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Memoirs of Napoleon Bonaparte

by Louis Antoine Fauvelet de Bourrienne CHAPTER 1 1769-1783. Authentic date of Bonaparte's birth—His family ruined by the Jesuits—His taste for military amusements—Sham siege at the College of Brienne—The porter's wife and Napoleon—My intimacy with Bonaparte at college—His love for the ...

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The Imitation of Earth

by James Stamers: Once they had been human—now they shared a remarkable destiny on an incredible new planet.... He was in some dark, moving medium which pressed him gently and released him and pressed against him again with ...

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King Solomon's Mines

by H. Rider Haggard CHAPTER I I MEET SIR HENRY CURTIS It is a curious thing that at my age—fifty-five last birthday—I should find myself taking up a pen to try to write a history. I wonder what ...

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SIDDHARTHA

by Hermann Hesse FIRST PART THE SON OF THE BRAHMAN In the shade of the house, in the sunshine of the riverbank near the boats, in the shade of the Sal-wood forest, in the shade of the fig ...

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The Troublemakers

by George O. Smith: What did Genetics and Hansen's Folly have in common? Why, everything ... Genetics was statistical and Hansen's Folly impossible! I The living room reflected wealth, position, good taste. In size it was a full ten feet ...

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The jungle book

By Rudyard Kipling MOWGLI'S BROTHERS I T was seven o'clock of a very warm evening in the Seeonee hills when Father Wolf woke up from his day's rest, scratched himself, yawned, and spread out his paws one after the ...

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In the Year 2889

by Jules Verne and Michel Verne Little though they seem to think of it, the people of this twenty-ninth century live continually in fairyland. Surfeited as they are with marvels, they are indifferent in presence of ...

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Three Years in Tibet

by Ekai Kawaguchi PREFACE I was lately reading the Holy Text of the Saḍḍharma-Puṇdarīka (the Aphorisms of the White Lotus of the Wonderful or True Law) in a Samskṛṭ manuscript under a Boḍhi-tree near Mṛga-Ḍāva (Sāranāṭh), Benares. ...

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Fanny Hill: Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure

by John Cleland Audio book in MP3, Apple iTunes, Ogg Vorbis and other audio formats! Download full audio book

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A Journey to the Centre of the Earth

by Jules Verne CHAPTER 1 MY UNCLE MAKES A GREAT DISCOVERY Looking back to all that has occurred to me since that eventful day, I am scarcely able to believe in the reality of my adventures. They were ...

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The Thirty-Nine Steps

by John Buchan CHAPTER ONE The Man Who Died I returned from the City about three o'clock on that May afternoon pretty well disgusted with life. I had been three months in the Old Country, and was fed ...

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Utopia

by Saint Thomas More INTRODUCTION Sir Thomas More, son of Sir John More, a justice of the King’s Bench, was born in 1478, in Milk Street, in the city of London. After his earlier education at St. ...

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New Lamps

by Robert Moore Williams: Ronson came to the Red Planet on the strangest mission of all ... he only knew he wanted to see Les Ro, but he didn't know exactly why. It was because he ...

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The Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe

  By Daniel Defoe CHAPTER I—START IN LIFE I was born in the year 1632, in the city of York, of a good family, though not of that country, my father being a foreigner of Bremen, who settled ...

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THE TIME MACHINE

by H. G. Wells I The Time Traveller (for so it will be convenient to speak of him) was expounding a recondite matter to us. His grey eyes shone and twinkled, and his usually pale face was ...

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The War of the Worlds

by H. G. Wells BOOK ONE THE COMING OF THE MARTIANS CHAPTER ONE THE EVE OF THE WAR No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely ...

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The Rat Race

by Jay Franklin CHAPTER 1 When the bomb exploded, U.S.S. Alaska, was steaming westward, under complete radio silence, somewhere near the international date-line on the Great Circle course south of the Aleutian Islands. It was either the second or ...

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Survival Kit

by Frederik Pohl: I Mooney looked out of his window, and the sky was white. It was a sudden, bright, cold flare and it was gone again. It had no more features than a fog, at least not ...

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Slave Planet

by Laurence M. Janifer PART ONE 1 "I would not repeat myself if it were not for the urgency of this matter." Dr. Haenlingen's voice hardly echoed in the square small room. She stood staring out at the ...

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Around the World in Eighty Days

by Jules Verne Chapter I IN WHICH PHILEAS FOGG AND PASSEPARTOUT ACCEPT EACH OTHER, THE ONE AS MASTER, THE OTHER AS MAN Mr. Phileas Fogg lived, in 1872, at No. 7, Saville Row, Burlington Gardens, the house in which ...

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Search the Sky

by C. M. Kornbluth and Frederik Pohl:

….. 1

DECAY.

Ross stood on the traders’ ramp, overlooking the Yards, and the word kept bobbing to the top of his mind.

Decay.

About all of Halsey’s Planet there was the imperceptible reek of decay. The clean, big, bustling, efficient spaceport only made the sensation stronger. From where he stood on the height of the Ramp, he could see the Yards, the spires of Halsey City ten kilometers away—and the tumble-down gray acres of Ghost Town between.

Ross wrinkled his nose. He wasn’t a man given to brooding, but the scent of decay had saturated his nostrils that morning. He had tossed and turned all the night, wrestling with a decision. And he had got up early, so early that the only thing that made sense was to walk to work.

And that meant walking through Ghost Town. He hadn’t done that in a long time, not since childhood. Ghost Town was a wonderful place to play. “Tag,” “Follow My Fuehrer,” “Senators and President”—all the ancient games took on new life when you could dodge and turn among crumbling ruins, dart down unmarked lanes, gallop through sagging shacks where you might stir out a screeching, unexpected recluse.

But it was clear that—in the fifteen years between childhood games and a troubled man’s walk to work—Ghost Town had grown.

2Everybody knew that! Ask the right specialists, and they’d tell you how much and how fast. An acre a year, a street a month, a block a week, the specialists would twinkle at you, convinced that the acre, street, block was under control, since they could measure it.

Ask the right specialists and they would tell you why it was happening. One answer per specialist, with an ironclad guarantee that there would be no overlapping of replies. “A purely psychological phenomenon, Mr. Ross. A vibration of the pendulum toward greater municipal compactness, a huddling, a mature recognition of the facts of interdependence, basically a step forward….”

“A purely biological phenomenon, Mr. Ross. Falling birth rate due to biochemical deficiency of trace elements processed out of our planetary diet. Fortunately the situation has been recognized in time and my bill before the Chamber will provide….”

“A purely technological problem, Mr. Ross. Maintenance of a sprawling city is inevitably less efficient than that of a compact unit. Inevitably there has been a drift back to the central areas and the convenience of air-conditioned walkways, winterized plazas….”

Yes. It was a purely psychological-biological-technological-educational-demographic problem, and it was basically a step forward.

Ross wondered how many Ghost Towns lay corpselike on the surface of Halsey’s Planet. Decay, he thought. Decay.

But it had nothing to do with his problem, the problem that had kept him awake all the night, the problem that blighted the view before him now.

The trading bell clanged. The day’s work began.

For Ross it might be his last day’s work at the Yards.


He walked slowly from the ramp to the offices of the Oldham Trading Corporation. “Morning, Ross boy,” his breezy young boss greeted him. Charles Oldham IV’s father had always taken a paternal attitude toward his help, and Charles Oldham IV was not going to change anything that 3Daddy had done. He shook Ross’s hand at the door of the suite and apologized because they hadn’t been able to find a new secretary for him yet. They’d been looking for two weeks, but the three applicants they had been able to dredge up had all been hopeless. “It’s the damn Chamber,” said Charles Oldham IV, winsomely gesturing with his hands to show how helpless men of affairs were against the blundering interference of Government. “Damn labor shortage is nothing but a damn artificial scarcity crisis. Daddy saw it; he knew it was coming.”

Ross almost told him he was quitting, but held back. Maybe it was because he didn’t want to spoil Oldham’s day with bad news, right on top of the opening bell. Or maybe it was because, in spite of a sleepless night, he still wasn’t quite sure.

The morning’s work helped him to become sure. It was the same monotonous grind.

Three freighters had arrived at dawn from Halsey’s third moon, but none of them was any affair of his. There was an export shipment of jewelry and watches to be attended to, but the ship was not to take off for another week. It scarcely classified as urgent. Ross worked on the manifests for a couple of hours, stared through his window for an hour, and then it was time for lunch.

Little Marconi hailed him as he passed through the traders’ lounge.

Of all the juniors on the Exchange, Marconi was the one Ross found easiest to take. He was lean and dark where Ross was solid and fair; worse, he stood four ranks above Ross in seniority. But, since Ross worked for Oldham, and Marconi worked for Haarland’s, the difference could be waived in social intercourse.

Ross suspected that, to Marconi as to him, trading was only a job—a dull one, and not a crusade. And he knew that Marconi’s reading was not confined to bills of lading. “Lunch?” asked Marconi. “Sure,” Ross said. And he knew he’d probably spill his secret to the little man from Haarland’s.

The skyroom was crowded—comparatively. All eight of the usual tables were taken; they pushed on into the roped-off 4area by the windows and found a table overlooking the Yards. Marconi blew dust off his chair. “Been a long time since this was used,” he grumbled. “Drink?” He raised his eyebrows when Ross nodded. It made a break; Marconi was the one usually who had a drink with lunch, Ross never touched it.

When the drinks came, each of them said to the other in perfect synchronism: “I’ve got something to tell you.”

They looked startled—then laughed. “Go ahead,” said Ross.

The little man didn’t even argue. Rapturously he drew a photo out of his pocket.

God, thought Ross wearily, Lurline again! He studied the picture with a show of interest. “New snap?” he asked brightly. “Lovely girl——” Then he noticed the inscription: To my fiance, with crates of love. “Well!” he said, “Fiance, is it? Congratulations, Marconi!”

Marconi was almost drooling on the photo. “Next month,” he said happily. “A big, big wedding. For keeps, Ross—for keeps. With children!”

Ross made an expression of polite surprise. “You don’t say!” he said.

“It’s all down in black and white! She agrees to have two children in the first five years—no permissive clause, a straight guarantee. Fifteen hundred annual allowance per child. And, Ross, do you know what? Her lawyer told her right in front of me that she ought to ask for three thousand, and she told him, ‘No, Mr. Turek. I happen to be in love.’ How do you like that, Ross?”

“A girl in a million,” Ross said feebly. His private thoughts were that Marconi had been gaffed and netted like a sugar perch. Lurline was of the Old Landowners, who didn’t own anything much but land these days, and Marconi was an undersized nobody who happened to make a very good living. Sure she happened to be in love. Smartest thing she could be. Of course, promising to have children sounded pretty special; but the papers were full of those things every day. Marconi could reliably be counted on to hang himself. He’d promise her breakfast in bed every third week end, or the maid that he couldn’t possibly find 5on the labor market, and the courts would throw all the promises on both sides out of the contract as a matter of simple equity. But the marriage would stick, all right.

Marconi had himself a final moist, fatuous sigh and returned the photo to his pocket. “And now,” he asked brightly, craning his neck for the waiter, “what’s your news?”

Ross sipped his drink, staring out at the nuzzling freighters in their hemispherical slips. He said abruptly, “I might be on one of those next week. Fallon’s got a purser’s berth open.”

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