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…
Paul Heisenberg is mysteriously endowed with the ability to jump through time. Together with thousands of eventual followers, he begins a journey that eventually takes him a billion years into the future. The Earth has been devastated by war with an alien race, and the changes that have resulted from the degradation of the world’s biosphere force him–and others–to rethink their own humanity. His pilgrim’s progress through the coming time is beset by doubts, distractions, and temptations as various voices attempt to distract him from his determination to follow the process through to its end. He eventually witnesses the complete transformation of the Earth, and the evolution of a single omnipotent but mindless Gaean organism. Is intelligence itself just a brief candle, forever doomed to burn out? Or can Paul find some other alternative for his race.
Visa for an enigma. When John Carter came to the Horakah Cluster, it was in the guise of an interstellar salesman. If anyone there suspected he was more than that, it would mean his instant execution. But Carter’s unusual personality made it possible for him to put over the deception and even gain a visa to the forbidden central planet, an arsenal of space war factories. Of course, had to make some special deals to do it, and those proved his undoing. For he found himself caught between two menaces: the tyrannical militaristic moguls and a fantastically greater threat fro beyond the ends of space.
The dark force known as Shadow had been defeated, but its world-spanning web of power had survived. This incredible magical weapon was now held not by a prince or wizard, but by Pellinore Brown, a marketing consultant from Germantown, Maryland. Pel Brown wished no one ill; he merely wanted his family back. But the Galactic Empire that had seen Shadow as a threat saw him as Shadow’s heir, a menace to be destroyed as Shadow had been. And when the awesome magical might of Shadow’s legacy was turned against the rayguns and spaceships of the Empire, entire planets were caught in the middle. Pel Brown wished no one ill – but hundreds would die to put an end to … THE REIGN OF THE BROWN MAGICIAN
From The SF Gateway, the most comprehensive digital library of classic SFF titles ever assembled, comes an ideal sample introduction to Sheri S. Tepper, the author of several resoundingly acclaimed novels, including Beauty, which was voted Best Fantasy Novel of the Year by readers of Locus. She is one of the few writers to have titles in both the SF and Fantasy Masterworks lists. This omnibus contains three of her acclaimed SF novels: After Long Silence, Shadow’s End and Six Moon Dance.
The legendary Nicholas van Rijn had, of course, been right all along. Just as he had foreseen, the Polesotechnic League – that great empire of merchant princes – had flowered and then crumbled into the vastness of space. The same fate would befall the Terran Empire that succeeded it. Even heroes like Dominic Flandry lived under the shadow of their eventual extinction – the ever-hungry darkness that would take him and his world in the end. But for those who came after, those wretched heirs of Terran civilisation, the darkness was no impending tragedy. This time they were facing the reality of… THE LONG NIGHT
The siege was over. The citadel of Avillis had burned, burned through the night, with its terrible Lord and his monstrous children in it. Nothing remained now but broken walls, charred stumps where trees had, grown, tattered lattices open to the sky. But at the heart of the palace the great Cup of Avillis stood untouched: pure gold, crusted with jewels each worth an emperor’s ransom. Small wonder that Kachil, common thief, should covet it. Or Feluce, dapper arrogant climber; riches would mean much to him. But why did Havor of Taon, the hawk, join them to carry the cursed Cup away? For it was Havor who found that the Chalice once stolen could not be lightly cast aside, even in horror and despair. While always, inexorably, half-seen, slipping through shadows, shapes in the mind’s eye, three phantom riders followed after it across the winter-blasted plain. This chilling tale of flight and inescapable pursuit rises to a confrontation of ghostly powers. Havor thought his story could have only one ending, but the spirit world can summon Forces of Light as well as Dark.
Kate N. Shadow was the name empath Kayla John Reed took when she was forced to flee her home planet and join the crew of the Falstaff, a “merchant” spaceship that stretched the limits of legal shipping beyond the breaking point. But even the Falstaff could not remain a haven for much longer, not when the forces of magnate Pelleas Karlson and empathy Yates Keller were out to put an end to all the Free Traders who currently plied the spaceways. Kate had nearly fallen victim to the Groupmind controlled by Yates in her last devastating encounter with this ruthless enemy. And with her own empathic talents greatly weakened as a result, she knew that she would need to draw on resources far beyond her own to help the rebel troops known as the War Minstrels in their bid to break Karlson’s control of the spaceways. Kate’s only hope lay in finding the Mindstar, a mindstone of legendary proportions which could give its successful wielder infinite power – or suck the very life out of anyone who tried to master it and failed…
Patricia A. McKillip is the author of a number of hugely acclaimed fantasies, including The Riddle-Master of Hed and its sequels, which have been compared to Gene Wolfe’s epic Book of the New Sun, and The Forgotten Beasts of Eld and Ombria in Shadow, both of which won the World Fantasy Award for best novel. She has won the Mythopoeic Award three times and in 2008 was given the World Fantasy Award for lifetime achievement. This omnibus collects three of her later works: In the Forests of Serre, Alphabet of Thorn and The Bell at Sealey Head. IN THE FORESTS OF SERRE: In the tales of World Fantasy Award-winning author Patricia McKillip, nothing is ever as it seems. A mirror is never just a mirror; a forest is never just a forest. Here, it is a place where a witch can hide in her house of bones and a prince can bargain with his heart…where good and evil entwine and wear each others’ faces…and where a bird with feathers of fire can quench the fiercest longing… ALPHABET OF THORN: One of the most spectacular fantasists of our time, Patricia A. McKillip creates fairy tale worlds of wonder and magic. Now, she opens the page on a time and place where an orphan girl is haunted by thorns…a reluctant queen rules between sea and sky… and epics never end… THE BELL AT SEALEY HEAD: Sealey Head is a small town on the edge of the ocean, a sleepy place where everyone hears the ringing of a bell no one can see. On the outskirts of town is an impressive estate, Aislinn House, where the aged Lady Eglantyne lies dying, and where the doors sometimes open not to its own dusty rooms, but to the wild majesty of a castle full of knights and princesses.