The universe is dying; at the End of Time the last remnants of Humanity live amoral lives of decadence, constantly seeking new diversions and sensations. So when Mrs Amelia Underwood is mysteriously transported to the End of Time Jharek Carnelian decides to fall in love with her, but when Amelia returns to her own period of history, Jherek follows her and finds himself plunged into the strange world of Victorian London.
Stranded on an alien planet, light years from home, wandering from blistering heat to searing cold, Nils Kruger was not a happy man. So when he met another being – even though it wasn’t human – things seemed to be looking up. The alien might be helpless, or it might be dangerous, but one thing was for sure – they stood a better chance for survival if they worked together. But as the two creatures overcame their mutual suspicion, as they worked together, as the language barrier was broken down, Nils came to a terrifying conclusion – this alien was more intelligent than a human. And to it, Nils was the alien.
Enter a decaying far, far future society, a time when anything and everything is possible, where words like ‘conscience’ and ‘morality’ are meaningless, and where heartfelt love blossoms mysteriously between Mrs Amelia Underwood, an unwilling time traveller, and Jherek Carnelian, a bemused denizen of the End of Time. The Dancers at the End of Time, containing the novels An Alien Heat, The Hollow Lands and The End of All Songs, is a brilliant homage to the 1890s of Wilde, Beardsley and the fin de siècle decadents, satire at its sharpest and most colourful.
Stephen Baxter’s epic sequence of Xeelee novels was introduced to a new generation of readers with his highly successful quartet, Destiny’s Children, published by Gollancz between 2003 and 2006. But the sequence of novels began with RAFT in 1991. From there it built into perhaps the most ambitious fictitious universe ever created. Beginning with the rise and fall of sub-quantum civilisations in the first nano-seconds after the Big Bang and ending with the heat death of the universe billions of years from now the series charts the story of mankinds epic war against the ancient and unknowable alien race the Xeelee. Along the way it examines questions of physics, the nature of reality, the evolution of mankind and its possible future. It looks not just at the morality of war but at the morality of survival and our place in the universe. This is a landmark in SF.
The human race is in decline, is withdrawing into protective city shells. Could contact with civilised aliens revive the probing curiosity once the hallmark of human achievement? Are there any such beings in the Universe? If there are, can they be contacted? The beginnings of an answer, oddly enough, begins to form when Alex Craven sets out in search of his girlfriend Nicole and finds her working in the marshlands of the Angles. Reluctantly he becomes involved in her work. She is experimenting with empathic communication between twins. Eventually, accompanied by one of two particularly gifted twins, he leaves Earth for New Carthage. In that strange world a shadow-line civilisation is in perpetual slow motion to avoid the intolerable daytime heat. But what lies beyond the shadow line . . . ?
One night in October when he was ten years old, Tyler Dupree stood in his back yard and watched the stars go out. They all flared into brilliance at once, then disappeared, replaced by a flat, empty black barrier. He and his best friends, Jason and Diane Lawton, had seen what became known as the Big Blackout. It would shape their lives. The effect is worldwide. The sun is now a featureless disk – a heat source, rather than an astronomical object. The moon is gone, but tides remain. Not only have the world’s artificial satellites fallen out of orbit, their recovered remains are pitted and aged, as though they’d been in space far longer than their known lifespans. As Tyler, Jason, and Diane grow up, space probe reveals a bizarre truth: The barrier is artificial, generated by huge alien artifacts. Time is passing faster outside the barrier than inside – more than a hundred million years per day on Earth. At this rate, the death throes of the sun are only about forty years in our future. Jason, now a promising young scientist, devotes his life to working against this slow-moving apocalypse. Diane throws herself into hedonism, marrying a sinister cult leader who’s forged a new religion out of the fears of the masses. Earth sends terraforming machines to Mars to let the onrush of time do its work, turning the planet green. Next they send humans…and immediately get back an emissary with thousands of years of stories to tell about the settling of Mars. Then Earth’s probes reveal that an identical barrier has appeared around Mars. Jason, desperate, seeds near space with self-replicating machines that will scatter copies of themselves outward from the sun – and report back on what they find. Life on Earth is about to get much, much stranger.