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A Deepness in the Sky

Zones of Thought: Book 2

Vernor Vinge

After thousands of years searching, humans stand on the verge of first contact with an alien race. Two human groups: the Qeng Ho, a culture of free traders, and the Emergents, a ruthless society based on the technological enslavement of minds.

The group that opens trade with the aliens will reap unimaginable riches. But first, both groups must wait at the aliens' very doorstep for their strange star to relight and for their planet to reawaken, as it does every tow hundred and fifty years....

Then, following terrible treachery, the Qeng Ho must fight for their freedom and for the lives of the unsuspecting innocents on the planet below, while the aliens themselves play a role unsuspected by the Qeng Ho and Emergents alike.

More than just a great science fiction adventure, A Deepness in the Sky is a universal drama of courage, self-discovery, and the redemptive power of love.

Fiasco

Stanislaw Lem

The planet Quinta is pocked by ugly mounds and covered by a spiderweb-like network. It is a kingdom of phantoms and of a beauty afflicted by madness. In stark contrast, the crew of the spaceship Hermes represents a knowledge-seeking Earth. As they approach Quinta, a dark poetry takes over and leads them into a nightmare of misunderstanding.

Dragon's Egg

Dragon's Egg: Book 1

Robert L. Forward

In a moving story of sacrifice and triumph, human scientists establish a relationship with intelligent lifeforms--the cheela--living on Dragon's Egg, a neutron star where one Earth hour is equivalent to hundreds of their years. The cheela culturally evolve from savagery to the discovery of science, and for a brief time, men are their diligent teachers . . .

Rendezvous with Rama

Rama Series: Book 1

Arthur C. Clarke

At first, only a few things are known about the celestial object that astronomers dub Rama. It is huge, weighing more than ten trillion tons. And it is hurtling through the solar system at inconceivable speed. Then a space probe confirms the unthinkable: Rama is no natural object. It is, incredible, an interstellar spacecraft. Space explorers and planet-bound scientists alike prepare for mankind's first encounter with alien intelligence. It will kindle their wildest dreams... and fan their darkest fears. For no one knows who the Ramans are or why they have come. And now the moment of rendezvous awaits -- just behind a Raman airlock door.

Gateway

The Heechee Saga: Book 1

Frederik Pohl

Gateway opened on all the wealth of the Universe... and on reaches of unimaginable horror. When prospector Bob Broadhead went out to Gateway on the Heechee spacecraft, he decided he would know which was the right mission to make him his fortune. Three missions later, now famous and permanently rich, Robinette Broadhead has to face what happened to him and what he is... in a journey into himself as perilous and even more horrifying than the nightmare trip through the interstellar void that he drove himself to take!

The Mote in God's Eye

The Moties: Book 1

Larry Niven
Jerry Pournelle

In the year 3016, the Second Empire of Man spans hundreds of star systems, thanks to the faster-than-light Alderson Drive. No other intelligent beings have ever been encountered, not until a light sail probe enters a human system carrying a dead alien. The probe is traced to the Mote, an isolated star in a thick dust cloud, and an expedition is dispatched.

In the Mote the humans find an ancient civilization--at least one million years old--that has always been bottled up in their cloistered solar system for lack of a star drive. The Moties are welcoming and kind, yet rather evasive about certain aspects of their society. It seems the Moties have a dark problem, one they've been unable to solve in over a million years.

Schild's Ladder

Greg Egan

The Age of Death ended countless millennia ago. No longer burdened by limited lifespans, the immortal humans who populate inhabited space now have the luxury to travel vast distances effortlessly and to tinker with the intricate mechanics of spacetime. But one such experiment in quantum physics has had a catastrophic and unanticipated result, creating an enormous, rapidly expanding vacuum -- a region of new physics -- with the frightening potential to devour countless inhabited solar systems.

Tchicaya abandoned his homeworld four thousand years ago to travel the universe, freely choosing, as have others of his bent, to endure the hardships of distance and loneliness for the sake of knowledge and experience. Aboard the Rindler, a starship trawling the border of the allconsuming novo-vacuum, he feels his endless life has new purpose. For the Rindler is the center for the scientific study the phenomenon -- a common ground for Preservationists and Yielders alike, those working to halt and destroy the encroaching worlds-eater ... and those determinedto investigate its marvels while allowing its growth to continue unchecked. Tchicaya has allied himself firmly with the latter camp.

The passing decades -- and inevitable expansion of the void -- widen the great rift between the two factions, intensifying what was once simply ideological differences into something more angry, explosive, and dangerous. And the arrival of Tchicaya's fiery first love, Mariama, and her immediate embracing of the Preservationist cause, intensifies an inner turmoil he has been struggling with since his distant childhood.

But everything onboard the Rindler -- and, ultimately, in the inhabited universe itself-is on the cusp of further cataclysmic change, as the Yielders' explorations threaten to transform discord into violent action and potential xenocide. For new evidence suggests that something unthinkable is developing at an astounding rate deep within the mysterious, 600-light-years-wide void -- something neither Tchicaya and his compatriots nor Mariama and hers could ever have imagined possible: life.

Pushing Ice

Alastair Reynolds

Some centuries from now, the exploration and exploitation of the Solar System is in full swing. On the cold edge of the system, Bella Lind, captain of the huge commercial spacecraft Rockhopper IV, helps fuel this new gold rush by attaching mass-driver motors to organic-rich water-ice comets to move them back to the inner worlds. Her crew are tough, blue-collar miners, engineers and demolition experts. Around Saturn, something inexplicable happens: one of the moons leaves its orbit and accelerates out of the Solar System. The icy mantle peels away to reveal that it was never a moon in the first place, just a parked spacecraft, millions of years old, that has now decided to move on. Rockhopper IV, trapped in the pull, is hurled across time and space into the deep, distant future, arriving in a vast, alien-constructed chamber. And the crew are not alone, for each chamber contains an alien culture dragged into this cosmic menagerie at the end of time. The crew of the Rockhopper IV know a lot about blowing up comets, but not much about first contact with ultra-advanced aliens.

They have two things to worry about: can they (and their new alien allies) negotiate their way through each harrying contact? And can they assimilate the avalanche of knowledge about their own future - including all the glittering, dangerous technologies that are now theirs for the taking - without destroying themselves in the process?

Vacuum Diagrams

The Xeelee Sequence: Book 5

Stephen Baxter

While the human race struggles against alien oppressors, an even greater epic battle rages between the deadly dark-matter photino birds and their implacable enemy, the Xeelee...

Jupiter

The Grand Tour: Book 5

Ben Bova

Grant Archer only wanted to study astrophysics. But the forces of the "New Morality," the coalition of censorious do-gooders who run 21st-century America, have other plans for him.

To his distress, Grant is torn from his young bride and sent to a research station in orbit around Jupiter, to spy on the scientists who work there. Their work may lead to the discovery of higher life forms in the Jovian system-with implications the New Morality doesn't like at all.

What Grant's would-be controllers don't know is that his loyalty to science may be greater than his desire for a quiet life. But that loyalty will be tested in a mission as dangerous as any ever undertaken-a mission to the middle reaches of Jupiter's endless atmosphere, a place where hydrogen flows as a liquid, and cyclones larger than planets rage for centuries at a time.

What lurks there is more than anyone has counted on...and stranger than anyone could possibly have imagined.

Beyond the Blue Event Horizon

The Heechee Saga: Book 2

Frederik Pohl

In Book Two of the Heechee Saga, Robinette Broadhead is on his way to making a fortune by bankrolling an expedition to the Food Factory--a Heechee spaceship that can graze the cometary cloud and transfor the basic elements of the universe into untold quantities of food. But even as he gambles on the breakthrough technology, he is wracked with the guilt of losing his wife, poised forever at the "event horizon" of a black hole where Robin had abaondoned her. As more and more information comes back from the expedition, Robin grows ever hopeful that he can rescue his beloved Gelle-Klara Moynlin. After three and a years, the factory is discovered to work, and a human is found aboard. Robin's suffering may be just about over....

Mission of Gravity

Mesklin: Book 1

Hal Clement

For a profit -- and adventure -- Barlennan would sail thousands of miles across uncharted waters, into regions where gravity itself played strange tricks. He would dare the perils of strange tribes and stranger creatures -- even dicker with those strange aliens from beyond the skies, though the concept of another world was unknown to the inhabitants of the disk-shaped planet of Mesklin.

But in spite of the incredible technology of the strangers and without regard for their enormous size, Barlennan had the notion of turning the deal to an unsuspected advantage for himself . . . all in all a considerable enterprise for a being very much resembling a fifteen-inch caterpillar!

A Meeting With Medusa

Arthur C. Clarke

Nebula winning and Hugo nominated novella.

In leading an expedition through the many-layered Jovian atmosphere in the hydrogen balloon craft Kon-Tiki, Captain Howard Falcon discovers a world where bioluminescent air plankton produce brilliant atmospheric sea-fire, predatory manta-ray creatures dominate the skies, and enormous jellyfish-like beings grow to be over a mile across.

This story was originally published in the December 1971 issue of Playboy and has been reprinted many times. It is incuded in the collections The Wind from the Sun (1972), The Sentinel (1983) and The Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke (2000). It is half of the Tor Double A Meeting with Medusa / Green Mars (1988). It can be found in numerous anthologies. Among them Nebula Award Stories Eight (1973), edited by Isaac Asimov, Best SF: 1971 (1972) edited by Harry Harrison and Brian W. Aldiss, The Best Science Fiction of the Year (1972) edited by Terry Carr, The Arbor House Treasury of Science Fiction Masterpieces (1983), edited by Robert Silverberg and Martin H. Greenberg and The SFWA Grand Masters, Volume 2 (2000), edited by Frederik Pohl.

Omega

The Academy: Book 4

Jack McDevitt

A civilization-destroying omega cloud has switched direction, heading straight for a previously unexplored planetary system -- and its alien society. And suddenly, a handful of brave humans must try to save an entire world -- without revealing their existence.

Heechee Rendezvous

The Heechee Saga: Book 3

Frederik Pohl

After millennia had passed, Mankind discovered the Heechee legacy (an alien culture that fled to the reative safety of a black hole) -- in particular an asteroid stocked with autonavigating spacecraft. Robinette Broadhead, who had led the expedition that unlocked the many secrets of Heechee technology, is now forced once more to make a perilous voyage into space -- where the Heechee are waiting. And this time the future of Man is at stake....

Infinity Beach

Jack McDevitt

We are alone. That is the verdict, after centuries of Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence missions and space exploration. The only living things in the Universe are found on the Nine Worlds settled from Earth, and the starships that knit them together. Or so it's believed, until Dr. Kimberly Brandywine sets out to find what happened to her clone-sister Emily, who, after the final, unsuccessful manned SETI expedition, disappeared along with the rest of her ship's crew.

Following a few ominous clues, Kim discovers the ship's log was faked. Something happened out there in the darkness between the stars, and she's prepared to go to any length to find answers. Even if it means giving up her career...stealing a starship...losing her lover. Kim is about to discover the truth about her sister -- and about more than she ever dared imagine.

Across the Sea of Suns

The Galactic Center Series: Book 2

Gregory Benford

Lancer, a spaceship built to specifications found in the computers of an alien derelict, journeys to the star, Ra, from which the Earth has received mysterious radio transmissions in English.

Rama II

Rama Series: Book 2

Gentry Lee
Arthur C. Clarke

Years ago, the enormous, enigmatic alien spacecraft called Rama sailed through our solar system as mind-boggling proof that life existed -- or had existed -- elsewhere in the universe. Now, at the dawn of the twenty-third century, another ship is discovered hurtling toward us. A crew of Earth's best and brightest minds is assembled to rendezvous with the massive vessel. They are armed with everything we know about Raman technology and culture. But nothing can prepare them for what they are about to encounter on board Rama II: cosmic secrets that are startling, sensational -- and perhaps even deadly.

Legacy

The Way Series: Book 3

Greg Bear

The Way is a tunnel through space and time. The entrance is through the hollow asteroid Thistledown and the space station Axis City that sits at the asteroid's center. From there the Flawships ride the center of the Way, traveling to other worlds and times.

Now the rulers of Axis City have discovered that a huge group of colonists has secretly entered one of the interdicted worlds along the Way. In some ways Lamarkia is very Earth-like--but its biology is extraordinary. A single genetic entity can take many forms, and span a continent. There are only a few of these "ecos" on Lamarkia, and the effect of human interaction on them is unknown.

Olmy Ap Sennon has been sent to secretly assess the extent of the damage. But he will find far more than an intriguing alien biology--for on their new world the secret colonists have returned to the old ways of human history: war, famine, and ecological disaster. On this mission, Olmy will learn about the basics: love, responsibility, and even failure...

Starfarers

Poul Anderson

When evidence of an advanced civilization is discovered by SETI astronomers, an expedition into the far reaches of the galaxy is planned and an eclectic team of scientists is chosen to make the trip. But because the origin of the alien signals is thousands of light-years away, the crew will age only a few years while millennia pass on Earth. And though they are ready to face the ramifications of such a voyage, none of the starfarers are prepared for what awaits them at the outer edge of the cosmos--or back at the planet they once called home.

Close to Critical

Mesklin: Book 2

Hal Clement

The Tenebrans are intelligent, but primitive by human standards. Yet scientists from Earth have found ways to train and educate some of the Tenebrans. This training becomes crucial when two beings—a young girl from Earth and the son of an alien diplomat—are marooned in a bathyscape that is headed toward the surface of the planet, where neither can hope to survive.

The Gateway Trip

The Heechee Saga: Book 5

Frederik Pohl

The Heechee were perhaps the greatest and most tantalizing mystery the human race had ever known. The first Heechee artifacts were uncovered on Venus, and in the beginning they were treated as nothing more than costly souvenirs and curiosities for tourists from Earth and Mars. But when an asteroid stocked with autonavigating spacecraft was discovered, suddenly the Heechee universe was thrown wide open, giving birth to the Gateway Corporation and bringing untold riches to the adventurers who risked the unknown to see where those Heechee spacecraft would take them. Many of those brave souls never returned. The ones who did brought back technological wonders that transformed life on Earth -- but of the Heechee themselves there was no sign...

The Gateway Trip, lavishly illustrated by artist Frank Kelly Freas, presents the tales of those perilous journeys and marvelous discoveries, as those intrepid pioneers followed the trail of the elusive Heechee and changed the course of human history forever!