When a distinguished astrophysicist is presented with evidence of a new artefact approaching the solar system, his initial reaction is that the figures must be wrong. But they are not.
The mysterious object is not only real, it is heading towards us at an incredible velocity.
Then the data indicates that the visitor is a black hole. A black hole that can change direction. A black hole that is sending us a message…
I DESIRE CONVERSE
Eater is a fast-paced thriller from an author who is both a great storyteller and a highly respected scientist. It is a combination that makes for classic SF.
A native woman working in the little cultivated patch just outside the palisade which surrounded the mission was the first to see them. Her scream penetrated to the living room of the little thatched bungalow where the Rev. Sangamon Morton sat before a table. He had heard such screams before. The one thing always uppermost in his mind and the one, great, abiding terror of their lives there in the midst of the savage African jungle was the Wakandas.
THE VAULT IN THE VALLEY
On a far semi-desert world, shunned by trade routes, and unattractive to star travellers, there is a barren and isolated valley. Dominating this valley is a great time-eroded Sphinx-like construction – a mass known to the few who have looked upon it as the Skull of Sykoris.
Cap Kennedy followed a dangerous trail across many worlds – a trail of murder, duels, and evil – to find that it ended there, before the Skull, confronting a mystery older than all mankind.
Beneath that Sphinx lay something desired by Earth’s old enemies. Beneath it lay something that lured the criminal minds of many worlds. But what it was none knew – until Cap Kennedy himself released the frightful power of the Eater of Worlds.
It was the last planet left for men to conquer – a planet rich in priceless urillium ore, yet no man laid a finger on this wealth that was for the taking.
For the planet Vendor could not be conquered. Space-men tried time and time again, but always the Voices drove them mad and destroyed them. Some intangible power kept men away from that taunting prize – until a scientist on Deneb IV perfected a blanketing device to protect his shop through the barrier. It took him twenty years to do it and every penny he possessed, but at last his voyage to Vendor began.
It was the voyage of a gambler who knew that only two alternatives faced him…illimitable wealth and glory, or failure and death.
But the journey to Vendor brought hazards that neither he nor his crew had foreseen, and before its conclusion a force was unwittingly released that could have swept life from the Universe – the indestructible and horrifying force of THE METAL EATER.
The author of such hard-science masterpieces as Eater, Benford excels at short fiction as well, from a tale of courage in the aftermath of nuclear war (“To the Storming Gulf”) to a thoughtful commentary on human and primate interaction in his title novella.
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.
Somewhere, deep in the mighty rainforest, is the Kingdom of the Sun Bear. And there, legend has it, are the seven ancient heads of the Punan – and the secret of untold riches.
To find and possess the heads, a man must brave not only the terrifying creatures of the forest, but must also risk the displeasure of the gods and spirits that inhabit it.
Yet, two groups set off in a ferocious rivalry in pursuit of the legend. They disturb the equilibrium of the forest and risk awful consequences. For, it seems, only one creature can benefit from such a quest – Shadow-hawk, the eater of men’s souls.
A daring novel of mankind’s strange and startling destiny. . .
Here is a novel to equal Arthur C. Clarke’s great work, Childhood’s End. It tells with frightening clarity of a desperately stricken Earth – wracked by overpopulation and plagued by famine and despair.
It tells, too, of a new breed of men and women – twenty-first century lotus eaters caught up in a mysterious euphoria which will ultimately threaten all life on this planet: the drug-induced world of ‘happy dreams’. Do these ‘happy dreamers’ herald the end of the human race – or the next extraordinary step in the evolution of Man?
First published in 1963.