Television experimenter Curtis Drew sets out to combine the X-ray with television to aid surgery. However, he discovers instead ‘pure’ television-invisible ‘Z-rays’ which have the potential to receive and record any situation-anywhere. Nothing is private any more. The secrets of the warlords, the immoralities of the masses, the hidden crimes all be lie exposed before the merciless, penetrating power of the invisible Z-ray. The invention could benefit humanity, yet to Drew it opens up more lucrative possibilities. He becomes a scientific ‘Peeping Tom’ and blackmailer, but when murder results, Scotland Yard becomes interested…
The stories within SECOND VARIETY were written between 1952 and 1955, while America was in the grip of McCarthyism. The concerns of the time are reflected in stories such as Second Variety, which tells of an endless war fought by ever more cunning and sophisticated robots, or Imposter where a man accused of being an alien spy finds his whole identity called into question. Using his marvellously varied, quirky and idiosyncratic style, Dick speaks up for ordinary people against militarism, paranoia and xenophobia.
One morning in 1995, Jonah Ransom, clothier, is going about his everyday business when he meets a beautiful demon in his storecupboard. At around the same time, the King of England with his entire court, vanishes abruptly before the astonished eyes of his public as he prepares to attend Mass. Even in an England where the Reformation failed, and magic has become a commonplace tool of the all-powerful Catholic Church, such events could be described as unusual. Before long, it is apparent that something very different is abroad – magic ceases to work in its accustomed way, instability and political unrest threaten to disrupt a society used to order and rigid social obedience. Eventually the Pope is sufficiently perturbed to send one of his beloved (by him) and dreaded (by the public in general) Sicarii to investigate the disturbance. Arriving late on the scene, Adam (he has no other name), Sicarii extraordinaire, sometime spy, sometime security officer, sometime assassin, discovers a mystifying, malicious power at work, a power that can twist not only souls, but his entire world inside out.
This book contains four striking novellas, and the author’s own philosophy of fiction writing expressed in her speech as a guest of honour at the 38th World Science Fiction Convention. “The Winter Beach” turns what might be a spy story into suspense of a far different order. “Julian” begins when its youthful hero trains his telescope on nearby earth rather than the stars and sees a woman who rules the rest of his life. “With Thimbles, with Forks and Hope” seems to be the dramatic story of a holiday fishing trip, but once on the ocean we are gripped by a different reality. “Moongate”, set in the mountains of the Northwest, takes its two men and one woman through many dimensions in time and space. “The Uncertain Edge of Reality” casts a new light on Kate Wilhelm’s many books and short stories. “This is my subject matter when I write,” she says. “I am asking, What actually do we mean by reality, and are we stuck with the one we have? This is what I mean by reality fiction, and usually it is also called science fiction…We are more than simple animals using sophisticated tools in our search for food, security and mates. We are something new on the earth…We can change reality.” Kate Wilhelm’s writing always has meaning on many levels. Listen, Listen provides a feasts for fans and new readers alike.
The year is 1610. Continental Europe is briefly at peace after years of war, but Henri IV of France is planning to invade the German principalities. In England, only five years earlier, conspirators nearly succeeded in blowing up King James I and his Parliament. The seeds of the English Civil War and the Thirty Years War are visibly being sown, and the possibility for both enlightenment and disaster abounds. But Valentin Rochefort, duelist and spy for France’s powerful financial minister, could not care less. Until he is drawn into the glittering palaces, bawdy back streets, and stunning theatrics of Renaissance France and Shakespearean London in a deadly plot both to kill King James I and to save him. For this swordsman without a conscience is about to find himself caught between loyalty, love, and blackmail, between kings, queens, politicians, and Rosicrucians, and the woman he has, unknowingly, crossed land and sea to meet.
What new menace was besieging mankind’s last refuge? The Earth had been stripped bare of the atmosphere and water, its surface left an airless and lifeless desert…except for America. A dome of energy had been erected around the U.S. in the nick of time and only within this vast transparent dome could men and women live in safety. Until the moment Barry Thane spotted a moving thing outside the dome! Something was there where only Death reigned. Something that was spying on the dome, trying to break in and destroy Earth’s last oasis! But what was it…and why? Barry’s single-handed struggle with the unknown, his own break-out into the outside world of airless terror, makes one of the most exciting novels that Jack Williamson, master of science fiction, has ever written.
Usually, Crosstime Traffic concerns itself with trade. Our world owns the secret of travel between parallel continuums, and we use it to trade for much-needed resources with the worlds next door; preferably without letting them know about any of that parallel-worlds stuff. But in one parallel world, Crosstime Traffic is present, not to trade, but to study what went wrong. In a Los Angeles where nuclear war broke out back in 1967, survival is a matter of neighbourhood versus neighbourhood. When the Westsiders block Sepulveda Pass, the inhabitants of the San Fernando Valley are forced to fight back. With the help of some prewar machine guns, the Valley prevails, and their forces occupy the Westside. In this brutal world, Liz and her family are undercover Crosstime Traffic agents living near the ruins of UCLA. Dan is a soldier in the occupying Valley army. Dan thinks Liz is the most impressive woman he’s ever met. Liz thinks she’d better avoid Dan if she wants to protect the mission. To complicate matters, when Dan catches Liz in the UCLA library, he fears she may be a spy for the Westsiders. After all, what reason could anyone have for reading about the Old Times, if not to figure out how to reconstruct old weapons systems? Then a real spy for the Westside government-in-exile shows up at Liz’s house…