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
The last thing computer circuit planner Daniel Kitajima remembered was being hit by a crane at an orbital construction site. Waking up 80 years later – in 2089 – he found that most of his body had been destroyed…but he had survived.
A group of doctors had constructed an artificial body that gave him superhuman strength, the ability to survive without food or air, the powers of radar and infrared vision.
All Daniel wanted was to resume a normal life. But his new-found strengths had attracted the attention of powerful people with a devastating secret – that the solar system only has a few centuries to live…
‘The entire head had been stripped of skin, creating a nightmarish sculpture in gelled blood…’
The hideous apparition that confronted John Redpath almost defied description. It was the beginning of a horrific ordeal that would cause him to question his own sanity…
A member of a telepathic research project, Redpath believes the cause to be side-effects from the experimental drugs he is taking – but then stranger things begin to happen. He wakes up to find himself in America…he is drawn to a local house occupied by a bizarre group of people leading an artificial and peculiar life…which events are really happening?
Slowly an explanation emerges, more terrifying than anything he could have imagined…
Light on Bottom…
The light was artificial. Believe it if you can. I realise that for a normal person it’s hard. Wasting watts to light up the outdoors is bad enough. Spending the world’s limited power to illuminate the sea bottom, though – well, for a few moments I was too furious to think straight. My job has brought me into contact with people who were careless with energy, with people who stole it, and even with people who misused it; but this was a brand-new dimension!
I was lower now and could see acres and acres of light stretching off to the north, east, and west until it blurred out of sight. Acres and acres lighted by things suspended a few yards above the level bottom, things visible only as black specks in the centre of slightly brighter areas.
Then I got my anger under control, or maybe my fear did it for me. I suddenly realised that if I hit bottom the way I was heading I might never be able to get back to the…
Ocean on Top.
Top Gun heads to outer space in this throwback to the classic science fiction of Asimov, Clarke, and Heinlein.
Strapped in to artificial wings spanning twenty-five feet across, your arms push a tenth of your body weight with each pump as you propel yourself at frightening speeds through the air. Inside a pressurized dome on the Moon, subject to one-sixth Earth’s gravity, there are swarms of chiseled, fearless, superbly trained flyers all around you, jostling for air space like peregrine falcons racing for the prize. This was the sport of piloting, and after Helium-3, piloting was one of the first things that entered anyone’s mind when Borealis was mentioned.
It was Helium-3 that powered humanity’s far-flung civilization expansion, feeding fusion reactors from the Alliances on Earth to the Terran Ring, Mars, the Jovian colonies, and all the way out to distant Titan. The supply, taken from the surface of the Moon, had once seemed endless. But that was long ago. Borealis, the glittering, fabulously rich city stretched out across the lunar North Pole, had amassed centuries of unimaginable wealth harvesting it, and as such was the first to realize that its supplies were running out.
The distant memories of the horrific planetwide devastation spawned by the petroleum wars were not enough to quell the rising energy and political crises. A new war to rival no other appeared imminent, but the solar system’s competing powers would discover something more powerful than Helium-3: the indomitable spirit of an Earth-born, war-weary mercenary and pilot extraordinaire.