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How Firm a Foundation

Safehold: Book 5

David Weber

The Charisian Empire, born in war, has always known it must fight for its very survival. What most of its subjects don't know even now, however, is how much more it's fighting for. Emperor Cayleb, Empress Sharleyan, Merlin Athrawes, and their innermost circle of most trusted advisers do know. And because they do, they know the penalty if they lose will be far worse than their own deaths and the destruction of all they know and love.

For five years, Charis has survived all the Church of God Awaiting and the corrupt men who control it have thrown at the island empire. The price has been high and paid in blood. Despite its chain of hard-fought naval victories, Charis is still on the defensive. It can hold its own at sea, but if it is to survive, it must defeat the Church upon its own ground. Yet how does it invade the mainland and take the war to a foe whose population outnumbers its own fifteen to one? How does it prevent that massive opponent from rebuilding its fleets and attacking yet again?

Charis has no answer to those questions, but needs to find one... quickly. The Inquisition's brutal torture and hideous executions are claiming more and more innocent lives. Its agents are fomenting rebellion against the only mainland realms sympathetic to Charis. Religious terrorists have been dispatched to wreak havoc against the Empire's subjects. Assassins stalk the Emperor and Empress, their allies and advisers, and an innocent young boy, not yet eleven years old, whose father has already been murdered. And Merlin Athrawes, the cybernetic avatar of a young woman a thousand years dead, has finally learned what sleeps beneath the far-off Temple in the Church of God Awaiting's city of Zion.

The men and women fighting for human freedom and tolerance have built a foundation for their struggle in the Empire of Charis with their own blood.

By Heresies Distressed

Safehold: Book 3

David Weber

Now the battle for the soul of the planet Safehold has begun.

The Kingdom of Charis and the Kingdom of Chisholm have joined together, pledged to stand against the tyranny of a corrupt Church. The youthful Queen Sharleyan of Chisholm has wed King Cayleb of Charis, forging a single dynasty, a single empire, dedicated to the defense of human freedom. Crowned Empress of that empire, Sharleyan has found in Cayleb's arms the love she never dared hope for in a "marriage of state." In Cayleb's cause, his defiance of the ruthless Group of Four who govern mother Church, she has found the task to which she can commit her mind and her courage. It is a cause for which she was born.

Yet there are things Sharleyan still does not know. Secrets Cayleb has not been permitted to share, even with her. Secrets like the true story of humanity on Safehold. Like the intricate web of lies, deception, and fabricated "religion" which have chained humanity for almost a thousand years. Like the existence of the genocidal alien Gbaba, waiting to complete mankind's destruction should humans ever attract their attention once more. Like the existence of a young woman, Nimue Alban, nine hundred years dead, whose heart, mind, and memories live on within the android body of the warrior-monk she knows as Merlin.

And so Empress Sharleyan faces the the great challenge of her life unaware of all that task truly entails...or of how the secrets the man who loves her cannot share may threaten all they have achieved between them... and her own life.

A Mighty Fortress

Safehold: Book 4

David Weber

Young Cayleb Ahrmahk has accomplished things few people could even dream of. Not yet even thirty years old, he's won the most crushing naval victories in human history. He's smashed a hostile alliance of no less than five princedoms and won the hand of the beautiful young Queen Sharleyan of Chisholm. Cayleb and Sharleyan have created the Charisian Empire, the greatest naval power in the history of Safehold, and they've turned Charis into a place of refuge for all who treasure freedom.

Their success may prove short-lived. The Church of God Awaiting, which controls most of Safehold, has decreed their destruction. Mother Church's entire purpose is to prevent the very things to which Charis is committed. Since the first attempt to crush the heretics failed, the Church has no choice but to adopt some of the hated Charisian innovations for themselves. Soon a mighty fleet will sail against Cayleb, destroying everything in its path.

But there are still matters about which the Church knows nothing, including Cayleb and Sharleyan's adviser, friend, and guardian- the mystic warrior-monk named Merlin Athrawes. Merlin knows all about battles against impossible odds, because he is in fact the cybernetic avatar of a young woman named Nimue Alban, who died a thousand years before. As Nimue, Merlin saw the entire Terran Federation go down in fire and slaughter at the hands of a foe it could not defeat. He knows that Safehold is the last human planet in existence, and that the stasis the Church was created to enforce will be the human race's death sentence if it is allowed to stand.

The juggernaut is rumbling down on Charis, but Merlin Athrawes and a handful of extraordinary human beings stand in its path. The Church is about to discover just how potent the power of human freedom truly is.

Parable of the Talents

The Parable Series: Book 2

Octavia E. Butler

As America rebuilds itself, bigotry threatens a peaceful haven.

Lauren Olamina was only eighteen when her family was killed, and anarchy encroached on her Southern California home. She fled the war zone for the hope of quiet and safety in the north. There she founded Acorn, a peaceful community based on a religion of her creation, called Earthseed, whose central tenet is that God is change. Five years later, Lauren has married a doctor and given birth to a daughter. Acorn is beginning to thrive. But outside the tranquil group's walls, America is changing for the worse.

Presidential candidate Andrew Steele Jarret wins national fame by preaching a return to the values of the American golden age. To his marauding followers, who are identified by their crosses and black robes, this is a call to arms to end religious tolerance and racial equality-a brutal doctrine they enforce by machine gun. And as this band of violent extremists sets its deadly sights on Earthseed, Acorn is plunged into a harrowing fight for its very survival.

Cat's Cradle

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

One of Vonnegut's major works, this is an apocalyptic tale of the planet's ultimate fate, featuring a cast of unlikely heroes.

Elder Race

Adrian Tchaikovsky

Lynesse is the lowly Fourth Daughter of the queen, and always getting in the way.

But a demon is terrorizing the land, and now she's an adult (albeit barely) with responsibilities (she tells herself). Although she still gets in the way, she understands that the only way to save her people is to invoke the pact between her family and the Elder sorcerer who has inhabited the local tower for as long as her people have lived here (though none in living memory has approached it).

But Elder Nyr isn't a sorcerer, and he is forbidden to help, and his knowledge of science tells him the threat cannot possibly be a demon...

A Canticle for Leibowitz

Leibowitz: Book 1

Walter M. Miller, Jr.

In the Utah desert, Brother Francis of the Albertian Order of Leibowitz has made a miraculous discovery: the relics of the martyr Isaac Leibowitz himself, including the blessed blueprint and the sacred shopping list. They may provide a bright ray of hope in a terrifying age of darkness, a time of ignorance and genetic monsters that are the unholy aftermath of the Flame Deluge. But as the spellbinding mystery at the core of this extraordinary novel unfolds, it is the search itself--for meaning, for truth, for love--that offers hope to a humanity teetering on the edge of an abyss.

A timeless and still timely masterpiece, A Canticle for Leibowitz is a classic that ranks with Brave New World and 1984.

The Chrysalids

John Wyndham

The Chyrsalids is set in the future after a devastating global nuclear war. David, the young hero of the novel, lives in a tight-knit community of religious and genetic fundamentalists, always on the alert for any deviation from the norm of God's creation. Abnormal plants are publicly burned, with much singing of hymns. Abnormal humans (who are not really human) are also condemned to destruction-unless they succeed in fleeing to the Fringes, that Wild Country where, as the authorities say, nothing is reliable and the devil does his work. David grows up ringed by admonitions: KEEP PURE THE STOCK OF THE LORD; WATCH THOU FOR THE MUTANT.

At first he does not question. Then, however, he realizes that the he too is out of the ordinary, in possession of a power that could doom him to death or introduce h im to a new, hitherto unimagined world of freedom.

The Chrysalids is a perfectly conceived and constructed work form the classic era o science fiction, a Voltairean philosophical tale that has as much resonance in our own day, when religious and scientific dogmatism are both on the march, as when it was written during the cold war.

Jack Glass: The Story of a Murderer

Adam Roberts

Golden Age SF meets Golden Age Crime from the author of Swiftly, New Model Army, and Yellow Blue Tibia-an innovative literary voice working at the height of his powers

Jack Glass is the murderer-we know this from the start. Yet as this extraordinary novel tells the story of three murders committed by Glass, the reader will be surprised to find out that it was Glass who was the killer and how he did it. And by the end of the book our sympathies for the killer are fully engaged. Riffing on the tropes of crime fiction (the country house murder, the locked room mystery) and imbued with the feel of golden age SF, this is another bravura performance from Roberts. Whatever games he plays with the genre, whatever questions he asks of the reader, Roberts never loses sight of the need to entertain.

This novel has some wonderfully gruesome moments, is built around three gripping HowDunnits, and comes with liberal doses of sly humor. Roberts invites us to have fun and tricks us into thinking about both crime and SF via a beautifully structured novel set in a society whose depiction challenges notions of crime, punishment, power, and freedom.

Inferno

Inferno: Book 1

Larry Niven
Jerry Pournelle

After being thrown out the window of his luxury apartment, science fiction writer Allen Carpentier wakes to find himself at the gates of hell. Feeling he's landed in a great opportunity for a book, he attempts to follow Dante's road map. Determined to meet Satan himself, Carpentier treks through the Nine Layers of Hell led by Benito Mussolini, and encounters countless mental and physical tortures. As he struggles to escape, he's taken through new, puzzling, and outlandish versions of sin--recast for the present day.

Children of God

Sparrow Series: Book 2

Mary Doria Russell

Mary Doria Russell's debut novel, The Sparrow, took us on a journey to a distant planet and into the center of the human soul. A critically acclaimed bestseller, The Sparrow was chosen as one of Entertainment Weekly's Ten Best Books of the Year, a finalist for the Book-of-the-Month Club's First Fiction Prize and the winner of the James M. Tiptree Memorial Award. Now, in Children of God, Russell further establishes herself as one of the most innovative, entertaining and philosophically provocative novelists writing today.

The only member of the original mission to the planet Rakhat to return to Earth, Father Emilio Sandoz has barely begun to recover from his ordeal when the Society of Jesus calls upon him for help in preparing for another mission to Alpha Centauri. Despite his objections and fear, he cannot escape his past or the future.

Old friends, new discoveries and difficult questions await Emilio as he struggles for inner peace and understanding in a moral universe whose boundaries now extend beyond the solar system and whose future lies with children born in a faraway place.

Strikingly original, richly plotted, replete with memorable characters and filled with humanity and humor, Children of God is an unforgettable and uplifting novel that is a potent successor to The Sparrow and a startlingly imaginative adventure for newcomers to Mary Doria Russell's special literary magic.

The Calculating Stars

Lady Astronaut: Book 1

Mary Robinette Kowal

A meteor decimates the U.S. government and paves the way for a climate cataclysm that will eventually render the earth inhospitable to humanity. This looming threat calls for a radically accelerated timeline in the earth's efforts to colonize space, as well as an unprecedented opportunity for a much larger share of humanity to take part.

One of these new entrants in the space race is Elma York, whose experience as a WASP pilot and mathematician earns her a place in the International Aerospace Coalition's attempts to put man on the moon. But with so many skilled and experienced women pilots and scientists involved with the program, it doesn't take long before Elma begins to wonder why they can't go into space, too -- aside from some pesky barriers like thousands of years of history and a host of expectations about the proper place of the fairer sex. And yet, Elma's drive to become the first Lady Astronaut is so strong that even the most dearly held conventions may not stand a chance.

The Hammer of God

Arthur C. Clarke

A century into the future, technology has solved most of the problems that have plagued our time. However, a new problem is on the horizon-one greater than humanity has ever faced. A massive asteroid is racing toward the earth, and its impact could destroy all life on the planet.

Immediately after the asteroid-named "Kali" after the Hindu goddess of chaos and destruction-is discovered, the world's greatest scientists begin their search for a way to prevent disaster. In the meantime, Captain Robert Singh, aboard the starship Goliath, may be the only person who can stop the asteroid. But this heroic role may demand the ultimate sacrifice.

Out of the Silent Planet

The Cosmic Trilogy: Book 1

C. S. Lewis

The first book in C. S. Lewis's acclaimed Space Trilogy, which continues with Perelandra and That Hideous Strength, Out of the Silent Planet begins the adventures of the remarkable Dr. Ransom. Here, that estimable man is abducted by a megalomaniacal physicist and his accomplice and taken via spaceship to the red planet of Malacandra. The two men are in need of a human sacrifice, and Dr. Ransom would seem to fit the bill.

Once on the planet, however, Ransom eludes his captors, risking his life and his chances of returning to Earth, becoming a stranger in a land that is enchanting in its difference from Earth and instructive in its similarity.

First published in 1938, Out of the Silent Planet remains a mysterious and suspenseful tour de force.

A Gift Upon the Shore

M. K. Wren

In the Pacific Northwest of the near future, the golden age has ended in apocalypse. Nuclear war has unleased firestorms and the killing cold of nuclear winter. Earthquakes and tidal waves have ravaged the West Coast of America. Desperate violent looters comb the devastated land. And a horrifying pandemic lays waste to the remaining human population.

But one of the few survivors, Mary Hope, is determined to see that some spark of culture survives. Together with her beloved friend Rachel, she sets out to preserve the precious knowledge of the past by saving every book she can in what may very well be the last library - the only record of a world that has perished.

But Mary and Rachel are not alone. They are forced to share their small subsistence farm, Amarna, with the Flock, a small band of survivors with fanatical beliefs. And one of those beliefs is that books are blasphemous and should be destroyed...

Perelandra

The Cosmic Trilogy: Book 2

C. S. Lewis

The second book in C. S. Lewis's acclaimed Space Trilogy, which also includes Out of the Silent Planet and That Hideous Strength, Perelandra continues the adventures of the extraordinary Dr. Ransom.

Pitted against the most destructive of human weaknesses, temptation, the great man must battle evil on a new planet -- Perelandra -- when it is invaded by a dark force.

Will Perelandra succumb to this malevolent being, who strives to create a new world order and who must destroy an old and beautiful civilization to do so? Or will it throw off the yoke of corruption and achieve a spiritual perfection as yet unknown to man?

The outcome of Dr. Ransom's mighty struggle alone will determine the fate of this peace-loving planet.

The Stars are Ours!

Pax / Astra: Book 1

Andre Norton

The Stars are Ours! describes the first interstellar voyage, undertaken to escape the tyranny that rules the Earth.

That Hideous Strength

The Cosmic Trilogy: Book 3

C. S. Lewis

The final book in C. S. Lewis's acclaimed Space Trilogy, which includes Out of the Silent Planet and Perelandra, That Hideous Strength concludes the adventures of the matchless Dr. Ransom.

The dark forces that were repulsed in Out of the Silent Planet and Perelandra are massed for an assault on the planet Earth itself. Word is on the wind that the mighty wizard Merlin has come back to the land of the living after many centuries, holding the key to ultimate power for that force which can find him and bend him to its will.

A sinister technocratic organization is gaining power throughout Europe with a plan to "recondition" society, and it is up to Ransom and his friends to squelch this threat by applying age-old wisdom to a new universe dominated by science.

The two groups struggle to a climactic resolution that brings the Space Trilogy to a magnificent, crashing close.

The Lovers

The Sturch: Book 1

Philip José Farmer

A linguist, studying languages on a previously unknown alien planet, begins to suspect that humans may have visited the planet at some time in the past.

Deus Irae

Philip K. Dick
Roger Zelazny

An artist searches for God so he can paint his portrait in Philip K. Dick's collaboration with Roger Zelazny.

After World War III, the Servants of Wrath cult deified the mysterious Carlton Lufteufel, creator of the doomsday weapon that wiped out much of humanity. But to worship the man, they need an image of him as a god, and no one has ever seen him. So the high priests send a limbless master painter named Tibor McMasters into the wilderness on a mission to find Lufteufel and capture his likeness. Unfortunately for Tibor, the nation's remaining Christians do not want him to succeed and are willing to kill to ensure that the so-called Deus Irae remains hidden. This hallucinatory tale through a nuclear wasteland asks what price the artist must pay for art and tries to figure out just what makes a god.

Saint Leibowitz and the Wild Horse Woman

Leibowitz: Book 2

Walter M. Miller, Jr.
Terry Bisson

Forty years after the classic A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter Miller returns to a world struggling to transcend a terrifying legacy of darkness, as one man undertakes an odyssey of adventure and discovery that promises to alter the destiny of humankind . . . .

Isolated in Leibowitz Abbey, Brother Blacktooth St. George suffers a crisis of faith, torn between his vows and his Nomad upbringing, between the Holy Virgin and visions of the Wild Horse Woman of his people. At the brink of disgrace and expulsion from his order, the young monk is championed by a powerful cardinal who has plans for him. Blacktooth sets out on a journey across a landscape still scarred by the long-ago Flame Deluge, a land divided by nature, politics, and war. He will find horrors and wonders, sins of the flesh . . . and love. As he encounters and reencounters a beautiful but forbidden mutant named Ædrea, he begins to wonder: is a she-devil, the Holy Mother, or the Wild Horse Woman herself?