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Time Is the Fire: The Best of Connie Willis

Connie Willis

This new collection by the author of Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog contains stories which have all won the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award, or both - and are compulsory reading for the serious science fiction fan.

Table of Contents:

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).

A Christmas Carol

Charles Dickens

Dickens's story of solitary miser Ebenezer Scrooge, who is taught the true meaning of Christmas by a series of ghostly visitors, has proved one of his most well-loved works. Ever since it was published in 1843 it has had an enduring influence on the way we think about the traditions of Christmas.

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?

Archivist Wasp

Archivist Wasp Saga: Book 1

Nicole Kornher-Stace

Wasp's job is simple. Hunt ghosts. And every year she has to fight to remain Archivist. Desperate and alone, she strikes a bargain with the ghost of a supersoldier. She will go with him on his underworld hunt for the long-long ghost of his partner and in exchange she will find out more about his pre-apocalyptic world than any Archivist before her. And there is much to know. After all, Archivists are marked from birth to do the holy work of a goddess. They're chosen. They're special. Or so they've been told for four hundred years.

Archivist Wasp fears she is not the chosen one, that she won't survive the trip to the underworld, that the brutal life she has escaped might be better than where she is going. There is only one way to find out.

The Year of the Quiet Sun

Gregg Press Science Fiction Series: Book 192

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.

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....

Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach

The Lucky Peach

Kelly Robson

Hugo, Nebula, Sturgeon, and Aurora Award-nominated Novella

In 2267, Earth has just begun to recover from worldwide ecological disasters. Minh is part of the generation that first moved back up to the surface of the Earth from the underground hells, to reclaim humanity's ancestral habitat. She's spent her entire life restoring river ecosystems, but lately the kind of long-term restoration projects Minh works on have been stalled due to the invention of time travel. When she gets the opportunity take a team to 2000 BC to survey the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, she jumps at the chance to uncover the secrets of the shadowy think tank that controls time travel technology.

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.

Girlfriend in a Coma

Douglas Coupland

On a snowy Friday night in 1979, just hours after making love for the first time, Richard's girlfriend, high school senior Karen Ann McNeil, falls into a coma. Nine months later she gives birth to their daughter, Megan. As Karen sleeps through the next seventeen years, Richard and their circle of friends reside in an emotional purgatory, passing through a variety of careers—modeling, film special effects, medicine, demolition—before finally reuniting on a conspiracy-driven super-natural television series. But real life grows as surreal as their TV show as Richard and his friends await Karen's reawakening... and the subsequent apocalypse.

Farnham's Freehold

Robert A. Heinlein

A Robert A. Heinlein classic reissued with an all new celebrity forward by noted Heinlein biographer Bill Patterson and afterword penned by three-time award-winner for fan writing and science fiction scholar John Hertz.

It's a cross-time fight for freedom as a family retreats to a bomb shelter during a nuclear attack--only to emerge hundreds of years in the future, thrown forward in time by the blasts. There lifeboat ethics rule as they struggle to survive... until they're discovered by up-time humans, the survivors of the apocalypse. These survivors are of African descent. Down-time humans--in fact, all of the European-descended--are held guilty for the state into which the world has fallen and designated as automatic slaves. The only escape is to find a way back down-time, to change events sufficiently to make absolute certain this nightmare future never get a chance to happen in the first place!