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I read it in middle school and loved it, but I went back to the school library recently while home and looked for it to no avail. I will list all the details I remember:

  • It starts off with an agrarian society in which people are all happy. A person has memories of a grandparent who died a long time ago, they leave the village and find the grandparent's fresh corpse. It turns out the elders can control thoughts and deal with loss that way, by making it seem long ago.

  • There is a boy with certain colored eyes, meaning he can read thoughts and has some impressive cognitive abilities. He takes a test in some academy and the last question is very difficult, and relates to astrophysics. It is expected to be unsolvable, but he just lifts the answer from the teacher's mind, and is heavily questioned for it.

  • There is a colony of people, led I think by an adult brother and sister, who after landing on some planet, freeze themselves for around 20,000 years. They awake to see a similar agrarian society to the beginning of the book.

  • There is something to do with a woman going to a new planet for opportunities, and she is chased by some irradiated dogs near a school or park.

It wasn't really YA lit, it was pretty long (500-600 pages), and I believe it was broken into individual stories that sort of tied together near the end. I have been looking for this one for so long, I will try and remember other details if that helps

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    Welcome to the site. In roughly which year did you read this book, and when do you think it might've been published? Apr 27, 2021 at 1:45
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    @LogicDictates, I read the book around 2013, and the pages were brown enough that I think it was pre-2000 at least. But likely newer than 1970 due to the style of writing.
    – Aaron
    Apr 27, 2021 at 1:47
  • Also @LogicDictates, thanks for the title edit. I wasn't quite sure how to put that, but your title sums it up very well
    – Aaron
    Apr 27, 2021 at 1:55

1 Answer 1

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The first and second stories remind me of The Worthing Saga by Orson Scott Card. The book is described by Card as:

This book brings together all the Worthing stories for the first time in one volume. In a way, the Worthing tales are the root of my work in science fiction.

The first story is The Day of Pain. The scene you remember is:

In Lared's village, the change came while they slept. That night there were no shepherds in their dreams. Lared's little sister, Sala, awoke screaming in terror that Grandma was dead, Grandma is dead!

Lared sat up in his truckle bed, trying to dispel his own dreams, for in them he had seen his father carry Grandma to the grave—but that had been long ago, hadn't it? Father stumbled from the wooden bedstead where he and Mother slept. Not since Sala had been weaned had anyone cried out in the night. Was she hungry?

“Grandma died tonight, like a fly in the fire she died!”

Like a squirrel in the fox's teeth, thought Lared. Like a lizard in the cat's mouth, trembling.

?“Of course she's dead,” Father said, “but not tonight.” He took her in his vast blacksmith's arms and held her. “Why do you weep now, when Grandma has been dead for such a long time?” But Sala wept on, as if the grief were great and new.

Then Lared looked at Grandma's old bed. “Father,” he whispered. Again, “Father.” For there lay her corpse, still new, still stiffening, though Lared so clearly remembered her burial long ago

The second story is A Book of Old Memories. The Boy is Jason (Jase) Worthing and the teacher is Torrock:

Jase quickly plunged deeper than Torrock's present thoughts, moved among, his unthought-of memories as easily as if they were his own, finding Torrock's knowledge of stars and motions, seeking the meaning of the unfamiliar figure. And the exact figure was there, perfect to the fourteenth decimal place. Then he slipped gratefully from Torrock's mind and entered the result into the keypad. No more problems appeared above his table. The test was over. He waited.

His score was perfect, when it came. And yet a red glow appeared, and hung in the air above Jase's table. The red glow meant a failing score. Or a computer malfunction, or cheating. Torrock, looking worried, got up and came to him. “What's wrong?” asked the teacher.

“I don't know,” said Jase.

“What's your score?” He looked, and it was perfect. “Then what's wrong?”

“I don't know,” said Jase again.

Torrock went back to his own table and began talking quietly with the air. Jase, as always, listened to Torrock's mind. The mistake had been Torrock's.. The last question should not have been on his test. It dealt with secrets that children should not learn until years later. Torrock had written it last night, meaning to append it to an examination he would give to his advanced students tomorrow. Instead he had added it to his beginning class today. Jase should not have been given the question at all; above all, he should not have been able to get it right. It was a sign of cheating.

However I don't recall any scene involving irradiated dogs.

The Worthing Saga is made up from a variety of previously published stories, and the two scenes I've described are also in an earlier book called The Worthing Chronicle, so you may have seen them there. The Worthing Chronicle was itself adapted from an earlier novel Hot Sleep, so it's all a bit confused. Versions of the second story (reading the question from the teacher's mind) appear in all three books.

If you're interested I asked a question about a different story from the same book in Linked short stories about humans with healing powers.

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  • Wow, no wonder I was having trouble remembering threads that connected all the stories. That's exactly it, reading that second excerpt is what did it for me. Are you sure the title of story 2 is right? I couldn't find anything about "A Book of Old Memories" online. Thanks so much
    – Aaron
    Apr 27, 2021 at 16:37
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    @Aaron the second story is titled "A Book of Old Memories" in the big collection "The Worthing Saga" and therefore presumably in "The Worthing Chronicle" as well. In "Hot Sleep" it is just "Chapter 1". I don't think it has been published as a standalone short story, or at least I couldn't find anything resembling it on the ISFDB. Apr 27, 2021 at 17:13

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