General Benjamin Shore was heading for the stars – under forged orders and in defiance of Presidential commands. He was leaving Earth in an untested ship with a crew chosen by necessity. And with nothing but faith to guide him. His only hope was to find habitable worlds in the uncharted regions of space ahead.
Thus began Man’s first mission to the unexplored universe. Shore knew that before him lay danger, probable disillusion – maybe even death. But nothing had prepared him for the nightmare he would face on the planet of the Grey-furs for the menace of the Golden People who had driven all other races from Galactic Centre or for what awaited him if he returned to the world he called home.
Mesklin is a vast, inhospitable, disc-shaped planet, so cold that its oceans are liquid methane and its snows are frozen ammonia. It is a world spinning dizzyingly, a world where gravity can be a crushing 700 times greater than Earth’s, a world too hostile for human explorers.
But the planet holds secrets of inestimable value, and an unmanned probe that has crashed close to one of its poles must be recovered. Only the Mesklinites, the small creatures so bizarrely adapted to their harsh environment, can help.
And so Barlennan, the resourceful and courageous captain of the Mesklinite ship Bree, sets out on an heroic and appalling journey into the terrible unknown. For him and his people, the prize to be gained is as great as that for mankind…
Hal Clement’s MISSION OF GRAVITY is universally regarded as one of the most important and best loved novels in the genre. The remarkable and sympathetic depiction of an alien species and the plausible and scientifically based realisation of the strange world they inhabit make it a major landmark in the history of hard SF.
The balance of galactic power in the 31st century revolves around Illyrion, the most precious energy source in the universe. Captain Lorq van Ray’s varied and exotic crew know their mission is dangerous, but they have no idea of Lorq’s secret obsession: to gather Illyrion at source by flying through the very heart of an imploding star.
Brion Bayard, once of our own timeline and now Imperium Agent extraordinaire, had been on some pretty dangerous missions before – but never had he encountered so noxious a foe as the invading legions of giant plague-ridden rats who walked like men, spreading disease across the miltiple universes of the Imperium. Unless Bayard can travel to the original world of the long-tailed invaders and stop the plague at its source, the Earth of the Imperium and all the other Earths in all the universes will fall before the verminous hordes from a timeline that should never have existed in the first place.
THE CORPS DIPLOMATIQUE TERRESTRIENNE HAS NEVER SEEN HIS LIKE…
Retief – the most diplomatic diplomat of the 27th century.
His mission: to gain control of the most desirable planet in the universe – without triggering intergalactic war.
He tries talking … but how does anyone – even Retief – negotiate with an uninhabited planet?
He tries a dice game … but how does gambling help the solar peace organization prevent the malevolent Basurans (who’ve eaten their own planet) from turning to Terra’s prize colony for an after-dinner snack?
The problems Retief faces are just beginning, but as insurmountable as they seem, the indomitable adventurer prevails – and keeps the state of the universe on an even keel!
Young Peter, a student of Byzantine art forms at Moscow University, through a cryptic sentence in a lecture receives a message to buy two books of his choice at exactly 1.30 pm in the university bookstore. When he opens the package, a third book, ‘The Life of Pushkin’, a very special copy indeed, has been included. It is this third book that leads Peter to Armenia on a series of adventures of the sort that Fred and Geoffrey Hoyle know how to spin so skilfully and so spell bindingly. Peter’s mission includes finding his father again after many years of separation. And from his father he receives the remarkable ‘battery’ – plus a very difficult task to perform.
In 1912 the world changes overnight. Europe and all its inhabitants disappear, replaced by a primeval continent which becomes known as Darwinia: a strange land in which evolution has followed a different path.
To some this event is an act of divine retribution; to others it is an opportunity to carve out a new empire. Leaving a USA now ruled by religious fundamentalists, young photographer Guilford Law joins an expedition to Darwinia, a mission of discovery which uncovers extraordinary revelations about the whole nature of the universe.
The rift in the fabric of space was fast approaching the Well World, and time was running out. Troops all over the planet were gathering for the final battle.
Nathan Brazil and Mavra Chang somehow had to reach the Well of Souls in time to save the universe and before any of the hostile natives managed to kill them.
At best, a difficult mission. At worst, impossible – especially since there was a price on Brazil’s head and many would be claimants! For Brazil, the difficult was but the work of a moment – the impossible would take a little longer!
Against a raging backdrop of interplanetary intrigue.
This time the resourceful officer of the Corps Diplomatique Terrestrienne must deal with horrors unknown as he hunts the universe for a stolen ballet theatre.
The courageous Terran must fight the five-eyed Groaci, outwit the ferocious Tsuggs, and reason with the talking flowers he finds in the midst of his dangerous mission.
But in spite of all this, in the face of the vagaries of alien plots and the wild ambitions of his superiors, Retief remains strong and unshakable – and in peaceful and just control of the galaxy!
The fifth and final instalment in the GAP sequence: Stephen Donaldson’s fascinating universe peopled with characters of a passion and intensity only he could create.
As the conflict between humankind and the Amnion heads for crisis, Morn Hyland, the cyborg Angus Thermopyle and the survivors on board the crippled starship Trumpet must return from deep space to Earth. Their mission is to prevent all-out war with the aliens, which would leave humanity to pay a terrible price.
But the Amnion react with swift fury, and suddenly Earth is threatened with fiery destruction …
Abner Harris was sent to Earth on a mission of extreme urgency. The universe was in danger of enslavement by the Medlins, and the fight against them called for Harris to assume the disguise of a flesh-and-blood Earthman.
But he discovered that the real villains of space were not the Medlins or the people of Earth: they were his own kind.
Suddenly he was alone, alienated from his own race, hated by the Medlins, and an imposter on Earth. No matter what side he chose he’d be a traitor.
Yet choose he must – or remain for ever a man without a planet.
(First published 1963)
The RIM STAR seemed to be an ordinary enough spaceship bound for the planet Handel on a routine mission. Then young Braden, a merchant-space officer, discovered that there was something all wrong about the RIM STAR . . . The captain was wrong, the crew mutinous, and there was even something going on with the passengers. The ship was in deadly danger . . .
For centuries space travelers had dreaded a place they called the Other Side of Nowhere – a place in the universe where up was down, where right was wrong, and where all direction was lost . . .
To save the RIM STAR Braden had to bring the ship to that place of nightmare. . .
It will be the greatest voyage of exploration in human history. Fifty men and women are chosen to crew the Wotan. Their mission: to travel deep into the unknown galaxy in search of habitable worlds, to rekindle the dying human spirit. Their only contact with Earth is the telepathic link between one of the crew members and her sister back home. But when the mind-link with Earth is abruptly broken the Wotan is lost in the pearl-gray twilight of nospace. Then just as all seems lost, the Wotan encounters a massive alien presence. Suddenly the crew is forced to realise that their every assumption about life and death, humanity and the universe, may be dead wrong.
In Old Earth’s clandestine world of ambassador-spies, Michelangelo Kusanagi-Jones and Vincent Katherinessen were once a starring team. But ever since a disastrous mission, they have been living separate lives in a universe dominated by a ruthless Coalition – one that is about to reunite them.
The pair are dispatched to New Amazonia as diplomatic agents. Allegedly, they are to return priceless art. Covertly, they seek to tap its energy supply. But in reality, one has his mind set on treason. And among the extraordinary women of New Amazonia, in a season of festival, betrayal, and disguise, he will find a new ally – and a force beyond any that humans have known . . .
It was carnival time on Earth. Prosperity was at its peak; science had triumphed over environment; all human needs were taken care of by computers, robots and androids. There was nothing left for humans to do but enjoy, themselves . . . to seek pleasure where they found it, without inhibitions and without thinking of the price.
Then an android died – in a senseless, brutal murder. And young Derry Horn was shocked out of his boredom and alienation. His life of flabby ease had not prepared him for a fantastically dangerous mission to outlying, primitive stars – but now, at last, he had a reason for living. And even when he found himself a prisoner of ruthless slavers, even when he learned the shocking truth about what the androids really were and where they came from . . . even when he saw all the laws of the orderly, civilised universe he knew turned upside-down and inside-out . . . he fought on.
For that universe had to be shattered and reborn – even if Derry Horn and the Earth he had irrevocably left behind died in the process!
(First published 1968)