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 …”
Earth has been under alien domination by strange winged creatures for centuries. They keep the population severely limited and isolated; humans may only meet at occasional matings. The account of the resistance to the aliens, set largely in a beautifully evoked Oceania, is taut, superbly written, and given a very surprising final twist.
From mighty Canopus, capital of the Federated Stars, to the outer fringes of our great galaxy, the Interstellar Patrol was on the watch. Rogue suns, marauding alien intelligences, man-made comets driven by their makers for the conquest of unsuspecting worlds, diabolical conspiracies hatched in the depths of unmapped nebulae – it was the business of the Patrol’s mighty spaceships to guard against such cosmic dangers.
Crashing Suns is the epic account of this future space legion, where volunteers from a thousand worlds man the mighty starcraft of a hundred thousand years to come.
Between the lines of the official histories of the frontier worlds of the 29th Century lie myriad confidential accounts of the boners, near-catastrophes, and interstellar crises that were bound to occur when human meets non-human. The adventures of CDC (Corps Diplomatique Terra) diplomat Jame Retief loom large in six highly classified missions where brain and brawn save land and lives despite red-tape bound superiors amid conspiracy and conflict across alien planets – guaranteed astounding, amazing, startling, galactic, weird, and thrillingly wonderful.
An extraordinary collection of short stories from the award-winning author of Sarah Canary. Including “Praxis”, the story about a theater where the real and unreal collide; “The Poplar Street Study”, Fowler’s darkly comic account of an alien invasion; and “The Gates of Ghosts”, in which a child journeys to a strange and deadly world, this anthology of 13 tales also features a new foreword by the author.
The lake was full of artificial things – The Poplar Street study – Face value – The dragon’s head – The war of the roses – Contention – Recalling Cinderella – Other planes – The gate of ghosts – The bog people -Wild boys: variations on a theme – The view from Venus – Praxis
Man is an intelligent mammal. His intelligence lies in his brain. In mammals the tissues of the central nervous system are irreplaceable. The human brain contains something like 100,000,000,000,000 neurons, but 100,000 are destroyed on average each day of a man’s life. Cosmic rays and general internal and external radioactivity account for most of this destruction.
Hunger and Gradey decided on an illegal experiment. They brought up a small group of children in a strange artificial setting where there was practically no radiation. The setting was improved. The environment grew more shielded as generations passed. At last the Thinkers exploded into a world that had not dreamed of their existence. The world was facing other complications at the moment. An alien had appeared from the other side of the cosmos! Humanity was faced with two potentially deadly enemies; could they be turned against each other, or was one a secret friend?
Both “Drink Me, Francesca” and “Out There Where the Big Ships Go” examine – in differing but related ways – humanity’s first encounter with other intelligent life, and its inevitable profound consequences. In the former, one member of an interstellar expeditionary force is drawn into communion with an intangible, superior being; in the latter an astronaut, believed long dead, returns to Earth bringing with him an alien game whose subtleties the human race must master in order to show itself worthy of membership in the galactic community.
“The Attleborough Poltergeist” is an eerie account of an apparently paranormal phenomenon which proves to have an even stranger scientific explanation, while the long title story is a surprising – and successful – departure: a full-blooded, adventurous fantasy reminiscent of Rider Haggard. A Victorian Army officer, doing surveying work in Asia Minor, stumbles upon a hidden valley in a remote mountain range. There he discovers a cult whose members literally tend and spin the loom of human destiny, and who await his long-predicted arrival to fulfil a strange and unexpected role in their society.