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.
Humans first reached out to the stars travelling at a painfully slow sublight crawl – then they found the Bose network, which allowed ships to jump instantaneously from one node in the galactic arm to another. Once in the Network they found the Artifacts: enigmatic structures, millions of years old, left by a vanished race. Incomprehensible to both human ad non-human minds, the Artifacts seemingly defy natural law. Now, after millions of years, a new Artifact has appeared – and previously discovered Artifacts are showing strange changes in their inexplicable activities. When a motley crew of human and alien scientists and adventurers set out to examine still more Artifacts, they should have considered the fat that some changes are more dangerous than others…
The great wizard Nabal’s death offers many opportunities, both for those who knew him and those who did not. For young conmen Ezak and Kel, it means a chance to loot the wizard’s estate… if they can win the confidence of Nabal’s widow, Dorna. But Dorna has plans of her own. She means to leave the tiny village for a better life in the city. And all of Nabal’s wizardly artifacts and talismans will pay for that new life – if she can only get them there intact!
A Star Above It and Other Stories is volume 1 of a collection of Chad Oliver’s SF, containing the following: Blood’s a Rover The Land of Lost Content The Ant and the Eye Artifact Any More At Home Like You? Rewrite Man The Edge of Forever The Boy Next Door A Star Above It The Mother of Necessity Night Technical Advisor Between the Thunder and the Sun The One That Got Away Transfusion Guardian Spirit The Gift To Whom It May Concern A Stick for Harry Eddington Old Four-Eyes
On the poisonous, icy surface of Ganymede, a man and a boy are on a deadly hunt. Their prey is the Aleph – an unknowable alien artifact that roamed and ruled Ganymede for countless millennia. Indescribable, infinitely dangerous, the Aleph haunts men’s dreams and destroys all efforts to terraform Ganymede into a habitable planet. Now in a modern world ancient struggle is joined, as a boy seeks manhood, a man seeks enlightenment, and a society seeks the power to rule the universe.
In a basement in New Mexico, four poker buddies and amateur adventurers who have discovered a dark mystery buried beneath the sands of the Sahara desert decide to do something about it. In the deep Sahara, they find an ancient artifact that will change their lives and the world, forever . . . a gateway between planets that links Earth to distant worlds where they discover wonders and terrors beyond their wildest imagination.
Gregory Benford is a Professor of Plasma Physics and Astrophysics, expertise he turns to great effect in his widescreen hard SF epics. Best known for the NEBULA AWARD-winning TIMESCAPE he has written in some of SF’s greatest playgrounds, penning a sequel to Sir Arthur C. Clarke’s great novella AGAINST THE FALL OF NIGHT, and contributing an authorised sequel to Isaac Asimov’s Foundation books. This omnibus collects three of his best works: ARTIFACT, COSM and EATER.
For millennia, humankind and the other intelligent races had studied the bizarre and unfathomable constructs of the legendary beings known as Builders. But for all that study, they were still no closer to figuring out who – or what – the Builders had been, or where they had gone. Then, on the world called Quake, in the midst of the violent planetary upheaval that was Summertide, a small group of humans and aliens witnessed the culmination of all those years of watching and waiting: the planet Quake opened up, and something came out – and it looked as if, at long last, the discovery of the Builders themselves was at hand. All her life, Darya Lang had dreamed of finding the Builders, whose artifacts she had single-handedly catalogued for the rest of the universe. Troubleshooter and adventurer Hans Rebka had his own dreams of unraveling the mystery of those artifacts. To Louis Nenda and the Cecropian Atvar H’sial, the Builder artifacts represented a once-in-a-lifetime shot at untold wealth. And close behind them came the others: Councilor Julius Graces, who did not trust anyone to make first contact unassisted; the slavesJ’merlia and Kallik, who craved only a reunion with their masters; and the embodied computer E.C. Tally, charged with finding out just what the rest were up to. The trail that began at Quake led to unexpected Builder artifacts full of traps for the unwary and answers for those who knew how to ask the questions. But the biggest question of all would remain an enigma, while their search unleashed the greatest threat to civilization ever imagined…
Slippery Jim diGriz is in the process of robbing the new Mint on Paskonjak when the heist goes terribly wrong. Threatened with a horrific death, Slippery Jim is allowed to cut a deal with the Galactic League: voyage to the planet Liokukae and bring back a missing artifact – the only known evidence of alien life-forms found in 32,000 years of galactic exploration. For diGriz there are a few catches. One is Liokukae itself – a dumping ground for the League’s misfits, murderers, maniacs, and the incurably obnoxious. Another is a little matter of life and death. To ensure the utterly untrustworthy diGriz’s cooperation, the League has given him a slow-acting poison, allowing him thirty days in which to succeed . . . or die. Now the Stainless Steel Rat is on his way to a world that is hurtling backward down the evolutionary scale – a land of fanatic, goat-herding Fundamentaloids, murderous Machmen, and a rusty guru named Iron John. DiGriz has developed an almost perfect cover: a four-member rock band that has a way of giving its audiences what they want to hear. But while the days tick away and diGriz’s life expectancy lowers, the mission evolves from finding an artifact to liberating a planet . . . which is a tune the Stainless Steel Rat most certainly knows how to sing.
Set more than four thousand years in the future, Summertide introduces a galaxy widely populated by humans and a variety of intelligent aliens, all of whom live in the shadow of the vanished race known only as the Builders. Nothing is known about the Builders, but the gigantic artifacts they have left behind – many of them still hardly understood – dominate the areas of space in which they are found. One such is the double-planet system of Opal and Quake – the former covered in water, the latter in desert – connected by a Builder device called the Umbilical. It is to this system that a variety of humans and aliens come, ostensibly to witness Summertide – the annual tidal wave which sweeps across Opal.