Infinite Dreams: Stories

Infinite Dreams: Stories

by Joe Haldeman

NOOK BookDigital Original (eBook - Digital Original)

$9.49 $9.99 Save 5% Current price is $9.49, Original price is $9.99. You Save 5%.

Available on Compatible NOOK Devices and the free NOOK Apps.
WANT A NOOK?  Explore Now
LEND ME® See Details


Short stories, including a Hugo Award winner, from the author of The Forever War.

Joe Haldeman burst onto the science fiction scene with The Forever War, an unforgettable novel that marked the arrival of an exciting, original new voice. Smart, creative, and acutely socially aware, Haldeman is an author whose work has all of the greatest qualities associated with the genre.
Infinite Dreams collects Haldeman’s short stories from the early days of his career. There’s the poignant “26 Days, On Earth,” which follows a boy from the moon as he writes a journal about his time on Earth and falls for a local girl. Then there’s the humorous “All The Universe in a Mason Jar,” chronicling the experience aliens have with a moonshine-drunk farm boy. In the satirical “A Time to Live,” a frozen billionaire wakes up in the future, only to get returned to his own time in a different body. Also included is the Hugo Award–winning “Tricentennial,” about a trip to gather antimatter from a mysterious binary system. Haldeman’s whip-smart tales prove to be as much a treat now as they were when they were written.

This ebook features an illustrated biography of Joe Haldeman including rare images from the author’s personal collection. 

Related collections and offers

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781497692428
Publisher: Open Road Media
Publication date: 12/02/2014
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 278
Sales rank: 548,093
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Joe Haldeman began his writing career while he was still in the army. Drafted in 1967, he fought in the Central Highlands of Vietnam as a combat engineer with the Fourth Division. He was awarded several medals, including a Purple Heart.
Haldeman sold his first story in 1969 and has since written over two dozen novels and five collections of short stories and poetry. He has won the Nebula and Hugo Awards for his novels, novellas, poems, and short stories, as well as the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, the Locus Award, the Rhysling Award, the World Fantasy Award, and the James Tiptree, Jr. Award. His works include The Forever War, Forever Peace, Camouflage, 1968, the Worlds saga, and the Marsbound series.
Haldeman recently retired after many years as an associate professor in the Department of Writing and Humanistic Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He and his wife, Gay, live in Florida, where he also paints, plays the guitar, rides his bicycle, and studies the skies with his telescope. 

Joe Haldeman began his writing career while he was still in the army. Drafted in 1967, he fought in the Central Highlands of Vietnam as a combat engineer with the Fourth Division. He was awarded several medals, including a Purple Heart.

Haldeman sold his first story in 1969 and has since written over two dozen novels and five collections of short stories and poetry. He has won the Nebula and Hugo Awards for his novels, novellas, poems, and short stories, as well as the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, the Locus Award, the Rhysling Award, the World Fantasy Award, and the James Tiptree, Jr. Award. His works include The Forever War, Forever Peace, Camouflage, 1968, the Worlds saga, and the Marsbound series.

Haldeman recently retired after many years as an associate professor in the Department of Writing and Humanistic Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He and his wife, Gay, live in Florida, where he also paints, plays the guitar, rides his bicycle, and studies the skies with his telescope. 

Read an Excerpt

Infinite Dreams

By Joe Haldeman


Copyright © 1978 Joe Haldeman
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4976-9242-8



The good people who agreed to publish this book asked me to say a few words about each story: where it came from, how it was written. In the trade, we call this the "Where do you get your crazy ideas?" syndrome.

I always liked Roger Zelazny's answer. He says that every night he leaves a bowl of milk and some crackers on the back stoop; in the morning, the milk and crackers are gone, but there's a stack of crazy ideas by the empty bowl.

An apology may be in order for the significant number of readers who think a story ought to speak for itself, and everything else is irrelevant blather. I like the blather myself, though, and I think most readers do. The rest can skip it easily enough: it's in a different typeface.

The story that follows is important to me because it's the first one I wrote after learning that I might some day be a writer. I'd sold a few stories before, but always figured that it would be a sideline, a hobby that managed to pay for itself with a little beer money left over. I learned that it might be more in June of 1970.

For twenty years science fiction has had an annual rite of spring called the Milford Conference. For some, it's a rite of passage as well. Milford used to be held in Milford, Pennsylvania, at the home of its founder, Damon Knight (its geography changes as Damon moves around, but it's still called "the Milford"). Damon invites a mixture of established writers and newcomers for a week of intensive roundtable criticism: manuscripts are passed around and sometimes praised, sometimes literally torn to bits.

It was a real feeling of privilege to be allowed to sit with people like Bova, Dickson, Ellison, Knight, Latimer, Wilhelm; but I was a nervous wreck by the time my story came up for appraisal. One fellow neophyte had been reduced to tears by having his manuscript referred to as "this piece of shit" and flung to the floor. By the time my turn came around I knew my story was cretinous, subliterate, an insult to everyone's intelligence, and poorly Xeroxed besides.

But most of the people liked it, and some people whose opinions were important to me liked it very much. I was able to relax after that, and talk with the established pros about practical things like agents and editors, and important things like how to fill an empty page, how to restart a dead story. I found out that they weren't all that different from me, and that if I really wanted to, I could make my living as a writer, eventually (it took about six years, much less time than I'd expected).

I went home from the conference and wrote this story, and started my first novel, and eventually sold both. In the "crazy ideas" department, all I want to say, to avoid muting the story's suspense, is that it's loosely patterned after a Greek myth. Followers of Dr. Jung will be glad to know that I'd never heard of the myth when I wrote the story.

Michael Tobias Kidd was born in New Rochelle, N.Y., at exactly 8:03:47 on 12 April 1943. His birth was made as easy as the birth of a millionaire's son can be.

Roger William Wellings was born in New Orleans, La., at exactly 8:03:47 on 12 April 1943. His prostitute mother died in giving birth, and his father could have been any one of an indeterminate number of businessmen she had serviced seven months before at a war materiel planning convention.

Michael's mother considered herself progressive. She alternated breast-feeding with a sterilized bottle of scientifically prepared formula. An army of servants cared for the mansion while she lavished time and affection on her only son.

Roger's wet nurse, a black woman hired by the orphanage, despised the spindly pink premature baby and hoped he would die. Somehow, he lived.

Both babies were weaned on the same day. Michael had steak and fresh vegetables laboriously minced and mortared and pestled by a skilled dietician on the kitchen staff. Roger had wartime Gerber's, purchased by the orphanage in gallon jars that were left open far too long.

In a sunny nursery on that glorious morning of 16 March 1944, Michael said "Mama," his first word. It was raining in New Orleans, and unseasonably cold, and that word was one that Roger wouldn't learn for some time. But at the same instant, he opened his mouth and said "No" to a spoonful of mashed carrots. The attendant didn't know it was Roger's first word, but was not disposed to coax, and Roger went hungry for the rest of the morning.

And the war ground on. Poor Michael had to be without his father for weeks at a time, when he journeyed to Washington or San Francisco or even New Orleans to confer with other powerful men. In these times, Mrs. Kidd redoubled her affection and tried to perk up the little tyke with gifts of toys and candy. He loved his father and missed him, but shrewdly learned to take advantage of his absences.

The orphanage in New Orleans lost men to the armed forces and the stronger women went out to rivet and weld and slap grey paint for the war. Roger's family winnowed down to a handful of old ladies and bitter 4-F's. Children would die every month from carelessness or simple lack of attention. They would soil their diapers and lie in the mess for most of the day. They would taste turpentine or rat poison and try to cope with the situation without benefit of adult supervision. Roger lived, though he didn't thrive.

The boys were two years old when Japan capitulated. Michael sat at a garden party in New Rochelle and watched his parents and their friends drink champagne and kiss and laugh and wipe each other's tears away. Roger was kept awake all night by the drunken brawl in the next room, and twice watched with childish curiosity as white-clad couples lurched into the ward and screwed clumsily beside his crib.

September after Michael's fourth birthday, his mother tearfully left him in the company of ten other children and a professionally kind lady, to spend half of each day coping with the intricacies of graham crackers and milk, crayons and fingerpaints. His father had a cork board installed in his den, where he thumbtacked Michael's latest creations. Mr. Kidd's friends often commented on how advanced the youngster was.

The orphanage celebrated Roger's fourth birthday the way they celebrated everybody's. They put him to work. Every morning after breakfast he went to the kitchen, where the cook would give him a paper bag full of potatoes and a potato peeler. He would take the potatoes out of the bag and peel them one by one, very carefully making the peelings drop into the bag. Then he would take the bag of peelings down to the incinerator, where the colored janitor would thank him for it very gravely. Then he would return to wash the potatoes after he had scrubbed his own hands. This would take most of the morning—he soon learned that haste led only to cut fingers, and if there was the slightest spot on one potato, the cook would make him go over all of them once again.

Nursery school prepared Michael quite well for grade school, and he excelled in every subject except arithmetic. Mr. Kidd hired a succession of tutors who managed through wheedling and cajoling and sheer repetition to teach Michael first addition, then subtraction, then multiplication, and finally long division and fractions. When he entered junior high school, Michael was actually better prepared in mathematics than most of his classmates. But he didn't understand it, really—the tutors had given him a superficial facility with numbers that, it was hoped, might carry him through.

Roger attended the orphanage grade school, where he did poorly in almost every subject. Except mathematics. The one teacher who knew the term thought that perhaps Roger was an idiot savant (but he was wrong). In the second grade, he could add up a column of figures in seconds, without using a pencil. In the third grade, he could multiply large numbers by looking at them. In the fourth grade, he discovered prime numbers independently and could crank out long division orally, without seeing the numbers. In the fifth grade someone told him what square roots were, and he extended the concept to cube roots, and could calculate either without recourse to pencil and paper. By the time he got to junior high school, he had mastered high school algebra and geometry. And he was hungry for more.

Now this was 1955, and the boys were starting to take on the appearances that they would carry through adult life. Michael was the image of his father; tall, slim, with a slightly arrogant, imperial cast to his features. Roger looked like one of nature's lesser efforts. He was short and swarthy, favoring his mother, with a potbelly from living on starch all his life, a permanently broken nose, and one ear larger than the other. He didn't resemble his father at all.

Michael's first experience with a girl came when he was twelve. His riding teacher, a lovely wench of eighteen, supplied Michael with a condom and instructed him in its use, in a pile of hay behind the stables, on a lovely May afternoon.

On that same afternoon, Roger was dispassionately fellating a mathematics teacher only slightly uglier than he was, this being the unspoken price for tutelage into the mysteries of integral calculus. The experience didn't particularly upset Roger. Growing up in an orphanage, he had already experienced a greater variety of sexual adventure than Michael would in his entire life.

In high school, Michael was elected president of his class for two years running. A plain girl did his algebra homework for him and patiently explained the subject well enough for him to pass the tests. In spite of his mediocre performance in that subject, Michael graduated with honors and was accepted by Harvard.

Roger spent high school indulging his love for mathematics, just doing enough work in the other subjects to avoid the boredom of repeating them. He applied to several colleges, just to get the counselor off his back, but in spite of his perfect score on the College Boards (Mathematics), none of the schools had an opening. He apprenticed himself to an accountant and was quite happy to spend his days manipulating figures with half his mind, while the other half worked on a theory of Abelian groups that he was sure would one day blow modern algebra wide open.

Michael found Harvard challenging at first, but soon was anxious to get out into the "real world"—helping Mr. Kidd manage the family's widespread, subtle investments. He graduated cum laude, but declined graduate work in favor of becoming a junior financial adviser to his father.

Roger worked away at his books and at his theory, which he eventually had published in the SIAM Journal by the simple expedient of adding a Ph.D. to his name. He was found out, but he didn't care.

At Harvard, Michael had taken ROTC and graduated with a Reserve commission in the infantry, at his father's behest. There was a war going on now, in Vietnam, and his father, perhaps suffering a little from guilt at being too young for the first World War and too old for the second, urged his son to help out with the third.

Roger had applied for OCS at the age of twenty, and had been turned down (he never learned it was for "extreme ugliness of face"). At twenty-two, he was drafted; and the Army, showing rare insight, took notice of his phenomenal ability with numbers and sent him to artillery school. There he learned to translate cryptic commands like "Drop 50" and "Add 50" into exercises in analytic geometry that eventually led to a shell being dropped exactly where the forward observer wanted it. He loved to juggle the numbers and shout orders to the gun crew, who were in turn appreciative of his ability, as it lessened the amount of work for them—Roger never had a near miss that had to be repeated. Who cares if he looks like the devil's brother-in-law? He's a good man to have on the horn.

Michael became a company commander, leader of seventy infantrymen who patrolled the verdant hills and valleys of the Central Highlands, each one cursing and killing and sweating out his individual year. He hated it at first; it scared him and put a great weight on his heart when he ordered men out with the certain knowledge that some of them would come back dead and already rotting, and some screaming or whimpering with limbs or organs shattered, and some just grey with horror, open-mouthed, crying ... but he got hardened to it and the men came to respect him and by 9 June 1966 he had to admit that he had come to enjoy it, just a little.

Roger wasn't disappointed when he got orders for Vietnam and was relieved to find that, once there, they let him do what he enjoyed most: taking those radioed commands and translating them into vernier readings for his gun crew, a group of men manning a 155-millimeter howitzer. In the Central Highlands.

Michael's company had settled into a comfortable routine the past few weeks. They would walk for a day and dig in, and he'd let them rest for a day, setting out desultory ambushes that never trapped any enemy. The consensus was that Charlie had moved out of this area, and they were getting a long-deserved rest. Michael even found time to play some poker with his men (being careful to keep the stakes down), even though it was strictly against regulations. It increased his popularity tremendously, as he was also careful to lose consistently. It was 9 June 1966 and he had been in Vietnam for five months.

It was 9 June 1966 and Roger had been with his gun crew for six months. They liked him at first, because he was so good. But they were getting distant now—he spent all of his free time writing strange symbols in a fat notebook, he never took leave to go into Pleiku and fuck the slope whores, and the few times they had invited him to play poker or craps he had gotten that funny look on his face and taken all their money, slowly and without seeming to enjoy it. Most of the guys thought he was a faggot, and though he said he'd never been to college, everybody knew that was a lie.

It was 9 June 1966 and Michael was dealing five-card stud when he heard the rattle of machine- gun fire on his southern perimeter. His educated ear separated the noises and, before he dropped the cards, he knew it was one M-16 against two Chinese AK-47's. He scrambled out of the bunker that had provided shade for card playing and ran in the direction of the firing. He was halfway there when fire broke out on the western and northern quadrants. He checked his stride and returned to the command bunker.

Roger was amusing himself with an application of point-set topology to stress analysis of concrete structures when the radio began to squawk: "One-one, this is Tiger-two. We're under pretty heavy contact and need a coupla dozen rounds. Over." Roger dumped his notebook and carried the radio to his gun crew. He had to smile—Tiger-two, that was Cap'n Kidd, of all the unlikely names. He hollered into the radio as he ran. "Tiger-two, this is One-one. We got your morning coordinates on file and we'll drop a smoke round by you. You correct. Okay? Over."

Michael rogered Roger's suggestion; he would look and listen for the harmless smoke round and tell him how much to drop or add.

The fire to the south had stepped up quite a bit now, and Michael was pretty sure that was where the enemy would make his play. The smoke round came whining in and popped about a hundred meters from the perimeter. "Drop seventy-five, one HE," Michael yelled into the radio.

Roger had worked with this Captain Kidd before and found him to be notoriously conservative. Which wasted shells, as he walked the artillery in little by little toward the action. So Roger yelled out the string of figures for one hundred meters' drop instead of seventy-five. His crew set the verniers and the charge and pulled the lanyard that sent the high explosive, "one HE," round singing toward Michael's position.

It landed smack on the perimeter, in a stand of bamboo right next to a hardworking machine-gun bunker. The two men inside the bunker died instantly, and the two men in a bunker on the other side were knocked out by the concussion. The bamboo exploded in a flurry of wooden shrapnel.

Before Michael could react, a six-inch sliver of bamboo traveling with the speed of a bullet hit him one inch above the left eyebrow and buried itself in his cerebral cortex. He dropped the binoculars he had been holding, put a hand to his head, and fell over in a state of acute tetanic shock; muscles bunched spastically, legs working in a slow run, mouth open wide saying nothing.


Excerpted from Infinite Dreams by Joe Haldeman. Copyright © 1978 Joe Haldeman. 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

  • Cover
  • Dedication
  • A Biography of Joe Haldeman
  • Copyright

Customer Reviews