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The Birthday of the World and Other Stories

Ursula K. Le Guin

Six of these tales are set in the author's signature world of the Ekumen, a world made familiar in her award-winning novel The Left Hand of Darkness. The title story was hailed by Publisher's Weekly as "remarkable... a standout." Paradises Lost is a mesmerizing novella of space exploration and the pursuit of happiness. These stories explore complex social interactions, troublesome issues of gender and sex, and the meaning of transformation, religion, and history.

Contents:

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Book 1

Douglas Adams

Join Douglas Adams's hapless hero Arthur Dent as he travels the galaxy with his intrepid pal Ford Prefect, getting into horrible messes and generally wreaking hilarious havoc. Dent is grabbed from Earth moments before a cosmic construction team obliterates the planet to build a freeway. You'll never read funnier science fiction; Adams is a master of intelligent satire, barbed wit, and comedic dialogue. The Hitchhiker's Guide is rich in comedic detail and thought-provoking situations and stands up to multiple reads. Required reading for science fiction fans, this book (and its follow-ups) is also sure to please fans of Monty Python, Terry Pratchett's Discworld series, and British sitcoms.

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Book 2

Douglas Adams

Facing annihilation at the hands of the warlike Vogons is a curious time to have a craving for tea. It could only happen to the cosmically displaced Arthur Dent and his curious comrades in arms as they hurtle across space powered by pure improbability--and desperately in search of a place to eat.

Among Arthur's motley shipmates are Ford Prefect, a longtime friend and expert contributor to the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy; Zaphod Beeblebrox, the three-armed, two-headed ex-president of the galaxy; Tricia McMillan, a fellow Earth refugee who's gone native (her name is Trillian now); and Marvin, the moody android who suffers nothing and no one very gladly. Their destination? The ultimate hot spot for an evening of apocalyptic entertainment and fine dining, where the food (literally) speaks for itself.

Will they make it? The answer: hard to say. But bear in mind that the Hitchhiker's Guide deleted the term "Future Perfect" from its pages, since it was discovered not to be!

Life, the Universe and Everything

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Book 3

Douglas Adams

The unhappy inhabitants of planet Krikkit are sick of looking at the night sky above their heads--so they plan to destroy it. The universe, that is. Now only five individuals stand between the white killer robots of Krikkit and their goal of total annihilation.

They are Arthur Dent, a mild-mannered space and time traveler, who tries to learn how to fly by throwing himself at the ground and missing; Ford Prefect, his best friend, who decides to go insane to see if he likes it; Slartibartfast, the indomitable vicepresident of the Campaign for Real Time, who travels in a ship powered by irrational behavior; Zaphod Beeblebrox, the two-headed, three-armed ex-head honcho of the Universe; and Trillian, the sexy space cadet who is torn between a persistent Thunder God and a very depressed Beeblebrox.

How will it all end? Will it end? Only this stalwart crew knows as they try to avert "universal" Armageddon and save life as we know it--and don't know it!

Only Forward

Michael Marshall Smith

Only a handful of authors write with such startling originality that the uniqueness of their vision has become synonymous with their name. In Spares and One of Us, Michael Marshall Smith has earned that distinction. In this unsettling, suspenseful, and wildly imaginative novel he's written a tale that from page one hurtles us....

Only Forward

Call him Stark. If you have to. If you're lucky, you won't call him at all. Because if you do, it means you've got trouble. Big trouble. And the problem is that before Stark is done fixing something, a whole lot of other things usually get broken. Like laws and lives--and anyone who gets in the way. It's that attitude that's earned him his latest assignment: finding a missing VIP named Fell Alkland. The authorities believe Alkland has been kidnapped. Stark doesn't. He hasn't stayed alive this long without learning the basics of survival in a world hurtling straight to hell: Things are always more complicated than they seem. And when a job seems too easy, that's when something really ugly is about to happen. For Fell Alkland is about to become Stark's worst nightmare, a nightmare where anything can happen at any time--where friends can become enemies in a heartbeat and your most secret fear a soul-screaming reality. And the worst of it is that for this nightmare you don't even have to be asleep.

So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Book 4

Douglas Adams

Back on Earth with nothing more to show for his long, strange trip through time and space than a ratty towel and a plastic shopping bag, Arthur Dent is ready to believe that the past eight years were all just a figment of his stressed-out imagination. But a gift-wrapped fishbowl with a cryptic inscription, the mysterious disappearance of Earth's dolphins, and the discovery of his battered copy of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy all conspire to give Arthur the sneaking suspicion that something otherworldly is indeed going on. . . .

God only knows what it all means. And fortunately, He left behind a Final Message of explanation. But since it's light-years away from Earth, on a star surrounded by souvenir booths, finding out what it is will mean hitching a ride to the far reaches of space aboard a UFO with a giant robot. But what else is new?

Polaris

Alex Benedict: Book 2

Jack McDevitt

The luxury space yacht Polaris carried an elite group of the wealthy and curious thousands of light-years from Earth to witness a spectacular stellar phenomenon. It never returned. The search party sent to investigate found the Polaris empty and adrift in space, the fate of its pilot and passengers a mystery.

Sixty years later, prominent antiquities dealer Alex Benedict is determined to find the truth about Polaris-no matter how far he must travel across the stars, no matter the risk.

The Man Who Folded Himself

David Gerrold

This classic work of science fiction is widely considered to be the ultimate time-travel novel. When Daniel Eakins inherits a time machine, he soon realizes that he has enormous power to shape the course of history. He can foil terrorists, prevent assassinations, or just make some fast money at the racetrack. And if he doesn't like the results of the change, he can simply go back in time and talk himself out of making it! But Dan soon finds that there are limits to his powers and forces beyond his control.

Cauldron

The Academy: Book 6

Jack McDevitt

When a young physicist unveils an efficient star drive capable of reaching the core of the galaxy, veteran star pilot Priscilla "Hutch" Hutchins finds herself back in the deepest reaches of space, and on the verge of discovering the origins of the deadly omega clouds that continue to haunt her.

The Rolling Stones

Heinlein Juveniles: Book 6

Robert A. Heinlein

The rollicking adventures of the Stone Family on a tour of the Solar System. It all statred when the twins, Castor and Pollux Stone, decided that life on the Lunar colony was too dull and decided to buy their own spaceship and go into business for themselves. Their father thought that was a fine, idea, except that he and Grandma Hazel bought the spaceship and the whole Stone Family were on their way out into the far reaches of the Solar System, with stops on Mars(where the twins got a lesson in the interplanetary economics of bicycles and the adorable little critters called flatcats who, it turned out, bred like rabbits; or perhaps, Tribbles....), out to the asteroids, where Mrs. Stone, an M.D., was needed to treat a dangerous outbreak of disease, even further out, to Titan and beyond.

Unforgettable Heinlein characters on an unforgettable adventure.

Mostly Harmless

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Book 5

Douglas Adams

Douglas Adams is back with the amazing, logic-defying, but-why-stop-now fifth novel in the Hitchhiker Trilogy. Here is the epic story of Random, who sets out on a transgalactic quest to find the planet of her ancestors.

Engineman

Eric Brown

The Enginemen once pushed the Bigships through the Nada Continuum, using the power of their minds to propel the ships at faster-than-light speeds. Now the Kielor Vincicoff gates, which twist space and bring distant planets closer, have made both the men and their ships redundant.

Contains the novel and the following stories (other editions may vary):

  • The Girl Who Died for Art and Lived
  • The Phoenix Experiment
  • Big Trouble Upstairs
  • The Star of Epsilon
  • The Time-Lapsed Man
  • The Pineal Zen Equation
  • The Art of Acceptance
  • Elegy Perpetuum

Dream Houses

Genevieve Valentine

It takes a certain type to crew a ship that drops you seven years at a time into the Deep. Kite-class cargo ships like Menkalinan get burned-out veterans, techs who've been warned off-planet, medics who weren't much good on the ground. The Gliese-D run isn't quite the end of the line, but it's getting there. No cachet, no rewards, no future; their trading posts get Kites full of cargo that the crew never ask questions about, because if it's headed for Gliese-D, it's probably something nobody wanted.

A year into the Deep, Amadis Reyes wakes up. Menkalinan is sounding the alarm; something's wrong. The rest of the crew are dead.

That's not even what's wrong.

Anthologized in Paula Guran's The Year's Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Novellas 2015.

Clans of the Alphane Moon

Masters of Science Fiction: Book 3

Philip K. Dick

When CIA agent Chuck Rittersdorf and his psychiatrist wife, Mary, file for divorce, they have no idea that in a few weeks they'll be shooting it out on Alpha III M2, the distant moon ruled by various psychotics liberated from a mental ward. Nor do they suspect that Chuck's new employer, the famous TV comedian Bunny Hentman, will also be there aiming his own laser gun.

How things came to such a darkly hilarious pass is the subject of Clans of the Alphane Moon, an astutely shrewd and acerbic tale that blurs all conventional distinctions between sanity and madness.

The Wanderers

Meg Howrey

In an age of space exploration, we search to find ourselves.

In four years, aerospace giant Prime Space will put the first humans on Mars. Helen Kane, Yoshihiro Tanaka, and Sergei Kuznetsov must prove they're the crew for the historic voyage by spending seventeen months in the most realistic simulation ever created. Constantly observed by Prime Space's team of "Obbers," Helen, Yoshi, and Sergei must appear ever in control. But as their surreal pantomime progresses, each soon realizes that the complications of inner space are no less fraught than those of outer space. The borders between what is real and unreal begin to blur, and each astronaut is forced to confront demons past and present, even as they struggle to navigate their increasingly claustrophobic quarters--and each other.

Astonishingly imaginative, tenderly comedic, and unerringly wise, The Wanderers explores the differences between those who go and those who stay, telling a story about the desire behind all exploration: the longing for discovery and the great search to understand the human heart.

From the Earth to the Moon

Baltimore Gun Club: Book 1

Jules Verne

Written almost a century before the daring flights of the astronauts, Jules Verne's prophetic novel of man's race to the stars is a classic adventure tale enlivened by broad satire and scientific acumen.

When the members of the elite Baltimore Gun Club find themselves lacking any urgent assignments at the close of the Civil War, their president, Impey Barbicane, proposes that they build a gun big enough to launch a rocket to the moon. But when Barbicane's adversary places a huge wager that the project will fail and a daring volunteer elevates the mission to a "manned" flight, one man's dream turns into an international space race.

Beyond Apollo

Masters of Science Fiction: Book 12

Barry N. Malzberg

A two-man mission to Venus fails and is aborted. When it returns, the Captain is missing and the other astronaut, Harry M. Evans, is unable to explain what has happened. Or, conversely, he has too many explications. His journal of the expedition -- compiled in the mental institution to which NASA has embarrassedly committed him -- offers contradictory stories: he murdered the Captain, mad Venusian invaders murdered the Captain, the Captain vanished, no one was murdered and the Captain has returned in Evans' guise....

As the explanations pyramid and as the supervising psychiatrist's increasingly desperate efforts to get a straight story fail, it becomes apparent that Evans's madness and his inability to explain what happened are expressions of humanity's incompetence at the enormity of space exploration.

Changing Planes

Ursula K. Le Guin

It was Sita Dulip who discovered, whilst stuck in an airport, unable to get anywhere, how to change planes - literally. By a mere kind of a twist and a slipping bend, easier to do than describe, she could go anywhere - be anywhere - because she was already between planes ... and on the way back from her sister's wedding, she missed her plane in Chicago and found herself in Choom. The author, now armed with this knowledge and Rornan's invaluable Handy Planetary Guide - although not the Encyclopedia Planeria, as that runs to forty-four volumes - has spent many happy years exploring places as diverse as Islac and the Veksian plane. Changing Planes is an intriguing, enticing mixture of Gulliver's Travels and The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, a mix of satire, cynicism and humour by one of the world's best writers.

Table of Contents

Trader to the Stars

Technic Civilization: Nicholas van Rijn: Book 2

Poul Anderson

Meet that twenty-first century stellar trader, Nicholas Van Rijn, and get set for one of the finest creations of Poul Anderson.

Contents:

Hiding Place
Territory
The Master Key

Terminal

Lavie Tidhar

Terminal by Lavie Tidhar is an emotionally wrenching science fiction story about people, who, either having nothing to lose or having a deep desire to go into space, travel to Mars via cheap, one-person, one-way vehicles dubbed jalopies. During the trip, those in the swarm communicate with each other, their words relayed to those left behind.

This story is included in the anthologies The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year: Volume 11 (2017), edited by Jonathan Strahan, The Best Science Fiction of the Year Volume 2 (2017), edited by Neil Clarke, The Year's Best Science Fiction: Thirty-Fourth Annual Collection (2017), edited by Gardner Dozois, and Worlds Seen in Passing: Ten Years of Tor.com Short Fiction (2018), edited Irene Gallo.

Read the full story for free at Tor.com.

Super Extra Grande

Yoss

With playfulness and ingenuity in the tradition of Douglas Adams, the Cuban science fiction master Yoss delivers a space opera of intergalactic proportions with Super Extra Grande, the winner of the 20th annual UPC Science Fiction Award in 2011.

Set in a distant future, after the invention of faster-than-light space travel has propelled a still-immature mankind into the far corners of the Milky Way, the novel features creatures of immense variety--amoebas that cover entire worlds, sensual females that feed on substances from their males' reproductive systems, talking reptiles, and other creations drawn from the classics of Cuban and international science fiction--all of which serve as colleagues, fellow adventurers, sex partners, teachers, or members of the military high command in the Galactic Community governing this part of the universe. Our protagonist, Jan Amos Sangan Dongo, has a special role in this otherworldly menagerie: He is a veterinarian who specializes in treating enormous animals across the galaxy. When a colonial conflict threatens the fragile peace between the Galaxy's seven intelligent species, Dr. Sangan must embark on a daring mission to enter a gigantic creature and find two swallowed ambassadors--who also happen to be his competing love interests.

Coupling his own extensive studies in (earthly) biology with his vast curiosity and wild imagination, Yoss brings us a rare specimen in the richly parodic tradition of Cuban science fiction.