Elizabeth Bear’s near-future trilogy concludes with the fate of the world in the palm of Jenny Casey’s artificially reconstructed hand . . .
Give Canada’s Master Warrant Officer Jenny Casey an inch and she’ll take a galaxy. That’s just the kind of person a world on the brink of destruction needs. The year is 2063, and Earth has been brutalized. An asteroid flung at Toronto by the PanChinese government has killed tens of millions and left the equivalent of a nuclear explosion in its wake. Humanity must find another option . . .
Perched above the devastation in the starship Montreal, Jenny is still in the thick of the fray. Plugged into the worldwire, connected to a brilliant AI, her mind can be everywhere and anywhere at once. But it’s focused on the mysterious alien beings right outside her ship. Are they there to help – or destroy? With Earth a breeding ground for treason and betrayal as governments struggle to assign blame, Jenny holds the fate of humankind in her artificially reconstructed hand . . .
Thirteen-year-old Mandy Walsh has been gunned down in the street, caught in the crossfire between rival drug gangs. For Chief Constable Lane there is only one option – infiltrate the drug syndicates and rid his patch of this menace.
Unfortunately, Assistant Chief Constable Desmond Iles has a better idea: let the gangland police itself in return for a few ‘favours’.
As his superiors battle it out, Detective Chief Superintendent takes a closer look at Mandy’s death. He learns the bullets that killed her were not fired by the warring gang. There was, it seems, a third gunman targeting Mandy…
‘Comes off the page like electricity’ Sunday Times
A young genius is hunted by killers. His sole hope for survival lies in the brain power of the intelligent being he has created. The Earth’s first machine intelligence becomes the key to a harrowing battle.
The mighty ships of the Third Time Fleet relentlessly patrolled the Chronotic Empire’s thousand-year frontier, blotting out an error of history here or there before swooping back to challenge other time-travelling civilisations far into the future.
Captain Mond Aton had been proud to serve in such a fleet. But now, falsely convicted of cowardice and dereliction of duty, he had been given the cruellest of sentences: to be sent unprotected into time as a lone messenger between the cruising timeships. After such an inconceivable experience in the endless voids there was only one option left to him.
To be allowed to die.
One minute he was a college teacher, the next he was a dragon!
Jim Eckert leads a peaceful, happy campus life. He’s a college basketball player and an expert in mediaeval history. But his life has been disrupted by the disappearance of his girlfriend Angie. While taking part in a laboratory experiment on astral projection she just vanished.
In an attempt to find out what’s happened he submits himself to the equipment. A very unwise move.
Next thing he knows he’s in the Middle Ages. Worse, he’s no longer human. He’s in the body of a dragon. Worse still, Angie has been nabbed by another dragon and taken to the Loathly Tower. Obviously, Jim has no option but to give chase . . .
This first volume in Gordon R. Dickson’s hilarious fantasy series is perfect for fans of Piers Anthony and Terry Pratchett.
Mindplayers are tomorrow’s psychoanalysts, linked directly to their patients using sophisticated machinery attached to the optic nerve. In one-to-one Mindplay contact, you can be inside someone else’s head, wandering the landscapes of their consciousness. Allie is a sensation-seeking young woman, obtaining illicit thrills from her shady friend Jerry Wirerammer. But Allie goes badly astray when Jerry supplies her with a “madcap” – a device that lets you temporarily and harmlessly experience psychosis. There’s something wrong with Jerry’s madcap, and the psychosis doesn’t go away when it’s disconnected. Allie ends up undergoing treatment at a “dry-cleaner”, and she is faced with a stark choice – jail, for her illegal use of the madcap; or training to become a Mindplayer herself.
During training Allie becomes familiar with the Pool – a cohesive, though shifting mental landscape jointly constructed by a number of minds; and more disturbingly encounters McFlor, who has been mind-wiped, so that his adult body is inhabited by a mind only two hours old. And as a fully-fledged Mindplayer Allie has to choose between the many specialist options open to her – Reality Affixing or Pathosfinding; Thrillseeking or Dreamfeeding.
Not so long ago Marcus Walker was just another young commodities trader in Chicago, working hard and playing harder. But that’s all in the past, part of a life half forgotten – a reality that vanished when he was attacked while camping and tossed aboard a starship bound for deep space.
Desperately, Walker searches for explanations, only to realise he’s trapped in a horrifying nightmare that is all too real. Instead of being a rich hotshot at the top of the food chain, Walker discovers he’s just another amusing novelty, part of a cargo of “cute” aliens from primitive planets – destined to be sold as pets to highly advanced populations in “civilized” regions of the galaxy.
Even if he weren’t constantly watched by his captors, Walker has few options. After all, there is no escape from a speeding starship. Another man might resign himself to the inevitable and hope to be sold to a kindly owner, but not Walker. This former college football star has plenty of American ingenuity and no intention of admitting defeat, now or ever. In fact, he’s only just begun to fight.
Even for a redhead, Helen Dester was wild – she’d driven one guy to drink and made another jump out of a top-floor window.
Glyn Nash realises that to tangle with her will be dangerous. But he has no option if he wants a share of the $750,000 insurance money Helen stands to gain if her husband dies accidentally – or even if he is murdered.
Far out on the frozen outer limits of the thranx/humanx Commonwealth, on the permafrosted plant of Tran-ky-ky, lay the chilly trading outpost of Brass Monkey.
Inward bound on the interstellar transport Antares, Ethan Frome Fortune, space travelling salesman with a neat line in perfumes, jewelled knick-knacks and up market gadgetry, ran into grizzled, galactic hell raiser Skua September for the first time.
Kidnapped, knocked unconscious and crash landed – all quite accidentally – they were about to find out that life on the sub- zero wasteland was full of incident. Bored they would not be. Dead they might well be – particularly if Sagyanak, Chief of the nomadic Horde, could lay hands on them.
The great adventure has just begun and early retirement was not an option.
Callie Delgado always puts family first, and unfortunately her brother knows it. She’s emptied her savings, lost work, and spilled countless tears trying to keep him out of trouble, but now he’s in deeper than ever, and his debt is on Callie’s head. She’s given a choice: do some dirty work for the mob, or have her brother returned to her in tiny pieces.
Renting souls is big business for the religious population of Gem City. Those looking to take part in immoral-or even illegal-activity can borrow someone else’s soul, for a price, and sin without consequence.
To save her brother, Callie needs a borrowed soul, but she doesn’t have anywhere near the money to pay for it. The slimy Soul Charmer is willing to barter, but accepting his offer will force Callie into a dangerous world of magic she isn’t ready for.
With the help of the guarded but undeniably attractive Derek-whose allegiance to the Charmer wavers as his connection to Callie grows-she’ll have to walk a tight line, avoid pissing off the bad guys, all while struggling to determine what her loyalty to her family’s really worth.
Losing her brother isn’t an option. Losing her soul? Maybe.
Although largely, and unjustly, neglected by a modern audience, Bayley was a hugely influential figure to some of the greats of British SF, such as Michael Moorcock and M. John Harrison. He is perhaps best-known for THE FALL OF CHRONOPOLIS, which is collected in this omnibus, alongside THE SOUL OF THE ROBOT and the extraordinary story collection THE KNIGHTS OF THE LIMITS.
THE FALL OF CHRONOPOLIS: The mighty ships of the Third Time Fleet relentlessly patrolled the Chronotic Empire’s 1,000-year frontier, blotting out an error of history here or there before swooping back to challenge other time-travelling civilisations far into the future. Captain Mond Aton had been proud to serve in such a fleet. But now, falsely convicted of cowardice and dereliction of duty, he has been given the cruellest of sentences: to be sent unprotected into time as a lone messenger between the cruising timeships. After such an inconceivable experience in the endless voids there is only one option left to him. To be allowed to die.
THE SOUL OF THE ROBOT: Jasperodus, a robot, sets out to prove he is the equal of any human being. His furturistic adventures as warrior, tyrant, renegade and statesman eventually lead him back home to the two human beings who created him. Question: Does he have a soul?
THE KNIGHTS OF THE LIMITS: Nine brilliant stories of infinite space and alien consciousness, suffused with a sense of wonder…
Change or die. These are the only options available on the planet Jeep. Centuries earlier, a deadly virus shattered the original colony, killing the men and forever altering the few surviving women. Now, generations after the colony has lost touch with the rest of humanity, a company arrives to exploit Jeep – and its forces find themselves fighting for their lives.
Terrified of spreading the virus, the company abandons its employees, leaving them afraid and isolated from the natives. In the face of this crisis, anthropologist Marghe Taishan arrives to test a new vaccine. As she risks death to uncover the women’s biological secret, she finds that she, too, is changing – and realizes that not only has she found a home on Jeep, but that she alone carries the seeds of its destruction …
Winner of the James Tiptree, Jr. Award 1993