The lowland girl seemed to contain fire. Her hair stirred, flickered, gushed upward, blowing flame in a wind that did now blow. A tower of light shot up the sky, beginning where the girl stood. For half a second there was only light, then it took form. The form it took was Anackire. She towered, she soared. Her flesh was a white mountain. Her snake’s tail a river of fire in spate. Her golden head touched the apex of the sky, and there the serpents of her hair snapped like lightnings. Her eyes were twin suns. The eight arms, outheld as the two arms of the girl had been, rested weightlessly on the air, the long fingers subtly moving… The girl standing before the well, unblasted by the entity she had released, seemed only quiescent. At last one could see that her face, as it had always been, was the face of Anackire…
Sequel to Rockets in Ursa Major From a great distance the Yela’s recorded message crackled through on the micro-earpiece: ‘For the time being you have won. But I am not defeated so easily.’ That had been three years ago, after Dick Warboys had repulsed the invading Yela by firing a lithium bomb into the Sun. But now that threat seems near fulfilment as appalled scientists detect the rapid approach of a vast, engulfing cloud of hydrogen. Can humanity survive on Earth or must selected pioneers abandon it in search of a safer region of the Galaxy? To find the answer Dick and his allies from Space suffer a perilous voyage into the realms that reach the ultimate in understanding the physical universe.
Vinge’s masterpieces together at last, in one epic volume The Hugo Award winning A FIRE UPON THE DEEP and its epic companion novel A DEEPNESS IN THE SKY, set in the same universe but 20,000 years earlier, were benchmarks for SF in the last decade of the 20th century. In FIRE ‘Vinge presents a galaxy divided into Zones – regions where different physical constraints allow very different technological and mental possibilities. Earth remains in the “Slowness” zone, where nothing can travel faster than light and minds are fairly limited. The action of the book is in the “Beyond”, where translight travel and other marvels exist, and humans are one of many intelligent species. One human colony has been experimenting to find a path to the “Transcend”, where intelligence and power are so great as to seem godlike. Instead they release the Blight, an evil power, from a billion-year captivity.’ Publisher’s Weekly In DEEPNESS, ‘the story has the same sense of epic vastness despite happening mostly in one isolated solar system. Here there’s a world of intelligent spider creatures who traditionally hibernate through the “Deepest Darkness” of their strange variable sun’s long “off” periods, when even the atmosphere freezes. Now, science offers them an alternative. Meanwhile, attracted by spider radio transmissions, two human starfleets come exploring – merchants hoping for customers and tyrants who want slaves. Their inevitable clash leaves both fleets crippled, with the power in the wrong hands, which leads to a long wait in space until the spiders develop exploitable technology. Over the years Vinge builds palpable tension through multiple storylines and characters.’ Dave Langford
These were the last weeks and days before the end of the world, before total destruction overwhelmed Earth and every living thing on the surface of the planet. No one knew exactly how long they had before the sun turned nova and destroyed not only Earth but all of the other planets in the Solar System. For mankind, the only excape lay in flight to the stars, to Alpha Centauri, more than four light years distant. The hyperdrive, capable of carrying them there at close to the speed of light had been developed, but as yet had not been perfected. In a world without a future, the starships were the only salvation of mankind and they could save only a minute fraction of the population of Earth. Panic is there, but temporarily forgotten by most, as the plans for a mass exodus are speeded up, as the long hours of mounting tension draw to a close and Judgement Day, when the world shall be destroyed by fire, is mo longer a hazy time in the far future, but something very close and very terrible. For those who remained behind, there could be no escape; death would come suddenly, eight minutes after the nova explosion. For those who fled the Solar System in the starships, untried and working on principles only partially understood, there was only the long, terrible journey through the endless night, not knowing what lay at the end of it.
Hesta Web, with her hot red hair and her tough, guarded coldness, is trapped with a mother who hates her and a father who is mostly away earning money on an oil rig. When Hesta discovers that her mother and her mother’s lover have had rampant sex in Hesta’s bed, she absconds with her friend Janey to the seaside. It is the last day of the season, sun bright and sea sparkling. The bars and shops are open, the funfair spins round with shrieks and shouts. As night falls, the illuminations go on. But when Janey catches the last train to London, Hesta stays behind. She falls in with the gothic-looking, unpleasantly attractive Skilt and his subject colony of junkies and beggars. In a rotting hotel on the front, among the broken marble balustrades, the mouse-eaten rooms and the bonfire in the ballroom, Hesta takes up her new life. She hears drugged legends told beside the fire, the rumours of ghosts and the strangeness of the sea. For now the season has ended, the seaside is deserted, the illuminations are switched off, this place is very strange. Does Skilt know its secret? Should Hesta be wary of the blond man who watches her from the pier? And what happens when the lights go out? It’s dark.
It’s 2026, and the Alpha Centauri supernova has risen like a second sun, rushing Earth toward its last summer. Floods, fires, starvation and disease paralyze the planet. A flash of gamma rays has destroyed all microchips worldwide, leaving an already devastated Earth without communications, transportation, weaponry or medicine. The disaster sets three groups of survivors on separate quests. A militant cult seizes the opportunity to free their leader from her long court-mandated coma. Three cancer patients also search for a man in judicial sleep: the brilliant scientist – and monstrous criminal – who alone can continue the experimental treatment that keeps them alive. From a far greater distance come the survivors of the first manned Mars expedition, struggling homeward to a world that has changed far beyond their darkest fears. And standing at the crossroads is one man, U.S. President Saul Steinmetz, who faces a crucial decision that will affect the fate of his own people… and the world.
“Variety is the soul of pleasure,” And variety is what this comprehensive new collection of Connie Willis is all about. The stories cover the entire spectrum, from sad to sparkling to terrifying, from classics to hard-to-find treasures with everything in between – orangutans, Egypt, earthworms, roast goose, college professors, mothers-in-law, aliens, secret codes, Secret Santas, tube stations, choir practice, the post office, the green light on Daisy’s dock, weddings, divorces, death, and assorted plagues, from scarlet fever to “It’s a Wonderful Life.” And a dog. Famous for her “sure-hand plotting, unforgettable characters, and top-notch writing,” Willis has been called, “the most relentlessly delightful science fiction writer alive,” and there are numerous examples here. Among them, Willis’s most famous stories – the Hugo- and Nebula-Award-winning “Fire Watch” and “Even the Queen” and “The Last of the Winnebagos” – along with undiscovered gems like Willis’s heartfelt homage to Jack Williamson, “Nonstop to Portales.” Her magical Christmas stories are here, too, from “Newsletter” to “Just Like the Ones We Used to Know…” which last year was made into the TV movie, Snow Wonder, starring Mary Tyler Moore. We’ve collected stories from throughout Willis’s career, from early ones like “Cash Crop” and “Daisy, in the Sun,” right up to her newest stories, including the wonderful “The Winds of Marble Arch.” There’s literally something for everyone here. If you’re a diehard Willis fan, you’ll be delighted with hard-to-find treasures like the until-now uncollected, “The Soul Selects Her Own Society…” If you’ve never read Connie Willis, this is your chance to discover “A Letter from the Clearys” and, well, “Chance.” To say nothing of, “At the Rialto,” the funniest story ever written about quantum physicists. And Willis’s chilling, “All My Darling Daughters.” And…oh, there are too many great stories here to list and pleasures galore. So enjoy!
Patricia A. McKillip is the author of a number of hugely acclaimed fantasies, including The Riddle-Master of Hed and its sequels, which have been compared to Gene Wolfe’s epic Book of the New Sun, and The Forgotten Beasts of Eld and Ombria in Shadow, both of which won the World Fantasy Award for best novel. She has won the Mythopoeic Award three times and in 2008 was given the World Fantasy Award for lifetime achievement. This omnibus collects three of her later works: In the Forests of Serre, Alphabet of Thorn and The Bell at Sealey Head. IN THE FORESTS OF SERRE: In the tales of World Fantasy Award-winning author Patricia McKillip, nothing is ever as it seems. A mirror is never just a mirror; a forest is never just a forest. Here, it is a place where a witch can hide in her house of bones and a prince can bargain with his heart…where good and evil entwine and wear each others’ faces…and where a bird with feathers of fire can quench the fiercest longing… ALPHABET OF THORN: One of the most spectacular fantasists of our time, Patricia A. McKillip creates fairy tale worlds of wonder and magic. Now, she opens the page on a time and place where an orphan girl is haunted by thorns…a reluctant queen rules between sea and sky… and epics never end… THE BELL AT SEALEY HEAD: Sealey Head is a small town on the edge of the ocean, a sleepy place where everyone hears the ringing of a bell no one can see. On the outskirts of town is an impressive estate, Aislinn House, where the aged Lady Eglantyne lies dying, and where the doors sometimes open not to its own dusty rooms, but to the wild majesty of a castle full of knights and princesses.