Like two giants the old enemies faced each other across the reaches of the galaxy – the Terran Empire and the Ythrian Domain. Terra was a Leviathan, encroaching ever further among the stars, promising peace and prosperity – but at the price of freedom. Ythri was smaller, but an empire in its own right, peopled by birdlike beings with a civilisation and intellect that easily matched Terra’s own.
And between the adversaries lay Avalon. One single planet, inhabited by human and Ythri alike. Both sides wanted to claim Avalon, by persuasion or by force, for it was a key world that could turn the tide of the war. But Avalon had developed a unique culture, a powerful blend of human and Ythrian thought. And Avalon had ideas of its own….
“Variety is the soul of pleasure,” And variety is what this comprehensive new collection of Connie Willis is all about. The stories cover the entire spectrum, from sad to sparkling to terrifying, from classics to hard-to-find treasures with everything in between – orangutans, Egypt, earthworms, roast goose, college professors, mothers-in-law, aliens, secret codes, Secret Santas, tube stations, choir practice, the post office, the green light on Daisy’s dock, weddings, divorces, death, and assorted plagues, from scarlet fever to “It’s a Wonderful Life.” And a dog.
Famous for her “sure-hand plotting, unforgettable characters, and top-notch writing,” Willis has been called, “the most relentlessly delightful science fiction writer alive,” and there are numerous examples here. Among them, Willis’s most famous stories – the Hugo- and Nebula-Award-winning “Fire Watch” and “Even the Queen” and “The Last of the Winnebagos” – along with undiscovered gems like Willis’s heartfelt homage to Jack Williamson, “Nonstop to Portales.” Her magical Christmas stories are here, too, from “Newsletter” to “Just Like the Ones We Used to Know…” which last year was made into the TV movie, Snow Wonder, starring Mary Tyler Moore.
We’ve collected stories from throughout Willis’s career, from early ones like “Cash Crop” and “Daisy, in the Sun,” right up to her newest stories, including the wonderful “The Winds of Marble Arch.” There’s literally something for everyone here. If you’re a diehard Willis fan, you’ll be delighted with hard-to-find treasures like the until-now uncollected, “The Soul Selects Her Own Society…” If you’ve never read Connie Willis, this is your chance to discover “A Letter from the Clearys” and, well, “Chance.” To say nothing of, “At the Rialto,” the funniest story ever written about quantum physicists. And Willis’s chilling, “All My Darling Daughters.”
And…oh, there are too many great stories here to list and pleasures galore. So enjoy!
‘Her most important book since ALWAYS COMING HOME and her most satisfactory collection since her first, the brilliant THE WIND’S TWELVE QUARTERS.
A formidable and rewarding work, a prime candidate for best SF collection of the year. An essential book.’ LOCUS
Six of the eight piece are set in Le Guin’s classic Hainish cycle. The title story, ‘The Birthday of the World’, stands alone and the final piece, ‘Paradises Lost’, is a new short novel original to the collection, a major addition to the generation starship subgenre of science fiction.
Far From This Earth and Other Stories is volume 2 of a collection of Chad Oliver’s SF, containing the following:
Let Me Live in a House
If Now You Grieve a Little
The Wind Blows Free
Rite of Passage
Didn’t He Ramble?
End of the Line
Just Like a Man
Far From This Earth
King of the Hill
Meanwhile, Back on the Reservation
A Lake of Summer
ALLIANCE CENTRAL: the world once called Earth. Nothing breathes upon it but man and the wind, and the wind is tamed beneath great domes. From here humanity rules a vast stellar empire.
FIRSTISM: the belief that the universe is made for humanity. Therefore be fruitful, and multiply, and replace all other creatures with humankind and its domesticated beasts, and replace all other green things with plants useful to human life…
HERMES SECTOR: the remote frontier system where colonists are abruptly wiped out by an alien visitation. As a deadly threat to the countless billions of humans swarming outward from Alliance Central, the aliens must be identified.
One planet alone in Hermes Sector was spared. But that planet is Dinadh, the strangest and most secretive of all populated worlds. Firsters are not welcome on Dinadh, nor Firster technology. The only people from Alliance Central qualified by blood to visit Dinadh are a lone woman and her severely disabled five-year-old son. Their journey to Dinadh marks the beginning of a terrifying ordeal pitching mother and son beyond the shadow cast by human civilization.
Astounding sights, extraordinary aliens and colossal dangers await them…
“I’ll need your help. Come night and the Oracle again, I’m going to try the final couplet.”
“Jinian,” Murzy breathed while Dodie looked white-eyed at me. “Dangerous.”
“And fatal not to,” I said, still smiling at them all…
I wove by forest and meadow, branch and leaf. I wove by stream and pool, by river and fall. I wove by cloud and air, by thunder and sunset glow. I wove by depths of the earth, rock and gem, glittering ores and crystals blooming in the dark, old bone and new. Beside me the others wove as well…
“And all within sound of my voice or reach of the wind,” I cried, thrusting my voice like a Sending, like a magic spear, driving it upward. “And all within sound of my voice or lick of the wave, or all within sound of my voice or stretch of the soil, or all within sound of my voice where green grows and leaf springs up. Named or unnamed, silent or speaking. Let this message be brought,
By the Eye of the Star,
Where Old Gods Are!”
Count Hamnet Thyssen is a minor noble of the drowsy old Raumsdalian Empire. Its capital city, Nidaros, began as a mammoth hunters’ camp at the edge of the great Glacier. But that was centuries ago, and as everyone knows, it’s the nature of the great Glacier to withdraw a few feet every year. Today Nidaros is an old and many-spired city; and though they still feel the breath of the great Glacier in every winter’s winds, the ice cap itself has retreated beyond the horizon.
Trasamund, a clan chief of the mammoth-herding Bizogots, the next tribe north, has come to town with strange news. A narrow gap has opened in what they’d always thought was an endless and impregnable wall of ice. The great Glacier does not go on forever – and on its other side are new lands, new animals, and possibly new people.
Ancient legend says that on the other side is the Golden Shrine, put there by the gods to guard the people of their world. Now, perhaps, the road to the legendary Golden Shrine is open. Who could resist the urge to go see? Not Hamnet Thyssen or Trasamund. Not Ulric Skakki, Hamnet’s old comrade in arms: a good man to have at your side, although perhaps not at your back. And not, damnably, Eyvind Torfinn – a scholar, a very knowledgeable man but, alas, the husband of Hamnet’s former wife, Gudrid: a troublemaker if there ever was one. She’s decided to come along, too.
For every one of them, the Glacier has always been the boundary of the world. Now they’ll be traveling beyond it into a world that’s bigger than anyone knew. Adventures will surely be had…