For the beautiful young woman Ash, life has always been arquebuses and artillery, swords and armour and the true horrors of hand-to-hand combat. War is her job. She has fought her way to the command of a mercenary company, and on her unlikely shoulders lies the destiny of a Europe threatened by the depredations of an Infidel army more terrible than any nightmare.
Winner of the BSFA Award for best novel, 2000
Born in the radioactive ashes of World War Three the institute for Applied Psychodynamics had guided Planet Earth to a period of plenty that for the first time fulfilled Science’s promise. But it is the central irony of human existence that prosperity bears the seeds of its own destruction; this time not just Earth but the entire Solar System would endure the flames of war.
Yellowstone National Park sits on a hot spot: a plume of molten rock coming up from deep inside the earth capable of volcanic eruptions far greater than any that have occurred in times past. It has been silent for many years, providing false security for a nation unprepared for the full force and fury of nature unleashed.
Then explosions send lava and mud flowing far beyond Yellowstone toward populated areas. Clouds of ash drift across the country, nearly blanketing the land from coast to coast. The fall-out destroys crops and livestock, clogs machinery, and makes cities uninhabitable. Those who survive find themselves facing the dawn of a new ice age as temperatures plummet worldwide.
Colin Ferguson is a police lieutenant in a suburb of Los Angeles, where snow is falling for the first time in decades. He fears for his family, who are spread across America, refugees caught in an apocalyptic catastrophe in which humanity has no choice but to rise from the ashes and re-create the world…
They came to destroy! The treacherous Falcons, uniformed in the black leather tunics of the fanatic Secular Arm, descended on Corlay to burn and kill. Commanded by Lord Constant, ruler of the Seven Kingdoms, they were determined to crush the religious heresy of Kinship. But a new dream rose from the ashes. When four Kinsmen escaped the carnage of their beloved land, each helped to fulfill the miracle that had been foretold: the coming of the Child of the Bride of Time.
Mary Gentle is one of Britain’s most outstanding writers of imaginative fiction, able to move seamlessly from science fiction to fantasy within the same story.
Following on from the success of ASH, 1610: A SUNDIAL IN A GRAVE and the omnibus volumes WHITE CROW and ORTHE, comes CARTOMANCY, the definitive collection of Mary Gentle’s short fiction. CARTOMANCY includes the stories from SOLDIERS AND SCHOLARS as well as a number of tales previously unpublished in book form, all with new afterwords and topped and tailed with a specially revised version of her split story ‘Cartomancy’.
Davy is set in the far future of our world, in the fourth century after the collapse of what we describe as the twentieth-century civilisation. In a land turned upside-down and backwards by the results of scientific unwisdom, Davy and his fellow Ramblers are carefree outcasts, whose bawdy, joyous adventures among the dead ashes of Old-Time culture make a novel which has been hailed as “a frightening, ribald, poignant look at the imaginary future,” as “this chilling and fascinating book,” as “superb entertainment – unique,” as “so unusual as the make it both refreshing and thought provoking.”
It started as a harmless practical joke. But then the real nightmare begins…John Straker is the neighbourhood bogeyman. Hideously disfigured, he hides himself away from the rest of the world – until the night when a group of children set fire to his house and reduce it – and its owner – to ashes.
Mr Bad Face has been well and truly laid to rest. Or so the children think…
They’re grown up now and they’ve struggled hard to leave the bad dreams behind. Then, without warning, a figure from the past casts his shadow across the present. Mr Bad Face is back – and he wants revenge.
With the same rich imagination and dazzling insights that won him the International Fantasy Award, Edgar Pangborn weaves a magical tapestry set far in man’s future.
It is a time when man, struggling to rise above the ashes of nuclear holocaust, has returned to the simpler values and lifestyle of medieval times. And in this society, Demetrios the storyteller is revered among men for his captivating tales of the Old Time, with its miraculous Telephones, and Jet Planes, and TV, and Automobiles. But Demetrios is also feared – for one storyteller with a head full of ancient truth can be dangerous.
So Demetrios is forced to flee, with six compatriots, and together they embark on a journey full of unexpected sorrows, and unimagined delights, a journey through realms of fantasy, philosophy, and rich human possibility, which the reader will be delighted and privileged to share.
Britain, years after the Debacle, and a new London has risen phoenix-like from near the ashes. Though Londoners have retained their physical purity through the ruthless destruction of generations of mutants, man is no longer the same, and society crueller. Cynicism and a whole-hearted recognition of the absolute power of money has replaced humanism, and a belief in reincarnation has replaced religion and the old moral code of ‘doing unto others . . .’ The individual can exist, has a right to exist, only if he is selfish.
Death is a Dream is the story of three survivors from the twentieth century who awake from suspended animation in The Cradle to find themselves unemployable, and unfit to live by virtue of their commitments to out-dated ideals. As well as being an investigation of the form society may take after an atomic war, it is, by association, an indictment of society as it is now.
For several years, hiding under a cloak of anonymity, the most penetrating critic of the field of magazine science fiction was known as ‘William Atheling, Jr’. it soon became a challenge to guess his real identity. And that was no easy game, for Atheling’s dissection did not spare even his alter ego, the noted science fiction writer James Blish.
Here, then, is a collection of William Atheling’s critiques of SF magazines covering the period 1952 – 1963. no subject is too sacred or taboo for Atheling’s shredding typewriter: from sex to God, from religion to satirical poetry. No author, however fragile, is spared the bloody mark of his relentless ;ash; from Anderson to Heinlein to Wyndham, and all stops in between.
A vastly entertaining collection in its own right, The Issue at Hand is also a first-class primer for new writer and seasoned professional alike.
Fifteen billion years from now, Earth is a dying planet, its skies darkened by the ashes of burned-out galaxies, its molten core long cooled. The sunless planet is nearing the day of final gravitational collapse in the surrounding galaxy. Mutations and evolution have led to a great disparity of life-forms, while civilization has resorted to the primitive.
Young Deyv of the Turtle Tribe knew nothing of his world’s history or its fate. He lived only to track down the wretched Yawtl who had stolen his precious Soul Egg. Joined by other victims of the same thief – the feisty Vana and the plant-man Sloosh – the group sets off across a nightmare landscape of monster-haunted jungle and wetland. Their search leads them ultimately to the jeweled wasteland of the Shemibob, an ageless being from another star who knows Earth’s end is near and holds the only key to escape.
Sally Porter is a drab waitress, divorcee, and loner in the great city. But, though she is unaware of it, she is also four other, quite different people: Nola, the cold independent artist who has a studio in Greenwich Village; Derry, the happy-go-lucky tomboy; Bella, the sexpot with a talent for singing and dancing; and finally Jinx, the hate- filled killer.
Whenever events put too much of a strain on Sally Porter, she feels a headache and a blackout coming on – and a new character takes over. If there is a man to be fascinated, she will become Bella. If there is an intellectual problem, she will become Nola. And – as happens in the opening scene of the novel – if there is a rapist to be dealt with, she becomes the vicious Jinx.
It is the task of the wise and patient psychiatrist, Dr. Roger Ash – a man who nevertheless has severe problems of his own – to deal with this case of multiple personality and, through painstaking therapy, to try to fuse the four disparate personalities into “the fifth Sally.”
Admiral Slovo was a man of his time, but of more than one dimension..In his sixteenth century, a pirate might be followed by the corpse of his victim, walking across the ocean, until putrescence claimed it. Or an interview with the Pope might be mirrored, exactly, by one with the Devil. Reality shifts could cause a King to see his capital city shimmer into another Realm entirely.
Through such scenes of macabre hallucination, mayhem and murder, Slovo is a man alone, set apart by his stoic beliefs from the rigours of human fears and passions. As such, he was a valuable find for the Vehme, a clandestine, subversive society that ensnared its members from an early age, securing loyalties by the expedient methods of blackmail, bribery and barbarism.
But Slovo is more than a Vehmist puppet, and whether as a brigand on the high seas, or emissary to the Borgias, or as the Pope’s Machiavellian Mr Fix-it, he plots a course that suits his own ends as much as those of his paymasters. He knows that, in the words of his mentor Marcus Aurelius, “in a brief while you will be ashes of bare bones; a name, or perhaps not even a name”. And there are few things that cannot be solved by a stiletto in the eye.
From the vaults of the SF Gateway, the most comprehensive digital library of classic SFF titles ever assembled, comes an ideal introduction to one of the unique voices of British science fiction, John Middleton Murry, Jr, who wrote his best work under the pen name Richard Cowper.
The son of the famous critic John Middleton Murry, Cowper announced himself to the science fiction world in 1967 with BREAKTHROUGH, which found favour for a subtlety and richness of characterisation not seen in most contemporary SF. The idea of a transformed future England became his signature leitmotif and it is this theme that informs the Corlay tales contained in this omnibus. This is the complete Corlay sequence, featuring introductory novella ‘PIPER AT THE GATES OF DAWN’ and novels THE ROAD TO CORLAY, A DREAM OF KINSHIP and A TAPESTRY OF TIME.
THE ROAD TO CORLAY:
On the Eve of the Fourth Millennium a slowly-building civilization, struggling out of the rubble of the Drowning, was crushed beneath the sceptre of a powerful and repressive Church. But on the Eve of the Fourth Millennium the sound of a magical pipe was heard, and the air was filled with songs of freedom and enlightenment. And on the Eve of the Fourth Millennium the Boy appeared, bringing the gift of sacrilege, a harbinger of the future, heralding the arrival of the White Bird of Dawning. It is the coming of a New Age. A glorious future bearing the presents of the past!
A DREAM OF KINSHIP:
They came to destroy! The treacherous Falcons, uniformed in the black leather tunics of the fanatic Secular Arm, descended on Corlay to burn and kill. Commanded by Lord Constant, ruler of the Seven Kingdoms, they were determined to crush the religious heresy of Kinship. But a new dream rose from the ashes… When four Kinsmen escaped the carnage of their beloved land, each helped to fulfill the miracle that had been foretold: the coming of the Child of the Bride of Time.
A TAPESTRY OF TIME:
Twenty years have passed since the martyrdom of the Boy-piper at York, twenty years in which his legacy, the movement of Kinship, has challenged the tyranny of the Church Militant in Britain’s seven island kingdoms. Now his namesake, Tom, bearing the Boy’s own pipes and perhaps himself imbued with the spirit of the White Bird, is wandering Europe in company with the girl, Witchet. But disaster overtakes them and Tom, in a furry of vengeance, breaks his vow of Kinship. A terrible path lies before him, one that transcends his own world. As he travels it, Tom must come to understand the true nature of the wild White Bird, of The Bride of Time and her Child, and of the Song the Star Born sang.