He was suspended alone and unprotected in the sea of forgetfulness where Saturn looked brilliant against the sunless black of deep outer space.
It was like an elusive dream of a past only half-remembered, forever just out of reach amid the shifting galaxies of deep space. Somewhere out there he had lost his memory – space amnesia they called it. But they had found him and brought him back and given him a memory again.
But was it his memory?
Book Three of Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea Cycle Darkness threatens to overtake Earthsea: the world and its wizards are losing their magic. Despite being wearied with age, Ged Sparrowhawk – Archmage, wizard, and dragonlord — embarks on a daring, treacherous journey, accompanied by Enlad’s young Prince Arren, to discover the reasons behind this devastating pattern of loss. Together they will sail to the farthest reaches of their world — even beyond the realm of death – as they seek to restore magic to a land desperately thirsty for it.
Humanity played with fire once too often. It was atomic fire and its ravages produced an almost complete annihilation, but there were survivors. The radiations had not been entirely malevolent in their influence. Genes and chromosomes danced like dervishes in the gamma bombardments, and settled back into fantastic new patterns. God-like beings strode proudly athwart the devastation. Half-human demons lurked in the shadowy ruins. The twilight of humanity faded into a new heroic epoch, behind which the forbidden secrets of the ancient atom gods bided their time…
‘My favourite American crime-writer’ New York Herald Tribune
In the quiet suburb of Santa Monica, eighty-eight-year-old Mabel Foster loses her husband to a stroke. Rather than move Mabel into a retirement home, the neighbours hire Josephine Slaney to take care of her. The immense nurse is a godsend, the cost of her help is a bargain.
Soon it becomes clear, however, that all is not right with Josephine. Mrs Foster, once bright and alert, falls quickly into a torpor and retreats into seclusion at Josephine’s command. It is up to detective Dan Valentine to uncover a strange, lethal pattern among Josephine’s former patients, and the race is on to stop her before she can strike again.
Nick Lewis certainly has no liking for his TV historian brother, Laurence. Aside from anything else Nick blames him for the death of their mother, the beautiful actress Claudia Martin. And so, is it possible the off-handedly childish trick played by Nick on Laurence really does cast some kind of curse? Bizarre and unpleasant things begin to happen, without a doubt. And Nick himself is hardly immune. As the pattern of his secure yet eccentric life starts to come undone, he finds himself without remedies. Where has Laurence vanished to? What is the creepy Mr Pond’s part in it all? And who is the apparently sinister Kitty Price? Can repressed hatred cause such disruption, danger, even death? Or has the object caused it, as Nick pretended it could: that little ivory counter from a stolen drawer… This is probably not a supernatural story. It might be less unsettling if it was.
Dolores Foster was walking home from work when she noticed an oddly shaped glittering something at the edge of the pavement. She stooped, fascinated, and picked up a metallic brooch or badge of unusual lightness. The metal was engraved with peculiar semi-geometrical patterns and she thought it was vibrating as she held it…
Captivated by the unusual qualities of her find she wore it at a cocktail party that evening. Either the stranger who approached her and began asking incredible questions was drunk or reality as she knew it could never be the same again…
The finding of the brooch led her to the fringe of a terrifying organisation: a group known simply as “The Engineers”: men who played with the fabric of the three-dimensional world as if it were made of putty.
Dolores had to learn an entirely new set of survival data as she followed one of the Engineers into a new dimension and saw how human society was masterminded.
She had to decide whether to oppose the terrible truth she had discovered or join the strange beings who looked like men…yet ran the solar system as though it were a fairground!
When the past comes back to haunt you, there is no escape.
A dead dog, a green alligator wallet, a burned book and a series of cryptic notes send Ellery Queen on the trail of a murderer.
Laurel Hill, daughter of Hollywood jeweller Leander Hill, believes that her father was frightened to death, and asks Ellery Queen to investigate. Someone is still out to get Hill’s business partner, Roger Priam, but he’s not talking. And it appears that a mysterious and violent incident in the men’s past may be at the heart of the matter.
When Priam begins to receive a series of less than pleasant ‘gifts’, master detective Ellery Queen must discern the pattern that connects the clues and the notes, and entrap the criminal.
For years the Delevan family image reflected only the best of everything – wealth, position, influence, and the kind of expensive good looks that take generations to cultivate. No one dared suspect that their glittering façade, their cherished privacy masked hidden lusts, furtive pleasures and twisted dreams that would soon erupt into a pattern of strange violence that threatened to destroy them all.
Everything was ordinary. Men worked in factories and fields. Women were shopping. Children were at school. Then came the four-minute warning. Wires hummed madly between heads of governments. Just before the massive retaliation went into the air the world realised that no-one had despatched the first rocket.
The retaliation was checked with seconds to spare. Experts examined the ruined city. There was something else besides radiation. Deadly bacteria from an unknown source spread across the planet. More alien bombs followed the first. But there was no real pattern in the attacks, if they were genuine attacks.
At last the detectors found the alien ships. They were fighting among themselves and earth was the battle-area. Could the remnants of humanity interfere? What would be the result if they did?
Heredity is dependent on the complex patterns of genes and chromosomes, which are particularly vulnerable to radiation. An error in a biological research unit led to the birth of a thing so bestial and so powerful that it became a target so Security.
As it grew, its strategic potential developed until whispers of its monstrous power filtered out to the rest of the world. Other nations were interested and one intrepid agent reached the secret bunker where the powerful thing was kept. His interference shattered a safety device and the thing escaped.
It strode across the world with the fury of a tornado. Nothing seemed able to stand in its path. Mighty cities were shattered like ant-hills as the mutant monster continued its rampage. Dazed, disorganised humanity strove desperately to strike back before it was too late…
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.
Best known for his Hugo Award-winning classic A Case of Conscience, Blish was one of the first serious SF writers to involve themselves with tie-in novels, writing eleven Star Trek adaptations as well as the first original adult Star Trek novel, Spock Must Die. This omnibus contains three of his long out-of-print works: Black Easter, The Day After Judgement and The Seedling Stars.
BLACK EASTER: A gripping story about primal evil: a sinister intermingling of power, politics, modern theology, the dark forces of necromancy, and what proves, all too terribly, not to be superstition.
THE DAY AFTER JUDGEMENT: Develops and extends the characters from BLACK EASTER. It suggests that God may not be dead, or that demons may not be inherently self-destructive, as something appears to be restraining the actions of the demons upon Earth.
THE SEEDLING STARS: You didn’t make an Adapted Man with just a wave of the wand. It involved an elaborate constellation of techniques, known collectively as pantropy, that changed the human pattern in a man’s shape and chemistry before he was born. And the pantropists didn’t stop there. Education, thoughts, ancestors and the world itself were changed, because the Adapted Men were produced to live and thrive in the alien environments found only in space. They were crucial to a daring plan to colonize the universe.
Bron is a chaos catalyst. He wreaks havoc and destruction as surely as a hurricane wherever he goes. Commando Central has planted an electrode transmitter-receiver deep inside his brain and infiltrated him into the Destroyer Spacefleet to prevent it from gaining absolute mastery of the galaxy. But Bron’s own brand of chaos is lethally unpredictable. And when whole planets are annihilated by monster hellburner bombs set on course seven hundred million years ago from distant Andromeda, aimed directly at Bron himself, both sides realise something more colossal, more threatening and infinitely more powerful is taking a hand in Bron’s weird destiny . . .
Far from Earth two sister planets, Sainte Anne and Sainte Croix, circle each other. It is said that a race of shapeshifting aliens once lived here, only to become extinct when human colonists arrived. But one man believes they still exist, somewhere out in the wilderness.
In THE FIFTH HEAD OF CERBERUS, Gene Wolfe brilliantly interweaves three tales: a scientist’s son gradual discovery of the bizarre secret of his heritage; a young man’s mythic dreamquest for his darker half; the mystifying chronicle of an anthropologist’s seemingly-arbitrary imprisonment. Gradually, a mesmerising pattern emerges.
This is a book of science fiction – without galactic fleets or plucky scientists’ daughters; a book of fantasies – without elves, barbarians or wizards; a book of horror – without clichéd mad slashers in hockey masks.
If one must categorize this collection by Pat Cadigan, then the inevitable conclusion would be that Patterns is a book about people, good and bad, noble and monstrous, common and oh so extraordinary. Cadigan’s characters live and breathe in these fourteen astonishing stories, making even the most outlandish ideas seem more than possible.