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Wainer   By:

Wainer by Michael Shaara

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Illustrated by ASHMAN

[Transcriber Note: This etext was produced from Galaxy Science Fiction April 1954. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]

[Sidenote: Certainly, life has a meaning though sometimes it takes a lifetime to learn what it is. ]

The man in the purple robe was too old to walk or stand. He was wheeled upon a purple bench into the center of a marvelous room, where unhuman beings whom we shall call "They" had gathered and waited. Because he was such an old man, he commanded a great sum of respect, but he was nervous before Them and spoke with apology, and sometimes with irritation, because he could not understand what They were thinking and it worried him.

Yet there was no one left like this old man. There was no one anywhere who was as old but that does not matter. Old men are important not for what they have learned, but for whom they have known, and this old man had known Wainer.

Therefore he spoke and told Them what he knew, and more that he did not know he was telling. And They, who were not men, sat in silence and the deepest affection, and listened....

William Wainer died and was forgotten (said the old man) much more than a thousand years ago. I have heard it said that people are like waves, rising and riding and crumbling, and if a wave fell once on a shore long ago, then it left its mark on the beach and changed the shape of the world, but is not remembered. That is true, except for the bigger waves. There is nothing remarkable in Wainer's being forgotten then, because he was not a big wave. In his own time, he was nothing at all he even lived off the state and the magnificent power that was in him and that he brought to the world was never fully recognized. But the story of his life is probably the greatest story I have ever heard. He was the beginning of You. I only wish I had known.

From his earliest days, as I remember, no one ever looked after Wainer. His father had been one of the last of the priests. Just before young Wainer was born in 2430, the government passed one of the great laws, the we take no barriers into space edict, and religious missionaries were banned from the stars. Wainer's father never quite recovered from that. He went down to the end of his days believing that the Earth had gone over to what he called "Anti Christ." He was a fretful man and he had no time for the boy.

Young Wainer grew up alone. Like everyone else, he was operated on at the age of five, and it turned out that he was a Reject. At the time, no one cared. His mother afterward said that she was glad, because Wainer's head even then was magnificently shaped and it would have been a shame to put a lump on it. Of course, Wainer knew that he could never be a doctor, or a pilot, or a technician of any kind, but he was only five years old and nothing was final to him. Some of the wonderful optimism he was to carry throughout his youth, and which he was to need so badly in later years, was already with him as a boy.

And yet You must understand that the world in which Wainer grew up was a good world, a fine world. Up to that time, it was the best world that ever was, and no one doubted that

(Some of Them had smiled in Their minds. The old man was embarrassed.)

You must try to understand. We all believed in that world; Wainer and I and everyone believed. But I will explain as best I can and doubtless You will understand.

When it was learned, long before Wainer was born, that the electronic brains could be inserted within the human brain and connected with the main neural paths, there was no one who did not think it was the greatest discovery of all time. Do You know, can You have any idea, what the mind of Man must have been like before the brains? God help them, they lived all their lives without controlling themselves, trapped, showered by an unceasing barrage of words, dreams, totally unrelated, uncontrollable memories... Continue reading book >>

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