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Exhalation: Stories

Ted Chiang

This much-anticipated second collection of stories is signature Ted Chiang, full of revelatory ideas and deeply sympathetic characters. In "The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate," a portal through time forces a fabric seller in ancient Baghdad to grapple with past mistakes and the temptation of second chances. In the epistolary "Exhalation," an alien scientist makes a shocking discovery with ramifications not just for his own people, but for all of reality. And in "The Lifecycle of Software Objects," a woman cares for an artificial intelligence over twenty years, elevating a faddish digital pet into what might be a true living being. Also included are two brand-new stories: "Omphalos" and "Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom."

In this fantastical and elegant collection, Ted Chiang wrestles with the oldest questions on earth--What is the nature of the universe? What does it mean to be human?--and ones that no one else has even imagined. And, each in its own way, the stories prove that complex and thoughtful science fiction can rise to new heights of beauty, meaning, and compassion.

Table of Contents:

Midnight at the Well of Souls

Saga of the Well World: Book 1

Jack L. Chalker

Entered by a thousand unsuspected gateways -- built by a race lost in the clouds of time -- the planet its dwellers called the Well World turned beings of every kind into something else. There spacefarer Nathan Brazil found himself companioned by a batman, an amorous female centaur and a mermaid -- all once as human as he.

Yet Nathan Brazil's metamorphosis was more terrifying than any of those...and his memory was coming back, bringing with it the secret of the Well World.

For at the heart of the bizarre planet lay the goal of every being that had ever lived -- and Nathan Brazil and his comrades were...lucky?...enough to find it!

Understand

Ted Chiang

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

Her Smoke Rose Up Forever

James Tiptree, Jr.

These 18 darkly complex short stories and novellas touch upon human nature and perception, metaphysics and epistemology, and gender and sexuality, foreshadowing a world in which biological tendencies bring about the downfall of humankind. The Nebula Award-winning short story "Love Is the Plan, the Plan Is Death," the Hugo Award-winning novella "The Girl Who Was Plugged In," and the Hugo and Nebula Award-winning novella "Houston, Houston, Do You Read?" are included.

Table of Contents

Raising the Stones

The Arbai Trilogy: Book 2

Sheri S. Tepper

Hobbs Land was a quiet agricultural colony, a peaceful planet where men and women worked together as equals to provide food for other worlds. Once it had been the home of the alien Owlbrit, who left behind only the temples where their strange gods had lived. But then the gods awoke.

Peace. War. Hate. And love. Raising the Stones weaves disparate threads to tell a story that builds to an inescapable climax. And, in a time when so many predict humanity won't survive through the next century, author Sheri S. Tepper gives us an insightful look into what is the best in all of us.

His Master's Voice

Stanislaw Lem

Scientists studying the phenomenon of neutrino radiation suddenly realize that the cosmic emissions are conveying a message for humanity, and the race is on to decode the alien transmission.

The Glass Bead Game

Hermann Hesse

The final novel of Hermann Hesse, for which he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1946, The Glass Bead Game is a fascinating tale of the complexity of modern life as well as a classic of modern literature.

Set in an unspecified future, The Glass Bead Game is the story of Joseph Knecht, who has been raised in Castalia, the remote place his society has provided for the intellectual elite to grow and flourish. Since childhood, Knecht has been consumed with mastering the Glass Bead Game, which requires a synthesis of aesthetics and scientific arts, such as mathematics, music, logic, and philosophy, which he achieves in adulthood, becoming a Magister Ludi (Master of the Game).

Foundation

The Foundation Series: Book 1

Isaac Asimov

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

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

The Demolished Man

Alfred Bester

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

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

Coyote Rising

Coyote Universe: Coyote Trilogy: Book 2

Allen Steele

The continuing epic of Earth's first space colonists--and their fight against a repressive government to reclaim their world in the name of freedom.

Contact

Carl Sagan

It is December 1999, the dawn of the millennium, and a team of international scientists is poised for the most fantastic adventure in human history. After years of scanning the galaxy for signs of somebody or something else, this team believes they've found a message from an intelligent source--and they travel deep into space to meet it. Pulitzer Prize winner Carl Sagan injects Contact, his prophetic adventure story, with scientific details that make it utterly believable. It is a Cold War era novel that parlays the nuclear paranoia of the time into exquisitely wrought tension among the various countries involved. Sagan meditates on science, religion, and government--the elements that define society--and looks to their impact on and role in the future. His ability to pack an exciting read with such rich content is an unusual talent that makes Contact a modern sci-fi classic.

Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus

Frankenstein: Book 1

Mary Shelley

At once a Gothic thriller, a passionate romance, and a cautionary tale about the dangers of science, Frankenstein tells the story of science student Victor Frankenstein, who is obsessed with "bestowing animation upon lifeless matter." Frankenstein assembles a human being from stolen body parts but upon bringing it to life, he recoils in horror at the creature's hideousness. Tormented by loneliness, the creature unleashes a campaign of murderous revenge against his creator.

Foundation's Edge

The Foundation Series: Book 4

Isaac Asimov

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

Beggars In Spain

The Sleepless: Book 1

Nancy Kress

Born in 2008, Leisha Camden is beautiful, extraordinarily intelligent... and one of an ever-growing number of human beings who have been genetically modified to never require sleep.

Once she and "her kind" were considered interesting anomalies. Now they are outcasts - victims of blind hatred, political repression and shocking mob violence meant to drive the "Sleepless" from human society... and, ultimately, from the Earth itself.M

But Leisha Camden has chosen to remain behind in a world that envies and fears her "gift" - a world marked for destruction in a devastating conspiracy of freedom... and revenge.

The Churn

The Expanse: Short Fiction: Book 4

James S. A. Corey

Before his trip to the stars, before the Rocinante, Amos Burton was confined to a Baltimore where crime paid you or killed you. Unless the authorities got to you first.

Set in the hard-scrabble solar system of Leviathan Wakes, Caliban's War, Abaddon's Gate and the upcoming Cibola Burn, The Churn expands the world of James S. A. Corey's acclaimed Expanse series. Anthologized in Paula Guran's The Year's Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Novellas 2015.

Echopraxia

Blindsight: Book 2

Peter Watts

Prepare for a different kind of singularity in Peter Watts' Echopraxia, the follow-up to the Hugo-nominated novel Blindsight.

It's the eve of the twenty-second century: a world where the dearly departed send postcards back from Heaven and evangelicals make scientific breakthroughs by speaking in tongues; where genetically engineered vampires solve problems intractable to baseline humans and soldiers come with zombie switches that shut off self-awareness during combat. And it's all under surveillance by an alien presence that refuses to show itself.

Daniel Bruks is a living fossil: a field biologist in a world where biology has turned computational, a cat's-paw used by terrorists to kill thousands. Taking refuge in the Oregon desert, he's turned his back on a humanity that shatters into strange new subspecies with every heartbeat. But he awakens one night to find himself at the center of a storm that will turn all of history inside-out.

Now he's trapped on a ship bound for the center of the solar system. To his left is a grief-stricken soldier, obsessed by whispered messages from a dead son. To his right is a pilot who hasn't yet found the man she's sworn to kill on sight. A vampire and its entourage of zombie bodyguards lurk in the shadows behind. And dead ahead, a handful of rapture-stricken monks takes them all to a meeting with something they will only call "The Angels of the Asteroids."

Their pilgrimage brings Dan Bruks, the fossil man, face-to-face with the biggest evolutionary breakpoint since the origin of thought itself.

A Psalm for the Wild-Built

Monk & Robot: Book 1

Becky Chambers

It's been centuries since the robots of Earth gained self-awareness and laid down their tools; centuries since they wandered, en masse, into the wilderness, never to be seen again; centuries since they faded into myth and urban legend.

One day, the life of a tea monk is upended by the arrival of a robot, there to honor the old promise of checking in. The robot cannot go back until the question of "what do people need?" is answered.

But the answer to that question depends on who you ask, and how.

They're going to need to ask it a lot.

The World Inside

Robert Silverberg

Earth 2381: The hordes of humanity have withdrawn into isolated 1000-story Urbmons, comfortably controlled multicity-buildings which perpetuate an open culture of free sex and unrestricted population growth. Nearly all of Earth's 75 billion live in the hundreds of monolithic structures scattered across the globe, with the exception of the small agricultural communes that supply the Urbmons with food. When a restless Urbmon computer engineer begins to think unblessworthy thoughts of making a trip outside, he risks being labeled a flippo, for whom there is only one punishment.

The Time Ships

Wells Sequels: Book 1

Stephen Baxter

There is a secret passage through time

...and it leads all the way to the end of Eternity. But the journey has a terrible cost. It alters not only the future but the "present" in which we live.

A century after the publication of H. G. Wells' immortal The Time Machine, Stephen Baxter, today's most acclaimed new "hard SF" author, returns to the distant conflict between the Eloi and the Morlocks in a story that is at once an exciting expansion, and a radical departure based on the astonishing new understandings of quantum physics.

Great Sky River

The Galactic Center Series: Book 3

Gregory Benford

At the center of the galaxy, a small band of humans, trapped on the barren world of Snowglade and facing extinction, discovers that they will play a new role in the order of the universe.

Furious Gulf

The Galactic Center Series: Book 5

Gregory Benford

The passengers on the spaceship Argo, pursued by hostile ""mechs,"" must face their doubts about their captain's obsession with finding the galaxy's True Center, an obsession that even troubles the captain's son.

Sideshow

The Arbai Trilogy: Book 3

Sheri S. Tepper

On the planet of Elsewhere, the Council had always enforced the governing of each province in the manner the people had chosen, so long as each respected its neighbors' local customs -- and so long as the people remained within their homelands. Generations later, inhabitants have begun to question this tradition. The Council has received mysterious messages and reports of strange manifestations across the planet.

Now, Enforcer Fringe Owldark has been sent with a small crew of seven, each possessing an unusual talent, to investigate their worst fear -- the arrival of the Hobbs Land gods. Free will and the reality of God are just too of the timeless issues this courageous band of humans must confront as they strive to decide if complete tolerance and leaving others alone is evil... and what they should do if it is.

Eternal Light

Four Hundred Billion Stars: Book 3

Paul J. McAuley

In the aftermath of an interstellar war an enigmatic star is discovered, travelling towards the Solar System from the galactic core. Its appearance adds a new and dangerous factor in the turbulent politics of the inhabited worlds as the rival factions - the power-holders of the ReUnited Nations, the rebels who secretly oppose their power, and the Religious Witnesses - all see advantages to be gained. But what awesome technology started the star on its journey half a million years ago - and why?

The Joy Makers

James E. Gunn

Happiness, Guaranteed...

In the not-too-distant future, money truly can buy happiness, and Hedonics, Inc., is willing to sell it to you. They'll even offer you a money-back guarantee, if you're not "happy" with the product. But with their team of psychologists, life specialists, and self-improvement coaches, they don't have any "unhappy" customers.

What happens when a company grows too big, becomes too successful? It wants to guarantee its place in society and its future, and Hedonics is no exception. When your product is happiness, the way you guarantee your success is to pass laws mandating happiness.

But when universal happiness is required, does it really matter if you're getting what you want, or happy with what you have?

James Gunn has been a professional science fiction writer for more than 60 years, and in 2007, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America named him a Grand Master.

The Jesus Incident

WorShip: Book 2

Frank Herbert
Bill Ransom

A sentient Ship with godlike powers (and aspirations) delivers the last survivors of humanity to a horrific, poisonous planet, Pandora--rife with deadly Nerve-Runners, Hooded Dashers, airborne jellyfish, and intelligent kelp. Chaplain/Psychiatrist Raja Lon Flattery is brought back out of hybernation to witness Ship's machinations as well as the schemes of human scientists manipulating the genetic structure of humanity. Sequel to Frank Herbert's Destination: Void, the first book in Herbert & Ransom's Pandora Sequence.

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."

Dune Messiah

Dune Chronicles: Book 2

Frank Herbert

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

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

Shaman

Kim Stanley Robinson

There is Thorn, a shaman himself. He lives to pass down his wisdom and his stories - to teach those who would follow in his footsteps. There is Heather, the healer who, in many ways, holds the clan together. There is Elga, an outsider and the bringer of change. And then there is Loon, the next shaman, who is determined to find his own path. But in a world so treacherous, that journey is never simple - and where it may lead is never certain.

Shaman is a powerful, thrilling and heart-breaking story of one young man's journey into adulthood - and an awe-inspiring vision of how we lived 30,000 years ago.

Beggars and Choosers

The Sleepless: Book 2

Nancy Kress

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

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

Cyteen

Alliance-Union: Unionside: Book 2

C. J. Cherryh

This multilayered epic of interstellar cabals and dark human passions is a profound exploration of genetics, environment, nurture, society, and the secrets of human intelligence.

In a futuristic world of cybernetics, two young friends become trapped in an endless nightmare of suspicion, surveillance, programmable servants, a centuries-old ruling class, and an enigmatic woman who dominates them all, in a story marked by genius, blackmail, sacrifice, murder, resurrection, the betrayal of innocence, and loyalty stronger than death.

This is the story of Ariane Emory: brilliant, corrupt, a genius in genetics, psychology, rape, and blackmail. She dominates the Council of Nine, as head of the Expansionist Party of the Multiworld Union, and is despot of the territory Reseune, where her laboratories create the one product essential to Cyteen: people. They are the "azi," human workers and soldiers artificially grown, computer trained, and owned by Reseune and hence by Ariane Emory. After one hundred and twenty years of life and fifty years of rule, Emory is murdered. But not for long...

This is the story of the Project: the plan to replicate Ariane Emory. Creatiing a genetic double is routine for Reseune's bio-technology, but nature is not nurture, and clones are still human beings. For the Project to succeed, Emory's followers have to subject the clone to every formative influence of the tyrant's life, keep her innocent of history, protect her from Emory's enemies, and oppress or silence anyone who might, even accidentally, disrupt the program.

This is also the story of Ari: a little girl driven to solve a mystery she can sense, but not define. A child thrown into a storm of global upheaval when her creation is made public, she inherits a stranger’s face and past, enemies and victims. She must wield her predecessor’s power to save herself, even from people she loves. And to survice, she must find out if she’s a puppet crafted by a dead megalomaniac – or the one person who can defuse a socio-genetic time bomb threatening to destroy her planet. For only Ariane Emory can save Cyteen...

Helliconia

Helliconia

Brian W. Aldiss

This is an omnibus edition of The Heliconia Trilogy.

Shadows in Flight

Ender's Universe: Ender's Shadow: Book 5

Orson Scott Card

Ender’s Shadow explores the stars in this all-new novel...

At the end of Shadow of the Giant, Bean flees to the stars with three of his children--the three who share the engineered genes that gave him both hyper-intelligence and a short, cruel physical life. The time dilation granted by the speed of their travel gives Earth’s scientists generations to seek a cure, to no avail. In time, they are forgotten--a fading ansible signal speaking of events lost to Earth’s history. But the Delphikis are about to make a discovery that will let them save themselves, and perhaps all of humanity in days to come.

For there in space before them lies a derelict Formic colony ship. Aboard it, they will find both death and wonders--the life support that is failing on their own ship, room to grow, and labs in which to explore their own genetic anomaly and the mysterious disease that killed the ship’s colony.

The Flicker Men

Ted Kosmatka

A quantum physicist shocks the world with a startling experiment, igniting a struggle between science and theology, free will and fate, and antagonizing forces not known to exist

Eric Argus is a washout. His prodigious early work clouded his reputation and strained his sanity. But an old friend gives him another chance, an opportunity to step back into the light.

With three months to produce new research, Eric replicates the paradoxical double-slit experiment to see for himself the mysterious dual nature of light and matter. A simple but unprecedented inference blooms into a staggering discovery about human consciousness and the structure of the universe.

His findings are celebrated and condemned in equal measure. But no one can predict where the truth will lead. And as Eric seeks to understand the unfolding revelations, he must evade shadowy pursuers who believe he knows entirely too much already.

Courtship Rite

Courtship Rite

Donald Kingsbury

The planet of Geta is a harsh and unforgiving world where only one source of meat exists: man. Cyclical famines have made a distinct, ritualistic form of cannibalism a necessity, and intricate rituals involving courtship, love, death, and multiple marriages are the rule. Gaet, Hoemei and Joesai are three sons of the old Prime Predictor, Tae ran-Kaiel of the Kaiel clan. They are bound to each other, as well as their two wives, Noe and Teenae. They hope to soon complete their most-desirable Six-marriage with Kathein, a scientist. But the new Prime Predictor, Aesoe, has other plans.... In order to gain an outlet to the sea, Aesoe orders the brothers to marry Oelita, the Clanless One.

The Gentle Heretic has a legion of followers that would give the Kaiel allies against their powerful opponents, and a foothold in the coastal lands. The brothers choose to court Oelita - and have her prove her worth - through a complicated Death Ritual. Oelita has the audacity to question the existence of the God of the Sky - who has begun to speak. Pestilence, plague and conflict are brewing across the land. Now the courted and her suitors find themselves in the center of a violent storm where destiny and death walk hand-in-hand with the secrets of an ancient past....

Coalescent

Xeelee: Destiny's Children: Book 1

Stephen Baxter

George Poole isn't sure whether his life has reached a turning point or a dead end. At forty-five, he is divorced and childless, with a career that is going nowhere fast. Then, when his father dies suddenly, George stumbles onto a family secret: a sister he never knew existed. A twin named Rosa, raised in Rome by an enigmatic cult. Hoping to find the answers to the missing pieces of his life, George sets out for the ancient city.

Once in Rome, he learns from Rosa the enthralling story of their distant ancestor, Regina, an iron-willed genius determined to preserve her family as the empire disintegrates around her. It was Regina who founded the cult, which has mysteriously survived and prospered below the streets of Rome for almost two millennia. The Order, says Rosa, is her real family and, even if he doesn't realize it yet, it is George's family, too. When she takes him into the vast underground city that is the Order's secret home, he feels a strong sense of belonging, yet there is something oddly disturbing about the women he meets. They are all so young and so very much alike.

Stephen Baxter possesses one of the most brilliant minds in modern science fiction. His vivid storytelling skills have earned him comparison to the giants of the past: Clarke, Asimov, Stapledon. Like his great predecessors, Baxter thinks on a cosmic scale, spinning cutting-edge scientific speculation into pure, page-turning gold. Now Baxter is back with a breathtaking adventure that begins during the catastrophic collapse of Roman Britain and stretches forward into an unimaginably distant, war-torn future, where the fate of humanity lies waiting at the center of the galaxy....

The Integral Trees

The State: Book 2

Larry Niven

"Niven has come up with an idea about as far out as one can get.... This is certainly classic science fiction-the idea is truly the hero." -Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine

When leaving Earth, the crew of the spaceship Discipline was prepared for a routine assignment. Dispatched by the all-powerful State on a mission of interstellar exploration and colonization, Discipline was aided (and secretly spied upon) by Sharls Davis Kendy, an emotionless computer intelligence programmed to monitor the loyalty and obedience of the crew. But what they weren't prepared for was the smoke ring-an immense gaseous envelope that had formed around a neutron star directly in their path. The Smoke Ring was home to a variety of plant and animal life-forms evolved to thrive in conditions of continual free-fall. When Discipline encountered it, something went wrong. The crew abandoned ship and fled to the unlikely space oasis.

Five hundred years later, the descendants of the Discipline crew living on the Smoke Ring no longer remember their origins. Earth is more myth than memory, and no recollection of the State remains. But Kendy remembers. And just outside the Smoke Ring, Discipline waits patiently to make contact with its wayward children.

Humans

The Neanderthal Parallax: Book 2

Robert J. Sawyer

Robert J. Sawyer, the award-winning and bestselling writer, hits the peak of his powers in Humans, the second book of The Neanderthal Parallax, his trilogy about our world and parallel one in which it was the Homo sapiens who died out and the Neanderthals who became the dominant intelligent species. This powerful idea allows Sawyer to examine some of the deeply rooted assumptions of contemporary human civilization dramatically, by confronting us with another civilization, just as morally valid, that has made other choices. In Humans, Neanderthal physicist Ponter Boddit, a character you will never forget, returns to our world and to his relationship with geneticist Mary Vaughan, as cultural exchanges between the two Earths begin.

As we see daily life in another present-day world, radically different from ours, in the course of Sawyer's fast-moving story, we experience the bursts of wonder and enlightenment that are the finest pleasures of science fiction. Humans is one of the best SF novels of the year, and The Neanderthal Parallax is an SF classic in the making.

The Smoke Ring

The State: Book 3

Larry Niven

In the free-fall environment of the Smoke Ring, the descendants of the crew of the Discipline no longer remembered their Earth roots -- or the existence of Sharls Davis Kendy, the computer-program despot of the ship. Until Kendy initiated contact once more.

Fourteen years later, only Jeffer, the Citizens Tree Scientist, knew that Kendy was still watching -- and waiting. Then the Citizens Tree people rescued a family of loggers and learned for the first time of the Admiralty, a large society living in free fall amid the floating debris called the Clump. And it was likely that the Admiralty had maintained, intact, Discipline's original computer library.

Exploration was a temptation neither Jeffer nor Kendy could resist, and neither Citizens Tree nor Sharls Davis Kendy would ever be the same again...

Rogue Moon

SF Rediscovery: Book 4

Algis Budrys

During all recorded history, the Moon has hovered above our heads, a timeless symbol for lovers' ecstasy. Goddesses and Gibson Girls have tripped the light fantastic of her beams while sonneteers and scientists have scanned her changing phases.

Now man had actually reached the Moon, and on it the explorers found a structure, a formation so terrible and incomprehensible that it couldn't even be described in human terms. It was a thing that devoured men; that killed them again and again in torturous, unfathomable ways.

Earthbound are the only two men who could probe the thing: Al Barker, a homicidal maniac, whose loving mistress was death, and Dr. Edward Hawks, a scientific murderer, whose greatest mission was rebirth.

Probability Space

The Probability Trilogy: Book 3

Nancy Kress

Nancy Kress cemented her reputation in SF with the publication of her multiple-award-winning novella, "Beggars in Spain," which became the basis for her extremely successful Beggars Trilogy (comprising Beggars in Spain, Beggars and Choosers, and Beggars Ride).

And now she brings us Probability Space, the conclusion of the trilogy that began with Probability Moon and then Probability Sun, which is centered on the same world as Kress's Nebula Award-winning novelette, "Flowers of Aulit Prison." The Probability Trilogy has already been widely recognized as the next great work by this important SF writer.

In Probability Space, humanity's war with the alien Fallers continues, and it is a war we are losing. Our implacable foes ignore all attempts at communication, and they take no prisoners. Our only hope lies with an unlikely coalition: Major Lyle Kaufman, retired warrior Marbet Grant, the Sensitive who's involved with Kaufman Amanda, a very confused fourteen-year-old girl and Magdalena, one of the biggest power brokers in all of human space.

As the action moves from Earth to Mars to the farthest reaches of known space, with civil unrest back home and alien war in deep space, four humans--armed with little more than an unproven theory--try to enter the Fallers' home star system. It's a desperate gamble, and the fate of the entire universe may hang in the balance.

A Gift from Earth

Known Space: Book 3

Larry Niven

Plateau, a colony in the Tau Ceti system, was settled by humans some 300 years before the plot begins. The colony world itself is a Venusian type planet with a dense, hot, poisonous atmosphere. It would be otherwise uninhabitable, except for a tall monolithic mesa that rises 40 miles up into a breathable layer in the upper atmosphere. This gives the planet a habitable area about half the size of California. The Captain of the first colony vessel named the feature Mount Lookitthat (from his interjection at first sight of it), and the colony became known as Plateau.

After landing the slower-than-light ships, the Crew sign an agreement, called the Covenant of Planetfall, with their former passengers (who had just emerged from suspended animation and were in a weak bargaining position). This agreement gives the Crew (and their descendants in perpetuity) all control over the new colony. A system of medical care evolves, in which organ transplantation is the only method of treatment, even for cosmetic defects (such as baldness); a justice system evolves, with all crimes punishable by death, followed by involuntary donation of the decedent's transplantable organs (including skin, scalp, and teeth). Not surprisingly, only Colonists are ever arrested for crimes; and only Crew are eligible to receive transplants. Some Colonists become dissatisfied with the system and form a dissident group called the "Sons of Earth."

3001: The Final Odyssey

Space Odyssey: Book 4

Arthur C. Clarke

One thousand years after the Jupiter mission to explore the mysterious Monolith had been destroyed, after Dave Bowman was transformed into the Star Child, Frank Poole drifted in space, frozen and forgotten, leaving the supercomputer HAL inoperable. But now Poole has returned to life, awakening in a world far different from the one he left behind--and just as the Monolith may be stirring once again . . .

Forever Free

Forever War: Book 3

Joe Haldeman

William Mandela is a genetic throwback, one of the small group of humans who fought and survived the Forever War. They returned to find humanity has evolved into a group mind called Man. Surrounded by a society that is too autocratic and intrusive, living a dull existence which cannot compare to the certainties of combat and feeling increasingly alienated, the veterans plan an escape to the future by means of space travel and relativity. But when their ship starts to fail, their journey becomes a search for the Unknown, the elusive entity responsible.

A Case of Conscience

After Such Knowledge: Book 3

James Blish

Father Ruiz-Sanchez is a dedicated man--a priest who is also a scientist, and a scientist who is also a human being. He has found no insoluble conflicts in his beliefs or his ethics... until he is sent to Lithia. There he comes upon a race of aliens who are admirable in every way except for their total reliance on cold reason; they are incapable of faith or belief.

Confronted with a profound scientific riddle and ethical quandary, Father Ruiz-Sanchez soon finds himself torn between the teachings of his faith, the teachings of his science, and the inner promptings of his humanity. There is only one solution: He must accept an ancient and unforgivable heresy--and risk the futures of both worlds...

Sandworms of Dune

Dune Sequels: Book 2

Brian Herbert
Kevin J. Anderson

At the end of Frank Herbert's final novel, Chapterhouse: Dune, a ship carrying a crew of refugees escapes into the uncharted galaxy, fleeing from a terrifying, mysterious Enemy. The fugitives used genetic technology to revive key figures from Dune's past--including Paul Muad'Dib and Lady Jessica--to use their special talents to meet the challenges thrown at them.

Based directly on Frank Herbert's final outline, which lay hidden in two safe-deposit boxes for a decade, Sandworms of Dune will answer the urgent questions Dune fans have been debating for two decades: the origin of the Honored Matres, the tantalizing future of the planet Arrakis, the final revelation of the Kwisatz Haderach, and the resolution to the war between Man and Machine. This breathtaking new novel in Frank Herbert's Dune series has enough surprises and plot twists to please even the most demanding reader.

Lockstep

Lockstep: Book 1

Karl Schroeder

When seventeen-year-old Toby McGonigal finds himself lost in space, separated from his family, he expects his next drift into cold sleep to be his last. After all, the planet he's orbiting is frozen and sunless, and the cities are dead. But when Toby wakes again, he's surprised to discover a thriving planet, a strange and prosperous galaxy, and something stranger still - that he's been asleep for 14,000 years.

Welcome to the Lockstep Empire, where civilization is kept alive by careful hibernation. Here cold sleeps can last decades and waking moments mere weeks. Its citizens survive for millenia, traveling asleep on long voyages between worlds. Not only is Lockstep the new center of the galaxy, but Toby is shocked to learn that the Empire is still ruled by its founding family: his own.

Toby's brother Peter has become a terrible tyrant. Suspicious of the return of his long-lost brother, whose rightful inheritance also controls the lockstep hibernation cycles, Peter sees Toby as a threat to his regime. Now, with the help of a lockstep girl named Corva, Toby must survive the forces of this new Empire, outwit his siblings, and save human civilization.

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.