What has happened to Aunt Violet? Helen Gamlen isn’t sure anything has, but when Martin Andras turns up unannounced on her doorstep one night, implying that her aunt has disappeared, she feels she should try to clear things up once and for all.
Martin’s interest in Violet’s fate is purely selfish: her house in Burnstone had belonged to his grandfather, who left it to his faithful housekeeper for her lifetime. When she dies it will return to Martin’s mother, and later, of course, to him.
But when Helen arrives on her aunt’s doorstep, she finds she isn’t the only person looking for a missing lady . . .
I saw her, hanging in the sky like a flake of the moon. A woman, her face masked by a black shireen, her body by a black shift, but her white arms spread, and her white, white, bone-white hair blowing all around her like a flame composed of smoke. Recognition was immediate. It was my mother. I shouted at her. It was crystal clear to me, what he had meant for me, my father, Vazkor, what she had robbed me of. And I drew from my belt my hunting knife and threw it at her heart.
Trullion – World 2262 of the Alastor Cluster – was a beautiful waterworld of fens, mists, idyllic islands set in clear oceans whose teeming richness provided food for the taking. The Trill were a carefree, easy-living race. But violence entered their lives during the raids of the galactic pirates known as the Starmenters. And there was also the planetwide game of hussade, when the Trill’s ferocious passion for gambling drove them to risk all – even life itself – on the hazardous water-chessboard gaming fields. Their prize? The virginal body of the beautifu sheirl-maiden, the body any Trill is willing to die for.
The Zardalu were the greatest menace ever known to the worlds of the spiral arm, enslaving entire races and exterminating others, guided by an unswerving belief in their own supremacy. Then their slaves rose up against them, and for eleven thousand years the Zardalu had been extinct and the spiral arm had known a kind of peace.
But now the Zardalu are back . . .
The search for the Builders, the legendary alien race whose unfathomable constructs continued to perplex scholars and explorers alike, had led Builder expert Darya Lang, adventurer Hans Rebka, and treasure hunters Louis Nenda and Atvar H’sial to an unknown Builder artifact far outside the spiral arm. There they found the Zardalu – just a few who had been trapped in stasis all those millennia, held there for purposes known only to the Builders. And in the struggle that ensued the Zardalu had been set loose, transported by Builder technology to to galactic parts unknown – free to ravage any world and any race within their grasp.
The only chance to eliminate the Zardalu threat was to find them and wipe them out before they had time to breed back up to strength and once again threaten civilized beings everywhere. The problem was that no one believed the story. Only Darya Land and her companions had actually seen the aliens – and no evidence existed to support their claims. And so the course seemed clear: get a ship themselves and search out the Zardalu.
But the way would not be easy. Even once they managed to locate the Zardalu, they still had the Builders to deal with. For the closer they got to their quarry, the more clear it became that the Zardalu and their world were closely entwined with the fate – and the plans – of the Builders themselves.
Journalist Hamish Hunter finds himself in possession of a film on which the fate of several people and the relations between two countries – Poland and Great Britain – depend. But who can he trust? His girlfriend, Wanda, daughter of a déraciné Polish count, whose loyalties are more complex than they seem? An old friend in the intelligence racket? The authorities?
Soon Hunter finds himself in desperation, hounded on all sides, and in a climax of nerve-racking suspense it becomes finally clear that no on is on any side but their own.
Tabaea was an ordinary thief, sneaking and prowling and stealing for a living. Then one night while burgling a house, she witnessed a wizard teaching his apprentice a spell – the creation of a magic dagger.
Tabaea decided to try the magic for herself. But even though she could feel the power rising around her as she went through the steps of the ritual, something had clearly gone wrong. The apprentice’s dagger had glowed; it had resisted attempts to pick it up; and there had been a blinding flash at the end of the ceremony.
But Tabaea’s dagger didn’t do any of those things. And it wouldn’t free her from bonds, or heal her wounds – it didn’t seem to be magical at all. It just turned black.
Then, by chance, Tabaea discovered that her dagger indeed had its own kind of unusal magic – a dark, powerful magic that promised invincibility to its bearer.
But magic can be dangerous even in the hands of an expert – and for Tabaea, magic and power could spell disaster . . .
Tedric the hero had become Tedric the pirate…
He looked at his strange companions: Philip Nolan, an aristocrat turned mutineer; Keller, a subman with canine ancestry; Ky-shan, a huge blue-furred alien; KT294578 Wilson, an extraordinary anarchist robot. A weird band of thieves.
But Tedric intended to use his crew for something more worthwhile than piracy. He had a plan to overthrow the tyrannical Carey family, the oppressors who controlled the Universe.
All the rights and wrongs of the situation were clear to Tedric…until Alyc Carey, beautiful, blind daughter of the megalomaniac Melor Carey, was taken prisoner. She seemed sympathetic to the revolutionary cause, and yet, Tedric was unsure of her…
Should he see her as a hostage…or a recruit?
The beautiful young daughter of a wealthy family is robbed of her money and jewels, and she herself disappears soon after… A young man fleeing a band of murderous hobos becomes the target of a lynch mob…
Frozen to silent rigidity, they sat straining every faculty to catch the minutest sound from the black void where the dead man lay. As they listened there came up to them, mingled with inexplicable footsteps, a hollow reverberation from the dank cellar – a hideous dragging of chains behind the nameless horror which had haunted them through the interminable eons of the ghastly night. Up, up it came toward the room at the head of the stairs where they huddled fearfully. They could now hear quite clearly what might have been the slow and ponderous footsteps of a heavy man dragging painfully across the rough floor. It stopped in front of their hideout and all was silent. Suddenly their rang out against the silence of the awful night a piercing shriek, and a great The Oakdale Affair force began to bend the flimsy door…
The death-stars had come, and they had kept on coming for hundreds of thousands of years, falling upon the Earth, swept upon it by a vagrant star that had passed through the outer reaches of the solar system. They brought with them a time of unending darkness and cold. It was an event that occured every twenty-six million years, and there was no turning it aside.
But all that was done with now. At last the death-stars had ceased to fall, the sky had cleared of dust and cinders, the sun’s warmth again was able to break through the clouds. The glaciers relinquished their hold on the land; the Long Winter ended; the New Springtime began. The world was born anew.
Now each year was warmer than the last. The fair seasons of spring and summer, long lost from the world, came again with increasing power. And the People, having survived the dark time in their sealed cocoons, were spreading rapidly across the fertile land. But others were already there. The hjjks, the somber cold-eyed insect-folk, had never retreated, even at the time of greatest chill. The world had fallen to them by default, and they had been its sole masters for seven hundred thousand years. They were not likely to share it gladly now . . .
In the year 2130 a mysterious spaceship, Rama, arrived in the solar system. It was huge – big enough to contain a city and a sea – and empty, apparently abandoned. By the time Rama departed for its next, unknown, destination many wonders had been uncovered, but few mysteries solved. Only one thing was clear: everything the enigmatic builders of Rama did, they did in threes.
Eighty years later the second alien craft arrived in the solar system. This time, Earth had been waiting. But all the years of preparation were not enough to unlock the Raman enigma.
Now Rama II is on its way out of the solar system. Aboard it are three humans, two men and a woman, left behind when the expedition departed. Ahead of them lies the unknown, a voyage no human has ever experienced. And at the end of it – and who could tell how many years away that might be? – may lie the truth about Rama…
Delilah was beautiful. Delilah was sexy. And Delilah was to blame for all of Ferdie Foxlee’s problems. She had let him down at the crucial moment by falling apart. Literally. And in pieces.
Her right eye popped, dangling on multicoloured cables. Her right breast spun around and flew off into the distance. As her fuses blew, her smile melted in a blaze of sparks.
As an expert in ectoplasmic electronic creations, Ferdie had clearly failed. But eepee experts – even one like Ferdie – are in very high demand. So when he panicked and ran, he ran into the waiting arms of the underworld…
Four people’s lives intertwine and collide in this early novel from one of the SF greats
San Francisco in the 1950s, a turning point in American culture: the rise of rock and roll and the teenage lifestyle. Jim Briskin is a disc jockey on radio KOIF. He’s still in love with his ex-wife, Pat – even though she’s about to marry someone else at the station – and she’s vacillating between them. But when he takes her to visit the desperate household of two of his teenage fans, she seduces the boy into abandoning his pregnant wife – who then claims Jim as her protector and support.
And all around them the cultural upheaval of postwar American society is manifest, by teenage outcasts who have a remote-controlled Nazi automobile they use to bump into the rich kids’ cars; by Thisbe Holt, the dancer who performs for conventioneers by stuffing herself inside a clear plastic bubble; by blaring used-car ads and the conflict between generations.
Dick gives us a vision of redemption tempered with layered ironies and a lot of real humour.
Greg Egan is arguably Australia’s greatest living science fiction writer. In a career spanning more than thirty years, he has produced a steady stream of novels and stories that address a wide range of scientific and philosophical concerns: artificial intelligence, higher mathematics, science vs religion, the nature of consciousness, and the impact of technology on the human personality. All these ideas and more find their way into this generous and illuminating collection, the clear product of a man who is both a master storyteller and a rigorous, exploratory thinker.
The Best of Greg Egan contains twenty stories and novellas arranged in chronological order, and each of them is a brilliantly conceived, painstakingly developed gem, including the Hugo Award-winning novella “Oceanic”, a powerful account of a boy whose deeply held religious beliefs are undermined by what he comes to learn about the laws of the physical world.
This book really does represent the best of Greg Egan, and it therefore takes its place among the best of contemporary SF. Startling, intelligent and always hugely entertaining, it provides an ideal introduction to one of the most accomplished and original writers working today. This is an important and provocative collection, and it deserves a place on the serious science fiction reader’s permanent shelf.
Edward Cadence was a brilliant man, and a dedicated scientist. He had invented Sensitape, a means of recording the thoughts and emotions of great musicians, religious figures, etc. so that others could experience at first-hand just what it was like to play a magnificent concerto, or to slip peacefully toward an untroubled death with the sure expectation that Heaven lies waiting. And he had added Sexitape, whereby people whose sex lives weren’t completely satisfying could experience everything that the most compatible couple in the world felt together.
For all this he was given the Nobel Prize, became enormously wealthy and famous.
But finally he set to work on the ultimate application of his experiments: Synthajoy. And when the enormity of this dehumanising process became clear, he was murdered.
While in Rome, art student Chuck Musgrave is offered a job painting pictures of Positano, a picturesque town south of Naples. When Chuck arrives in Positano, strange things begin to happen. It becomes clear that not all foreigners living in Positano are there for the scenery!