They came out of the great abyss which lay around the Earth, from the planet of a star so distant that it could not be seen with the naked eye. Their purpose was survival and the conquest of Earth. They were alien and possessed a mysterious force which lay at the very origin of human comprehension; the ability to enter into a man’s mind, to make him think the thoughts they chose, to make him hear and see and feel the things they wanted. Against such a force there seemed no defence; for who could say that the man or woman by his side was not motivated by one of these creatures? Who could say that his own thoughts and senses belonged to him and not to some ‘thing’ seated in some alien way inside his brain?
There lived on Mars, 500,000 years ago, a race so intelligent, so superior to ours, that they knew the secret of everlasting life. They chose instead-to have one man come back to life exactly 500,000 years after his death! His reappearance in the Galaxy World was enough to set planet against planet, ideology against ideology, man against man, and life against death.
John Sladek explains the theme of the darkly comic stories in this wonderful collection: “The aliens here are human. This book contains no giant flying snails or telepathic octopods, no Ganymedean cat-women dressed in silver, no aggressive dugong chiefs roaming the galaxy in their pulsar-powered yo-yo ships. The aliens here are human aliens. Most of them work in ordinary offices, and they do not commute to work from Proximo Centauri, either. Yet these here humans are aliens. Office life attracts them …”
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.
The Ruml were highly intelligent creatures. They had an elaborate civilisation, advanced technology and a strict moral social code – moral according to their values. They had already over-run six worlds, exterminated the native life and colonised the planets. But an ordinary citizen of Earth, Jason Barchar, was able to penetrate the mind, think the thoughts, see the sights, feel the sensations of one of the Ruml. And on Jason depended the fate of the world – for the Ruml were preparing to invade Earth.
Lord Tedric of the Marshes, ex-Corpsman and interplanetary warrior, faces a crucial mission: to crush the threat of the Destructive Forces by capturing their agent on the Bioman sphere, the ruthless Black Knight Fra Villion Tedric’s crew are bound together by the strong loyalty of outcasts: Yod Cartwright, ex-pirate; Juvi, a prostitute turned expert pilor; Ky-shan the exiled Wykzl; Wilson, the renegade robot; and Pal Galmain, brave but banished Knight of the noble order of Vemplars. Tedric mjust warn the Bio,en that their castle is a gatewhile for the annihilation gathering in the grey depths of space, but who will believe the word of a barbarian against the lightning whipsword of Fra Villion?
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.
Life on the pioneer planet Orkol was harsh and lonely. Earth settlers found a civilisation of decay, a frustrating shortage of women, outdated machinery and plagues of vicious rodents. The dawn of the green suns gave only a thin eerie light. And the mineral Orkolite produced vibrations that could destroy a planet or shatter a human brain.
The Wasteland people, fighting to save the Earth, are being driven into the fearsome radioactive Firesands by the relentless advance of the Slavers. As Finn, Baer and the other warriors gather for a last great struggle the arrival of an alien spaceship reveals a new threat, even more deadly than the robot-like aliens. Finn is captures and enslaved within the mighty walls of the alien Citadel, the Slavers’ mountain fortress. Relying on nothing more than his uncanny wilderness instincts, he eventually escapes only to learn the devastating truth about the Slavers and their final plans for Earth and its people.
ALIEN DUST relates the first thirty-five years of the colonization of Mars. It is a poignant story of Man against Nature. No individual hero or heroine marches steadily through its pages. There is no triumphal ending-only faint hope. Instead, against a background of the shifting red sands of a planet unfit for human habitation, emerges the grim picture of pioneer men and women pitting their courage, wits and even lives against the biggest enemy in the Solar System-an alien planet. Rich and warm in human emotion, ALIEN DUST is one of those rare science fiction stories which presents Man in his true perspective-as the intruder.