All Verrill wanted to do was to get to Mars, to Port Mercham where a ship was getting ready to take the Big Jump to the stars. But he was stranded on Venus, without money, papers, or weapons, with nothing but a keep-sake between him and starvation and the revengeful fury of the powerful Brotherhoods – and charity was a forgotten word.
How, with foreign papers, he fought and won the right to a berth, discovered a subtle plot to smuggle narcotics and defeated a mutiny. How he fought a desperate battle with the menace of the Sun and escaped from Mercury, and how, at last, he managed to reach his objective, make a story of high adventure.
This is a fast-moving, hard-hitting tale of the future, of rocket ships and the men who guide them across the wastes of space, of the perils and dangers waiting at every turn. A story which paints bright colours across the pages of unwritten history, and brings to life the lives of those yet unborn.
One night in October when he was ten years old, Tyler Dupree stood in his back yard and watched the stars go out. They all flared into brilliance at once, then disappeared, replaced by a flat, empty black barrier. He and his best friends, Jason and Diane Lawton, had seen what became known as the Big Blackout. It would shape their lives.
The effect is worldwide. The sun is now a featureless disk – a heat source, rather than an astronomical object. The moon is gone, but tides remain. Not only have the world’s artificial satellites fallen out of orbit, their recovered remains are pitted and aged, as though they’d been in space far longer than their known lifespans. As Tyler, Jason, and Diane grow up, space probe reveals a bizarre truth: The barrier is artificial, generated by huge alien artifacts. Time is passing faster outside the barrier than inside – more than a hundred million years per day on Earth. At this rate, the death throes of the sun are only about forty years in our future.
Jason, now a promising young scientist, devotes his life to working against this slow-moving apocalypse. Diane throws herself into hedonism, marrying a sinister cult leader who’s forged a new religion out of the fears of the masses.
Earth sends terraforming machines to Mars to let the onrush of time do its work, turning the planet green. Next they send humans…and immediately get back an emissary with thousands of years of stories to tell about the settling of Mars. Then Earth’s probes reveal that an identical barrier has appeared around Mars. Jason, desperate, seeds near space with self-replicating machines that will scatter copies of themselves outward from the sun – and report back on what they find.
Life on Earth is about to get much, much stranger.
Warfare between Earth, Venus and Mars is brewing, their hates being fanned by the sinister intrigues of a power-drunk armament baron, Chester Candris. Candrris is enamoured of Ann Urslor, the fiancée of a government official, Ken Hargraves. When Hargraves departs into deep space on a secret mission to prevent the impending war, he is followed by Candris who shoots him, disposing of his rival. But some time later, a gigantic face in the depths of space appears in the night skies on Earth, apparently watching over the planet…and gradually moving nearer. The press dubs the face ‘the Interloper’ and humanity watches in superstitious awe… then the Interloper speaks!
Kemlo, with two other boys from Satellite K, are allowed to accompany a small research team setting off to reconnoiter Deimos, a moonlet of Mars.
The research ship has a smooth journey until it encounters a fierce astral storm, but eventually lands safely on Deimos – where some peculiar magnetic forces put all the instruments out of action.
From then on the suspense is terrific. Kemlo and his friends find their way barred by a moving wall of lighted shapes and, scattered, are apparently attacked by transparent figures etched in vivid light. Up to the very end the doubt remains: will the power of the Martian Ghosts triumph or be broken?
CAPTAIN FUTURE FACES FIERY SOLAR DEATH
It was ten o’clock, solar time, when disaster struck. At exactly the same moment, gravium mines on Mercury, Mars and Saturn were totally destroyed by an unidentified army. Without gravium – the life-blood of interplanetary civilization – the system would perish.
Meanwhile, Captain Future struggled on the floor of a moving space craft, his arms and legs bound by steel ropes. He did not know why he’d been captured – only that the system was in grave danger – that he was needed…
As Captain Future was plunged through space, towards a deadly orb of flaming gases – the raging inferno of the sun – he planned his daring escape. It was to be the most dangerous gamble of his life.
Yes, I’m Max Andrews. I’m one of the guys who fought and bled and worked to get to Mars. I figure what I gave up in those early years gave me the right to pilot the next big jump.
I’ve lied and stolen for that right. I’d have killed, too, but I didn’t have to. Instead, I let a woman give her life so I could have my chance, my door to space.
You think I’d stop at anything, now?
I’ll be on that rocket, blasting away on America’s biggest adventure, the hop out into the stars themselves.
Only Fred Brown could have written this deeply moving science fiction novel about one man’s epic, life-long struggle to open mankind’s pathway to the stars.
A fast-moving space adventure featuring mysterious aliens, a journey to a de-populated planet, a mad run from space cops, a ship captain in trouble, and her AI (Artificially Intelligent) companion/ship’s computer.
It is carnival time on Mars, but Tabitha Jute isn’t partying. She is in hiding from the law, penniless and about to lose her livelihood and her best friend, the space barge “Alice Liddell”. Then, the intriguing Marco Metz offers her some money to take him to Plenty, and then the adventure begins.
Winner of both the Arthur C. Clarke Award for best science fiction novel of the year and the British Science Fiction Association Award for best novel of the year–the only book ever to win both prestigious British awards.
Winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award for best novel, 1991
Winner of the BSFA Award for best novel, 1991