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Virtual Unrealities: The Short Fiction of Alfred Bester

Alfred Bester

"Dazzlement and enchantment are Bester's methods. His stories never stand still a moment."
--Damon Knight, author of Why Do Birds

Alfred Bester took science fiction into hyperdrive, endowing it with a wit, speed, and narrative inventiveness that have inspired two generations of writers. And nowhere is Bester funnier, speedier, or more audacious than in these seventeen short stories--two of them previously unpublished--that have now been brought together in a single volume for the first time.

Read about the sweet-natured young man whose phenomenal good luck turns out to be disastrous for the rest of humanity. Find out why tourists are flocking to a hellish little town in a post-nuclear Kansas. Meet a warlock who practices on Park Avenue and whose potions comply with the Pure Food and Drug Act. Make a deal with the Devil--but not without calling your agent. Dazzling, effervescent, sexy, and sardonic, Virtual Unrealities is a historic collection from one of science fiction's true pathbreakers.

"Alfred Bester was one of the handful of writers who invented modern science fiction."
--Harry Harrison

Contents:

  • ix - Introduction (Virtual Unrealities) - (1996) - essay by Robert Silverberg
  • 3 - Disappearing Act - (1953) - short story
  • 22 - Oddy and Id - (1950) - short story
  • 38 - Star Light, Star Bright - (1953) - short story
  • 56 - 5,271,009 - (1954) - novelette
  • 91 - Fondly Fahrenheit - (1954) - novelette
  • 112 - Hobson's Choice - (1952) - short story
  • 127 - Of Time and Third Avenue - (1951) - short story
  • 136 - Time Is the Traitor - (1953) - novelette
  • 159 - The Men Who Murdered Mohammed - (1958) - short story
  • 173 - The Pi Man - (1959) - short story
  • 191 - They Don't Make Life Like They Used To - (1963) - novelette
  • 225 - Will You Wait? - (1959) - short story
  • 233 - The Flowered Thundermug - (1964) - novelette
  • 273 - Adam and No Eve - (1941) - short story
  • 287 - And 3½ to Go - short story
  • 292 - Galatea Galante - (1979) - novelette (variant of Galatea Galante, The Perfect Popsy)
  • 334 - The Devil Without Glasses - novelette

The Complete Stories, Volume 2

Asimov: The Complete Stories: Book 2

Isaac Asimov

Contents:

  • Not Final!
  • The Hazing
  • Death Sentence
  • Blind Alley
  • Evidence [Susan Calvin (Robot)]
  • The Red Queen's Race
  • Day of the Hunters
  • The Deep
  • The Martian Way
  • The Monkey's Finger
  • The Singing Bell [Wendell Urth]
  • The Talking Stone [Wendell Urth]
  • Each an Explorer
  • Let's Get Together
  • Pâté de Foie Gras
  • Galley Slave
  • Lenny [Susan Calvin (Robot)]
  • A Loint of Paw
  • A Statue for Father
  • Anniversary [Brandon, Shea & Moore 2]
  • Obituary
  • Rain, Rain, Go Away
  • Light
  • Founding Father
  • The Key
  • The Billiard Ball
  • Exile to Hell
  • Key Item
  • Feminine Intuition
  • The Greatest Asset
  • Mirror Image [Elijah Bailey / R. Daneel Olivaw]
  • Take a Match
  • Light Verse
  • Stranger in Paradise
  • That Thou Art Mindful of Him
  • The Life and Times of Multivac
  • Bicentennial Man
  • Marching In
  • Old-Fashioned
  • The Tercentenary Incident

The Complete Stories, Volume 1

Asimov: The Complete Stories: Book 1

Isaac Asimov

Contents:

  • The Dead Past
  • The Foundation of S. F. Success
  • Franchise
  • Gimmicks Three
  • Kid Stuff
  • The Watery Place
  • Living Space
  • The Message
  • Satisfaction Guaranteed [Susan Calvin (Robot)]
  • Hell-Fire
  • The Last Trump
  • The Fun They Had
  • Jokester
  • The Immortal Bard
  • Someday
  • The Author's Ordeal
  • Dreaming Is a Private Thing
  • ProfessionThe Feeling of Power
  • The Dying Night [Wendell Urth]
  • I'm in Marsport Without Hilda
  • Gentle Vultures
  • All the Troubles of the World
  • Spell My Name with an S
  • The Last Question
  • The Ugly Little Boy
  • Nightfall
  • Green Patches
  • Hostess
  • Breeds There a Man... ?
  • The C-Chute
  • "In a Good Cause--"
  • If...
  • Sally
  • Flies
  • "Nobody Here But--"
  • It's Such a Beautiful Day
  • Strikebreaker
  • Insert Knob A in Hole B
  • The Up-to-Date Sorcerer
  • Unto the Fourth Generation
  • What Is This Thing Called Love?
  • The Machine That Won the War
  • My Son, the Physicist!
  • Eyes Do More Than See
  • Segregationist
  • I Just Make Them Up, See!
  • Rejection Slips

Deliverer

Foreigner: Arc 3: Book 3

C. J. Cherryh

In the aftermath of civil war, the world of the atevi is still perilously unstable. Tabini-aiji, powerful ruler of the Western Association, along with his son and heir, and his human paidhi, Bren Cameron, have returned to their seat of power. The usurper, Murini, has escaped to the lands of his supporters, but the danger these rebels pose is far from over. Ilisidi, Tabini's grandmother, the aiji-dowager, has returned to her ancient castle in the East, for though she supports the rule of her grandson, she also has powerful ties in the lands of the rebels, and she seeks to muster whatever support she can from among those enemy strongholds.

In his father's heavily armed and tightly guarded headquarters, eight-year-old Cajeiri is horribly bored. Two years on an interstellar starship surrounded by human children have left him craving excitement and the company of his peers. But unbeknownst to this dissatisfied youngster he has become a target for forces bent on destroying his father's rule and everything it stands for. Though still a child, Cajeiri embodies a unique threat to the venerable, tradition-defined lifestyle of his people. For this innocent young boy is the first ateva youth to have lived in a human environment, surrounded by human children. And after hundreds of years of fragile, tenuous atevi-human coexistence, Cajeiri may very well be the first ateva to ever truly understand the so similar yet so dangerously different aliens who share his home planet and threaten the hidebound customs of his race.

The Carpet Makers

Andreas Eschbach

Since the time of pre-history, carpetmakers tie intricate knots to form carpets for the court of the Emperor. These carpets are made from the hairs of wives and daughters; they are so detailed and fragile that each carpetmaker finishes only one single carpet in his entire lifetime.

This art descends from father to son, since the beginning of time itself.

But one day the empire of the God Emperor vanishes, and strangers begin to arrive from the stars to follow the trace of the hair carpets. What these strangers discover is beyond all belief, more than anything they could have ever imagined.

The Doors of His Face, The Lamps of His Mouth (collection)

Roger Zelazny

Here are strange, beautiful stories covering the full spectrum of the late Roger Zelazny's remarkable talents. In Doors of His Face, The Lamp of His Mouth, Zelazny's rare ability to mix the dream-like, disturbing imagery of fantasy with the real-life hardware of science fiction is on full display. His vivid imagination and fine prose made him one of the most highly acclaimed writers in his field.

Table of Contents

Stories in the original edition:

Stories added in later editions:

  • "The Furies"
  • "The Graveyard Heart"

Deceiver

Foreigner: Arc 4: Book 2

C. J. Cherryh

The civil war among the alien atevi is over. Tabini-aiji, dynamic ruler of the Western Association, has reclaimed his former power, and once again resides in the capital. But factions that remain loyal to the opposition are still present, and the danger these rebels pose is far from over.

Bren Cameron, the brilliant human diplomat allied with Tabini, has graciously chosen to visit Najida, his country estate on the west coast. He feels that the political tensions in the capital might ease if he is not present, and after two years in space and his return to a planet still imperiled by revolution, he relishes the peace and tranquillity his lovely coastal home affords.

But peace and tranquillity are not in the cards for Bren.

Desperate for freedom and adventure, disregarding the obvious danger, Cajeiri, Tabini's young son, escapes the tightly guarded capital with his bodyguards and arrives to surprise Bren in the country. But he is not the only surprise guest, for Ilisidi, the aiji-dowager, Tabini's wily and powerful grandmother, has been dispatched to secure her great-grandson's safety.

However, Najida, formerly a safe haven, is no longer the sanctuary it once was. For a neighbor's estate - the ancestral home of Lord Geigi, a close associate of Bren's - has been left without strong leadership. Lord Geigi now resides on and runs the atevi space station, and in his absence, rebel clans have infiltrated his home. When these rebels attack Bren, Cajeiri, and the dowager, they have no choice but to recall Geigi from space.

With Lord Geigi, Ilisidi, Bren, and Cajeiri all under one roof, they pose an irresistible target for the enemy. And Bren's pastoral retreat, now swarming with bodyguards, becomes a locked-down and armed fortress. These four individuals - three of the most powerful politicians on the planet, and the heir to the aiji - are not without their own resources. But can they overcome their adversaries and end this guerilla war that is the last vestige of revolution?

Destroyer

Foreigner: Arc 3: Book 1

C. J. Cherryh

It has been two years since the starship Phoenix left Alpha Station on a rescue mission to a faraway sector of space where over four thousand human spacers were under attack by a hostile alien race.

Now, exhausted from their journey, with resources strained by four thousand extra mouths to feed, the crew of the Phoenix yearns for home. But when the ship makes the final jump into atevi space, things do not seem right. And when they make contact with Alpha, they learn the worst: that supplies to the station have been cut off; that civil war has broken out on the atevi mainland; that the powerful Western Association has been overthrown; and that Tabini-aiji, Bren Cameron's primary supporter and Ilisidi's grandson and ally, is missing and may be dead.

With no one left to lead the Western Association, Ilisidi and Bren know that the survival of their allies lies in their hands. And with the atevi world at war, the only safe landing strip lies on the human colony at Mospheira. Although there are many dangers inherent in bringing a powerful atevi leader such as Ilisidi onto human lands, Bren realizes they have no choice but to do so.

But even if they safely survive their landing, will Bren and Ilisidi together prove strong enough to muster the remaining shards of the Western Association and regain control of their planet?

The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia

Hainish Cycle: Book 5

Ursula K. Le Guin

Shevek, a brilliant physicist, decides to take action. He will seek answers, question the unquestionable, and attempt to tear down the walls of hatred that have isolated his planet of anarchists from the rest of the civilized universe. To do this dangerous task will mean giving up his family and possibly his life. Shevek must make the unprecedented journey to the utopian mother planet, Urras, to challenge the complex structures of life and living, and ignite the fires of change.

Betrayer

Foreigner: Arc 4: Book 3

C. J. Cherryh

In the wake of civil war, Bren Cameron, the brilliant human diplomat allied with Tabini-aiji, dynamic atevi leader of the Western Association, has left the capital and sought temporary refuge at his country estate, Najida. But Najida has proven to be the opposite of a safe haven. For though the rebel usurper has been killed by Tabini's forces, and the capital has been purged of his factions, insurgents still persist in other districts, and their center of power, the Marid, lies perilously close to Bren's western coastal estate.

Now, Bren, along with Ilisidi, Tabini's powerful grandmother, and Cajeiri, Tabini's young son and heir, is trapped inside Najida, which has been transformed into an armed fortress and is surrounded by enemies.

But ancient, wily Ilisidi is not inclined to be passive, and in a brazen and shockingly dangerous maneuver, she sends Bren and his bodyguards into enemy territory. He is to travel to the palace of the leader of the Marid, a young lord named Machigi, in a district virtually at war with the Western Association. Bren's mission is to attempt to negotiate with Machigi - an atevi lord who has never actually seen a human - and somehow persuade him to cease his hostile actions against the West.

Though Bren does gain admittance to Machigi's home, and even an audience with the young lord, Ilisidi has not given him any explicit directions about this negotiation, and Bren is unsure what he is sanctioned to offer. He knows that Machigi is a young autocrat who rules a fractious, faction-ridden clan, and that his continued hospitality is not guaranteed.

Bren's genius for negotiation and his extensive knowledge of atevi politics, history, and economics enable him to make a daring trade offer to Machigi - one that seems to interest the young warlord. But Machigi is understandably suspicious of Ilisidi's motives, and to Bren's utter shock, evokes an ancient law.

Bren wears the white ribbon that for the last two 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.

Can Bren stay alive, and not alienate Ilisidi or Tabini, while also representing the interests of their enemy?

Ten Thousand Light-Years From Home

Gregg Press Science Fiction Series: Book 33

James Tiptree, Jr.

A collection of 15 masterpieces by one of the brightest stars in the science fiction firmament, tales of wit, wonder and adventure - with a touch of something strange...

Contents:

  • Introduction - (1976) - essay by Gardner Dozois
  • Introduction - (1973) - essay by Harry Harrison
  • And I Awoke and Found Me Here on the Cold Hill's Side - (1972) - shortstory
  • The Snows Are Melted, the Snows Are Gone - (1969) - shortstory
  • The Peacefulness of Vivyan - (1971) - shortstory
  • Mama Come Home - (1975) - novelette (variant of The Mother Ship 1968)
  • Help - (1973) - novelette (variant of Pupa Knows Best 1968)
  • Painwise - (1972) - novelette
  • Faithful to Thee, Terra, in Our Fashion - (1973) - novelette (variant of Parimutuel Planet 1969)
  • The Man Doors Said Hello To - (1970) - shortstory
  • The Man Who Walked Home - (1972) - shortstory
  • Forever to a Hudson Bay Blanket - (1972) - shortstory
  • I'll Be Waiting for You When the Swimming Pool is Empty - (1971) - shortstory
  • I'm Too Big but I Love to Play - (1970) - novelette
  • Birth of a Salesman - (1968) - shortstory
  • Mother in the Sky With Diamonds - (1971) - novelette
  • Beam Us Home - (1969) - shortstory

And I Awoke and Found Me Here on the Cold Hill's Side - Exogamy, the desire to mate with the new and different has been a primary force in human evolution - but when the object of that desire is not merely different, but alien...

The Man Who Walked Home - The first Chrononaut moved step by step from the far future toward a present whose past was in the future, and whose future was his past.

I'm Too Big But I Love To Play - Genuine communication between human and alien implies that one must transform himself into an analog of the other. And when that transformation is complete...

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.

Welcome to the Monkey House

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Welcome to the Monkey House is a collection of Kurt Vonnegut's shorter works. Originally printed in publications as diverse as The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and The Atlantic Monthly, these superb stories share Vonnegut's audacious sense of humor and extraordinary range of creative vision.

The Speed of Dark

Elizabeth Moon

In the near future, disease will be a condition of the past. Most genetic defects will be removed at birth; the remaining during infancy. Unfortunately, there will be a generation left behind. For members of that missed generation, small advances will be made. Through various programs, they will be taught to get along in the world despite their differences. They will be made active and contributing members of society. But they will never be normal.

Lou Arrendale is a member of that lost generation, born at the wrong time to reap the awards of medical science. Part of a small group of high-functioning autistic adults, he has a steady job with a pharmaceutical company, a car, friends, and a passion for fencing. Aside from his annual visits to his counselor, he lives a low-key, independent life. He has learned to shake hands and make eye contact. He has taught himself to use "please" and "thank you" and other conventions of conversation because he knows it makes others comfortable. He does his best to be as normal as possible and not to draw attention to himself.

But then his quiet life comes under attack. It starts with an experimental treatment that will reverse the effects of autism in adults. With this treatment Lou would think and act and be just like everyone else. But if he was suddenly free of autism, would he still be himself? Would he still love the same classical music–with its complications and resolutions? Would he still see the same colors and patterns in the world–shades and hues that others cannot see? Most importantly, would he still love Marjory, a woman who may never be able to reciprocate his feelings? Would it be easier for her to return the love of a "normal"?

There are intense pressures coming from the world around him–including an angry supervisor who wants to cut costs by sacrificing the supports necessary to employ autistic workers. Perhaps even more disturbing are the barrage of questions within himself. For Lou must decide if he should submit to a surgery that might completely change the way he views the world... and the very essence of who he is.

Thoughtful, provocative, poignant, unforgettable, The Speed of Dark is a gripping exploration into the mind of an autistic person as he struggles with profound questions of humanity and matters of the heart.

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?

The Face

Demon Princes: Book 4

Jack Vance

Kirth Gersen carries in his pocket a slip of paper with a list of five names written upon it--the names of five Demon Princes. The Demon Princes are a race of beings who disguise themselves as humans and delight in power and destruction. however, to Kirth they are merely murderers who killed his family and destroyed his home planet--and who deserves to die for those misdeeds. Three have already fallen in Kirth's hands, but there are two more names on his list, two more Princes who will live only long enough to regret their evil ways.

Conspirator

Foreigner: Arc 4: Book 1

C. J. Cherryh

The civil war among the alien atevi has ended. Tabini-aiji, powerful ruler of the Western Association, along with Cajeiri, his son and heir, and his human paidhi, Bren Cameron, have returned to the Bujavid, their seat of power. But factions that remain loyal to the opposition are still present, and the danger these rebels pose is far from over. Since the rebellion, Bren Cameron's apartment in the capital has been occupied by an old noble family from the Southern district - the same district from which the coup was initiated. This family now claims loyalty to Tabini, but the aiji is dubious, and dealing with these possible rebel infiltrators will require finesse on Tabini's part. To avoid additional conflict, Bren has decided to absent himself from the Bujavid and visit Najida, his country estate on the west coast, for the month before the legislature resumes its session. It has been more than two years since Bren was last at his idyllic country retreat, and he relishes the thought of the peace and tranquillity his lovely coastal home affords.

Tabini-aiji has once again taken over the job of training his young son in the traditional ways of the atevi, and has Cajeiri under strict supervision. But after two years in space, surrounded by human children, with only his great-grandmother, the aiji-dowager Ilisidi, as guardian and teacher, Cajeiri bristles in this highly controlled and boring environment. He misses his human associates in space, he misses the company of his wily great-grandmother, who allowed him more liberty than his parents do, but most of all, he misses his close association with nand' Bren.

Desperate for freedom and adventure, disregarding the obvious danger, Cajeiri escapes the tightly guarded Bujavid with his young bodyguards and sets out secretly to join Bren on the coast.

Determined to insure his son's safety, Tabini recalls Ilisidi from her home in the East, asking her to find Cajeiri and secure him at Bren's estate.

But it has been a long time since Bren has been to Najida, and the war has shifted allegiances in many quarters. A district that once was considered a safe haven might now be a trap. And with Bren, Cajeiri, and Ilisidi all under one roof and separated from their allies, that trap is now baited.

Winter's Orbit

Winter's Orbit: Book 1

Everina Maxwell

A famously disappointing minor royal and the Emperor's least favorite grandchild, Prince Kiem is summoned before the Emperor and commanded to renew the empire's bonds with its newest vassal planet. The prince must marry Count Jainan, the recent widower of another royal prince of the empire.

But Jainan suspects his late husband's death was no accident. And Prince Kiem discovers Jainan is a suspect himself. But broken bonds between the Empire and its vassal planets leaves the entire empire vulnerable, so together they must prove that their union is strong while uncovering a possible conspiracy.

Their successful marriage will align conflicting worlds.

Their failure will be the end of the empire.

Pretender

Foreigner: Arc 3: Book 2

C. J. Cherryh

Exhausted from a two-year rescue mission in space, the crew of the starship Phoenix return home to find disaster: civil war has broken out, the powerful Western Association has been overthrown, and Tabini-aiji, its forceful leader, is missing and may be dead.

In a desperate move, Bren Cameron – brilliant human paidhi to Tabini-aiji – and Tabini's grandmother Ilisidi, the aiji-dowager, along with Cajeiri, Tabini's eight-year-old heir, make planetfall and succeed in reaching the mainland.

Ancient, but still brilliant and forceful, Ilisidi seeks refuge at the estate of an old ally. As Ilisidi's and Bren's bodyguards struggle to update the manor's antiquated defense systems, Tabini-aiji arrives at the door.

As word of Tabini's whereabouts circulates, clans allied with Tabini descend upon the estate, providing a huge civilian presence that everyone involved hopes will deter impending attack by the usurpers.

But as more and more supporting clans arrive, Bren finds himself increasingly isolated, and it becomes clear that both his extremely important report of alien contact in space, and even his life, rest on the shoulders of only two allies: Ilisidi and Cajeiri.

Can one elderly ateva and an eight-year-old boy – himself a prime target for assassination – protect Bren, a lone human involved in a civil war that most atevi believe he caused?

Sea of Tranquility

Emily St. John Mandel

Edwin St Andrew is eighteen years old when he crosses the Atlantic by steamship, exiled from polite society following an ill-conceived diatribe at a dinner party. He enters the forest, spellbound by the beauty of the Canadian wilderness, and suddenly hears the notes of a violin echoing in an airship terminal--an experience that shocks him to his core.

Two centuries later a famous writer named Olive Llewellyn is on a book tour. She's traveling all over Earth, but her home is the second moon colony, a place of white stone, spired towers, and artificial beauty. Within the text of Olive's bestselling pandemic novel lies a strange passage: a man plays his violin for change in the echoing corridor of an airship terminal as the trees of a forest rise around him.

When Gaspery-Jacques Roberts, a detective in the Night City, is hired to investigate an anomaly in the North American wilderness, he uncovers a series of lives upended: The exiled son of an earl driven to madness, a writer trapped far from home as a pandemic ravages Earth, and a childhood friend from the Night City who, like Gaspery himself, has glimpsed the chance to do something extraordinary that will disrupt the timeline of the universe.

The Big Front Yard

Clifford D. Simak

Despite the fact that The Big Front Yard is a novella, it won the 1959 Hugo Award for best novelette. It originally appeared in Astounding Science Fiction, October 1958. The story can also be found in the anthologies The Hugo Winners, Volume 1 (1962), edited by Isaac Asimov, The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume Two B (1973), edited by Ben Bova, and The Great SF Stories 20 (1958) (1990), edited by Isaac Asimov and Martin H. Greenberg. It is included in the collections The Worlds of Clifford Simak (1960), Skirmish: The Great Short Fiction of Clifford D. Simak (1977), Over the River and Through the Woods (1996) and The Big Front Yard: And Other Stories (2015).

The Illustrated Man

Ray Bradbury

He was a riot of rockets and fountains and people, in such intricate detail and color that you could hear the voiced murmuring, small and muted, from the crowds that inhabited his body.

Ray Bradbury brings wonders alive. A peerless American storyteller, his oeuvre has been celebrated for decades--from The Martian Chronicles and Fahrenheit 451 to Dandelion Wine and Something Wicked This Way Comes.

The Illustrated Man is classic Bradbury --a collection of tales that breathe and move, animated by sharp, intaken breath and flexing muscle. Here are eighteen startling visions of humankind's destiny, unfolding across a canvas of decorated skin--visions as keen as the tattooist's needle and as colorful as the inks that indelibly stain the body.

The images, ideas, sounds and scents that abound in this phantasmagoric sideshow are provocative and powerful: the mournful cries of celestial travelers cast out cruelly into a vast, empty space of stars and blackness ... the sight of gray dust settling over a forgotten outpost on a road that leads nowhere ... the pungent odor of Jupiter on a returning father's clothing. Here living cities take their vengeance, technology awakens the most primal natural instincts, Martian invasions are foiled by the good life and the glad hand, and dreams are carried aloft in junkyard rockets.

Ray Bradbury's The Illustrated Man is a kaleidoscopic blending of magic, imagination, and truth, widely believed to be one of the Grandmaster's premier accomplishments: as exhilarating as interplanetary travel, as maddening as a walk in a million-year rain, and as comforting as simple, familiar rituals on the last night of the world.

A Clockwork Orange

Anthony Burgess

In this nightmare vision of a not-too-distant future, fifteen-year-old Alex and his three friends rob, rape, torture and murder - for fun. Alex is jailed for his vicious crimes and the State undertakes to reform him - but how and at what cost?

The Faded Sun: Kutath

Alliance-Union: The Faded Sun Trilogy: Book 3

C. J. Cherryh

When the third volume begins, the regul are in a state of disarray as a result of the assassination. Duncan returns to the mri and joins them in seeking assistance from the Elee, the other surviving race of ancient Kutath. After a new Elder has risen among the regul, they renew their attack on the Mri. This time humanity acts to halt the genocide, and as a result form a new partnership with the Mri.

The Summer Queen

The Snow Queen Cycle: Book 3

Joan D. Vinge

Sequel To The Hugo Award-Winning Bestseller The Snow Queen

The Summer Queen is the extraordinary sequel to one of science fiction's most celebrated novels, The Snow Queen. Set in a fully realized universe of wonders, this spectacular space epic, itself a finalist for the Hugo Award, is one of the most remarkable novels in the field.

A story that spans millennia, from the ruins of an ancient interstellar empire to the planets of the Hegemony that rules human space, The Summer Queen is the multi-layered story of Tiamat, a world where the dolphin-like mers are harvested for the youth-prolonging serum extracted from their blood. But Tiamat is much more, for beneath Carbuncle, its capital, lies the old empire's greatest secret: an enormous forgotten technology which, though decaying, continues to affect the fates of the fallen empire's remnant cultures via the sybil-network--a data bank that binds the past and the future in its web of knowledge, As the Smith, genius mastermind of the hidden interstellar Brotherhood, tries feverishly to unlock its secrets, BZ Gundhalinu desperately strives to save the Hegemony, while the Summer Queen herself dares to create a new future for her people and her planet. And though each is acting alone, their fates will entwine in an astonishing climax that will change the universe forever.

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.

Unholy Land

Lavie Tidhar

When pulp-fiction writer Lior Tirosh returns to his homeland in East Africa, much has changed. Palestina?a Jewish state established in the early 20th century?is constructing a massive border wall to keep out African refugees. Unrest in the capital, Ararat, is at fever pitch.

While searching for his missing niece, Tirosh begins to act as though he is a detective from one of his own novels. He is pursued by ruthless members of the state's security apparatus while unearthing deadly conspiracies and impossible realities. For if it is possible for more than one Palestina to exist, the barriers between the worlds are beginning to break.

Defender

Foreigner: Arc 2: Book 2

C. J. Cherryh

It has been over two centuries since the starship Phoenix disapeared into space, leaving a colony of humans to fend for themselves on the world of the alien atevi.

Since then humans have lived in exile using a single diplomat, the paidhi, to trade bits of advanced technology for continued peace and safety.

Now the unexpected return of the Phoenix has shattered the fragile political balance of these two nearly incompatible races. For the captains of the Phoenix offer the atevi something the planet-bound humans never could - access to the stars. In return the captains ask for atevi manpower and supplies to rebuild their long-derelict space station and refuel their aging starship.

Nearly ten years later, the atevi have three functioning space shuttles, and teams of atevi engineers labor in orbit to renovate the space station.

But these monumental advances not only add a dangerously powerful third party to an already precarious diplomatic situation, but rouse pro- and anti-space factions in atevi society to near-incendiary levels. To help negotiate these treacherous diplomatic waters, Tabini-aiji, the powerful head of the atevi's Western Association, has sent the only human he fully trusts into space: his own paidhi, Bren Cameron.

However the threat of possible invasion by hostile aliens who attacked Phoenix's station in a far-off sector of space hangs over them all. And when one of the senior captains of the Phoenix confesses that this distant station was not completely destroyed, as had been previously thought - that there may be friends and family who still survive - the crew mutinies.

How can Bren hope to mediate on a station overcome by a rebellious crew intent on taking the Phoenix on a rescue mission back into hostile territory?

Four Ways to Forgiveness

Hainish Cycle: Yeowe and Werel

Ursula K. Le Guin

At the far end of our universe, on the twin planets of Werel and Yeowe, all humankind is divided into "assets" and "owners," tradition and liberation are at war, and freedom takes many forms. Here is a society as complex and troubled as any on our world, peopled with unforgettable characters struggling to become fully human. For the disgraced revolutionary Abberkam, the callow "space brat" Solly, the haughty soldier Teyeo, and the Ekumen historian and Hainish exile Havzhiva, freedom and duty both begin in the heart, and success as well as failure has its costs.

In this stunning collection of four intimately interconnected novellas, Ursula K. Le Guin returns to the great themes that have made her one of America's most honored and respected authors.

Table of Contents:
• Betrayals • (1994) • novelette
Forgiveness Day • (1994) • novella
A Man of the People • (1995) • novella
A Woman's Liberation • (1995) • novella
• Notes on Werel and Yeowe • essay by Ursula K. Le Guin
• O Yeowe • poem

The Wind's Twelve Quarters

Ursula K. Le Guin

The recipient of numerous literary prizes, including the National Book Award, the Kafka Award, and the Pushcart Prize, Ursula K. Le Guin is renowned for her lyrical writing, rich characters, and diverse worlds. The Wind's Twelve Quarters collects seventeen powerful stories, each with an introduction by the author, ranging from fantasy to intriguing scientific concepts, from medieval settings to the future.

Including an insightful foreword by Le Guin, describing her experience, her inspirations, and her approach to writing, this stunning collection explores human values, relationships, and survival, and showcases the myriad talents of one of the most provocative writers of our time.

Table of Contents:

The Long Tomorrow

Leigh Brackett

One of the original novels of post-nuclear holocaust America, The Long Tomorrow is considered by many to be one of the finest science fiction novels ever written on the subject. The story has inspired generations of new writers and is still as mesmerizing today as when it was originally written.

Len and Esau are young cousins living decades after a nuclear war has destroyed civilization as we know. The rulers of the post-war community have forbidden the existence of large towns and consider technology evil.

However Len and Esau long for more than their simple agrarian existence. Rumors of mythical Bartorstown, perhaps the last city in existence, encourage the boys to embark on a journey of discovery and adventure that will call into question not only firmly held beliefs, but the boys' own personal convictions.

The Bicentennial Man and Other Stories

Isaac Asimov

Table of Contents:

  • The Prime of Life - (1966)
  • Feminine Intuition - (1969)
  • Waterclap - (1970)
  • That Thou Art Mindful of Him - (1974)
  • Stranger in Paradise - (1974)
  • The Life and Times of Multivac - (1975)
  • The Winnowing - (1976)
  • The Bicentennial Man - (1976)
  • Marching In - (1976)
  • Old-Fashioned - (1976)
  • The Tercentenary Incident - (1976)
  • Birth of a Notion - (1976)

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.

Lexicon

Max Barry

At an exclusive training school at an undisclosed location outside Washington, D.C., students are taught to control minds, to wield words as weapons. The very best graduate as "poets" and enter a nameless organization of unknown purpose. Recruited off the street, whip-smart Emily Ruff quickly learns the one key rule: never allow another person to truly know you. Emily becomes the school's most talented prodigy, until she makes the catastrophic mistake of falling in love.

The Space Merchants

Space Merchants: Book 1

Frederik Pohl
C. M. Kornbluth

It is the 20th Century, an advertisement-drenched world in which the big ad agencies dominate governments and everything else. Now Schoken Associates, one of the big players, has a new challenge for star copywriter Mitch Courtenay. Volunteers are needed to colonise Venus. It's a hellhole, and nobody who knew anything about it would dream of signing up. But by the time Mitch has finished, they will be queuing to get on board the spaceships.

Golden Witchbreed

Golden Witchbreed: Book 1

Mary Gentle

Orthe---half-civilized, half-barbaric, home to human-like beings who live and die by the code of the sword. Earth envoy Lynne Christie has been sent here to establish contact and to determine whether this is a world worth developing. But first Christie must come to understand that human-like is not and never can be human, and that not even Orthe's leaders can stop the spread of rumors about her, dark whisperings that could cost Christie her life.

And on a goodwill tour to the outlying provinces, these evil rumors turn to deadly accusations. Christie is no off-worlder, Church officials charge: she is a treacherous and cunning descendant of Orthe's legendary Golden Witchbreed---the cruel, ruthless race that once enslaved the whole planet.

Suddenly Christie finds herself a hunted fugitive on an alien world, where friend and foe alike may prove her executioners. And her only chance of survival lies in saving Orthe itself from a menace older than time...

The Door Into Summer

Robert A. Heinlein

When Dan Davis is crossed in love and stabbed in the back by his business associates, the immediate future doesn't look too bright for him and Pete, his independent-minded tom cat. Suddenly, the lure of suspended animation, the Long Sleep, becomes irresistible and Dan wakes up thirty years later in the twenty-first century. He discovers that the robot household appliances he invented, far from having been stolen from him, have, mysteriously, been patented in his name. There's only one thing for it. Dan has to, somehow, travel back in time to investigate...

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.

The Midnight Library

Matt Haig

Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. While we all wonder how our lives might have been, what if you had the chance to go to the library and see for yourself? Would any of these other lives truly be better?

Nora Seed finds herself faced with this decision. Faced with the possibility of changing her life for a new one, following a different career, undoing old breakups, realizing her dreams of becoming a glaciologist, she must search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place.

The Languages of Pao

Jack Vance

The Panarch of Pao is dead and Beran Panasper, his young son and heir, must flee the planet to live and avenge his father's death. It is at the secret fortress on the planet Breakness that Beran discovers the dreaded truth behind the assassination of his father-and much more. The people of Pao are a docile lot, content to live in harmony with the rest of the cosmos, but the scientists at Breakness seek to alter the psychology of the Paonese for their own purpose-and Beran holds the key to their audacious plan. Beran will return to Pao, transforming his home world beyond his teacher's wildest dreams. But though he has been fashioned into a man of Breakness, Beran's heart is of Pao. And he brings to his world the seeds of change that will save Pao...or destroy it.

Dreamsnake

Snake

Vonda N. McIntyre

This is the haunting story of an extraordinary woman and her dangerous quest to reclaim her healing powers. Revered healer Snake must undertake a journey in search of the dreamsnake, whose bite eases the fear and pain of death.

Return From the Stars

Stanislaw Lem

Hal Bregg is an astronaut who returns from a space mission in which only 10 biological years have passed for him, while 127 years have elapsed on earth. He finds that the earth has changed beyond recognition, filled with human beings who have been medically neutralized. How does an astronaut join a civilization that shuns risk?

The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag

Robert A. Heinlein

Jonathan Hoag has a curious problem. Every evening, he finds a mysterious reddish substance under his fingernails, with no memory what he was doing during the day to get it there. Jonathan hires the husband and wife detective team of Ted and Cynthia Randall to follow him during the day and find out. But Ted and Cynthia find themselves instantly out of their depth. Jonathan leaves no fingerprints. His few memories about his profession turn out to be false. Even stranger, Ted and Cynthia's own memories of what happens during their investigation do not match. There is a thirteenth floor to Jonathan's building that does not exist, there are mysterious and threatening beings living inside mirrors, and all of reality is not what they thought it was. Part supernatural thriller, part noir detective story, Heinlein's trip down the rabbit hole leads where you never expected.

Originally published in Unknown Worlds, October 1942, and later collected in The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag, The Fantasies of Robert A. Heinlein, and The Best of Robert Heinlein 1939-1959.

The Ice Owl

Twenty Planets Universe

Carolyn Ives Gilman

Hugo- and Nebula-nominated Novella

Set in the same universe as Arkfall (although a totally independent story), The Ice Owl tells a tale capturing that moment when we start to lose our childhood...when we start to realize that our parents and the "grown-ups" are just as flawed as we are... everyone struggling to deal with their own demons.

It is also a story about past crimes and the haunting echo of ghosts long dead, of a life-long quest for redemption and, for some, the final revenge for crimes lost in the stellar dust...

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.

Stranger in a Strange Land

Robert A. Heinlein

Stranger in a Strange Land is the epic saga of an earthling, Valentine Michael Smith, born and educated on Mars, who arrives on our planet with psi powers - telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, telekinesis, teleportation, pyrolysis, and the ability to take control of the minds of others - and complete innocence regarding the mores of man.

After his tutelage under a surrogate-father figure, Valentine begins his transformation into a messiah figure. His introduction into Earth society, together with his exceptional abilities, lead Valentine to become many things to many people: freak, scam artist, media commodity, searcher, free-love pioneer, neon evangelist, and martyr.

Heinlein won his third Hugo award for this novel, sometimes called Heinlein's earthly "divine comedy."

A Mirror for Observers

SF Rediscovery: Book 12

Edgar Pangborn

In their attitude towards the Planet Earth, the Martians had long been divided into two camps: the Observers, benevolent 'meddlers' in human affairs; and the rebellious Abdicators, who sought the Earth's collapse.

But it wasn't until the extraordinary matter of the Earth-Boy, Angelo Pontevecchio, that the enmity between these two factions came to a definite head.

It started as a contest of wills, waged between two opposing Martians for the soul of a single human child.

And before the end, it threatened all life on both Earth and Mars.

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?

Always Coming Home

Always Coming Home

Ursula K. Le Guin

Ursula Le Guin's Always Coming Home is a major work of the imagination from one of America's most respected writers of science fiction. More than five years in the making, it is a novel unlike any other. A rich and complex interweaving of story and fable, poem, artwork, and music, it totally immerses the reader in the culture of the Kesh, a peaceful people of the far future who inhabit a place called the Valley on the Northern Pacific Coast.

Maze of Death

Philip K. Dick

Fourteen strangers came to Delmak-O. Thirteen of them were transferred by the usual authorities. One got there by praying. But once they arrived on that planet whose very atmosphere seemed to induce paranoia and psychosis, the newcomers found that even prayer was useless. For on Delmak-O, God is either absent or intent on destroying His creations.

Also published as A Maze of Death.

Rite of Passage

Gregg Press Science Fiction Series: Book 27

Alexei Panshin

After the destruction of Earth, humanity has established itself precariously among a hundred planets. Between them roam the vast Ships, doling out scientific knowledge in exchange for raw materials. On one of the Ships lives Mia Havero. Belligerent soccer player, intrepid explorer of ventilation shafts, Mia tests all the boundaries of her insulated world. She will soon be tested in turn. At the age of fourteen all Ship children must endure a month unaided in the wilds of a colony world, and although Mia has learned much through formal study, about philosophy, economics, and the business of survival, she will find that her most vital lessons are the ones she must teach herself.

Published originally in 1968, Alexei Panshin's Nebula Award-winning classic has lost none of its relevance, with its keen exploration of societal stagnation and the resilience of youth.

The Dreaming Jewels

Theodore Sturgeon

Retro Hugo-nominated Novella

Theodore Sturgeon's stunning debut novel, about a young boy who is drawn into a dangerous conspiracy when he leaves home to join a circus of shadows

Though only eight years old, little Horton "Horty" Bluett has known a lifetime of sadness. Tormented and abused by his adoptive family, he's had enough—and with a beloved broken toy he calls "Junky" as his sole companion, the desperate little boy runs away to join a carnival. There, among the fortune tellers, fire-eaters, sideshow freaks, and assorted "strange people," Horty hopes to find acceptance and, at long last, a real home.

But disgraced doctor Pierre "Maneater" Monetre's traveling show is no ordinary entertainment, and its performers are not what they appear to be. The Maneater has sinister plans for the world that go far beyond fleecing unsuspecting rubes and other easy marks—a dark and terrible scheme that requires unleashing the extraterrestrial power of the dreaming jewels, and the unwitting assistance of a young boy who may be far more remarkable than he's ever imagined.

This ebook features an illustrated biography of Theodore Sturgeon including rare images and never-before-seen documents from the University of Kansas's Kenneth Spencer Research Library and the author's estate, among other sources.

Also published as The Synthetic Man (Pyramid Books, 1957)

The Goblin Reservation

Masters of Science Fiction: Book 32

Clifford D. Simak

En route to an interplanetary research mission, a scientist is abducted by a strange, shadowy race of aliens and taken to a previously uncharted planet, a storehouse of information that would be invaluable--even to an Earth so advanced that time travel allows goblins, dinosaurs, even Shakespeare to coexist.

Mostly Harmless

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Book 5

Douglas Adams

Douglas Adams is back with the amazing, logic-defying, but-why-stop-now fifth novel in the Hitchhiker Trilogy. Here is the epic story of Random, who sets out on a transgalactic quest to find the planet of her ancestors.

Zodiac

Neal Stephenson

Sangamon Taylor's a New Age Sam Spade who sports a wet suit instead of a trench coat and prefers Jolt from the can to Scotch on the rocks. He knows about chemical sludge the way he knows about evil -- all too intimately. And the toxic trail he follows leads to some high and foul places. Before long Taylor's house is bombed, his every move followed, he's adopted by reservation Indians, moves onto the FBI's most wanted list, makes up with his girlfriend, and plays a starring role in the near-assassination of a presidential candidate.

Closing the case with the aid of his burnout roomate, his tofu-eating comrades, three major networks, and a range of unconventional weaponry, Sangamon Taylor pulls off the most startling caper in Boston Harbor since the Tea Party. As he navigates this ecological thriller with hardboiled wit and the biggest outboard motor he can get his hands on, Taylor reveals himself as one of the last of the white-hatted good guys in a very toxic world.

When Harlie Was One

David Gerrold

First Auberson made HARLIE, the world's first Human Analogue Robot Life Input Equivalents.

Harlie enjoyed infinite knowledge. But no wisdom. He had ethics, but, by his own admission, no morals. He wrote poetry. Went on mind-bending jags for the pleasure of it. And worried about his sexual identity.

He also made Auberson more of a human being. Helped him learn how to love, for one thing. But Harlie was a financial loss for the company.

The money people wanted to pull Harlie's plug. And they would, unless he could do something worthwhile.

So Harlie thought. And created God....

Journey to the Center of the Earth

Voyages Extraordinaires: Book 3

Jules Verne

A classic of nineteenth-century French literature, this science fiction tale delves into the depths of the Earth, and by so doing, reveals the staggeringly long history of our planet.

Sirius: A Fantasy Of Love And Discord

Olaf Stapledon

Sirius is the titular character and a 1944 science fiction novel by the British philosopher and author Olaf Stapledon.

Scientist Thomas Trelone creates a super-intelligent dog, named Sirius. He is the only dog to have attained a humanlike intelligence. Other dogs of the same breed Trelone created, have an intermediate intelligence (they are above the dog's average intelligence, but they cannot master human language and complex analytic thinking as Sirius does. A sense of existential questioning suffuses the book, as the author delves into every aspect of Sirius's psyche. The novel deals with a lot of human issues through Sirius and his experiences, his unusual nature, his ideas and his relationships with humans, showing a very gloomy, intelligent, obscure, sad, and complex tale, whose significance and depth cannot be fully understood, and is often misinterpreted.

The Dream Master

Gregg Press Science Fiction Series: Book 49

Roger Zelazny

Charles Render is a shaper, one of a small number of psychotherapists qualified, by his granite will and ultra-stability, to use the extraordinary device that enables him to to participate in, and control, his patients' dreams. But this is a dangerous therapy for the therapist and only his armour-plated integrity protects Render from too deep an involvement in the mental worlds of the damaged people he seeks to help. But then, Eileen Shallot, another therapist who is blind, asks him to help her 'see' by transferring from his mind to hers a world of colour and light. Render agrees but suddenly finds himself obsessed with Eileen and drawn into fantasies which, she controls.

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.

The Devil's Eye

Alex Benedict: Book 4

Jack McDevitt

Interstellar antiquities dealer Alex Benedict receives a cryptic message asking for help from celebrated writer Vicki Greene - who has been mind-wiped. She has no memory of her past life, or of her plea for assistance. But she has transferred an enormous sum of money to Alex, also without explanation. The answers to this mystery lie on the most remote of human worlds, where Alex will uncover a secret connected to a decades-old political upheaval - a secret that somebody desperately wants hidden, though the price of that silence is unimaginable…

Ice

Anna Kavan

In this haunting and surreal novel, the narrator and a man known as 'the warden' search for an elusive girl in a frozen, seemingly post-nuclear, apocalyptic landscape. The country has been invaded and is being governed by a secret organisation. There is destruction everywhere; great walls of ice overrun the world. Together with the narrator, the reader is swept into a hallucinatory quest for this strange and fragile creature with albino hair. Acclaimed by Brian Aldiss on its publication in 1967 as the best science fiction book of the year, this extraordinary and innovative novel has subsequently been recognised as a major work of literature in its own right.

The Persistence of Vision

John Varley

Hugo, Nebula and Locus award nominated novella. It originally appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, March 1978. The story can also be found in the anthologies:

It is half of Tor Double #29: Nanowire Time / The Persistence of Vision and is included in the collections The Persistence of Vision (1979) and The John Varley Reader (2004).

City of Illusions

Hainish Cycle: Book 3

Ursula K. Le Guin

Falk was a fully grown man, alone in the dense forest, with no trail to show where he had come from and no memory to tell who - or what - he was.

The forest people took him in and raised him almost as a child, teaching him to speak, training him in forest lore, giving him all the knowledge they had.

But they could not solve the riddle of his past, and finally he had to set out on a perilous quest to Es Toch, the City of the Shing, the Liars of Earth, the Enemy of Mankind.

There he would find his true self - and a universe of danger....

A Wind in the Door

Time Quintet: Book 2

Madeleine L’Engle

It is November. When Meg comes home from school, Charles Wallace tells her he saw dragons in the twin's vegetable garden. That night Meg, Calvin and C.W. go to the vegetable garden to meet the Teacher (Blajeny) who explains that what they are seeing isn't a dragon at all, but a cherubim named Proginoskes. It turns out that C.W. is ill and that Blajeny and Proginoskes are there to make him well – by making him well, they will keep the balance of the universe in check and save it from the evil Echthros.

Meg, Calvin and Mr. Jenkins (grade school principal) must travel inside C.W. to have this battle and save Charles' life as well as the balance of the universe.

Babel-17

Gregg Press Science Fiction Series: Book 25

Samuel R. Delany

Babel-17, winner of the Nebula Award for best novel of the year, is a fascinating tale of a famous poet bent on deciphering a secret language that is the key to the enemy's deadly force, a task that requires she travel with a splendidly improbable crew to the site of the next attack.

For the first time, Babel-17 is published as the author intended with the short novel Empire Star, the tale of Comet Jo, a simple-minded teen thrust into a complex galaxy when he's entrusted to carry a vital message to a distant world. Spellbinding and smart, both novels are testimony to Delany's vast and singular talent.

The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag (collection)

Robert A. Heinlein

Jonathon Hoag discovers a mysterious substance under his fingernails and can't remember what he does for a living or how he spends his days. He enlists private detectives Edward and Cynthia Randall to follow him and uncover his identity, entangling them in a web of intrigue and nightmarish encounters... causing all to question their own and each others' sanity.

This and five other classic Heinlein stories make up the eponymous collection.

(Note that this collection is the same as All You Zombies..., except for the addition of the titular story.)

Table of Contents:

  • The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag - (1942) - novella
  • The Man Who Traveled in Elephants - (1957) - short story
  • "--All You Zombies--" - (1961) - short story (variant of "All You Zombies..." 1959)
  • They - (1941) - short story
  • Our Fair City - (1949) - short story
  • "--And He Built a Crooked House--" - (1941) - novelette

The Shore of Women

Pamela Sargent

Women rule the world in this suspenseful love story set in a postnuclear future. Having expelled men from their vast walled cities to a lower-class wilderness, the women in this futuristic universe dictate policy and chart the future through control of scientific and technological advances. Among their laws are the rules for reproductive engagement, an act now viewed as a means of procreation rather than an act of love. In this rigidly defined environment, a chance meeting between a woman exiled from the female world and a wilderness man triggers a series of feelings, actions, and events that ultimately threaten the fabric of the women's constricted society. Trying to evade the ever-threatening female forces and the savage wilderness men, the two lovers struggle to find a safe haven and reconcile the teachings of their upbringings with their newly awakened feelings.

A Time of Changes

Robert Silverberg

Three thousand years after Earth's colonization of the planet Borthan, stories of self-serving hypocrisy that occurred among the first arrivals have bred a culture that forbids emotional sharing and denies the naturally human concept of 'self.' Kinnall Darival breaks the strict code of the Covenant to record the sordid details of his rebellious life from the days of his royal youth to self-appointed prophet of love.

Radiance

Catherynne M. Valente

Radiance is a decopunk pulp SF alt-history space opera mystery set in a Hollywood - and solar system - very different from our own.

Severin Unck's father is a famous director of Gothic romances in an alternate 1986 in which talking movies are still a daring innovation due to the patent-hoarding Edison family. Rebelling against her father's films of passion, intrigue, and spirits from beyond, Severin starts making documentaries, traveling through space and investigating the levitator cults of Neptune and the lawless saloons of Mars. For this is not our solar system, but one drawn from classic science fiction in which all the planets are inhabited and we travel through space on beautiful rockets. Severin is a realist in a fantastic universe.

But her latest film, which investigates the disappearance of a diving colony on a watery Venus populated by island-sized alien creatures, will be her last. Though her crew limps home to earth and her story is preserved by the colony's last survivor, Severin will never return.

Radiance is a solar system-spanning story of love, exploration, family, loss, quantum physics, and silent film.

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.

Godbody

Theodore Sturgeon

A charismatic, Christ-like figure--Godbody--appears in the midst of a small American town and transforms the lives of a select few.

Wave Without a Shore

Alliance-Union: Book 2

C. J. Cherryh

Freedom was an isolated planet, off the spaceways track and rarely visited by commercial spacers. It wasn't that Freedom was inhospitable as planets go. The problem was that outsiders – tourists and traders – claimed the streets were crowded with mysterious characters in blue robes and with members of an alien species.

Native-born humans, however, said that was not the case. There were no such blue-robes and no aliens. Such was the viewpoint of both Herrin the artist and Waden the autocrat – until a crisis of planetary identity forced a life-and-death confrontation between the question of reality and the reality of the question...

A Calculated Life

A Calculated Life: Book 1

Anne Charnock

Late in the twenty-first century, big business is booming and state institutions are thriving thanks to advances in genetic engineering, which have produced a compliant population free of addictions. Violent crime is a rarity.

Hyper-intelligent Jayna is a star performer at top predictive agency Mayhew McCline, where she forecasts economic and social trends. A brilliant mathematical modeler, she far outshines her co-workers, often correcting their work on the quiet. Her latest coup: finding a link between northeasterly winds and violent crime.

When a string of events contradicts her forecasts, Jayna suspects she needs more data and better intuition. She needs direct interactions with the rest of society. Bravely-and naively-she sets out to disrupt her strict routine and stumbles unwittingly into a world where her IQ is increasingly irrelevant... a place where human relationships and the complexity of life are difficult for her to decode. And as she experiments with taking risks, she crosses the line into corporate intrigue and disloyalty.

Can Jayna confront the question of what it means to live a "normal" life? Or has the possibility of a "normal" life already been eclipsed for everyone?

The Fabulous Riverboat

The Riverworld Saga: Book 2

Philip José Farmer

Resurrected on the lush, mysterious banks of Riverworld, along with the rest of humanity, Samuel Langhorne Clemens (a.k.a. Mark Twain) has a dream: to build a riverboat that will rival the most magnificent paddle-wheelers ever navigated on the mighty Mississippi. Then, to steer it up the endless waterway that dominates his new home planet--and at last discover its hidden source.

But before he can carry out his plan, he first must undertake a dangerous voyage to unearth a fallen meteor. This mission would require striking an uneasy alliance with the bloodthirsty Viking Erik Bloodaxe, treacherous King John of England, legendary French swordsman Cyrano de Bergerac, Greek adventurer Odysseus, and the infamous Nazi Hermann Göring. All for the purpose of storming the ominous stone tower at the mouth of the river, where the all-powerful overseers of Riverworld--and their secrets--lie in wait...

Fledgling

Octavia E. Butler

Fledgling, Octavia Butler's first new novel in seven years, is the story of an apparently young, amnesiac girl whose alarmingly unhuman needs and abilities lead her to a startling conclusion: She is in fact a genetically modified, 53-year-old vampire. Forced to discover what she can about her stolen former life, she must at the same time learn who wanted-and still wants-to destroy her and those she cares for and how she can save herself. Fledgling is a captivating novel that tests the limits of "otherness" and questions what it means to be truly human.

Octavia E. Butler is the author of 11 novels, including Kindred, Dawn, and Parable of the Sower. Recipient of a MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant, the Nebula Award, the Hugo Award, and numerous other literary awards, she has been acclaimed for her lean prose, strong protagonists, and social observations that range from the distant past to the far future.

I Met a Traveller in an Antique Land

Connie Willis

Jim is in New York City at Christmastime shopping a book based on his blog--Gone for Good-- premised on the fact that "being nostalgic for things that have disappeared is ridiculous." Progress decides for people what they need and what's obsolete. It's that simple. Of course, not everyone agrees. After Jim bombs a contentious interview with a radio host who defends the sacred technology of the printed, tangible book, he gets caught in a rainstorm only to find himself with no place to take refuge other than a quaint, old-fashioned bookshop.

Ozymandias Books is not just any store. Jim wanders intrigued through stacks of tomes he doesn't quite recognize the titles of, none with prices. Here he discovers a mysteriously pristine, seemingly endless wonderland of books--where even he gets nostalgic for his childhood favorite. And, yes, the overwhelmed and busy clerk showing him around says they have a copy. But it's only after Jim leaves that he understands the true nature of Ozymandias and how tragic it is that some things may be gone forever...

This novella originally appeared in Asimov's Science Fiction, November-December 2017. It was published in chapbook edition in 2018.

Nova Swing

Kefahuchi Tract Trilogy: Book 2

M. John Harrison

Years after Ed Chianese's fateful trip into the Kefahuchi Tract, the tract has begun to expand and change in ways we never could have predicted - and, even more terrifying, parts of it have actually begun to fall to Earth, transforming the landscapes they encounter.

Not far from Moneytown, in a neighborhood of underground clubs, body-modification chop shops, adolescent contract killers, and sexy streetwalking Monas, you'll find the Saudade Event Site: a zone of strange geography, twisted physics, and frightening psychic onslaughts - not to mention the black and white cats that come pouring out at irregular intervals.

Vic Serotonin is a "travel agent" into and out of Saudade. His latest client is a woman who's nearly as unpredictable as the site itself - and maybe just as dangerous. She wants a tour just as a troubling new class of biological artifacts are leaving the site - living algorithms that are transforming the world outside in inexplicable and unsettling ways. Shadowed by a metaphysically inclined detective determined to shut his illegal operation down, Vic must make sense of a universe rapidly veering toward a virulent and viral form of chaosand a humanity almost lost.

Extras

Uglies: Book 4

Scott Westerfeld

Extras, the final book in the Uglies series, is set a couple of years after the "mind-rain," a few earth-shattering months in which the whole world woke up. The cure has spread from city to city, and the pretty regime that kept humanity in a state of bubbleheadedness has ended. Boundless human creativity, new technologies, and old dangers have been unleashed upon the world. Culture is splintering, the cities becoming radically different from each other as each makes its own way into this strange and unpredictable future...

One of the features of the new world is that everyone has a "feed," which is basically their own blog/myspace/tv channel. The ratings of your feed (combined with how much the city interface overhears people talking about you) determines your social status--so everyone knows at all times how famous they are.

As Scott Westerfeld explored the themes of extreme beauty in the first three Uglies books, now he takes on the world's obsession with fame and popularity. And how anyone can be an instant celebrity.

Battle Royale: Remastered

Koushun Takami

Koushun Takami's notorious high-octane thriller envisions a nightmare scenario: a class of junior high school students is taken to a deserted island where, as part of a ruthless authoritarian program, they are provided arms and forced to kill until only one survivor is left standing. Criticized as violent exploitation when first published in Japan--where it became a runaway best seller--Battle Royale is a Lord of the Flies for the 21st century, a potent allegory of what it means to be young and (barely) alive in a dog-eat-dog world.

Made into a controversial hit movie of the same name, Battle Royale is already a contemporary Japanese pulp classic, now available in a new English-language translation.

Walk to the End of the World

Holdfast Chronicles: Book 1

Suzy McKee Charnas

The men of the Holdfast had long treated with contempt the degenerated creatures known as "fems." To give themselves the drive to survive and reconquer the world, the men needed a common enemy. Superstitious belief had ascribed to the fems the guilt for the terrible Wasting that had destroyed the world. They were the ideal scapegoat. The truth was lost in death and decay and buried in history. It was going to be a long journey back...

Who?

Algis Budrys

Martino was a very important scientist, working on something called the K-88. But the K-88 exploded in his face, and he was dragged across the Soviet border. There he stayed for months. When they finally gave him back, the Soviets had given him a metal arm... and an expressionless metal skull. So how could Allied Security be sure he actually was Martino?

Space Cadet

Heinlein Juveniles: Book 2

Robert A. Heinlein

This is the seminal novel of a young man's education as a member of an elite, paternalistic non-military organization of leaders dedicated to preserving human civilization, the Solar Patrol, a provocative parallel to Heinlein's famous later novel, Starship Troopers (which is about the military).

Only the best and brightest--the strongest and the most courageous--ever manage to become Space Cadets, at the Space Academy. They are in training to be come part of the elite guard of the solar system, accepting missions others fear, taking risks no others dare, and upholding the peace of the solar system for the benefit of all.

But before Matt Dodson can earn his rightful place in the ranks, his mettle is to be tested in the most severe and extraordinary ways--ways that change him forever, from the midwestern American boy into a man of the Solar Patrol.

Infomocracy

Centenal Cycle: Book 1

Malka Older

It's been twenty years and two election cycles since Information, a powerful search engine monopoly, pioneered the switch from warring nation-states to global micro-democracy. The corporate coalition party Heritage has won the last two elections. With another election on the horizon, the Supermajority is in tight contention, and everything's on the line.

With power comes corruption. For Ken, this is his chance to do right by the idealistic Policy1st party and get a steady job in the big leagues. For Domaine, the election represents another staging ground in his ongoing struggle against the pax democratica. For Mishima, a dangerous Information operative, the whole situation is a puzzle: how do you keep the wheels running on the biggest political experiment of all time, when so many have so much to gain?

Infomocracy is Malka Older's debut novel.

The Martian Way and Other Stories

Isaac Asimov

This collection of four famous science fiction tales masterfully exemplifies author Isaac Asimov's ability to create quickly a believable human milieu in the midst of alien circumstances. Each of the long stores also shows his considerable skill in fully fleshing out a speculative scientific or social possibility.

Table of Contents

  • The Martian Way - (1952) - novella by Isaac Asimov
  • Youth - (1952) - novelette by Isaac Asimov
  • The Deep - (1952) - novelette by Isaac Asimov
  • Sucker Bait - (1954) - novella by Isaac Asimov

Upright Women Wanted

Sarah Gailey

"That girl's got more wrong notions than a barn owl's got mean looks."

Esther is a stowaway. She's hidden herself away in the Librarian's book wagon in an attempt to escape the marriage her father has arranged for her--a marriage to the man who was previously engaged to her best friend. Her best friend who she was in love with. Her best friend who was just executed for possession of resistance propaganda.

The future American Southwest is full of bandits, fascists, and queer librarian spies on horseback trying to do the right thing.

The Doomed City

Arkady Strugatsky
Boris Strugatsky

The magnum opus of Russia's greatest science fiction novelists translated into English for the first time

Arkady and Boris Strugatsky are widely considered the greatest of Russian science fiction masters, and their most famous work, Roadside Picnic, has enjoyed great popularity worldwide. Yet the novel they worked hardest on, that was their own favorite, and that readers worldwide have acclaimed as their magnum opus, has never before been published in English. The Doomed City was so politically risky that the Strugatsky brothers kept its existence a complete secret even from their closest friends for sixteen years after its completion in 1972. It was only published in Russia during perestroika in the late 1980s, the last of their works to see publication. It was translated into a host of European languages, and now appears in English in a major new effort by acclaimed translator Andrew Bromfield.

The Doomed City is set in an experimental city whose sun gets switched on in the morning and switched off at night, bordered by an abyss on one side and an impossibly high wall on the other. Its inhabitants are people who were plucked from twentieth-century history at various times and places and left to govern themselves, advised by Mentors whose purpose seems inscrutable. Andrei Voronin, a young astronomer plucked from Leningrad in the 1950s, is a die-hard believer in the Experiment, even though his first job in the city is as a garbage collector. And as increasinbly nightmarish scenarios begin to affect the city, he rises through the political hierarchy, with devastating effect. Boris Strugatsky wrote that the task of writing The Doomed City "was genuinely delightful and fascinating work." Readers will doubtless say the same of the experience of reading it.

Herland

Herland: Book 1

Charlotte Perkins Gilman

A prominent turn-of-the-century social critic and lecturer, Charlotte Perkins Gilman is perhaps best known for her short story "The Yellow Wallpaper," a chilling study of a woman's descent into insanity, and Women and Economics, a classic of feminist theory that analyzes the destructive effects of women's economic reliance on men.

In Herland, a vision of a feminist utopia, Gilman employs humor to engaging effect in a story about three male explorers who stumble upon an all-female society isolated somewhere in South America. Noting the advanced state of the civilization they've encountered, the visitors set out to find some males, assuming that since the country is so civilized, "there must be men." A delightful fantasy, the story enables Gilman to articulate her then-unconventional views of male-female roles and capabilities, motherhood, individuality, privacy, the sense of community, sexuality, and many other topics.

Decades ahead of her time in evolving a humanistic, feminist perspective, Gilman has been rediscovered and warmly embraced by contemporary feminists. An articulate voice for both women and men oppressed by the social order of the day, she adeptly made her points with a wittiness often missing from polemical writings.

The Maze Runner

Maze Runner: Book 1

James Dashner

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he's not alone. When the lift doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him into the Glade - a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls. Just like Thomas, the Gladers don't know why or how they got into the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they've closed tight. And every 30 days a new boy has been delivered in the lift. Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up - the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more suprising yet is the message she delivers. Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind.

The Dark Design

The Riverworld Saga: Book 3

Philip José Farmer

Years have passed on Riverworld. Entire nations have risen, and savage wars have been fought--all since the dead of Earth found themselves resurrected in their magnificent new homeworld. Yet the truth about the Ethicals, the powerful engineers of this mysterious "afterlife," remains unknown. But a curious cross-section of humanity is determined to change that situation... at any cost.

Intrepid explorer Sir Richard Francis Burton leads the most remarkable voyage of discovery he has ever undertaken. Hot on his heels are Samuel Clemens, King John of England, and Cyrano de Bergerac. Spurred by the promise of ultimate answers, they chart a course across the vast polar sea--and toward the awesome tower that looms above it. But getting there will be more than half the battle. For death on Riverworld has become chillingly final...

Doomsday Morning

C. L. Moore

Comus, the communications network/police force, has spread its web of power all across an America paralyzes by the after-effects of limited nuclear war. But in California, resistance is building against the dictatorship of Comus and Andrew Raleigh, president for life. For now Raleigh is dying and the powers of Comus are fading. It's the perfect time for the Californian revolutionaries to activate the secret weapon that alone can destroy America's totalitarian system and re-establish democracy. Yet Comus too has powers at its disposal, chief among them Howard Rohan. A washed-up actor until Comus offers him a second chance, Rohan will head a troupe of players touring in the heart of rebel territory. Howard Rohan, double agent, caught between the orders of Comus and rebels demands Which side will he choose? Who will he play false - himself or the entire country?

The Star Beast

Heinlein Juveniles: Book 8

Robert A. Heinlein

Lummox had been the Stuart family pet for years. Though far from cuddly and rather large, it had always been obedient and docile. Except, that is, for the time it had eaten the secondhand Buick . . .

But now, all of a sudden and without explanation, Lummox had begun chomping down on a variety of things -- not least, a very mean dog and a cage of virtually indestructible steel. Incredible!

John Thomas and Lummox were soon in awfully hot water, and they didn't know how to get out. And neither one really understood just how bad things were -- or how bad the situation could get -- until some space voyagers appeared and turned a far-from-ordinary family problem into an extraordinary confrontation.

Mindswap

Robert Sheckley

In the future, interstellar travel to alien worlds will be too expensive for most ordinary people. It certainly is for Marvin, a college student who wants to take a really good vacation. And so he signs up for what he can afford, a mindswap, in which your consciousness is swapped into the body of an alien lifeform. But Marvin is unlucky, and finds himself in the body of an interstellar criminal, a body that he has to vacate fast. But that criminal consciousness has stolen Marvin's earthly body, and Marvin has to find a body on the black market.

Travel from world to world with Marvin, each one crazier than the last, as he keeps finding far from ideal bodies in awful situations, just to stay alive.

The Eye of the Heron

Ursula K. Le Guin

In Victoria on a former prison colony, two exiled groups--the farmers of Shantih and the City dwellers--live in apparent harmony. All is not as it seems, however. While the peace-loving farmers labor endlessly to provide food for the City, the City Bosses rule the Shantih with an iron fist. When a group of farmers decide to from a new settlement further away, the Bosses retaliate by threatening to crush the "rebellion."

Luz understands what it means to have no choices. Her father is a Boss and he has ruled over her life with the same iron fist. Luz wonders what it might be like to make her own choices. To be free to choose her own destiny.

When the crisis over the new settlement reaches a flash point, Luz will have her chance.

Old Venus

Old...: Book 2

George R. R. Martin
Gardner Dozois

Sixteen all-new stories by science fiction's top talents, collected by bestselling author George R. R. Martin and multiple-award-winning editor Gardner Dozois

From pulp adventures such as Edgar Rice Burroughs's Carson of Venus to classic short stories such as Ray Bradbury's "The Long Rain" to visionary novels such as C. S. Lewis's Perelandra, the planet Venus has loomed almost as large in the imaginations of science fiction writers as Earth's next-nearest neighbor, Mars. But while the Red Planet conjured up in Golden Age science fiction stories was a place of vast deserts and ruined cities, bright blue Venus was its polar opposite: a steamy, swampy jungle world with strange creatures lurking amidst the dripping vegetation. Alas, just as the last century's space probes exploded our dreams of Mars, so, too, did they shatter our romantic visions of Venus, revealing, instead of a lush paradise, a hellish world inimical to all life.

But don't despair! This new anthology of sixteen original stories by some of science fiction's best writers--edited by #1 New York Times bestselling author George R. R. Martin and award-winning editor Gardner Dozois--turns back the clock to that more innocent time, before the hard-won knowledge of science vanquished the infinite possibilities of the imagination.

Join our cast of award-winning contributors--including Elizabeth Bear, David Brin, Joe Haldeman, Gwyneth Jones, Mike Resnick, Eleanor Arnason, Allen M. Steele, and more--as we travel back in time to a planet that never was but should have been: a young, rain-drenched world of fabulous monsters and seductive mysteries.

Table of Contents:

  • "Frogheads" by Allen M. Steele
  • "The Drowned Celestrial" by Lavie Tidhar
  • "Planet Of Fear" by Paul Mcauley
  • "Greeves And The Evening Star" by Matthew Hughes
  • "A Planet Called Desire" by Gwyneth Jones
  • "Living Hell" by Joe Haldeman
  • "Bones Of Air, Bones Of Stone" by Stephen Leigh
  • "Ruins" by Eleanor Arnason
  • "The Tumbledowns Of Cleopatra Abyss" by David Brin
  • "By Frogsled And Lizardback To Outcast Venusian Lepers" by Garth Nix
  • "The Sunset Of Time" by Michael Cassutt
  • "Pale Blue Memories" by Tobias S. Buckell
  • "The Heart's Filthy Lesson" by Elizabeth Bear
  • "The Wizard Of The Trees" by Joe R. Lansdale
  • "The Godstone Of Venus" by Mike Resnick
  • "Botanica Veneris: Thirteen Papercuts By Ida Countess Rathangan" by Ian Mcdonald

Approaching Oblivion

Harlan Ellison

The New York Times called him "relentlessly honest" and then used him as the subject of its famous Sunday Acrostic. People Magizine said there was no one like him, then cursed him for preventing easy sleep.

But in these stories Harlan Ellison outdoes himself, rampaging like a mad thing through love ("Cold Friend", "Kiss of Fire", "Paulie Charmed the Sleeping Woman"), hate ("Knox", "Silent in Gehenna"), sex ("Catman", "Erotophobia"), lost childhood ("One Life, Furnished in Early Poverty") and into such bizarre subjects as the problems of blue-skinned, eleven-armed Yiddish aliens, what it's like to witness the end of the world and what happens on the day the planet Earth swallows Barbra Streisand.

Oh yeah, this one's a doozy!

Table of Contents:

  • Foreword: Approaching Ellison - (1974) - essay by Michael Crichton
  • Introduction: Reaping the Whirlwind - (1974) - essay
  • One Life, Furnished in Early Poverty - (1970)
  • Knox - (1974)
  • Cold Friend - (1973)
  • Kiss of Fire - (1973)
  • Paulie Charmed the Sleeping Woman - (1962)
  • I'm Looking for Kadak - (1974)
  • Silent in Gehenna - (1971)
  • Erotophobia - (1971)
  • Ecowareness - (1974)
  • Catman - (1974)
  • Hindsight: 480 Seconds - (1973)

The Squares of the City

John Brunner

A tour-de-force, a disciplined exercise peopled originally by wooden or ivory or jade figurines, now fleshed and clothed and given dramatic life in a battle as old as the classic conflict of chess. But these are real people. When heads roll, blood gouts out and drenches the remaining players while they watch in horrified fascination - until their turn comes. For it is a real game. And the players cannot tell the outcome. Even when their lives depend on it....

Cards of Grief

Jane Yolen

This is the story of the Anthropologists Guild who travel across galaxies in ships and study other planets' peoples.

Hunters of Dune

Dune Sequels: Book 1

Brian Herbert
Kevin J. Anderson

Hunters of Dune and the concluding volume, Sandworms of Dune, bring together the great story lines and beloved characters in Frank Herbert's classic Dune universe, ranging from the time of the Butlerian Jihad to the original Dune series and beyond. Based directly on Frank Herbert's final outline, which lay hidden in a safe-deposit box for a decade, these two volumes will finally answer the urgent questions Dune fans have been debating for two decades.

At the end of Chapterhouse: Dune--Frank Herbert's final novel--a ship carrying the ghola of Duncan Idaho, Sheeana (a young woman who can control sandworms), and a crew of various refugees escapes into the uncharted galaxy, fleeing from the monstrous Honored Matres, dark counterparts to the Bene Gesserit Sisterhood. The nearly invincible Honored Matres have swarmed into the known universe, driven from their home by a terrifying, mysterious Enemy. As designed by the creative genius of Frank Herbert, the primary story of Hunters and Sandworms is the exotic odyssey of Duncan's no-ship as it is forced to elude the diabolical traps set by the ferocious, unknown Enemy. To strengthen their forces, the fugitives have used genetic technology from Scytale, the last Tleilaxu Master, to revive key figures from Dune's past-including Paul Muad'Dib and his beloved Chani, Lady Jessica, Stilgar, Thufir Hawat, and even Dr. Wellington Yueh. Each of these characters will use their special talents to meet the challenges thrown at them.

Failure is unthinkable--not only is their survival at stake, but they hold the fate of the entire human race in their hands.

The Magic Labyrinth

The Riverworld Saga: Book 4

Philip José Farmer

The answers behind the enigmatic origins of Riverworld lie at last within reach, as the remarkable gathering of Earthlings--including Sir Richard Francis Burton, Samuel Clemens, Alice Liddell Hargreaves (the real-life Alice in Wonderland), Cyrano de Bergerac, Ulysses S. Grant, and Baron Von Richtoven--finally breaches the stronghold of Riverworld's extraordinary super-race.

But answers would lead to more enigmatic questions...

Who is the Mysterious Stranger who taunted the Riverworld resurrectees with hints of the truth? What is the key to the gargantuan computer that wields the power of life and death? The astonishing secrets lie within the Dark Tower--but only for those brave enough to seek them and wise enough to decipher them...

Thorns

Robert Silverberg

Duncan Chalk's six-hundred-pound frame is nearly as large as his media empire. Beneath the depths of his immense rolls of flab, the fabulously wealthy mogul wields the editorial power to deliver his programming across the solar system to billions of viewers. His newest real-life romance drama is between a starman who survived painful surgical experimentation while in alien captivity, and an emotionally scarred 17-year-old virgin. When the arranged relationship takes off on a whirlwind tour of the antarctic and out to the moons of Saturn, the viewers are swept up in the romance, but Chalk's true motives are revealed when the doomed relationship begins to unravel... and Chalk can feed on the emotional anguish of the two lost souls.

Trouble on Titan

Alan E. Nourse

The tenacious Colonel Benedict and his son, Tuck, are sent to Titan, Saturn's fifth moon, to investigate reports of smuggling. Soon they discover that the less-than-friendly colony is hiding much more than just a smuggler. Together they dig up a scandalous case of interstellar sabotage and what the colonists reverently refer to as "THE BIG SECRET," which could destroy Earth's power supply - forever.

Can the Colonel and Tuck resolve an age-old dispute between the Titan colonists and Earthly authorities before the clock runs out? Mankinds fate depends on it...

Atlas Shrugged

Ayn Rand

This is the story of a man who said that he would stop the motor of the world--and did. Was he a destroyer or the greatest of liberators? Why did he have to fight his battle, not against his enemies, but against those who needed him most, and his hardest battle against the woman he loved? What is the world's motor--and the motive power of every man? You will know the answer to these questions when you discover the reason behind the baffling events that play havoc with the lives of the characters in this story.

Tremendous in its scope, this novel presents an astounding panorama of human life--from the productive genius who becomes a worthless playboy--to the great steel industrialist who does not know that he is working for his own destruction--to the philosopher who becomes a pirate--to the composer who gives up his career on the night of his triumph--to the woman who runs a transcontinental railroad--to the lowest track worker in her Terminal tunnels.

You must be prepared, when you read this novel, to check every premise at the root of your convictions. This is a mystery story, not about the murder--and rebirth--of man's spirit. It is a philosophical revolution, told in the form of an action thriller of violent events, a ruthlessly brilliant plot structure and an irresistible suspense. Do you say this is impossible? Well, that is the first of your premises to check.

The Gods of Riverworld

The Riverworld Saga: Book 5

Philip José Farmer

Thirty-five billion people from throughout Earth's history were resurrected along the great and winding waterways of Riverworld. Most began life anew--accepting without question the sustenance provided by their mysterious benefactors. But a rebellious handful burned to confront the unseen masters who controlled their fate--and these few launched an invasion that would ultimately yield the mind-boggling truth.

Now Riverworld's omnipotent leaders have been confronted, and the renegades of Riverworld--led by the intrepid Sir Richard Francis Burton--control the fantastic mechanism that once ruled them. But the most awesome challenge lies ahead. For in the vast corridors and secret rooms of the tower stronghold, an unknown enemy watches and waits to usurp the usurpers...

Son of Man

Robert Silverberg

Clay is a man from the 20th Century who is somehow caught up in a time-flux and transported into a distant future. The earth and the life on it have changed beyond recognition. Even the human race has evolved into many different forms, now co-existing on the planet. The seemingly omnipotent Skimmers, the tyrannosaur-like Eaters, the sedentary Awaiters, the squid-like Breathers, the Interceders, the Destroyers - all of these are "Sons of Man". Befriended and besexed by the Skimmers, Clay goes on a journey which takes him around the future earth and into the depths of his own soul. He is human, but what does that mean?

The Circle

Dave Eggers

The Circle is the exhilarating new novel from Dave Eggers, best-selling author of A Hologram for the King, a finalist for the National Book Award.

When Mae Holland is hired to work for the Circle, the world's most powerful internet company, she feels she's been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The Circle, run out of a sprawling California campus, links users' personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency. As Mae tours the open-plan office spaces, the towering glass dining facilities, the cozy dorms for those who spend nights at work, she is thrilled with the company's modernity and activity. There are parties that last through the night, there are famous musicians playing on the lawn, there are athletic activities and clubs and brunches, and even an aquarium of rare fish retrieved from the Marianas Trench by the CEO. Mae can't believe her luck, her great fortune to work for the most influential company in the world--even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public. What begins as the captivating story of one woman's ambition and idealism soon becomes a heart-racing novel of suspense, raising questions about memory, history, privacy, democracy, and the limits of human knowledge.

Miracle Visitors

Masters of Science Fiction: Book 15

Ian Watson

An unusually brilliant and mind-stretching metaphysical quest from one of the most exciting talents in science fiction.

John Deacon uses hypnosis to help his patients reach altered states of consciousness. One of his subjects, Michael Peacocke, is unusually susceptible and in their first session together, Michael recalls a "close encounter"--in both senses of the term--with an alien. Deacon, skeptical of the story, dismisses it as an adolescent sexual fantasy. But then strange things begin to happen and Deacon is forced to reconsider. Could UFOs be symbols projected from the collective unconscious? Are they messages from the biomatrix? Does the mind have the ability to project objects and people that are physically real...yet somehow illusory?

A wonderfully fascinating, mind-bending voyage.