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Understand

Ted Chiang

Hugo Award nominated novelette. It originally appeared in Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, August 1991. The story can also be found in the anthologies Supermen: Tales of the Posthuman Future (2002), edited by Gardner Dozois and The Hard SF Renaissance (2002), edited by David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer. It is included in the collection Stories of Your Life and Others (2002).

Dune

Dune Chronicles: Book 1

Frank Herbert

The novel that to this day continues to shape modern science fiction. Set on the desert planet Arrakis, a world more awesome than any other in literature, Dune begins the story of the man known as Maud'dib -- and of a great family's plan to bring to fruition humankind's most ancient and unattainable dream. A stunning blend of adventure, mysticism, environmentalism and politics, Dune won the first Nebula Award, shared the Hugo Award, and formed the basis of what is undoubtedly the grandest epic in science fiction.

Rosewater

Wormwood Trilogy: Book 1

Tade Thompson

Between meeting a boy who bursts into flames, alien floaters that want to devour him, and a butterfly woman who he has sex with when he enters the xenosphere, Kaaro's life is far from the simple one he wants. But he left simple behind a long time ago when he was caught stealing and nearly killed by an angry mob. Now he works for a government agency called Section 45, and they want him to find a women known as Bicycle Girl. And that's just the beginning.

An alien entity lives beneath the ground, forming a biodome around which the city of Rosewater thrives. The cities of Rosewater are enamored by the dome, hoping for a chance to meet the beings within or possibly be invited to come in themselves. But Kaaro isn't so enamored. He was in the biodome at one point and decided to leave it behind. When something begins killing off other sensitives like himself, Kaaro defies Section 45 to search for an answer, facing his past and comes to a realization about a horrifying future.

The Mountains of Mourning

The Vorkosigan Saga

Lois McMaster Bujold

Hugo- and Nebula-winning Novella

Despite being a space-faring empire, Barrayar still harbors deep-rooted prejudices and superstitions, including those against "mutants." When a Dendarii hill-woman comes before Aral Vorkosigan seeking justice for the murder of her infant baby, who has been killed because of her physical defects, the Barrayaran Lord sends his son Miles to a remote mountain village to discover the truth and carry out Imperial justice -- and at the same time, to attack these long-held barbaric beliefs. And who to send better than Miles Vorkosigan, who has himself struggled with these prejudices all his life because of his own physical deformities?

This novella was also published as part of Borders of Infinity

Foundation

The Foundation Series: Book 1

Isaac Asimov

For twelve thousand years the Galactic Empire has ruled supreme. Now it is dying. But only Hari Sheldon, creator of the revolutionary science of psychohistory, can see into the future--to a dark age of ignorance, barbarism, and warfare that will last thirty thousand years. To preserve knowledge and save mankind, Seldon gathers the best minds in the Empire--both scientists and scholars--and brings them to a bleak planet at the edge of the Galaxy to serve as a beacon of hope for a fututre generations. He calls his sanctuary the Foundation.

But soon the fledgling Foundation finds itself at the mercy of corrupt warlords rising in the wake of the receding Empire. Mankind's last best hope is faced with an agonizing choice: submit to the barbarians and be overrun--or fight them and be destroyed.

The Rediscovery of Man

Cordwainer Smith

Welcome to the strangest, most distinctive future ever imagined by a science fiction writer. An insterstellar empire ruled by the mysterious Lords of the Instrumentality, whose access to the drug stroon from the planet Norstrilia confers on them virtual immortality. A world in which wealthy and leisured humanity is served by the underpeople, genetically engineered animals turned into the semblance of people. A world in which the great ships which sail between the stars are eventually supplanted by the mysterious, instantaneous technique of planoforming. A world of wonder and myth, and extraordinary imagination.

(Note that this collection was originally published in 1975 as The Best of Cordwainer Smith. It was then retitled to The Rediscovery of Man and republished in 1988 as VGSF Classics #25, then again in 1999 as a Gollancz SF Masterworks edition. It is a different collection from the NESFA press collection The Rediscovery of Man: The Complete Short Science Fiction of Cordwainer Smith which has different contents).

Chocky

John Wyndham

At first they thought that Matthew was just goining through a phase of talking to himself. And like many parents, they waited for him to grow out of it. But as time passed it became worse, not better. Matthew's conversations with himself grew more and more intense. It was like listening to one end of a telephone conversation while someone argued, cajoled and reasoned with another person you couldn't hear or see. Then Matthew began doing things he couldn't do before. Like counting in binary code mathematics. So he told them about Chocky, the person who lived in his head. Whoever or whatever Chocky was, it wasn't childish imagination. It was far too intelligent and frightening for that.

Polar City Blues

Katharine Kerr

Polar City: capital of Hagar, one of the handful of worlds on which the tiny, human-dominated Republic sits, uneasily squeezed between the powerful Interstellar Confederation and the enormous Coreward Alliance.

When a suspected alien spy from the Confederation Embassy is found murdered, a potentially explosive political situation faces Police Chief Bates.

And when talanted psychic Mulligan is brought to the scene to pick up echoes of the event, what he experiences sends him into amnesiac shock.

Meanwhile, murders continue unabated and a major crisis threatens to destabilise the Republic ....

The Demolished Man

Alfred Bester

In the year 2301, guns are only museum pieces and benign telepaths sweep the minds of the populace to detect crimes before they happen. In 2301 murder is virtually impossible, but one man is about to change that...

Ben Reich, a psychopathic business magnate, has devised the ultimate scheme to eliminate the competition and destroy the order of his society. The Demolished Man is a masterpiece of imaginative suspense, set in a superbly imagined world in which everything has changed except the ancient instinct for murder.

More Than Human

Masters of Science Fiction: Book 29

Theodore Sturgeon

First published in 1953, this most celebrated of Sturgeon's works won the International Fantasy Award, as has been touted as "a masterpiece of provocative storytelling" (The Herald Tribune).

A group of remarkable social outcasts band together for survival and discover their combined powers renders them superhuman.

Foundation's Edge

The Foundation Series: Book 4

Isaac Asimov

At last, the costly and bitter war between the two Foundations had come to an end. The scientists of the First Foundation had proved victorious; and now they retum to Hari Seldon's long-established plan to build a new Empire that the Second Foundation is not destroyed after all-and that its still-defiant survivors are preparing their revenge. Now the two exiled citizens of the Foundation-a renegade Councilman and the doddering historian-set out in search of the mythical planet Earth. . .and proof that the Second Foundation still exists. Meanwhile someone-or something-outside of both Foundations sees to be orchestrating events to suit its own ominous purpose. Soon representatives of both the First and Second Foundations will find themselves racing toward a mysterious world called Gaia and a final shocking destiny at the very end of the universe!

Transcendental

Transcendental Machine: Book 1

James E. Gunn

Riley, a veteran of interstellar war, is one of many beings from many different worlds aboard a ship on a pilgrimage that spans the galaxy. However, he is not journeying to achieve transcendence, a vague mystical concept that has drawn everyone else on the ship to this journey into the unknown at the far edge of the galaxy. His mission is to find and kill the prophet who is reputed to help others transcend. While their ship speeds through space, the voyage is marred by violence and betrayal, making it clear that some of the ship's passengers are not the spiritual seekers they claim to be.

Like the pilgrims in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, a number of those on the starship share their unique stories. But as tensions rise, Riley realizes that the ship is less like the Canterbury Tales and more like a harrowing, deadly ship of fools. When he becomes friendly with a mysterious passenger named Asha, he thinks she's someone he can trust. However, like so many others on the ship, Asha is more than she appears. Uncovering her secrets could be the key to Riley's personal quest, or make him question everything he thought he knew about Transcendentalism and his mission to stop it.

Dying Inside

Robert Silverberg

David Selig was born with an awesome power - the ability to look deep into the human heart, to probe the darkest truths hidden in the secret recesses of the soul. With reckless abandon, he used his talent in the pursuit of pleasure. Then, one day, his power began to die...

Dying Inside is a vivid, harrowing portrait of a man who squandered a remarkable gift, of a superman who had to learn what it was to be human.

The Underpeople

Cordwainer Smith

The Underpeople were mutated from animal stock to serve mankind. They lived Deepdown in the forgotten corridors and caverns of Old Earth, servants to the men who bred them in their own image.

But even the Underpeople dream - and often have strange powers. And now they have a strange ally in the richest man who ever lived: the man who owned the whole planet.

The Glamour

Christopher Priest

Cameraman Richard Grey's memory has blanked out the few weeks before he was injured in a car bomb explosion. When he is visited by a girl who seems to have been his lover, his attempts to recall the forgotten period produce an odyssey through France and conflicting accounts of what happened. When Susan Kewley speaks to him of that time, he finds himself glimpsing a terrible twilight world - the world of "the glamour".

Dune Messiah

Dune Chronicles: Book 2

Frank Herbert

Dune Messiah continues the story of Paul Atreides, better known-and feared-as the man christened Muad'Dib. As Emperor of the Known Universe, he possesses more power than a single man was ever meant to wield. Worshipped as a religious icon by the fanatical Fremens, Paul faces the enmity of the political houses he displaced when he assumed the throne-and a conspiracy conducted within his own sphere of influence.

And even as House Atreides begins to crumble around him from the machinations of his enemies, the true threat to Paul comes to his lover, Chani, and the unborn heir to his family's dynasty.

Beggars and Choosers

The Sleepless: Book 2

Nancy Kress

In Beggars and Choosers, Kress returns to the same future world created in her earlier work, an America strangely altered by genetic modifications...

Most of the world is on the verge of collapse, overburdened by a population of jobless drones and racked by the results of irresponsible genetic research and nanotechnology. Will the world be saved? And for whom?

God Emperor of Dune

Dune Chronicles: Book 4

Frank Herbert

Millennia have passed on Arrakis, and the oncedesert planet is green with life. Leto Atreides, the son of the world's savior, the Emperor Paul Muad'Dib, is still alive but far from human. To preserve humanity's future, he sacrificed his own by merging with a sandworm, granting him nearimmortality as God Emperor of Dune for the past 3,500 years.

Leto's rule is not a benevolent one. His transformation has not only made his appearance inhuman, but his morality. A rebellion has risen to oppose the despot's rule, led by Siona, a member of the Atreides family. But Siona is unaware that Leto's vision of a Golden Path for humanity requires her to fulfill a destiny she never wanted... or could possibly conceive....

Chapterhouse: Dune

Dune Chronicles: Book 6

Frank Herbert

The desert planet Arrakis, called Dune, has been destroyed. The remnants of the Old Empire have been consumed by the violent matriarchal cult known as the Honored Matres. Only one faction remains a viable threat to their total conquest-the Bene Gesserit, heirs to Dune's power.

Under the leadership of Mother Superior Darwi Odrade, the Bene Gesserit have colonized a green world on the planet Chapterhouse, and are turning it into a desert, mile by scorched mile. And once they've mastered breeding sandworms, the Sisterhood will control the production of the greatest commodity in the known galaxy-the spice Melange. But their true weapon remains a man who has lived countless lifetimes-a man who served under the God Emperor Paul Muad'Dib.

Time Is the Simplest Thing

Clifford D. Simak

A telepath inadvertently acquires a powerful alien consciousness and must run for his life to escape corporate assassins and hate-filled mobs in this enthralling science fiction masterwork

Space travel has been abandoned in the twenty-second century. It is deemed too dangerous, expensive, and inconvenient--and now the all-powerful Fishhook company holds the monopoly on interstellar exploration for commercial gain. Their secret is the use of "parries," human beings with the remarkable telepathic ability to expand their minds throughout the universe. On what should have been a routine assignment, however, loyal Fishhook employee Shepherd Blaine is inadvertently implanted with a copy of an alien consciousness, becoming something more than human. Now he's a company pariah, forced to flee the safe confines of the Fishhook complex. But the world he escapes into is not a safe sanctuary; Its people have been taught to hate and fear his parapsychological gift--and there is nowhere on Earth, or elsewhere, for Shepherd Blaine to hide.

A Hugo Award nominee, Time Is the Simplest Thing showcases the enormous talents of one of the true greats of twentieth-century science fiction. This richly imagined tale of prejudice, corporate greed, oppression, and, ultimately, transcendence stands tall among Simak's most enduring works.

Odd John: A Story Between Jest and Earnest

Galaxy Science Fiction: Book 8

Olaf Stapledon

John Wainwright is a freak, a human mutation with an extraordinary intelligence which is both awesome and frightening to behold. Ordinary humans are mere playthings to him. And Odd John has a plan - to create a new order on Earth, a new supernormal species. But the world is not ready for such a change.

Pebble in the Sky

Trantorian Empire: Book 1

Isaac Asimov

One moment Joseph Schwartz is a happily retired tailor in Chicago, 1949. The next he's a helpless stranger on Earth during the heyday of the first Galactic Empire. Earth, as he soon learns, is a backwater, just a pebble in the sky, despised by all the other 200 million planets of the Empire because its people dare to claim it's the original home of man. And Earth is poor, with great areas of radioactivity ruining much of its soil--so poor that everyone is sentenced to death at the age of sixty. Joseph Schwartz is sixty-two.

This is young Isaac Asimov's first novel, full of wonders and ideas, the book that launched the novels of the Galactic Empire, culminating in the Foundation series. This is Golden Age SF at its finest.

The Currents of Space

Trantorian Empire: Book 3

Isaac Asimov

High above the planet Florinia, the Squires of Sark live in unimaginable wealth and comfort. Down in the eternal spring of the planet, however, the native Florinians labor ceaselessly to produce the precious kyrt that brings prosperity to their Sarkite masters.

Rebellion is unthinkable and impossible. Not only do the Florinians no longer have a concept of freedom, any disruption of the vital kyrt trade would cause other planets to rise in protest, ultimately destabilizing trade and resulting in a galactic war. So the Trantorian Empire, whose grand plan is to unite all humanity in peace, prosperity, and freedom, has stood aside and allowed the oppression to continue.

Living among the workers of Florinia, Rik is a man without a memory or a past. He has been abducted and brainwashed. Barely able to speak or care for himself when he was found, Rik is widely regarded as a simpleton by the worker community where he lives. But as his memories begin to return, Rik finds himself driven by a cryptic message he is determined to deliver: Everyone on Florinia is doomed . . . the Currents of Space are bringing destruction. But if the planet is evacuated, the power of Sark will end--so some would finish the job and would kill the messenger. The fate of the Galaxy hangs in the balance.

The Whole Man

John Brunner

Gerald Howson was born in the gutter, with the body of a cripple... he was raised in harsh poverty and ridicule... and he would grow up with a mind of transcendant power.... What kind of man would he be?

A daring and fascinating exploration into the possibilities that include the marvel of internal creation---or the threat of lingering death!

Published in the UK as: The Telepathist

No Enemy But Time

Michael Bishop

Joshua Kampa, the illegitimate son of a mute Spanish whore and a black serviceman, has always dreamed of Africa. But his dreams are of an Africa far in the past and are so vivid and in such hallucinatory detail that he is able to question the understanding of eminent palaeontologists. As a result, Joshua is invited to join a most unusual time travel project and is transported millions of years into the past of his dreams.

In early Pleistocene Africa, living among the prehuman species Homo habilis, experiencing the same hardships and the same intense pleasures, Joshua finds, for the first time in his troubled life, not only contentment but real love - a love that transcends almost everything. Intelligent, thoughtful and deeply moving, No Enemy But Time brilliantly evokes the remote past and, at the same time, presents a powerful and convincing portrayal of a relationship surmounting even the most daunting barriers. It is a challenging and highly original novel exploring the nature and origins of humankind.

Paul of Dune

Heroes of Dune: Book 1

Kevin J. Anderson
Brian Herbert

Frank Herbert's Dune ended with Paul Muad’Dib in control of the planet Dune. Herbert’s next Dune book, Dune Messiah, picked up the story several years later after Paul’s armies had conquered the galaxy. But what happened between Dune and Dune Messiah? How did Paul create his empire and become the Messiah? Following in the footsteps of Frank Herbert, New York Times bestselling authors Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson are answering these questions in Paul of Dune.

The Muad’Dib’s jihad is in full swing. His warrior legions march from victory to victory. But beneath the joy of victory there are dangerous undercurrents. Paul, like nearly every great conqueror, has enemies--those who would betray him to steal the awesome power he commands. . . .

And Paul himself begins to have doubts: Is the jihad getting out of his control? Has he created anarchy? Has he been betrayed by those he loves and trusts the most? And most of all, he wonders: Am I going mad?

Paul of Dune is a novel everyone will want to read and no one will be able to forget.

This Fortress World

James E. Gunn

William Dane is a man with a nasty but valuable secret, one that all the cutthroats in the galaxy are itching to get their hands on. Dane must perfect the art of concealing himself from the crazed factions yearning for the power that this secret can give.