The Iralians were humanoid and techically free citizens of the Galactic Empire. But as slaves they were prized above all others, for they had the unique capacity to transmit acquired knowledge through heredity. And so when the space mercenary Wanderer was hired by GLASS (Galactic League for the Abolition and Supression of Slavery) to take a cargo of Iralians home it was going to be a simple task! For one thing, they’d be hunted by interstellar slavers for their priceless passengers. For another, the Iralians themselves had other ideas which included mutiny and high treason. And for the third and worst, they were too close to the Horsehead Nebula, whose capacity for warping time, space and the dimensions was a permanent Red Alert for all spacecraft.
The Wide syndrome It is the not-too-distant future. The space colony Lagrangia, on the moon’s orbit, is an idyllic utopia of parks, mountains, streams and blue skies. Lulled by its beauty, citizens can sometimes forget that the ‘stream’ are recycled water, and the ‘blue skies’ are titanium strips bound together. But there are a few who can never forget. There are the victims of the Wide syndrome – a terrifying form of contagious, claustrophobic madness that can strike anyone – at any time – on Lagrange Five.
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?
Lila Makindi grows up in East Africa in a peaceful and harmonious 22nd century world, which has succeeded our own age of extravagance, environmental damage, and warfare. Its citizens know that the Space Communications Administration, better known as Bardo, is guiding the planet benevolently, thanks to contact with wise aliens by means, not of grandiose spaceships, but of psychic travel powered by the sexual techniques of tantric yoga. Wonderfully, Lila is chosen for psychic starflight. But she discovers that in reality mental starflight is spinning a web of protection around the world to safeguard the human race from a malign alien energy force, the Starbeast. Yet is this the true reality? Only when Lila travels to Tibet does she discover the actual, unexpected purpose behind Bardo.
‘One citizen of your planet shall go to the capital of the Federation of Worlds. He shall live there for thirty days. If your representative can survive and demonstrate his ability to exist in a civilized society with creatures whose outward appearance and manner of thinking differ from his own, you will pass the test. You will be permitted to send your starships to other planets of the galaxy. ‘If he fails the test, if prejudice, fear, intolerance or stupidity trip him up, then you world will be sealed of from the stars for ever!’ This was the ultimatum from space. The task before the world then was – who shall go? What man or woman could be found to take this frightening test for the whole of humanity and be certain not to fail? (First published 1961)
The Fluger was five meters long, had four thick legs, a body of impenetrable molecular density and numerous teeth capable of chewing diamonds into powder. It was four hundred massive kilos of violence, savagery and hatred. When the Fluger arrived as unlisted cargo in the enclosed city of Olympus, it launched itself on a murderous rampage which couldn’t be halted. It presented that terrified utopian community with the problem of how to stop an irresistible force. The only answer seemed to be a hired alien assassin – an outer-space humanoid about whom the citizens of Olympus knew next to nothing except that he was a professional killer who would not quit until his job was done. But when the irresistible force met the immovable object they turned that fragile city in the sky into a raging battlefield, and their ‘savior’ looked to become as much of a menace as his monster counterpart.
To Paul Clayton, obscure shipping clerk, his forty-fifth birthday was not an occasion for celebration. It meant the achievement of status of Senior Citizen, and with it several dubious privileges – not least of which was voluntary euthanasia, facilitated by the government issue suicide pill. Those who changed their minds, once they had broken the capsule containing the lethal pill, faced the prospect of forced labor camps in the Australian desert of the penal colony on Mars, where convicts toiled to make more space fit for Earth’s over-spilling populations. Under the supervision of the corrupt and brutal Mars Corps, Clayton crosses paths again with others he once knew on distant Earth. They find themselves caught up on a maelstrom of terror and political intrigue.
At first it was just another hoax, another UFO story, but the sightings went on increasing. It couldn’t be an alien, there had been so many false alarms, dramatic news-columnists had shouted ‘wolf’ so many times, that John Citizen shrugged his shoulders and said ‘nuts’ at the very mention of the word space-ship. Then one of them landed… The things they did were not exactly friendly. In fact by the time they’d finished, they had made an old-time Viking raid seem like a social call from the vicar… Many other attacks followed. Day after day and night after night the alien ships screamed in on their mission of death. The earth struck back. But no one could track the aliens to their lair. They seemed to come from Nowhere. They weren’t Martians. They weren’t Venusians, and they weren’t from another system. That left only one place where they could have originated… yet the truth was so fantastic that none of the earth governments would take it seriously until it was almost too late. The enemy came from within! From the gigantic caverns at the earth’s core.