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Explorer

Foreigner: Arc 2: Book 3

C. J. Cherryh

It has been nearly ten years since the starship Phoenix retuned to the abandoned station orbiting the world of the alien atevi. This station, called Alpha, had been deserted for centuries following a rift between a faction of the station's inhabitants and the spacers' autocratic Pilot's Guild. For two hundred years this splinter faction had shared a fragile coexistence with the atevi, living in isolation on the island of Mospheira, communicating with the brilliant but volatile atevi by the use of a single highly trained diplomat, the paidhi, and trading technological information for continued peace and safety.

The unexpected return of the Phoenix has forever changed the lives of both atevi and Mospheirans, for over the ensuing decade, the captains of the Phoenix have brought both the atevi and their human counterparts into space. Their motivation seemed simple: Reunion Station, a human station in another sector of space, had been destroyed by aliens.

But on his deathbed, the senior captain of the Phoenix admits that he lied to the crew - that Reunion was merely damaged, not destroyed, and many people, including family and friends of the Phoenix crew may have survived. At this disclosure, the crew rebels and forces the Phoenix to undertake a rescue mission to Reunion.

But the crew and captains do not go alone, for on board are Bren Cameron, brilliant human paidhi, now representing Tabini-aiji, the atevi ruler, and Tabini's grandmother Ilisidi, the aiji-dowager, a fearsome, wily, and ambitious atevi leader with an agenda of her own.

Trapped in a distant star system with very little fuel left, facing a potentially bellicose alien ship, how can Bren help to avoid interspecies war when the notoriously secretive Pilot's Guild aboard Reunion Station won't even cooperate with their own ship, and may have kept the inhabitants of their own station ignorant of their true situation?

Bloodchild

Octavia E. Butler

Hugo, Nebula and Locus Award winning novelette.

Years ago a group known as the Terrans left Earth in search of a life free of persecution. Now they live alongside the Tlic, an alien race who face extinction; their only chance of survival is to plant their larvae inside the bodies of the humans.

When Gan, a young, boy, is chosen as a carrier of Tlic eggs, he faces an impossible dilemma: can he really help the species he has grown up with, even if it means sacrificing his own life?

Bloodchild originally appeared in Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, June 1984. The story has been reprinted many times. It can be found in the anthologies:

The story is included in the collection Bloodchild and Other Stories (1995).

Read the full story for free at the Baen website.

Intruder

Foreigner: Arc 5: Book 1

C. J. Cherryh

Civil war on the world of the atevi seems to be over, but diplomatic disputes and political infighting continue unabated. Bren Cameron, brilliant human diplomat allied with the dominant Western Association, has just returned to the capital from his country home on the coast. But his sojourn was anything but restful. Attacked by rebel forces hoping to kill not only him, but also Ilisidi, the grandmother, and Cajieri, the young son, of Tabini-aiji, the powerful head of the Western Association, Bren and his resourceful associates have had a small war of their own to contend with. And this small war has ended with a daring proposition: that their longtime enemy Machigi, having been double-crossed by his allies and approached by Ilisidi with an offer of alliance, will sign a trade agreement with her Eastern district-a situation which has upset both the rebels and the loyal north.

But Bren's accustomed role as negotiator for Tabini, Ilisidi, and their associates has suddenly changed radically—for Machigi, to Bren's utter shock, has evoked an ancient law. Bren wears the white ribbon that for the last few centuries has identified the single official human-atevi negotiator. But before humans landed, this white ribbon represented a specialized negotiator between atevi adversaries—a mediator who agreed to represent both sides with equal loyalty. These ancient mediators frequently ended up dead.

Now back in the capital, Bren finds that things are even more complicated than they previously were. He has now been put in the precaroius position of representing both Ilisidi and Machigi to the congress, and is becoming embroiled with both conservative and liberal factions. Meanwhile, Tabini-aiji is enraged to have lost the personal negotiator who has been his associate for decades, and is also jealous of any other party who stands to influence his young son. But there are even more dangerous things afoot, for Bren's bodyguard has warned him there is a crisis inside the immensely dangerous Assassins' Guild, and that the recent dustup with the Shadow Guild, a rebellious faction within the Assassins, may be only the beginning.

Inheritor

Foreigner: Arc 1: Book 3

C. J. Cherryh

Six months have passed since the reappearance of the starship Phoenix - six months during which the alien atevi have striven to reconfigure their fledling space program in a breakneck bid to take their place in the heavens alongside humans. But the return of the Phoenix has added a frighteningly powerful third party to an already volatile situation, polarizing political factions in both human and atevi societies, and making the possibility of all-out planetary war an ever more likely threat.

On the atevi mainland, human ambassador Bren Cameron, in a desperate attempt to maintain the peace, has arranged for one human representative from the Phoenix to take up residence with him in his apartments, while another is stationed on Mospheira, humanity's island enclave. Bren himself is unable to return home for fear of being arrested or assassinated by the powerful arch conservative element who wish to bar the atevi from space.

Responsible for a terrified, overwhelmed young man, and desperately trying to keep abreast of the political maneuverings of the atevi associations, how can Bren Cameron possibly find a way to save two species from a three-sided conflict that no one can win?

Precursor

Foreigner: Arc 2: Book 1

C. J. Cherryh

Over three years have passed since the reappearance of the starship Phoenix - the same ship which two centuries left an isolated colony of humans to fend for themselves on the world of the volatile atevi.

Since that time, humans have lived in exile on the island of Mospheira, using a single diplomat, the paidhi, to trade advanced technology for the continued peace and safety of its people.

But the unexpected return of the Phoenix has shattered forever the fragile, carefully maintained political balance of these two nearly incompatible races. For the captains of the Phoenix offer the atevi something Mospheira never could - access to the stars.

For three breakneck years the atevi labor to build a space shuttle which will bear their representatives to the Phoenix, to strengthen connections with their new human and retain their bid for control of their world. But as soon as the shuttle proves spaceworthy, the captains of the Phoenix suddenly recall their planetary delegates, breaking diplomatic contact and initiating a vicious bid for political dominance.

But the powerful head of the atevi's Western Association is not to be outmaneuvered, and he sends his own paidhi, Bren Cameron, into space to negotiate.

Thrust into a political maelstrom with almost no preparation, Bren is empowered to use any means at his disposal to achieve the atevi's aim. But can Bren gain control of the station and political supremacy for the atevi without sparking a three-sided interspecies war?

Invader

Foreigner: Arc 1: Book 2

C. J. Cherryh

On the world of the atevi, humanity makes up one small enclave, on the island of Mospheira. After the disappearance of the starship Phoenix, only one human representative is allowed to interact with the atevi - the Paidhi, a mixture of ambassador, translator and salesman of advanced technology. In a society where assassination is a recognised form of negotiation, Bren Cameron had been performing his task as Paidhi well.

Then the Phoenix returns, almost two hundred years after its departure.

Recovering from surgery on Mospheira, Cameron must return immediately to the atevi, but he finds his government has already sent a successor, Deanna Hanks, without informing him. And she has managed to alienate major factions against humanity.

Battling against his strangely-silent masters, the deadly atevi and Hanks, Bren Cameron must take risks that could destroy the entire world - or save it for atevi and humanity alike.

Interstellar Pig

Interstellar Pig: Book 1

William Sleator

Barney is all set to spend two weeks doing nothing at his parents' summer house. But then he meets the neighbors, and things start to get interesting. Zena, Manny, and Joe are not your average folks on vacation. In fact, Barney suspects they're not from Earth at all. Not only are they physically perfect in every way, but they don't seem to have jobs or permanent addresses, and they are addicted to a strange role-playing game called Interstellar Pig. As Barney finds himself sucked into their bizarre obsession, he begins to wonder if Interstellar Pig is just a game.

The Man Who Fell to Earth

Walter Tevis

T.J. Newton is an extraterrestrial who goes to Earth on a desperate mission of mercy. But instead of aid, Newton discovers loneliness and despair that ultimately ends in tragedy.

A Wrinkle in Time

Time Quintet: Book 1

Madeleine L’Engle

Meg Murray, her little brother Charles Wallace, and their mother are having a midnight snack on a dark and stormy night when an unearthly stranger appears at their door. He claims to have been blown off course, and goes on to tell them that there is such a thing as a "tesseract," which, if you didn't know, is a wrinkle in time.

Meg's father had been experimenting with time-travel when he suddenly disappeared. Will Meg, Charles Wallace, and their friend Calvin outwit the forces of evil as they search through space for their father?

Helliconia Summer

Helliconia: Book 2

Brian W. Aldiss

A planet orbiting binary suns, Helliconia has a Great Year spanning three millennia of Earth time: cultures are born in spring, flourish in summer, then die with the onset of the generations-long winter.

It is the summer of the Great Year on Helliconia. The humans are involved with their own affairs. Their old enemies, the phagors, are comparatively docile at this time of year, yet they can afford to wait, to take advantage of human weakness?and the king?s weakness. How they do so brings to a climax this powerfully compelling novel, in which the tortuous unwindings of circumstance enmesh royalty and commoners alike, and involve the Helliconia continents.

This is the second volume of the Helliconia Trilogy?a monumental saga that goes beyond anything yet created by this master among today?s imaginative writers.

Rollback

Robert J. Sawyer

Dr. Sarah Halifax decoded the first-ever radio transmission received from aliens. Thirty-eight years later, a second message is received and Sarah, now 87, may hold the key to deciphering this one, too... if she lives long enough.

A wealthy industrialist offers to pay for Sarah to have a rollback-a hugely expensive experimental rejuvenation procedure. She accepts on condition that Don, her husband of sixty years, gets a rollback, too. The process works for Don, making him physically twenty-five again. But in a tragic twist, the rollback fails for Sarah, leaving her in her eighties.

While Don tries to deal with his newfound youth and the suddenly vast age gap between him and his wife, Sarah struggles to do again what shed done once before: figure out what a signal from the stars contains.

Needle

Needle Series: Book 1

Hal Clement

Two ships race in from outer space and crash in the Pacific Ocean. One contains a hunter, entrusted with a vital mission. The other, his quarry - corrupt, evil, a criminal from an unearthly civilisation light years away. Yet both these creatures had one thing in common - they were unable to exist alone. Each needed a host, a human body they could invade and control...

The Lovers

The Sturch: Book 1

Philip José Farmer

A linguist, studying languages on a previously unknown alien planet, begins to suspect that humans may have visited the planet at some time in the past.

Marooned on Mars

Winston Science Fiction: Book 5

Lester del Rey

Determined to be on the first rocket flight form the moon to Mars, stowaway Chuck Svensen endangers the experiment by hiding on board the Eros. His worst fears are realized when he discovers that his presence means less food and fuel for the rest of the crew. And when the Eros crash-lands on the strange Red Planet, Chuck takes it upon himself to bring the ship safely back to the moon. From his first encounter with the menacing rodent-like Marian creatures, to the startling climax in the weird catacombs of a ruined civilization, here is science-fiction at its bizarre best.