The Earth’s population was more than eight billion. One day they were there, the next they were gone – all except the guests at a family birthday party, a small tribe of American Indians, and, of course, the robots. Technology disintegrated, the Indians went back to nature, and the rest developed new and extraordinary powers. As for the robots, some went to live with the remnants of humanity, others gathered in their own community and commenced work on the Project, work which was baffling in all its fantastic electronic complexity. Then one day a traveller returned from the stars – and the idyllic existence of the last of Earth’s humans was threatened.
Once the great Glacier enclosed the Raumsdalian Empire. Now it’s broken open, and Count Hamnet Thyssen faces a new world. With the wisecracking Ulric Skakki, the neighboring clan leader Trasamund (politely addressed as Your Ferocity), and his lover, the shaman Liv, Hamnet leads an exploration of the new territory in hopes of finding the legendary Golden Shrine. But dangers abound. A violent and implacable group known as the Rulers has already killed many, and now they attack again. Riding deer and woolly mammoths and using powerful magic, the Rulers triumph and force the Raumsdalians to flee. In the spring another battle ends even more badly for Hamnet’s side, but the Glacier is also retreating, so they are able to escape. Meeting a tribe whose desperate living conditions have led them to overcome the Raumsdalian taboo against eating fallen foes, they find unexpected allies. Now, returning to the capital city and its intrigues, Hamnet prepares to lead an army against the merciless Rulers. The world, once so bounded and comprehensible, will never be the same…
In the summer of 1921, a disenchanted journalist escapes the rat race for a drive in the country. But Mr. Barnstaple’s trip exceeds his expectations when he and other motorists are swept 3,000 years into the future. The inadvertent time travelers arrive in a world that corresponds exactly to Barnstaple’s ideals: a utopian state, free of crime, poverty, war, disease, and bigotry. Unfettered by the constraints of government and organized religion, the citizens lead rich, meaningful lives, passed in pursuit of their creative fancies. Barnstaple’s traveling companions, however, quickly contrive a scheme to remake the utopia in the image of their twentieth-century world.
Men had fought wars throughout history, but never such a war as the one which destroyed the cities of earth and turned vast areas into badlands, stretches of intense radioactivity where nothing could grow and no one could live. It also produced the deviates, mutants who had warped bodies and strange talents. But there were others who had still stranger talents, mental powers exceeding those of the mutants, and whose bodies did not bear the sign of the deviate. Their origin could not be traced to an atomic war; even they themselves had no idea whence they came. Forced to take part in the abortive war between the Eastern and Western Federations, one man and one man eventually escaped and discovered creatures similar to themselves. But to discover their origin they had to go back five thousand years; and the answer lay not on earth, but somewhere in the stars.
In its hour of need, the Well World’s guardians had been neutralized. Nathan Brazil was shipwrecked on a desert island with a seemingly harmless girl but his contact with her had allowed his mind to be invaded, his will sapped, and his mission forgotten. Mavra Chang had been abducted by a vicious gang of inter-hex drug smugglers, and was now held prisoner by a revenge-mad creature who had surgically and genetically altered her into a bizarre form and made her a slave to powerful narcotics. But the Well could allow nothing to stop the guardian’s journey for long. For the Well of Souls was only a machine; it needed the Watchers to handle events and circumstances beyond its sophisticated programming. And so it set plans in motion to jolt its champions back into the game. The only other help Brazil and Chang could expect was from the companions who had been swept along to the Well World by accident or design. But the newcomers had been caught in a web of intrigue and deceit spun by the ruling council, a group desperate to stop both Brazil and Chang. What none of them could know was that all of them, even the great Well computer, were being manipulated by the Kraang, an entity more ancient than the universe itself, a being that would use the guardians to give it powers far beyond even those of the Well of Souls- a being that would become a living god…
Thomas Blades has been released from his time as God-King in the alternative world he fought and ruled over. His descendants rule and fight but he cannot bear to return and meddle in their lives.
Father Ramon Ruiz-Sanchez S.J., is a part of a four man scientific commission to the planet Lithia, there to study a harmonious society of aliens living on a planets which is a biologist’s paradise. He soon finds himself troubled: how can these perfect beings, living in an apparent Eden, have no conception of sin or God? If such a sinless Eden has been created apart from God, then who is responsible? Winner of the Hugo Award for best novel, 1959. New introduction by Ken MacLeod.
In the second century AD, a Greek nobleman is travelling and living abroad in Germany while carrying on an affair with a military man’s wife. When discovered, he takes an emergency business trip to save his life and packs amongst his belongings certain items that lead the people he encounters to think him a Norse God, a fortuitous point of view which he does little to dispel. Forced to keep up the pretence of being a god while staying one step ahead of his lover’s jealous husband, Photinus must juggle the severity of his situation with the enjoyment of being a God.
Barbaric customs and bizarre human cults are prserved on the planet Elsewhere. The rest of the universe has been taken over by the Hobbs Land Gods, which means that everyone alive, with the exception of the people on Elsewhere, lives in perfect harmony with nature and with each other. But Elsewhere is ruled by computer-encrypted professors who have been dead for a thousand years. The professors werededicated to maintaining human diversity. Their ancient analogs are dedicated to something far more sinister. The time has come to consider whether enslavement by the Hobbs Land Gods is not preferable to the depravity being cultivated on Elsewhere. The time has come to ask the Big Question: what is the Destiny of Man? And answer it . . .
Secretive, enigmatic beings, they came to Earth to live among humanity in quiet, aristocratic isolation. But now, after years of silence, the “gods” have decided to share their art. Across the vast galactic void come great ships bearing the fruits of an incomprehensible alien culture – paintings and sculpture of such raw, visceral power that their unveiling plunges the Earth into violent chaos, and sends the visitors fleeing from their adopted planet. But some remain behind – to face death at the hands of rampaging mobs, to witness the outcome of the grand cosmic game, and to assist in the creation of one last, potentially universe-shattering masterpiece that will illuminate the awesome, final destinies of god and man.