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Kindred

Octavia E. Butler

Dana, a modern black woman, is celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday with her new husband when she is snatched abruptly from her home in California and transported to the antebellum South. Rufus, the white son of a plantation owner, is drowning, and Dana has been summoned to save him. Dana is drawn back repeatedly through time to the slave quarters, and each time the stay grows longer, more arduous, and more dangerous until it is uncertain whether or not Dana's life will end, long before it has a chance to begin.

A Crash Course in the History of Black Science Fiction

This work is a selction from author Nisi Shawl's: A Crash Course in the History of Black Science Fiction, an annotated list of 40+ black science fiction works that are important to your understanding of its history. Read more about this selection below.

Houston, Houston, Do You Read?

James Tiptree, Jr.

Hugo- and Nebula-winning Novella

In Tiptree's most famous and most reprinted story, a US spacecraft with an all-male crew is thrown forward in time to an Earth where all men have died from a plague.

This story was collected in Star Songs of an Old Primate (1978) and Her Smoke Rose Up Forever (1990), and anthologized in Aurora: Beyond Equality (1976), The 1977 Annual World's Best SF (1977), Nebula Winners Twelve (1978), The Arbor House Treasury of Great Science Fiction Short Novels (1980), The Hugo Winners, Volume 4 (1985), The Best of the Nebulas (1989), and as one half of Tor Double #11 (1989).


Listen to a radio play of this story at the Sci-Fi Radio archive (#17).

Troika

Alastair Reynolds

Hugo-nominated Novella

In novels such as Chasm City and Revelation Space, Alastair Reynolds established himself as an indisputable master of the far-flung intergalactic epic. Reynolds brings that same deceptively effortless mastery to the shorter fictional forms, a fact that Troika, his elegant, compulsively readable new novella, amply demonstrates.

Troika tells the story of men and women confronting an enigma known as the Matryoshka, a vast alien construct whose periodic appearances have generated terror, wonder, and endless debate. During its third "apparition" in a remote corner of the galaxy, a trio of Russian cosmonauts approach this enigma and attempt to penetrate its mysteries. What they discover--and what they endure in the process--forms the centerpiece of an enthralling, constantly surprising narrative.

Troika is at once a wholly original account of First Contact and a meditation on time, history, and the essentially fluid nature of identity itself. Suspenseful, erudite, and gracefully written, it is a significant accomplishment in its own right and a welcome addition to a remarkable body of work.

Tomorrow's Kin

Yesterday's Kin: Book 1

Nancy Kress

The aliens have arrived... they've landed their Embassy ship on a platform in New York Harbor, and will only speak with the United Nations. They say that their world is so different from Earth, in terms of gravity and atmosphere, that they cannot leave their ship. The population of Earth has erupted in fear and speculation.

One day Dr. Marianne Jenner, an obscure scientist working with the human genome, receives an invitation that she cannot refuse. The Secret Service arrives at her college to escort her to New York, for she has been invited, along with the Secretary General of the UN and a few other ambassadors, to visit the alien Embassy.

The truth is about to be revealed. Earth's most elite scientists have ten months to prevent a disaster--and not everyone is willing to wait.

The Forge of God

Forge of God: Book 1

Greg Bear

On September 28th, a geologist working in Death valley finds a mysterious new cinder cone in very well-mapped area.

On October 1st, the government of Australia announces the discovery of an enormous granite mountain. Like the cinder cone, it wasn't there six months ago....

Something is happening to Planet Earth, and the truth is too terrifying to consider....

Permafrost

Alastair Reynolds

Fix the past. Save the present. Stop the future. Master of science fiction Alastair Reynolds unfolds a time-traveling climate fiction adventure in Permafrost.

2080: at a remote site on the edge of the Arctic Circle, a group of scientists, engineers and physicians gather to gamble humanity's future on one last-ditch experiment. Their goal: to make a tiny alteration to the past, averting a global catastrophe while at the same time leaving recorded history intact. To make the experiment work, they just need one last recruit: an ageing schoolteacher whose late mother was the foremost expert on the mathematics of paradox.

2028: a young woman goes into surgery for routine brain surgery. In the days following her operation, she begins to hear another voice in her head... an unwanted presence which seems to have a will, and a purpose, all of its own - one that will disrupt her life entirely. The only choice left to her is a simple one.

Does she resist... or become a collaborator?

Imago

Xenogenesis: Book 3

Octavia E. Butler

Child of two species, but part of neither, a new being must find his way.

Human and Oankali have been mating since the aliens first came to Earth to rescue the few survivors of an annihilating nuclear war. The Oankali began a massive breeding project, guided by the ooloi, a sexless subspecies capable of manipulating DNA, in the hope of eventually creating a perfect starfaring race.

Jodahs is supposed to be just another hybrid of human and Oankali, but as he begins his transformation to adulthood he finds himself becoming ooloi-the first ever born to a human mother. As his body changes, Jodahs develops the ability to shapeshift, manipulate matter, and cure or create disease at will. If this frightened young man is able to master his new identity, Jodahs could prove the savior of what's left of mankind. Or, if he is not careful, he could become a plague that will destroy this new race once and for all.

The Penultimate Truth

Masters of Science Fiction: Book 8

Philip K. Dick

What if you discovered that everything you knew about the world was a lie? That's the question at the heart of Philip K. Dick's futuristic novel about political oppression, the show business of politics and the sinister potential of the military industrial complex. This wry, paranoid thriller imagines a future in which the earth has been ravaged, and cities are burnt-out wastelands too dangerous for human life. Americans have been shipped underground, where they toil in crowded industrial ant hills and receive a steady diet of inspiring speeches from a President who never seems to age. Nick St. James, like the rest of the masses, believed in the words of his leaders. But that all changes when he travels to the surface - where what he finds is more shocking than anything he could possibly imagine.

Winner of both the Hugo and John W. Campbell awards for best novel, widely regarded as the premiere science fiction writer of his day, and the object of cult-like adoration from his legions of fans, Philip K. Dick has come to be seen in a literary light that defies classification in much the same way as Borges and Calvino. With breathtaking insight, he utlizes vividly unfamiliar worlds to evoke the hauntingly and hilariously familiar in our society and ourselves.

Starbound

Marsbound Trilogy: Book 2

Joe Haldeman

Carmen Dula and her husband have spent six years traveling to a distant solar system that is home to the enigmatic, powerful race known as "The Others," in the hopes of finding enough common purpose between their species to forge a delicate truce.

By the time Carmen and her party return, fifty years have been consumed by relativity-and the Earthlings have not been idle, building a massive flotilla of warships to defend Earth against The Others. But The Others have their own plans.

Galileo's Dream

Kim Stanley Robinson

In a novel of stunning dimensions, the acclaimed author of the MARS trilogy brings us the story of the incredible life -- and death -- of Galileo, the First Scientist. Late Renaissance Italy still abounds in alchemy and Aristotle, yet it trembles on the brink of the modern world. Galileo's new telescope encapsulates all the contradictions of this emerging reality.

Then one night a stranger presents a different kind of telescope for Galileo to peer through. Galileo is not sure if he is in a dream, an enchantment, a vision, or something else as yet undefined. The blasted wasteland he sees when he points the telescope at Jupiter, of harsh yellows and reds and blacks, looks just like hell as described by the Catholic church, and Galileo is a devout Catholic. But he's also a scientist, perhaps the very first in history. What he's looking at is the future, the world of Jovian humans three thousand years hence. He is looking at Jupiter from the vantage point of one of its moons whose inhabitants maintain that Galileo has to succeed in his own world for their history to come to pass.

Their ability to reach back into the past and call Galileo "into resonance" with the later time is an action that will have implications for both periods, and those in between, like our own. By day Galileo's life unfurls in early seventeenth century Italy, leading inexorably to his trial for heresy. By night Galileo struggles to be a kind of sage, or an arbiter in a conflict ...but understanding what that conflict might be is no easy matter, and resolving his double life is even harder. This sumptuous, gloriously thought-provoking and suspenseful novel recalls Robinson's magnificent Mars books as well as bringing to us Galileo as we have always wanted to know him, in full.

Earthbound

Marsbound Trilogy: Book 3

Joe Haldeman

The mysterious alien Others have prohibited humans from space travel-destroying Earth's fleet of starships in a display of unimaginable power. Now Carmen Dula, the first human to encounter Martians and then the mysterious Others, and her colleagues struggle to find a way, using nineteenthcentury technology, to reclaim the future that has been stolen from them.

The Year of the Quiet Sun

Wilson Tucker

It was a top secret government project, its funds coming quietly from the Bureau of Standards, its orders directly from the President. The project's goal was to survey the future.

The survey would be made in person, by use of the newly-developed Time Displacement Vehicle. Three specially trained men would be sent to the year 2000, and they would return with invaluable data about the problems to be faced by the government in decades to come.

It seemed almost routine at first. But when the survey team reached their target they found a savage land... an awesome world they may have made, and they had to wonder if any would return to tell about it.

The Black Cloud

Fred Hoyle

Earth was dying...

One fourth of its population was dead. The rest had little time to live.

A mass of interstellar matter had invaded the solar system, fling planets out of orbit and blocking off the sun. In that titanic disaster, Man had one small chance to survive: Appeal to an alien intelligence that might exist and that might - or might not - care enough to help!

Tor Double #9: The Ugly Little Boy / The [Widget], The [Wadget], and Boff

Tor Double: Book 9

Isaac Asimov
Theodore Sturgeon

The Ugly Little Boy:

A small Neanderthal boy is brought into the future for scientific experimentation. The nurse who takes care of him, starts to see him as something other than a experimental subject.

The [Widget], the [Wadget], and Boff:

Only Robin could really see the Aliens...

Cemetery World

Masters of Science Fiction: Book 35

Clifford D. Simak

Earth: expensive, elite graveyard to the galaxy. Ravaged 10,000 years earlier by war, Earth was reclaimed by its space-dwelling offspring as a planet of landscaping and tombstones. None of them fully human, Fletcher, Cynthia, and Elmer journey through this dead world, discovering human traits and undertaking a quest to rebuild a human world on Earth.

Exultant

Xeelee: Destiny's Children: Book 2

Stephen Baxter

For more than twenty thousand years, humans have been at war with the alien race of Xeelee. It is a war fought with armaments so advanced as to be godlike, a war in which time itself has become an ever-shifting battleground. At the cost of billions of lives, and with ruthless and relentless efficiency, the ruling Coalition has pushed the Xeelee back to the galactic core, where the supermassive black hole known as Chandra serves the Xeelee as both fortress and power source.

There, along a front millions of light-years long, a grisly stalemate reigns, until a young pilot, Pirius, faced with certain death, disobeys orders and employs an innovative time-travel maneuver that, for the first time in the history of the war, results in the capture of a Xeelee fighter. But far from being hailed as a hero when he returns to base with his prize, Pirius is court-martialed, disgraced, and sentenced to penal servitude on a bleak asteroid.

It is not only Pirius who pays the price. In flying into the future and back again, Pirius returned to a time before he’d left, a time inhabited by his younger self. And that younger self, by the pitiless logic of Coalition justice, shares the older Pirius guilt and must be punished. Not everyone in the Coalition agrees. Commissary Nilis believes that the elder Pirius, whom he dubs Pirius Blue, may have found a way to defeat the Xeelee. But Nilis can do nothing for Pirius Blue. Instead, he takes charge of the younger Pirius (Pirius Red), and brings him back to Earth, the capital of a vast empire seething with intrigue.

There Pirius Red will discover truths that will shatter his preconceived notions of all that he is fighting for, even of what it means to be human. Pirius Blue, meanwhile, will learn truths harsher and more discomfiting still. Yet the most shocking revelation of all is still to come, waiting for them at a place called Chandra....

The Stars are Ours!

Pax / Astra: Book 1

Andre Norton

The Stars are Ours! describes the first interstellar voyage, undertaken to escape the tyranny that rules the Earth.

The 5th Wave

The 5th Wave: Book 1

Rick Yancey

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it's the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth's last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie's only hope for rescuing her brother--or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

There Will Be Time

Maurai: Book 1

Poul Anderson

Jack Havig, a man born with the ability to move at will through the past and the future of mankind, must save the world from a doomed future of tyranny before his time runs out.

Time Salvager

Time Salvager: Book 1

Wesley Chu

In a future when Earth is a toxic, abandoned world and humanity has spread into the outer solar system to survive, the tightly controlled use of time travel holds the key maintaining a fragile existence among the other planets and their moons. James Griffin-Mars is a chronman -- a convicted criminal recruited for his unique psychological makeup to undertake the most dangerous job there is: missions into Earth's past to recover resources and treasure without altering the timeline. Most chronmen never reach old age, and James is reaching his breaking point.

On a final mission that is to secure his retirement, James meets an intriguing woman from a previous century, scientist Elise Kim, who is fated to die during the destruction of an oceanic rig. Against his training and his common sense, James brings her back to the future with him, saving her life, but turning them both into fugitives. Remaining free means losing themselves in the wild and poisonous wastes of Earth, and discovering what hope may yet remain for humanity's home world.

After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall

Nancy Kress

Hugo-nominated and Nebula-winning Novella

The year is 2035. After ecological disasters nearly destroyed the Earth, 26 survivors-the last of humanity-are trapped by an alien race in a sterile enclosure known as the Shell. Fifteen-year-old Pete is one of the Six-children who were born deformed or sterile and raised in the Shell. As, one by one, the survivors grow sick and die, Pete and the Six struggle to put aside their anger at the alien Tesslies in order to find the means to rebuild the earth together. Their only hope lies within brief time-portals into the recent past, where they bring back children to replenish their disappearing gene pool.

Meanwhile, in 2013, brilliant mathematician Julie Kahn works with the FBI to solve a series of inexplicable kidnappings. Suddenly her predictive algorithms begin to reveal more than just criminal activity. As she begins to realize her role in the impending catastrophe, simultaneously affecting the Earth and the Shell, Julie closes in on the truth. She and Pete are converging in time upon the future of humanity-a future which might never unfold. Weaving three consecutive time lines to unravel both the mystery of the Earth's destruction and the key to its salvation, this taut adventure offers a topical message with a satisfying twist.

The Time Traders

Time Traders: Book 1

Andre Norton

If it is possible to conquer space, then perhaps it is also possible to conquer time. At least that was the theory American scientists were exploring in an effort to explain the new sources of knowledge the Russians possessed. Perhaps Russian scientists had discovered how to transport themselves back in time in order to learn long-forgotten secrets of the past.

That was why young Ross Murdock, above average in intelligence but a belligerently independent nonconformist, found himself on a "hush-hush" government project at a secret base in the Arctic. The very qualities that made him a menace in civilized society were valuable traits in a man who must successfully act the part of a merchant trader of the Beaker people during the Bronze Age.

For once they were transferred by time machine to the remote Baltic region where the Russian post was located, Ross and his partner Ashe were swept into a fantastic action-filled adventure involving Russians, superstitious prehistoric men, and the aliens of a lost galactic civilization that demanded every ounce of courage the Americans possessed.

The Wanderer

Fritz Leiber

All eyes were watching the eclipse of the Moon when the Wanderer--a huge, garishly colored artificial world--emerged. Only a few scientists even suspected its presence, and then, suddenly and silently, it arrived, dwarfing and threatening the Moon and wreaking havoc on Earth's tides and weather. Though the Wanderer is stopping in the solar system only to refuel, its mere presence is catastrophic. A tense, thrilling, and towering achievement. Winner of the Hugo Award for Best SF Novel of the Year!