A stunning new companion series to 2001 A SPACE ODYSSEY from the world’s most important SF writer and his acknowledged heir 1885, the North West Frontier. Rudyard Kipling is witness to a bizarre encounter between the British army and what appears to be an impossibly advanced piece of Russian technology. And then to a terrifying intervention by a helicopter from 2037. Before the full impact of this extraordinary event has even begun to sink in, Kipling, his friends and the helicopter crew stumble across Alexander the Great’s army. Mankind’s time odyssey has begun. It is a journey that will see Alexander avoid his premature death and carve out an Empire that expands from Carthage to China, beating the time-slipped army of Ghenghis Khan in a battle outside the ruins of Babylon in the process. And it will present mankind with two devastating truths. Aliens are amongst us and have been manipulating our past and our future. And that future extends only as far as 2037, for that is the date Earth will be destroyed. This is SF that spans countless centuries and carries cutting edge ideas on time travel and alien intervention. It shows two of the genre’s masters at their groundbreaking best.
Time drifted onto the ruin of the Galactic Federation. The centuries rolled over the wars of the first part of the new millennium, laying their patina of forgetfulness over the adventures of the survivors of the expedition to the Forever Planet. Only in the memory banks of lost and ruined computers was there a record of the withering piece of time, hung in its weird universe, poised in a matrix of forever, which had waited eons to release its makers from their imprisonment on a planet which was their plaything, workshop, laboratory and engine. No one returned to the planet of the Timepivot. Not of his own volition.
The alien ruins that dotted Earth’s landscape were an enigma. Archaeologist Rond Heshke dismissed as a ridiculous hoax the photographic evidence which suggested that the ruins disobeyed the laws of time. The Titanium Legions believed that the ruins had been left behind by an invading force from space, which had been repelled in a past age and whose imminent return was feared. It was not until the Titanium scientists perfected their time machines that the truth began to emerge piece by piece: that the builders of the ruins belonged not to the stars but to Earth’s own future, and that the dreaded confrontation was indeed shortly due – not with aliens, but in a form more horrifying, more calamitous, than anything imaginable… For Earth was to be the victim of an extraordinary cosmic accident. Time itself was about to collide! Mankind’s leaders became even more fanatical, pressing on with new plans, determined at all costs to survive…
The Hammer of God is vintage Clarke: superb storytelling, authentic science, and wonderful vignettes of life in the twenty-second century on Earth, the Moon, Mars – and in space. ‘The Hammer of God’, the short story on which this novel is based, first appeared in Time magazine in the autumn of 1992. It was only the second piece of fiction ever to appear in the magazine – the first having been Alexander Solzhenitsyn.
Rudolf Mallory was one of the many pathetic pieces of human flotsam on the tide of the 20th-century neurosis. He was a man who had reached the end of his rope, death seemed pleasant by comparison… He tried to take the easy way out, but something went wrong. Unknown to Mallory other men had problems too. Separated by vast distances of time and space, Rumal, citizen of an advanced humanoid society, with a strangely different technology had also decided to end it all… Time and Space are almost perfect but rare warps and blemishes do exist in the continuum. They can produce peculiar events. The Englishman from 1963 suddenly found himself on the other side of the galaxy. Rumal found himself in England. They had been unable to solve their own problems – could they solve each other’s?
Dr. Cranley is sentenced to exile in space for murdering a rival scientist, and swears revenge… Later, across the world people suddenly start behaving like lunatics, culminating in their being gripped by hysterical laughter until they collapse-dead. It becomes known as the Laughing Plague. Eventually it is learned that the Earth has crossed the path of a spatial cloud of gas that was the result of an ancient cataclysm that blew the one-time moon of Venus to pieces, leaving its poison atmosphere free in space. Then, radio messages are received from Dr. Cranley, now domiciled and living on Venus. He offers to send a Venusian antidote to save humanity. But can he be trusted?
The filth and the fury… During the long, hot summer of 1976 sixteen year-old Rob Swann decides to kill himself. Then, on a tinny transistor radio, he hears the Sex Pistols for the first time and it changes everything. Over a quarter of a century later, Rob is a man with a colourful past. Ex-punk, drug addict, gangster and jailbird, he has finally put his troubled life behind him and is enjoying a settled, law-abiding, carefree existence. Then one day he meets and befriends the enigmatic Suzi – at which point everything begins to unravel. Who is Suzi? Simply a vindictive young woman or some vengeful phantom from his past. And who or what is not merely taking his life apart piece by piece, but undermining his memories, seemingly punishing him for past misdemeanours which he cannot even recall? As he is pulled ever deeper into a murky underworld he thought he had long ago managed to leave behind, Rob is haunted not only by the fact that nothing is what it seems, but also by the horrifying prospect that he himself is not, nor ever was, the person he believed himself to be.
This collection by Lucius Shepard, one of the most exciting new writers to emerge in the 1980s, includes the eponymous story ¿Barnacle Bill the Spacer¿, about an attempted mutiny on a space station, which won the Hugo Award, as well as ¿Sports in America¿, about a man who finds out just how far he is willing to go when he is hired by a local crime boss to kill a man. In ¿All the Perfumes of Araby¿ a small-time smuggler is granted a vision of the future that compels him to change his life, while ¿Human History¿ is a post-apocalyptic adventure story with a hint of decadence. ¿The Sun Spider¿ is a romance of sorts, with a decidedly gothic twist, while in ¿Beast of the Heartland¿, a boxer at the end of his career is lured back into the ring with the promise of one last big payoff. And anyone who has ever completely lost themselves in a piece of music will recognise the inspiration for ¿A Little Night Music¿. Shepard’s stories are not just wonderfully three-dimensional characters dealing with life-changing events; they are filled with colours, textures, sounds and smells, as he describes his backgrounds with as much care as a master painter.
There is a landscape between reality and dreams, a strange and primitive country that exists upon the edge of our waking world. Michael Whitlock knows that country well. His best friend lives there… It beings with a scatter of earth, thrown over the infant by unseen hands, a haunting attack that is repeated day after day, culminating with an explosive fall of mud that nearly kills the boy. And found in those tons of raw, wet earth: flints, chalk artefacts, and remains of a primitive shrine and the dismembered carcase of a hunting dog. The Whitlocks’ house, in the Kentish Weald, stands near a chalk-pit, and it is here that their son, Michael creates his preculiar imaginary world, making his camp by the pile of grave-earth from that early attack. Unaware of what is happening to him, the boy touches and uses the strange force that now ebbs and flows in the pit, And when the haunting returns, this time it is more subtle, almost wonderful in its secutive nature. Torn between a fear of the supernatural and greed for the results of Michael’s power, his adoptive parents are helpless. It is left to Françoise Jeury, a psyhic investigator, to piece together the bizarre truth of th epit and the shrine and the oddly silent boy.
I am called Jinian Footseer by some. By some, Jinian Star-Eye. And by some, the Wizard Jinian. One or two call me Dervish Daughter. On thinking it over, I decided I had been right all along. Everything I had told Peter was true. All the evidence pointed in one way and one way only. I felt as I had felt so long ago, travelling toward Bleer with Peter, when he put the clues to a mystery in my hands and asked me to make sense of it. Now, as then, all the pieces were in my hands, or my head. The great flitchhawk who had granted me a boon in Chimmerdong, and the d’bor wife, and the gobblemole. The story of Lite Star and the Daylight Bell. The Oracle. The Eesties. Yellow crystals and blue, separated by a thousand years of time. My illness in Chimmerdong, the diagnoses of Bartelmy of the Ban, the Dervish, my mother. All these. No matter how I turned them, there was no other explanation. Could anything be done?