The Earth’s population was more than eight billion. One day they were there, the next they were gone – all except the guests at a family birthday party, a small tribe of American Indians, and, of course, the robots. Technology disintegrated, the Indians went back to nature, and the rest developed new and extraordinary powers. As for the robots, some went to live with the remnants of humanity, others gathered in their own community and commenced work on the Project, work which was baffling in all its fantastic electronic complexity. Then one day a traveller returned from the stars – and the idyllic existence of the last of Earth’s humans was threatened.
After years of caring for her often impossible mother, Alice is finally free. But an unexpected legacy gives her more than she bargained for…
Classic crime from one of the greats of the Detection Club
When Alice Hunter’s mother dies, after grimly clinging on for eighty-odd years, it is enough for genteel Alice just to be free. But she soon becomes lonely, having few points of contact with the people in the cheap boarding houses which are all she can afford. Then comes news of a legacy, and Alice’s soul rises as she travels to the family’s lawyers in Bath.
Her new life is not what she expects, however, and she is lost in a fog of human misunderstanding, hatred and deceit. A nice cup of tea, stirred by detective Arthur Crook, is what she will need to put things right . . .
It’s murder in a sleepy French fishing village . . .
Crime writer Ben Anderson was hoping for a peaceful honeymoon sailing in Europe. He’s solved four murders in the last three years, which is more than enough to suit him. He is, after all, a married man now. Things are going to be different.
Alas, their trip to a quiet, out-of-the-way French village is disrupted when they rescue the passengers of a boat on fire, and find themselves swept up in a chain of events that involves smugglers, car chases and – yes – murder.
‘Compton has been one of Britain’s most original and consistent novelists since the late Sixties, but he has never received the attention he deserves…Compton’s prose is fine-tuned, his human insights sharp, and his narrative pace filled with the weird synchronicities and dissonances of how violent things usually happen’ INDEPENDENT
Baby Is Three is the sixth volume in the series devoted to the complete works of one of science fiction’s titans. Like others in the series, this one includes extensive notes and background information on each story by editor Paul Williams. The early 1950s, during which this material was written, was the beginning of Sturgeon’s greatest creative period. The title story for this collection was later expanded into the International Fantasy Award winning novel More Than Human. Sturgeon’s whimsical, sardonic sense of humor lifts his work out of the mundane realm of genre science fiction. This wide-ranging collection shows precisely why he has been cited as a primary influence by authors as varied as Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, and Carl Sagan.
Everything about the planet revolving about Sigma Draconis seemed to indicate that here was a world that could be made into a second Earth. It was fertile and lacked native inhabitants and dangerous beasts. Then what was troubling the pioneer colony that had landed and set up shop there? Was it really possible just to create a new Earth on any vacant world waiting a landing?
Or was there a lot more to planetary ecologies than humanity realized?
If a man from the mid-1920s had picked up today’s paper he would have mistaken it for a science fiction magazine. In the same way, if a man from the mid-1960s could be confronted with a national daily from thirty years hence he would shake his head and regard the whole thing as preposterous. Stop. Think. Wonder. Tomorrow’s commonplace was today’s miracle. Today’s commonplace was yesterday’s miracle. Most things change. Some change faster than others. Human nature changes most slowly of all. The sword has given way to the gun, but the hand that holds the gun is neither braver nor more cowardly than the hand that held the sword. The gun gives place to the heat ray and the energy blaster, but the hand still belongs to a hero or a coward. The greatest drama of the world is human drama. People are still fundamentally people. Spacemen are people. They will still have our human problems a hundred years hence. This is a story of people in the future facing our basic problems in a more complex environment.
At last as they reached out through the ghostly transparencies of the galaxy the men from Earth encountered an alien race completely non-human in appearance. They were the real aliens. Their physiology differed gruesomely from Terrans’ – could men hope their psychology would not?
The Unknown Non Human Aliens – the Unha – replied to peace overtures with immediate hostility. So, reluctantly, the men from Earth forged a weapon of awesome power. Created out of the shattered bodies of men and women – men like Siegfried Ritter, Giuseppe Tozzi and Eugene Valois – Blazon set fire to the Galaxy.
For Doctor Marjorie Rothwell the existence of Blazon challenged the basic assumptions forced on humanity by alien intransigence; but the action-packed story of Blazon does more than explore the running sore of human aggression in its understanding of human sacrifice.
She is known as Seeker. Spellbound by the Faerie Queen, she has abducted human children for her mistress’s pleasure for what seems like an eternity, unable to free herself from servitude and reclaim her own humanity.
Seeker’s latest prey is a Merlin. Named after the legendary wizard of Camelot, Merlins are not simply those who wield magic – they are magic. Now, with the Prometheus Club’s agents and rivals from Faerie both vying for the favor of this being of limitless magic to tip the balance of power, Seeker must persuade the Merlin to join her cause – or else risk losing something even more precious and more important to her than the fate of humankind . . .
For countless years the enigmatic city of Klagan had rested beneath the racing moons of ancient Mars. Forbidden, guarded, sheltered in the cup of the Blue Mountains and surrounded by waterless desert. It rested there, a place of a thousand rumours and whispered fantasies, and gave birth to muttered tales of incredible wealth and riches.
To this city came Halmar, the guide; Lorna, the dancer from Venus; and the man called Smith. Defying the ban of the Terran Authorities, the fanatical Drylanders, and the harsh desert, they reached the crystal walls of the strange city. There they found a tremendous mystery, the deserted artefacts of a vanquished civilisation – and found themselves snared in an incredible trap.
For Klagan was more than a city. It was. . .
What it was and how the intrepid adventurers solved the incredible secret of the mysterious city makes this an exciting tale of science and plausible speculation, action and human motivations.
Returning to the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge after a spell at the nuclear research labs of CERN in Geneva, Professor Isaac Newton is plunged into the centre of a baffling mystery. One of his research students, Mike Howarth, has picked up strange signals on his satellite telemetry equipment, signals that appear to emanate from a passing comet. Not long after he has passed the vital data into Isaac Newton’s hands, Howarth is found dead. Soon after that, it becomes clear that some people in very high places – including the Kremlin and the White House – are more than a little interested in the remarkable events taking place at the Cavendish. But with the arrival of that most majestic of all celestial bodies, Comet Halley, a third and infinitely more powerful superpower enters the scene. And the Comet’s extraordinary intentions – not to mention its devastating methods of communicating them to Earth – promise a new dawn for humanity.
Humans first reached out to the stars travelling at a painfully slow sublight crawl – then they found the Bose network, which allowed ships to jump instantaneously from one node in the galactic arm to another. Once in the Network they found the Artifacts: enigmatic structures, millions of years old, left by a vanished race. Incomprehensible to both human ad non-human minds, the Artifacts seemingly defy natural law.
Now, after millions of years, a new Artifact has appeared – and previously discovered Artifacts are showing strange changes in their inexplicable activities. When a motley crew of human and alien scientists and adventurers set out to examine still more Artifacts, they should have considered the fat that some changes are more dangerous than others…
He is a financial giant but the Sponsor wants more – he wants to become a super human, to be the modern-day Adam, father to a new generation of humans with heightened DNA. He had the viral injection to change himself, the will to do it, and now all he needs is an Eve to join him on his journey. He thinks he’s found the perfect match in Jean Sandra Norwich, a woman convinced she is trapped between the genes of her mother and daughter. The Sponsor offers her freedom – and so much more, the chance to be the mother of all Superbeings. But she will get more than she bargained for.
CONVERTS is a masterpiece of science fiction and Ian Watson has superbly reworked Ovid’s METAMORPHOSES to create an extraordinary futuristic tale.
Stranded on an alien planet, light years from home, wandering from blistering heat to searing cold, Nils Kruger was not a happy man. So when he met another being – even though it wasn’t human – things seemed to be looking up. The alien might be helpless, or it might be dangerous, but one thing was for sure – they stood a better chance for survival if they worked together.
But as the two creatures overcame their mutual suspicion, as they worked together, as the language barrier was broken down, Nils came to a terrifying conclusion – this alien was more intelligent than a human. And to it, Nils was the alien.
“A tour de force” – New York Times Book Review
“Ambitious, finely detailed and compulsively readable” – Locus
“It is a book that feels fundamentally true; it is a book to live in” – Washington Post
For Kivrin Engle, preparing an on-site study of one of the deadliest eras in humanity’s history was as simple as receiving inoculations against the diseases of the fourteenth century and inventing a bullet-proof backstory. For her instructors in the twenty-first century, it meant painstaking calculations and careful monitoring of the rendezvous location where Kivrin would be received.
But a crisis strangely linking past and future strands Kivrin in a bygone age as her fellows try desperately to rescue her. In a time of superstition and fear, Kivrin finds she has become an unlikely angel of hope during one of history’s darkest hours.
Winner of both the 1993 Hugo and Nebula Best Novel awards, this is a science fiction classic.
Read what everyone is saying about Doomsday Book:
‘By the time I finished the book, I had the feeling I also spent time living with these medieval men, women and children. The novel is that powerful‘ Goodreads reviewer, ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
‘I can’t stop thinking about Doomsday Book. I can’t get the images out of my head. I can’t get the train of thought out of my head. I can’t stop my throat from tightening or my jaw from clenching‘ Goodreads reviewer, ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
‘I was fascinated by CW’s take on time travel and the mirroring of the plague in the future with the past’s Black Death, but moreover, the characters snuck up on me and tore my soul apart‘ Goodreads reviewer, ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
‘A lovely and heart-wrenching story, highly recommended. It’s much more about the characters than the hard science. Kivrin’s – and the villagers’ – bravery in the face of death and tragedy hit me right in the heart‘ Goodreads reviewer, ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
‘This is the mostest bestest time travel novel ever written . . . Connie Willis is just too bloody good‘ Goodreads reviewer, ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
‘The strengths of this novel are its attention to Historical details, the engaging and believable characters suitable to an era and the dark but hopeful tones and themes of the story’ Goodreads reviewer, ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
‘I read this book for the first time about six years ago and barely survived it, I was so involved in everything that was happening. Connie Willis is an amazing writer‘ Goodreads reviewer, ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Laredo Space Base hadn’t sent a ship to Earth for hundreds of years before the Project Deep Green survey craft was launched. Only one thing was known: the planet humankind had so long ago vacated was a wasteland with nothing on it but poisonous flora and small, murderous denizens.
That’s what they taught astronaut Ferrer Burgoyne and as a result he was totally unprepared for the teeming jungle stretching farther than his eyes could see. He was even moer unprepared for the slightly green humanoids who greeted him. Obviously the scientists of Old Earth had done more in their labs than just mess around mixing human and plant cells. As sure as Ferrer Burgoyne was an astronaut the new men of Earth were the descendants of those hidden, forbidden experiments.
How then could Burgoyne continue his mission: to defoliate Earth with the deadly chemical Deep Green and prepare Earth for the return of his species?
When Carson Napier, astronaut from Earth, attempted to help Duare, princess of Vepaja, find her homeland on an unmapped cloud-shrouded planet, they found more trouble than they had ever desired.
They found it in Mypos, the country of amphibian people; in the land of the Brokols, whose young grow on trees; and in Voo-ad, the city of the human amoebae. How they escape from their strange predicaments is a thrill-a-page novel of Venus by the author of the famous Tarzan novels.
Star humans were engineered to exist within the mantle of a star, mere tools of their Earth-evolved makers in a war against the Xeelee, owners of the universe. Stephen Baxter’s third novel in his magnificent Xeelee Sequence is an exotic and endearing story of an abandoned people.
Abandoned to their fate, their history lost along with contact with their makers, Star people survive in an environment that is possibly the strangest in science fiction. Microscopic inhabitants of superfluid air above a Quantum Sea and below the tangled Crust of the Star, swimming in an electric-blue grid, the Magfield, which is subject to violent storms, Star people struggle, like us, to make sense of their world… and the threat hanging over it.
Though the truth is far more disturbing and ominous than they feared, they will confront, finally, their makers, and they will rebel against the purpose for which they were created.
From The SF Gateway, the most comprehensive digital library of classic SFF titles ever assembled, comes an ideal sample introduction to one of the giants of 20th century science fiction: Frank Herbert. Although best known for his award-winning Dune, Herbert’s other work is equally ambitious and accomplished. This omnibus contains three novels spanning some 20 years of Herbert’s career: The Dragon in the Sea, The Santaroga Barrier and The Dosadi Experiment.
THE DRAGON IN THE SEA
In the endless war between East and West, oil has become the ultimate prize. Nuclear-powered subtugs brave enemy waters to tap into hidden oil reserves. Psychologist John Ramsay has gone undercover aboard a Hell Diver subtug where, hunted relentlessly by the enemy, the crew find themselves isolated in a claustrophobic undersea prison, struggling for survival against the elements . . . and themselves.
THE SANTAROGA BARRIER
Santaroga seemed to be nothing more than a prosperous farm community. But there was something . . . different . . . about Santaroga. Maybe Santaroga was the last outpost of American individualism. Maybe they were just a bunch of religious kooks . . . Or maybe there was something extraordinary at work in Santaroga. Something far more disturbing than anyone could imagine.
THE DOSADI EXPERIMENT
Generations of a tormented human-alien people, caged on a toxic planet, conditioned by constant hunger and war – this is the Dosadi Experiment, and it has succeeded too well. For the Dosadi have bred for Vengeance as well as cunning, and they have learned how to pass through the shimmering God Wall to exact their dreadful revenge on the Universe that created them . . .
Amongst the gorse and the heathers of his native highlands, Skelter the mountain hare enjoyed an idyllic life: browsing and gambolling; taking in the superb scenery and making female friends, including the beautiful Rushie. Then one day Skelter’s life of ease came to an abrupt end. Netted and captured, he and several other hares are transported hundreds of miles, to the strange lands of the south, destined for the cruel sport of hare coursing. Amidst a hell of shouting men and howling greyhounds, Skelter witnesses a nightmare, before making a miraculous escape.
Alone, stranded in a landscape he does not understand, Skelter must learn to survive, despite the hostility and distrust of the local hares and other natural hazards.
By far the most horrifying peril that faces Skelter is the florge: a vast, flying monster which is terrorising the countryside, killing indiscriminately.
Raised in isolation by a man, thousands of miles from his native habitat, Bubba is a killer more terrifying than any natural creature: for he believes himself human. Can one small mountain hare survive against such a monster?
Millennia ago Starquin visited the Solar System. Because he is huge – some say bigger than the Solar System itself – he could not set foot on Earth personally. yet events here were beginning to interest him, and he wanted to observe more closely.
So he sent down extensions of himself, creatures fashioned after Earth’s dominant life-form. In one of Earth’s languages they became known as Dedos, or Fingers of Starquin. Disguised, they mingled with Mankind.
We know this now, here at the end of Earth’s time. The information is all held in Earth’s great computer, the Rainbow. The Rainbow will endure as long as Earth exists, watching, listening, recording and thinking. I am an extension of the Rainbow, just as the Dedos are extensions of Starquin. My name is Alan-Blue-Cloud.
It is possible you cannot see me but are aware of me only as a voice speaking to you from a desolate hillside, telling you tales from the Song of Earth. I can see you, the motley remains of the human race, however. You sit there with our clubs and you chew your roots, entranced and half-disbelieving as I sing the Song – and in our faces are signs of the work of your great geneticist, Mordecai N. Whirst. Catlike eyes here, broad muzzles there, all the genes of Earth’s life, expertly blended, each having its purpose. Strong people, adapted people, people who survived.
The story I will tell is about people who were not so strong. It is perhaps the most famous in the whole Song of Earth, and it tells of three simple human beings involved in a quest who unwittingly became involved in much greater events concerning the almighty Starquin himself. It is a story of heroism and love, and it ends in triumph – and it will remind the humans among you of the greatness that was once yours.
A novel of dystopian future in the tradition of SOYLENT GREEN and H.G. Wells’ THE TIME MACHINE, with an introduction by Ken MacLeod
Tinker was a good citizen of the Hive – a model worker. But when he was allowed sexual activation he found Mu Ren who, like him, harboured forbidden genes. And so began the cataclysm.
But in a world where half-wild humans are hunted for sport – and food – can anyone overthrow the Hive? Greater by far than its stunted, pink-blooded citizens, the Hive is more than prepared to rise and crush anyone who challenges its supremacy …
It all began simply enough. A client had vanished, and Jay Corcoran went to investigate the man’s empty hotel suite. But Corcoran’s trick vision spotted the room-sized box stuck to the outside wall of the suite. There was no way to get into the box, so Corcoran cabled his long-time pal Tom Boone.
Boone had a talent. When threatened he could “step around a corner” into some otherwhere. Boone stepped into the box, taking Corcoran with him. The box turned out to be a time traveler machine that transported them back to 1745 England, where they found a family of refugees from a million years in the future. In that far future, alien Infinites were converting humanity to incorporeal form. When the family had refused conversion, they had to flee. For more than a century, the family had lain hidden in their time bubble.
Suddenly, the Infinites’ killer monster broke through–and things grew complicated as the family fled to the distant past and the farther future.
The Plague’s origins were mysterious, but its consequences were all too obvious: quarantined cities, safe-sex machines, Sex Police, the outlawing of old-fashioned love. Four people hold the fate of humanity in their hands…A sexual mercenary condemned to death as a foot soldier in the Army of the Living Dead; a scientist who’s devoted his whole life to destroying the virus and now discovers he has only ten weeks to succeed; a God-fearing fundamentalist on his way to the presidency before he accepts a higher calling; and a young infected coed from Berkeley on a bizarre crusade to save the world with a new religion of carnal abandon. Each will discover that the only thing more dangerous than the Plague is the cure.
As author and illustrator, Keith Roberts did more than most to define the look of UK science fiction magazines in the 1960s. In addition to his BFSA Award wins, he was nominated for the Hugo, Nebula and Arthur C. Clarke Awards. He is perhaps best known for his seminal alternate history novel, Pavane, but his work covered a broad range of SF’s tropes and settings, as can be seen from the titles collected in this omnibus: The Chalk Giants, Kiteworld and The Grain Kings.
THE CHALK GIANTS: After the apocalypse the hazardous evolution of mankind continues. And in primeval response to the disaster, humanity’s solutions to catastrophe carve the harsh new world in violent patterns of magic and myth, rite and religion. Brave images scar the ancient hills, the clash of swords and the ageless power of sexuality sign-post another, bloodsoaked path to civilisation.
KITEWORLD: Powerful churches have long kept their grip on the people with a theology of fear that makes formidable demons out of the poor, weak mutants of the surrounding badlands. To ward off these specters, an elaborate, tradition-encrusted system of kites with hex signs or armed observers fly over the realm. The men of this Kite Corps, performing hazardous duty to sustain a myth, are driven to find a separate peace, to transform, if they can, disillusionment into enlightenment, to move forward from an assumption of guilt to an assumption of responsibility.
THE GRAIN KINGS: They call them The Grain Kings. Gigantic mechanical monarchs of the wheat-bearing plains that were once the frozen Alaskan wastes. Whole eco-systems in themselves, they can supply the food so desperately needed by the teeming millions of our overpopulated planet. But even now, as the whole world waits in hungry suspense, the great powers battle for control of the prairies and two competing combine harvesters find they are heading on a course of collision.