened that from then until I left Mueller, she never touched me, at least not as she had before, not with the promise of decades of passion in our future. She knew, but I did not yet know.

Dinte saw it, too. Watching me as he always does, the second son hoping for some accident to befall me so that he can delay any help that might come to me; searching for some hint of congenital idiocy so he can be named regent after father dies; noting any flaws or weaknesses in my fighting or my thinking, so that when, not if, he betrays me, he can gain some advantage over me--watching me with that kind of eagerness, he had to see the way my shirt moved differently across my chest. Of all the ways that I could be rendered unfit to sit on Father's throne, this had to be the one that he would relish most. Being a poor excuse for a son of Mueller, he immediately became cocky, not naming my affliction, but treating me with the arrogance that even cowards have the grace to display only toward the corpse of their enemy. He knew, but I did not yet know.

Father would not have seen it. There was always too much work for the Mueller to do; he had no time for watching me himself. But he had me watched, by all my tutors and half my friends; especially during the crucial time of puberty, when the greatest danger comes.

We in whom the Mueller blood runs true, our bodies have a great gift: to heal so quickly that scars form before the blood is dry, and to grow back any part of our body that is lost. It makes us very hard to kill.

Our enemies say that Muellers feel no pain, but it isn't true. To them it looks that way because in battle we willingly absorb a dangerous blow that any other man would have to parry to save his life, and while our enemy's sword is buried in our own flesh, we can cut the lifeblood out of him and then walk on to find another enemy to engage, our own wound already healing.

But we feel pain, just like anyone else. Our women faint in childbirth when the flesh is torn. When you put our hand into the fire, the agony burns as hot inside our brain as inside any other man's. We feel pain; what we don't feel is fear. Or rather, we've learned to separate pain and fear.

To other people, pain means that their life is in danger; to preserve themselves, they must have the reflex to avoid that pain by any means they can. But to a Mueller, pain means that the danger is small. Death comes to us only in ways that are beyond pain--the crumbling of senility, the cold hard breath of drowning, the loss of all feeling when the body is severed from the head. A mere cut or burn or stab or broken bone means only that some vigor will be taken from us as our body quickly heals; it means we'll be fed on blood-rare steak and not on radishes when the battle ends.

And the worst fear that others feel--the fear of dismemberment, of losing toes or fingers, hands or feet, ears or nose or eyes or genitals--we laugh at that.

Why is it their worst fear? Because they've come to think of their present shape as their true self, and if they lose that shape, they lose their self, they become a monster even in their own eyes.

But we Muellers have long since learned that our present shape is not ourself at all. We can have many different shapes and still be who we always were. It's a lesson we learn during the madness of adolescence. At twelve or fourteen years of age, we also go through the bizarre jumbling of chemicals that cause others to grow hair in strange places and become machines that can build copies of themselves; with us, though, since our bodies are so powerful, adolescence is also stronger. We bred ourselves to regenerate lost or broken body parts; during the madness of puberty, our bodies forget their proper shape and try to grow parts that are already there. Every young man and woman has waved a third arm tauntingly at friends, danced some complicated step designed to make use of an extra leg or two, winked a superfluous eye, grimaced with three rows of teeth above and four below. I endured having four arms once, an extra nose, and two hearts pumping away before the surgeon took me under his knife to cut away the excess. Our self is not our shape. We can have any shape, and still be who we are. We have no dread of losing limbs. We can't distort or destroy our self through subtraction.

We have other dreads.

All during my adolescence, Father had me watched. Even at the age of fifteen, when my body was only a decimeter or two from a man's full height and my sexual changes should have been complete--complete enough for Saranna to have my child in her already--even then, I could still feel their eyes on me from dawn to dusk, measuring me body and soul, so they could tell the tale to Father in those moments when he had the time to think of me. It's impossible that they missed what was happening to me; Father must have known before Dinte, even before Saranna did. They all knew.

But I didn't know.

Oh, of course I knew. I knew it well enough to abandon all my tight-fitting clothing and wear only the looser, blousier clothes. I knew it well enough to find excuses rather than go swimming with my friends, well enough not to snap at Dinte for being even snottier than ever, as if I dared not provoke him into naming what it was I had become. I knew it well enough not to wonder why Saranna wasn't touching me, knew it well enough during that last month not to take her into my bed. And yet I never named what had become of me, not even to myself.

I never even let the thought of my terrible new future come into my head. Except once, with the precious steel sword of royalty flashing in my hand, when I vowed, so strongly that I remember the moment even now as if it had happened only this morning--I vowed never to live without such a sword in my hand or at my side. Even then, I was pretending to myself that my fear was of becoming a commoner, the sort of sluglike semi-soul who never touches iron and who shudders at the slightest cut that bleeds.

"Today," said Homarnoch.

"I haven't time," I said, with that imperious archness that the sons of princes use to remind others of authority they don't yet have.

"The Mueller says."

And that was that. All deceptions were over; all lies that I believed, I'd have to unbelieve all at once. Yet still I put him off, told him I was filthy and had to wash, which was true enough; but I managed to bathe without once looking in the silvered glass to see myself. Clothing hung over all the mirrors, or somehow they had all been set aside, so that in my room I never had to see myself. This was just one more sign that I knew without knowing--until that month I had been as vain as any boy and surrounded myself with glass.

But there was no hiding from the mirror in Homarnoch's sterile surgical den, his place of sharp steel knives and bloody beds, where barbed arrows were cut from soldiers' flesh and gaudy useless body parts were struck from adolescent bodies.

He stood me before the mirror, himself behind me, and cupped both hands under breasts that by now had grown voluptuous. For the first time I was forced to stare at flesh that couldn't possibly be my own. For the first time I was aware of the pressure of someone else's touch. Still, I don't think it was Homarnoch's brusk surgeonly caress that aroused me. That touch was far more strange to me than sexual. I think it was the sight of what had to be someone else's breasts being taken in someone else's hands. I think it was voyeurism. I still didn't believe in what was happening to me.

"Why didn't you come to me at once?" asked Homarnoch. He sounded almost hurt.

"For what? I've grown all kinds of body parts before."

He shook his head. "You're not a fool, Lanik Mueller."

I heard my name, and felt a sick dread. Later I realized that it was the name Mueller that caused me fear--not because it was my name, but because so soon it would not be.

"It happens even in the Mueller's family, Lanik. Every few generations. No one is immune."

"It's just puberty," I said, willing him to believe it.

He looked at me sadly, and not without affection, I thought. "I hope you're right," he said, but of course he had no hope. "I hope that when I examine you, we find out that you're right."

"There's no need to--"

"Now, Lanik," he said. "The Mueller asks me to give him my answer within the hour."

What my father commanded, I performed. I lay down on the table and willed myself to relax as the knife bit into my abdomen. I had felt worse pain before--the ragged tearing of the wooden practice swords, for instance, or the time an arrow passed into my temple and out my eye--but it wasn't the pain. Or not the pain alone. Because for the first time since earliest childhood, pain and fear burned together within me, and I felt what common men feel that so unmans them on the battlefield, that makes them fodder for a Mueller's hungry sword.

When he was finished, he taped the wound. I already felt the giddiness and tingling that told me healing was under way--these were clean cuts, and all would heal without scars within hours. I didn't have to ask what he had found. I knew from the stooping of his shoulders, the harsh stoicism of his face. I could tell that it was grief and not rejoicing that his dispassionate mask concealed.

"Just cut them off," I said, lightly, jokingly.

He didn...

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