This new collection of stories from the multi-award-winning author of Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog contains: A Letter from the Clearys At the Rialto Death on the Nile The Soul Selects Her own Society Fire Watch Inside Job Even the Queen The Winds of Marble Arch All Seated on the Ground Last of the Winnebagos Ten stories – which have all won the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award or both – are compulsory reading for the serious science fiction fan.
Anu, red giant companion-star to Bel and Ea, was relentlessly approaching Ishtar – scorching the land, forcing the barbarians of the North ever southward away from the Inferno. Fire Time was fast confronting the planet; civil war broke out as the Tassui led their forces against the army of the Gathering in a desperate struggle for survival. The Gathering anxiously awaited help from the human colony in Primavera. Jill Conway and other colonists like her hoped to save the civilisation of Ishtar and they relied on the Navy of the Federation of Earth to do so. But now the Federation was engaged in its own was, an interstellar war that seemingly had no end. And no end meant no help of Ishtar…
Winner of seven Nebula and eleven Hugo awards, Connie Willis is one of the most acclaimed and imaginative authors of our time. Her startling and powerful works have redefined the boundaries of contemporary science fiction. Here in one volume are twelve of her greatest stories, including double award-winner “Fire Watch”, set in the universe of Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog, in which a time-travelling student learns one of history’s hardest lessons. In “A Letter from the Clearys”, a routine message from distant friends shatters the fragile world of a beleaguered family. In “The Sidon in the Mirror”, a mutant with the unconscious urge to become other people finds himself becoming both killer and victim. Disturbing, revealing and provocative, this remarkable collection of short fiction brings together some of the best work of an incomparable writer whose ability to amaze, confound and enlighten never fails.
The first coming was the Man: The second was Fire to burn Him; The third was water to drown the Fire; The fourth is the Bird of Dawning. 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.
Imagine a day, not too far from today, when you pick up the newspapers to find them free of the usual accounts of crime, corruption, violence and war. There’s no politics or politicians, no sporting results, speculation or scandal. There is only the asteroid: newly-discovered, enormous and on a collision course with Earth. Imagine a time, not too far from today, when the world itself stands helpless before the Fires of Satan…
With their homeworld in ruins, ten thousand brave colonists set out for the stars. Among them is Marianne O’Hara – who survived a baptism of cataclysmic fire to emerge as the last hope of her doomed race. But madness, mysterious deaths and irreversible sabotage threaten their mission – propelling the crippled starship Newhome blindly toward an unimaginable future, and hurtling Marianne toward an astonishing confrontation that could mean the end or the transcendent rebirth of humankind.
Somewhere there was a radioactive fire that could perform miracles of super-science. Somewhere there was a place where cat-people prowled, where time was altered, and incredible mysteries held their secrets of power and fortune for the daring discoverer. Deep in an unexplored jungle, Brian Raft sought the secret of the legendary Valley of the Flame . . .
Humanity played with fire once too often. It was atomic fire and its ravages produced an almost complete annihilation, but there were survivors. The radiations had not been entirely malevolent in their influence. Genes and chromosomes danced like dervishes in the gamma bombardments, and settled back into fantastic new patterns. God-like beings strode proudly athwart the devastation. Half-human demons lurked in the shadowy ruins. The twilight of humanity faded into a new heroic epoch, behind which the forbidden secrets of the ancient atom gods bided their time…
Out of body, out of time… Though basically a skeptic, William Reynolds had known out-of-body experiences in the past. But never before had he floated past the boundaries of Baltimore . . . and across the borders of time. And now, with the fires of Civil War looming on the horizon, the astonished graduate student was hobnobbing with none other than the dark poet Edgar Allan Poe. But their meeting of minds was to have chilling consequences. For a desperate Confederacy planned to use them both to remold the world – and to change history…for the worse.
They dragged the screaming stranger into the asylum. His talk of Fire Gods and universal conquest seemed the ultimate in illusions. Next morning, the padded cell was burnt out…and there was no trace of the prisoner. The door was still locked, still barred. Perhaps the arson that followed was just a coincidence? The Brigade Chiefs called in a special investigator. No result. Finally the IPF took a hand and subsequently the investigations pointed to extra galactic interference. When the psychiatrist, who had originally examined the mysterious ‘fire god’, was questioned the second time things began to add up. Those wild, strange words ha not been the ravings of a maniac but the diabolical threat of an alien entity. A thing with unbelievable power…that threatened the universe itself!