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A Fire Upon the Deep

Zones of Thought: Book 1

Vernor Vinge

Thousands of years hence, many races inhabit a universe where a mind's potential is determined by its location in space, from superintelligent entities in the Transcend, to the limited minds of the Unthinking Depths, where only simple creatures and technology can function. Nobody knows what strange force partitioned space into these "regions of thought," but when the warring Straumli realm use an ancient Transcendent artifact as a weapon, they unwittingly unleash an awesome power that destroys thousands of worlds and enslaves all natural and artificial intelligence.

Fleeing the threat, a family of scientists, including two children, are taken captive by the Tines, an alien race with a harsh medieval culture, and used as pawns in a ruthless power struggle. A rescue mission, not entirely composed of humans, must rescue the children-and a secret that may save the rest of interstellar civilization.

The Prefect

Revelation Space: Prefect Dreyfus Emergency: Book 1

Alastair Reynolds

Tom Dreyfus is a Prefect, a law enforcement officer with the Panoply. His beat is the multi-faceted utopian society of the Glitter Band, that vast swirl of space habitats orbiting the planet Yellowstone, the teeming hub of a human interstellar empire spanning many worlds.

His current case: investigating a murderous attack against one of the habitats that leaves nine hundred people dead, a crime that appalls even a hardened cop like Dreyfus. But then his investigation uncovers something even more potentially dangerous-a covert plot by an enigmatic entity seeking nothing less than total control of the Glitter Band...

Newton's Wake: A Space Opera

Ken MacLeod

ACROSS THE UNIVERSE

In the aftermath of the Hard Rapture-a cataclysmic war sparked by the explosive evolution of Earth's artificial intelligences into godlike beings-a few remnants of humanity managed to survive. Some even prospered.

Lucinda Carlyle, head of an ambitious clan of galactic entrepreneurs, had carved out a profitable niche for herself and her kin by taking control of the Skein, a chain of interstellar gates left behind by the posthumans. But on a world called Eurydice, a remote planet at the farthest rim of the galaxy, Lucinda stumbled upon a forgotten relic of the past that could threaten the Carlyles' way of life.

For, in the last instants before the war, a desperate band of scientists had scanned billions of human personalities into digital storage, and sent them into space in the hope of one day resurrecting them to the flesh. Now, armed, dangerous, and very much alive, these revenants have triggered a fateful confrontation that could shatter the balance of power, and even change the nature of reality itself.

Fool's War

Sarah Zettel

For 500 years we have carried our ancient hatreds and millennia-old wars into interstellar space. With them have gone the seeds of new self-aware lifeforms mutating from artificial intelligences, technoviruses, and info-flow. Beings with no bodies and no limits, evolving to leap from cyberspace to outer space. Beings born to be our rivals...

Katmer Al Shei, owner of the starship Pasadena, does not know she is carrying a live entity in her ship's computer systems. Or that the electronic network her family helped weave holds a new race fighting for survival. Or that her ship's professional Fool is trying to avert a battle that could destroy entire worlds. And when Al Shei learns the truth, all she'll really know is that it's time to take sides...

The Centauri Device

M. John Harrison

John Truck was to outward appearances just another lowlife spaceship captain. But he was also the last of the Centaurans - or at least, half of him was - which meant that he was the only person who could operate the Centauri Device, a sentient bomb which might hold the key to settling a vicious space war.

M. John Harrison's classic novel turns the conventions of space opera on their head, and is written with the precision and brilliance for which is famed.