“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.
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!
Kane. The Mystic Swordsman becomes the living link with the awesome power of a vanished superrace.
In the dark swamp where toadmen croak and cower, slumbers a secret relic of the days when creatures from the stars ruled the Earth. In the booty captured in a savage raid, Kane discovers a ring, a bloodstone, which is key to the power that lies buried, inactive but not dead, within the forest.
Now Kane, whose bloody sword has slashed and killed for the glory of other rulers, can scheme to rule the Earth – himself!
‘The great entertainer of our age, and a mesmerizing storyteller’ – Stephen King
A dark, psychological thriller, first published in 1957 as The Executioners and filmed by Martin Scorsese, starring Robert De Niro.
Max Cady, a brutal rapist, has been in prison for years, nursing his hatred for the man who put him away, attorney Sam Bowden.
When Cady gets parole, he begins stalking Bowden’s family.
As Cady’s campaign of terror mounts, the police are powerless to protect the family who must use their wits to survive a psychopath bent on revenge.
The vast federation of outworld states that formed the Terran Empire smarted under the unjust, evil influence of the Emperor Jrun. Daily, his tax-gatherers swooped down on the member planets, wringing the people dry of money and goods.
But away from the decadent shell that Jrun had built up, out among the lonely suns of the Edge, a new power was growing. It had fallen on Kelda, the young star-king of Zandyr to form the union known as the Cosmic Echelon. A fleet of ships that dared to match the armed might of Imperial Terra.
The ultimate weapon belonged to Jrun, a battleship which no power could withstand, and a force that could shatter the bodies of men.
Here, you can follow Kelda and his warrior princess, Irrena, through the star-strewn wastes of Space; across the Dark Gap in which the empty wrecks of once proud vessels floated forever, manned by crews long-dead.
And realise as Jrun did, that there are two kinds of laws. Those made by Man himself, which can be broken – and the laws of the Universe, which are inviolate.
A race of octopoid aliens visits earth to restore man’s dying beliefs, with spaceships containing the very Gods themselves. In the future the rich are allowed a four week holiday – into their own futures. A soldier wounded at the front finds his memories too terrifying to live with once his government-approved drugs are withdrawn. A young girl is convinced that mother-earth is male and dedicates her life to consummating her love for him. God is dead and the Devil makes an offer for the real estate of heaven…
These dark visions of the future by James Tiptree Jr. are a vivid, sometimes frightening foretelling of what may happen.
Lucius Shepard is a grand master of dark fantasy, famed for his baroque yet utterly contemporary visions of existential subversion and hallucinatory collapse. In Dagger Key, his fifth major story collection, Shepard confronts hard-bitten loners and self-deceiving operators with the shadowy emptiness within themselves and the insinuating darkness without, to ends sardonic and terrifying. The stories in this book, including six novellas, are:
“Stars Seen Through Stone” – in a small Pennsylvania town, mediocrity suddenly blossoms into genius; but at what terrible cost?
“Emerald Street Expansions” – in near-future Seattle, echoes of the life of a medieval French poet hint at either reincarnation or a dire conspiracy.
“Limbo” – a retired criminal on the run from the Mafia encounters ghosts, and much worse, on the shores of a haunted lake.
“Liar’s House” – in the grip of the legendary dragon Griaule, destiny is a treacherous and transformative thing.
“Dead Monty” – a small-time New Orleans criminal ventures outside his proper territory, and poker and voudoun conspire to bring him down.
“Dinner at Baldassaro’s” – a gang of immortals debates the future in an Italian resort, only for events to outrun any of their expectations.
“Abimagique” – a glib college loser falls in love with a witch, becoming an involuntary part of a world-saving – or world-destroying – magical ritual.
“The Lepidopertrist” – a small boy on a Caribbean island witnesses the creation of preternatural beings by a Yankee wizard…
“Dagger Key” – off the coast of Belize, the ghost of a famous pirate seems to control a spiral of murder and intrigue; or is someone else responsible?
Fifteen billion years from now, Earth is a dying planet, its skies darkened by the ashes of burned-out galaxies, its molten core long cooled. The sunless planet is nearing the day of final gravitational collapse in the surrounding galaxy. Mutations and evolution have led to a great disparity of life-forms, while civilization has resorted to the primitive.
Young Deyv of the Turtle Tribe knew nothing of his world’s history or its fate. He lived only to track down the wretched Yawtl who had stolen his precious Soul Egg. Joined by other victims of the same thief – the feisty Vana and the plant-man Sloosh – the group sets off across a nightmare landscape of monster-haunted jungle and wetland. Their search leads them ultimately to the jeweled wasteland of the Shemibob, an ageless being from another star who knows Earth’s end is near and holds the only key to escape.
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…
For three decades science fiction legend Alan Dean Foster has captivated readers around the world, from his debut classic The Tar-Aiym Krang and his inspired scenario for the first Star Trek movie to a host of New York Times bestsellers, including Splinter of the Mind’s Eye and Flinx in Flux.
In this collection of twenty brilliant odysseys of the imagination, Foster once again soars beyond the limits of reality – where the real thrills begin…
NASA Sending Addicts to Mars!: It was the most insane idea in the annals of space travel – and the only one that would work.
Diesel Dream: Sometimes on dark, lonely highways dreams do come true, and this trucker’s hope was the best one of all.
Sideshow: Flinx hadn’t a clue about the alien dancer, but Pip knew trouble when she saw it.
Empowered: A magnificent male discovers the not-so-super part about being a superhero.
The Question: A bold adventurer determines to solve one of life’s profound mysteries.
…and fourteen other amazing stories!
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.
“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!”
His name was Tharg, but he was not of any life form we know today. He lived so long ago that the planet Earth had not yet shaped itself. Lava seas roiled and churned, volcanoes spouted and grew, and heavy clouds hung in the hydrogen atmosphere, leaving the planet’s surface dark and dangerous.
On that world Tharg met his death, or something very much like it. He became a disembodied, totally nonphysical intelligence, cut off from all contact with the life he had known. He ‘slept’ for hundreds of millions of years, unconnected with the world, unthinking, hardly existing.
But then he began to awake – for there was new life on Earth, creatures called ‘human’, and Tharg, knowing an ancient promise from the stars, had to tell them of it. But . . . how?
Past worlds almost too strange to describe, three men hurtle into the dark uncharted mystery of space. Their task: to make contact with the Hegemony of Malis, the unknown force that has been watching the Solar System since before the beginning of recorded history. On their success or failure depends the future of the entire Earth.
Join them as they accelerate on Haertel drive towards the stunning core of the Hegemony itself in James Blish’s masterpiece of the time to come, Mission to the Heart Stars.
The modern mind usually associates witchcraft with the middle ages. We think of witches as Shakespeare depicted them in Macbeth. We see them as secret, black and midnight hags, doing a deed without a name. We close our eyes and immediately the vision of a cauldron filled with foul ingredients appears before us; here are the fenny snake, adder’s fork, wool of bat, scale of dragon and tooth of wolf.
But this does not go far enough back. There was witchcraft in the world long before medieval times. The Witch of Endor who practiced her strange arts in the reign of King Saul is familiar to all students of the Old Testament. The writings of Homer abound with references to witchcraft and sorcery. The very earliest human societies had witch doctors, medicine men, shamans and priests of the black art.
Perhaps so ancient and widespread a cult has some basis in fact. There are powers beyond science. Ancient occult laws will still hold good. It is not wise to cross the path of a being whose age is measured in centuries and whose dark powers can alter the stars in their courses.