“If it pleased Ruethen of the Long Hand to give a feast and ball at the Crystal Moon for his enemies. He knew they must come. Pride of race had slipped from Terra, while the need to appear well-bred and sophisticated had waxed correspondingly. The fact that spaceships prowled and fought, fifty light-years beyond Antares, made it all the more impossible a gaucherie to refuse an invitation from the Mersian representative. Besides, one could feel delightfully wicked and ever so delicately in danger.”
It is the common fate of empires to grow old and jaded: Rome, Byzantium, Britain, America, and so on to the Empire of Terra itself, each has near the end succumbed to the same weary “sophistication” that allows a warlord of Merseia to make a mock of a race whose star-conquering ancestors found the Merseians a race of pre-technic barbarians huddled in stone piles – and saved them from extinction. Flandry himself has come to understand that there is no more point to all his victories than that a few trillion of his fellow creatures may live out their lives before the coming of the Long Night of galactic barbarism. That he will not have shortened that coming Dark Age one bit – only postponed it. That the barbarians always win in the end, and are always followed by a new round of civilisation.
There are too many men in a world governed by women. They’re bored and disillusioned and often resort to ‘suicide missions’ – jobs in experimental space research. Jorn applies for such a job, is selected and trained as a navigator for the huge ship Javelin, the first to implement the recently discovered faster-than-light Evrak Effect.
Before the Effect is tested, however, it is discovered that life will be extinct within nine years; the sun is burning up, preparing to explode. The Evrak Effect will save a small percentage of mankind, take civilisation to a yet unknown planet. Production on new ships is given priority, the ruthless selection of passengers begins. Twenty-five billion people will be left behind.
Led by Javelin, thirty ships wander in space through many light years of promises, lost hope and death for the original crew and passengers. But life does survive, children grow and learn, to inherit the beginning of another world, another promise.
James Blish has written a compelling novel of gigantic moral problems and of people who learn to cope with their own limitations in order to deal with them.
From the Garlowe Clusters in the north to the Veils of Darkness in the south, the Star Kingdom sprawled over roughly a fifth of the galaxy. So huge was this realm that those who tussled for power over it seemed unable to appreciate that it faced annihilation by the Patch, a roving region of peculiar pseudo-energy a light-year across which drained the life-force from any living thing it encountered.
The Patch had moved into the Kingdom and was systematically feeding on system after system. Cynically unperturbed by the appalling loss of life, the royal houses merely tried to involve the Patch in their machinations, to the extent that civil war broke out all over again. But in the event, the Patch was to provide the crucial factor in the struggle for absolute power. The Annihilation Factor!
White Flag for Earthmen
Man had discovered a means of colonising the galaxy. Through a system of instantaneous matter transmission, men, machines, anything, could be sent light years away in seconds!
Only, men were not the only beings in the galaxy who were expanding, and at 200 light years from Earth the alien Gershmi people made their claims clear, with guns!
It would have been a fair fight between equally matched races, had not the very matter transmitter boxes which had made mankind’s expansion possible, suddenly began to put men back together, 200 light years from Earth, with their will to fight removes, so that Earthmen were marching with white flags of truce straight into Gershmi fire!
Sixteen humans have come together on Damien, a distant world where once, dreams were stolen and atrocities took place. They have gathered to view the last rising of a manmade nova, the testament to a war none can forget.
Soon, time will warp and masks will fall. Soon, violence will erupt anew – along with treachery, horror, murder, release and love.
Soon, some will find justice . . . and others, judgement. Soon.
Now, sixteen humans have gathered – to await the light of the Murdered Star.
Miscast in the role of assassin, inhabiting the stolen body of a stalwart savage, the star-wanderer from Earth found himself in dangers beyond even his wildest imaginings!
Unable to exceed the speed of light, he found ways around the law of nature, twisting space and time to his bidding. But the lure of FTL speeds could would not be forgotten…and the crew of the Flying Cloud – casts-offs from the great civilisations of the galaxy – found themselves breaking through the barriers of the past to discover new worlds – worlds from which they could never return!
The novel that inspired the headline-grabbing ITV series starring John Lynch, Kenneth Cranham, and Christine Kavanagh. A terrifyingly plausible journey into the disturbing nerve-centers of medical science where our secret future is formed today.
When Peter Carson is invited to the pioneering Jenner Clinic by one of the lab assistants, he’s naturally intrigued. But when he arrives at the remote site in the Cumbrian fells to find police roadblocks and official silence, he realises that he’s stumbled onto a story that will do him no good at all.
Dr Jenner’s work matters to the government. Enough to warrant unlimited funding, high security, and the best technicians in the country. But something has gone badly wrong. The project that has no room for mistakes has produced a result so terrible that it must never see the light of day. And now the evidence must be destroyed, whatever the cost.
These were the last weeks and days before the end of the world, before total destruction overwhelmed Earth and every living thing on the surface of the planet. No one knew exactly how long they had before the sun turned nova and destroyed not only Earth but all of the other planets in the Solar System. For mankind, the only excape lay in flight to the stars, to Alpha Centauri, more than four light years distant.
The hyperdrive, capable of carrying them there at close to the speed of light had been developed, but as yet had not been perfected. In a world without a future, the starships were the only salvation of mankind and they could save only a minute fraction of the population of Earth.
Panic is there, but temporarily forgotten by most, as the plans for a mass exodus are speeded up, as the long hours of mounting tension draw to a close and Judgement Day, when the world shall be destroyed by fire, is mo longer a hazy time in the far future, but something very close and very terrible. For those who remained behind, there could be no escape; death would come suddenly, eight minutes after the nova explosion. For those who fled the Solar System in the starships, untried and working on principles only partially understood, there was only the long, terrible journey through the endless night, not knowing what lay at the end of it.
In the aftermath of an interstellar war an enigmatic star is discovered, travelling towards the Solar System from the galactic core. Its appearance adds a new and dangerous factor in the turbulent politics of the inhabited worlds as the rival factions – the power-holders of the ReUnited Nations, the rebels who secretly oppose their power, and the Religious Witnesses – all see advantages to be gained.
But what awesome technology started the star on its journey half a million years ago – and why?
In the far future Earth is dying. Society has reverted to a more primitive life, much like the Middle Ages. Two men, Matthew and his brother John, who calls himself “Firefly,” set out to find the time traveller, the one person who can give purpose to their existence, the one individual who can still access past technology. The Firefly, he who lights his own way, seeks the age of Man’s greatness, the time when the human race once owned the stars, when great cities stood in places that have now become rust-bowls.
The Mannschenn Drive was the gateway to the stars, but it had one unfortunate site effect: Traveling faster than light, mankind reverted to the bestial form of his own legendary nightmare-the lycanthropic horror that the full moon once called forth from the soul’s depths, now no longer howling at the moon but soaring far beyond it…
In a distant future, on an Earth populated by a scant few hundred thousand humans, the Atkins’s Thomas performs without question the duties for which he was genetically bred. Called “Soldier” by one and all, he is a man of honor and ability, responsible for keeping the peace, for maintaining the status quo . . . and, most important, for guarding the great Book House on the hill – a vast repository of Last Culture knowledge presided over by Libary, Soldier’s mentor, the most senior of the mystic Celibate scholars.
Such is Thomas’s life in the serene, semi-primitive world without nations and cities and governments – until the night the starship comes home. Having fled a dangerously overcrowded Earth years before the Collapse and the Twilight that followed, for seven centuries the men and women of the space-going vessel Search have been combing the galaxy for inhabitable planets – their aging processes dramatically slowed by the relative magic of light speed travel and cryogenic sleep. And now, lonely and frustrated, the weary voyagers have returned to a homeworld unrecognizably altered by the relentless tides of time – a world that does not want them back.
A bitter welcome awaits the Searchers, as old Libary gathers Earth’s Ordinands and Elders together to tap the terrifying power of the collective unconscious – in preparation of the Carnival night when they will sweep the helpless intruders back to their lonely sky in the name of Holy Science. And it is Soldier who stands in the middle, silent and alone – bound by duty to evict the homesick star-travelers . . . yet cursed by a preordained genetic destiny that has decreed their eviction will mean Soldier’s death.
One star-chained evening in a Manhattan bathroom, Carl Schirmer spontaneously combusts! His body transforms into light, mysteriously snatched from his banal life by an alien intelligence 130 billion years in the future. There, all spacetime is collapsing into a cosmic black hole, the Big Crunch – and a bold, cosmic destiny awaits Carl. Rebuilt from the remnants of his light by extraterrestrials for a cryptic purpose, he awakens in time’s last world, the strangest of all – the Werld.
At the edge of infinity, Carl discovers the Foke, nomadic humans who travel among the floating islands of the Werld. The Foke teach him how to live – and love – at the end of time, and he loses his heart to his plucky guide, the beautiful Evoë. Their life together in this blissful kingdom that knows no aging or disease brings them to rapture – until Evoë falls prey to the zotl, a spidery intelligence who hunt the Foke and eat the chemical by-products of their pain. In order to save his beloved from a gruesome death, Carl must return to Earth – 130 billion years earlier – where he is shocked to discover that the Earth he’s come back to is not the one he left.
Can he meet the harsh demands of his task before the zotl find him and begin ravishing the Earth?
Author’s Note: The volumes of this series can each be read independently of the others. The feature that unifies them is their individual observations of science fiction’s sub-genre: “space opera,” which the editors David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer define as “colorful, dramatic, large-scale science fiction adventure, competently and sometimes beautifully written, usually focused on a sympathetic, heroic central character and plot action, and usually set in the relatively distant future, and in space or on other worlds, characteristically optimistic in tone. It often deals with war, piracy, military virtues, and very large-scale action, large stakes.”
Arcot, Wade, Morey, and their computer, Fuller, put together a ship which will travel faster than light; they gave us what may have been the first space-warp drive. The concept was simple, to make it plausible wasn’t – unless you were John W. Campbell.
With this out-of-space drive they hightail it among the stars. They locate the fugitive planets of the Black Star, find a frozen cemetery-world of a lost race, then head out for another galaxy and wind up in a knock-down-drag-out interplanetary war!