When suddenly all the fissionable material on Earth was exploded, Earthmen had their first notice of the aliens’ arrival. And by the time the panic, death and chaos had been sorted out, reports were coming in about mysterious cities scattered across the face of the planet – huge areas of flickering light and awesome free energy, disorienting to human senses and impregnable to attack. The question was: were they alien bases . . . or something else?
A small cube of black rock has been unearthed in a 3500-year-old Mycenaean tomb. An incomprehensible object in an impossible place; its age, its purpose, and its origins are unknown. Its discovery has unleashed a global storm of intrigue, theft andespionage, and is pushing nations to the brink of war. Its substance has scientists baffled. And the miracle it contains does not belong on this Earth. It is mystery and madness — an enigma with no equal in recordedhistory. It is mankind’s greatest discovery … and worst nightmare. It may have already obliterated a world. Ours is next.
Ten years in the service of Kublai Kahn…Marco, Niccolo, and Maffeo Polo have seen magic and miracles, and accumulated riches beyond their dreaming. But now all they want is to return to their beloved Venice. Alas – as the only Westerners in the glittering Mongol court, they are high favourites with the Khan of Khans. And before he will allow them to leave, they must undertake one strange, final quest. Kublai is beginning to suffer the ravages of old age. Tales have reached him of a mysterious princess who sleeps forever, yet remains forever young, unaging…Surely she has the secret of immortality. Bring me the princess, he tells the Polos, and you are free!
More even than space travel, the Stileman Process had altered twenty-first century life. The most complex of medical miracles, it ensured that every ten years or so, the ailing aging body could be restored to youthful vigour and health. There was a catch of course. The cost. Every ten years or so you have to come up with £1,000,000 minimum or die. For Dallas Barr, one of the oldest men on earth, it was that time again. It was while he was casting around for that vital next million that he came across Maria, a woman from – literally – a previous life. And made two major discoveries. Not all Stileman ‘immortals’ were born – or created – the same. And someone is trying to kill them. All of them.
It is hard to say how it started – all the unexplained little signs of a new baby about the house in ‘The Silent Cradle’ – but soon none of the O’Bannons could deny that there had been a highly irregular addition to the family. In ‘Max Haunting’ a middle-aged hippie, preserved almost intact from the Sixties, starts showing up on the doorsteps of his old friends and loves who, in acquiring jobs and furniture, have ‘sold out’ rather less than he thought. Hauntings of curious varieties continue in other stories: the sort manufactured out of glass by a man who thinks his godly wife deserves a miracle; the visitation of a mother’s cruelty into the mind of her daughter as she confronts the frustrations of coping with her own child; the specters of opportunities lost or spurned which nag to be laid, like ghosts. Elsewhere Leigh Kennedy considers the impulse of cannibalism in a future world whose greed has induced ecological upheaval, and the phenomenon of speaking in tongues as investigated by a sociology professor. She views the world through the eyes of a victim of seizures and of a primatologist whose devotion to apes has gone a bit too far.
From the vaults of the SF Gateway, the most comprehensive digital library of classic SFF titles ever assembled, comes an ideal introduction to one of the unique voices of British science fiction, John Middleton Murry, Jr, who wrote his best work under the pen name Richard Cowper. The son of the famous critic John Middleton Murry, Cowper announced himself to the science fiction world in 1967 with BREAKTHROUGH, which found favour for a subtlety and richness of characterisation not seen in most contemporary SF. The idea of a transformed future England became his signature leitmotif and it is this theme that informs the Corlay tales contained in this omnibus. This is the complete Corlay sequence, featuring introductory novella ‘PIPER AT THE GATES OF DAWN’ and novels THE ROAD TO CORLAY, A DREAM OF KINSHIP and A TAPESTRY OF TIME. THE ROAD TO CORLAY: On the Eve of the Fourth Millennium a slowly-building civilization, struggling out of the rubble of the Drowning, was crushed beneath the sceptre of a powerful and repressive Church. But on the Eve of the Fourth Millennium the sound of a magical pipe was heard, and the air was filled with songs of freedom and enlightenment. And on the Eve of the Fourth Millennium the Boy appeared, bringing the gift of sacrilege, a harbinger of the future, heralding the arrival of the White Bird of Dawning. It is the coming of a New Age. A glorious future bearing the presents of the past! A DREAM OF KINSHIP: They came to destroy! The treacherous Falcons, uniformed in the black leather tunics of the fanatic Secular Arm, descended on Corlay to burn and kill. Commanded by Lord Constant, ruler of the Seven Kingdoms, they were determined to crush the religious heresy of Kinship. But a new dream rose from the ashes… When four Kinsmen escaped the carnage of their beloved land, each helped to fulfill the miracle that had been foretold: the coming of the Child of the Bride of Time. A TAPESTRY OF TIME: Twenty years have passed since the martyrdom of the Boy-piper at York, twenty years in which his legacy, the movement of Kinship, has challenged the tyranny of the Church Militant in Britain’s seven island kingdoms. Now his namesake, Tom, bearing the Boy’s own pipes and perhaps himself imbued with the spirit of the White Bird, is wandering Europe in company with the girl, Witchet. But disaster overtakes them and Tom, in a furry of vengeance, breaks his vow of Kinship. A terrible path lies before him, one that transcends his own world. As he travels it, Tom must come to understand the true nature of the wild White Bird, of The Bride of Time and her Child, and of the Song the Star Born sang.