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Exhalation: Stories

Ted Chiang

This much-anticipated second collection of stories is signature Ted Chiang, full of revelatory ideas and deeply sympathetic characters. In "The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate," a portal through time forces a fabric seller in ancient Baghdad to grapple with past mistakes and the temptation of second chances. In the epistolary "Exhalation," an alien scientist makes a shocking discovery with ramifications not just for his own people, but for all of reality. And in "The Lifecycle of Software Objects," a woman cares for an artificial intelligence over twenty years, elevating a faddish digital pet into what might be a true living being. Also included are two brand-new stories: "Omphalos" and "Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom."

In this fantastical and elegant collection, Ted Chiang wrestles with the oldest questions on earth--What is the nature of the universe? What does it mean to be human?--and ones that no one else has even imagined. And, each in its own way, the stories prove that complex and thoughtful science fiction can rise to new heights of beauty, meaning, and compassion.

Table of Contents:

Anathem

Neal Stephenson

Fraa Erasmas is a young avout living in the Concent of Saunt Edhar, a sanctuary for mathematicians, scientists, and philosophers, protected from the corrupting influences of the outside "saecular" world by ancient stone, honored traditions, and complex rituals. Over the centuries, cities and governments have risen and fallen beyond the concent's walls. Three times during history's darkest epochs violence born of superstition and ignorance has invaded and devastated the cloistered mathic community. Yet the avout have always managed to adapt in the wake of catastrophe, becoming out of necessity even more austere and less dependent on technology and material things. And Erasmas has no fear of the outside-the Extramuros-for the last of the terrible times was long, long ago.

Now, in celebration of the week-long, once-in-a-decade rite of Apert, the fraas and suurs prepare to venture beyond the concent's gates-at the same time opening them wide to welcome the curious "extras" in. During his first Apert as a fraa, Erasmas eagerly anticipates reconnecting with the landmarks and family he hasn't seen since he was "collected." But before the week is out, both the existence he abandoned and the one he embraced will stand poised on the brink of cataclysmic change.

Powerful unforeseen forces jeopardize the peaceful stability of mathic life and the established ennui of the Extramuros-a threat that only an unsteady alliance of saecular and avout can oppose-as, one by one, Erasmas and his colleagues, teachers, and friends are summoned forth from the safety of the concent in hopes of warding off global disaster. Suddenly burdened with a staggering responsibility, Erasmas finds himself a major player in a drama that will determine the future of his world-as he sets out on an extraordinary odyssey that will carry him to the most dangerous, inhospitable corners of the planet... and beyond.

Stories of Your Life and Others

Ted Chiang

Stories of Your Life and Others presents characters who must confront sudden change--the inevitable rise of automatons or the appearance of aliens--while striving to maintain some sense of normalcy. In the amazing and much-lauded title story, a grieving mother copes with divorce and the death of her daughter by drawing on her knowledge of alien languages and non-linear memory recollection. A clever pastiche of news reports and interviews chronicles a college's initiative to "turn off" the human ability to recognize beauty in "Liking What You See: A Documentary." With sharp intelligence and humor, Chiang examines what it means to be alive in a world marked by uncertainty and constant change, and also by beauty and wonder.

The collection received the Locus Award and the stories have received the Hugo, Seiun, Nebula, and Sturgeon Awards.

Table of Contents:

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.

Seven Surrenders

Terra Ignota: Book 2

Ada Palmer

In a future of near-instantaneous global travel, of abundant provision for the needs of all, a future in which no one living can remember an actual war... a long era of stability threatens to come to an abrupt end. For known only to a few, the leaders of the great Hives, nations without fixed location, have long conspired to keep the world stable, at the cost of just a little blood. A few secret murders, mathematically planned. So that no faction can ever dominate, and the balance holds.

And yet the balance is beginning to give way. Mycroft Canner, convict, sentenced to wander the globe in service to all, knows more about this conspiracy the than he can ever admit. Carlyle Foster, counselor, sensayer, has secrets as well, and they burden Carlyle beyond description. And both Mycroft and Carlyle are privy to the greatest secret of all: Bridger, the child who can bring inanimate objects to life.

The Carpet Makers

Andreas Eschbach

Since the time of pre-history, carpetmakers tie intricate knots to form carpets for the court of the Emperor. These carpets are made from the hairs of wives and daughters; they are so detailed and fragile that each carpetmaker finishes only one single carpet in his entire lifetime.

This art descends from father to son, since the beginning of time itself.

But one day the empire of the God Emperor vanishes, and strangers begin to arrive from the stars to follow the trace of the hair carpets. What these strangers discover is beyond all belief, more than anything they could have ever imagined.

The Handmaid's Tale

Gilead: Book 1

Margaret Atwood

In the world of the near future, who will control women's bodies?

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are only valued if their ovaries are viable.

Offred can remember the days before, when she lived and made love with her husband Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now....

Funny, unexpected, horrifying, and altogether convincing, The Handmaid's Tale is at once scathing satire, dire warning, and tour de force.

Ship of Fools

Richard Paul Russo

Home to generations of humans, the starship Argonos has wandered aimlessly throughout the galaxy for hundreds of years, desperately searching for other signs of life. Now, a steady, unidentified transmission lures them toward a nearby planet, where the grisly remains of a former colony await the crew. Haunted by what they have seen, the crew has no choice but to follow when another signal beckons the Argonos into deep space and into the dark heart of an alien mystery...

Published in the UK as Unto Leviathan

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Roadside Picnic

Arkady Strugatsky
Boris Strugatsky

Red Schuhart is a stalker, one of those strange misfits compelled to venture illegally into the Zone and collect the strange artefacts that the alien visitors left scattered there. His whole life, even the nature of his daughter, is determined by the Zone.

Raising the Stones

The Arbai Trilogy: Book 2

Sheri S. Tepper

Hobbs Land was a quiet agricultural colony, a peaceful planet where men and women worked together as equals to provide food for other worlds. Once it had been the home of the alien Owlbrit, who left behind only the temples where their strange gods had lived. But then the gods awoke.

Peace. War. Hate. And love. Raising the Stones weaves disparate threads to tell a story that builds to an inescapable climax. And, in a time when so many predict humanity won't survive through the next century, author Sheri S. Tepper gives us an insightful look into what is the best in all of us.

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.

The Sparrow

Sparrow Series: Book 1

Mary Doria Russell

The Sparrow is a novel about a remarkable man, a living saint, a life-long celibate and Jesuit priest, who undergoes an experience so harrowing and profound that it makes him question the existence of God. This experience--the first contact between human beings and intelligent extraterrestrial life--begins with a small mistake and ends in a horrible catastrophe.

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.

The Illuminatus! Trilogy

Illuminatus! Trilogy

Robert Shea
Robert Anton Wilson

Filled with sex and violence--in and out of time and space--the three books of The Illuminatus are only partly works of the imagination. They tackle all the coverups of our time--from who really shot the Kennedys to why there's a pyramid on a one-dollar bill.

The Glass Bead Game

Hermann Hesse

The final novel of Hermann Hesse, for which he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1946, The Glass Bead Game is a fascinating tale of the complexity of modern life as well as a classic of modern literature.

Set in an unspecified future, The Glass Bead Game is the story of Joseph Knecht, who has been raised in Castalia, the remote place his society has provided for the intellectual elite to grow and flourish. Since childhood, Knecht has been consumed with mastering the Glass Bead Game, which requires a synthesis of aesthetics and scientific arts, such as mathematics, music, logic, and philosophy, which he achieves in adulthood, becoming a Magister Ludi (Master of the Game).

Sisters of the Vast Black

Our Lady of Endless Worlds: Book 1

Lina Rather

Years ago, Old Earth sent forth sisters and brothers into the vast dark of the prodigal colonies armed only with crucifixes and iron faith. Now, the sisters of the Order of Saint Rita are on an interstellar mission of mercy aboard Our Lady of Impossible Constellations, a living, breathing ship which seems determined to develop a will of its own.

When the order receives a distress call from a newly-formed colony, the sisters discover that the bodies and souls in their care?and that of the galactic diaspora?are in danger. And not from void beyond, but from the nascent Central Governance and the Church itself.

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.

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.

Lake of the Long Sun

The Book of the Long Sun: Book 2

Gene Wolfe

Lake of the Long Sun is the second volume in the Book of the Long Sun series from science fiction and fantasy master Gene Wolfe

It is the far future, and the giant spaceship, The Whorl, has traveled for forgotten generation towards its destination. Lit inside by the artificial Long Sun, The Whorl is so huge that you can see whole cities in the sky. And now the gods of The Whorl begin to intervene in human affairs. A god speaks to Patera Silk, a clergyman at work in the schoolyard of his church. Silk must go on a quest to save his church and his people.

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.

Off Armageddon Reef

Safehold: Book 1

David Weber

Humanity pushed its way to the stars - and encountered the Gbaba, a ruthless alien race that nearly wiped us out.

Earth and her colonies are now smoldering ruins, and the few survivors have fled to distant, Earth-like Safehold, to try to rebuild. But the Gbaba can detect the emissions of an industrial civilization, so the human rulers of Safehold have taken extraordinary measures: with mind control and hidden high technology, they've built a religion in which every Safeholdian believes, a religion designed to keep Safehold society medieval forever.

800 years pass. In a hidden chamber on Safehold, an android from the far human past awakens. This "rebirth" was set in motion centuries before, by a faction that opposed shackling humanity with a concocted religion. Via automated recordings, "Nimue" - or, rather, the android with the memories of Lieutenant Commander Nimue Alban - is told her fate: she will emerge into Safeholdian society, suitably disguised, and begin the process of provoking the technological progress which the Church of God Awaiting has worked for centuries to prevent.

Nothing about this will be easy. To better deal with a medieval society, "Nimue" takes a new gender and a new name, "Merlin." His formidable powers and access to caches of hidden high technology will need to be carefully concealed. And he'll need to find a base of operations, a Safeholdian country that's just a little more freewheeling, a little less orthodox, a little more open to the new.

And thus Merlin comes to Charis, a mid-sized kingdom with a talent for naval warfare. He plans to make the acquaintance of King Haarahld and Crown Prince Cayleb, and maybe, just maybe, kick off a new era of invention. Which is bound to draw the attention of the Church... and, inevitably, lead to war.

It's going to be a long, long process. And it's going to be the can't-miss SF epic of the decade.

By Schism Rent Asunder

Safehold: Book 2

David Weber

The world has changed. The mercantile kingdom of Charis has prevailed over the alliance designed to exterminate it. Armed with better sailing vessels, better guns and better devices of all sorts, Charis faced the combined navies of the rest of the world at Darcos Sound and Armageddon Reef, and broke them. Despite the implacable hostility of the Church of God Awaiting, Charis still stands, still free, still tolerant, still an island of innovation in a world in which the Church has worked for centuries to keep humanity locked at a medieval level of existence.

But the powerful men who run the Church aren't going to take their defeat lying down. Charis may control the world's seas, but it barely has an army worthy of the name. And as King Cayleb knows, far too much of the kingdom's recent good fortune is due to the secret manipulations of the being that calls himself Merlin-a being that, the world must not find out too soon, is more than human. A being on whose shoulders rests the last chance for humanity's freedom.

Now, as Charis and its archbishop make the rift with Mother Church explicit, the storm gathers. Schism has come to the world of Safehold. Nothing will ever be the same.

Perhaps the Stars

Terra Ignota: Book 4

Ada Palmer

From the 2017 John W. Campbell Award Winner for Best Writer, Ada Palmer's Perhaps the Stars is the final book of the Hugo Award-shortlisted Terra Ignota series.

World Peace turns into global civil war.

In the future, the leaders of Hive nations--nations without fixed location--clandestinely committed nefarious deeds in order to maintain an outward semblance of utopian stability. But the facade could only last so long. The comforts of effortless global travel and worldwide abundance may have tempered humanity's darkest inclinations, but conflict remains deeply rooted in the human psyche. All it needed was a catalyst, in form of special little boy to ignite half a millennium of repressed chaos.

Now, war spreads throughout the globe, splintering old alliances and awakening sleeping enmities. All transportation systems are in ruins, causing the tyranny of distance to fracture a long-united Earth and threaten to obliterate everything the Hive system built.

With the arch-criminal Mycroft nowhere to be found, his successor, Ninth Anonymous, must not only chronicle the discord of war, but attempt to restore order in a world spiraling closer to irreparable ruin.

The fate of a broken society hangs in the balance. Is the key to salvation to remain Earth-bound or, perhaps, to start anew throughout the far reaches of the stars?

The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch

Gregg Press Science Fiction Series: Book 69

Philip K. Dick

The Three Stigmata hid a secret that could transform the world - or end it...

When the mysterious Palmer Eldritch returned from a distant galaxy, he claimed to have brought a gift for mankind. Chew-Z was a drug capable of transporting people into an illusory world, a world the could linger in for years wihout losing a second of Earth time. For the lonely colonists living out their dreary term on Mars, here was the ultimate trip, a pastime that could deliver immortality, wish fulfillment... the twin-power over time and space.

But in return, Palmer Eldritch exacted a terrible price. He would enter, control and be a god in everyone's private universe - a universe from which there was no escape, not even death...

Contact

Carl Sagan

It is December 1999, the dawn of the millennium, and a team of international scientists is poised for the most fantastic adventure in human history. After years of scanning the galaxy for signs of somebody or something else, this team believes they've found a message from an intelligent source--and they travel deep into space to meet it. Pulitzer Prize winner Carl Sagan injects Contact, his prophetic adventure story, with scientific details that make it utterly believable. It is a Cold War era novel that parlays the nuclear paranoia of the time into exquisitely wrought tension among the various countries involved. Sagan meditates on science, religion, and government--the elements that define society--and looks to their impact on and role in the future. His ability to pack an exciting read with such rich content is an unusual talent that makes Contact a modern sci-fi classic.

Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus

Frankenstein: Book 1

Mary Shelley

At once a Gothic thriller, a passionate romance, and a cautionary tale about the dangers of science, Frankenstein tells the story of science student Victor Frankenstein, who is obsessed with "bestowing animation upon lifeless matter." Frankenstein assembles a human being from stolen body parts but upon bringing it to life, he recoils in horror at the creature's hideousness. Tormented by loneliness, the creature unleashes a campaign of murderous revenge against his creator.

A Choice of Gods

Clifford D. Simak

One night in July, 2135, there were some eight billion people on Earth. The next morning there were perhaps 400. There was no clue to what had happened to the world's population -- but, over the centuries that followed, still stranger things occurred.

The human lifespan now stretched to millenia instead of decades, and much of the remaining population developed the ability to move at will among the stars -- and abandoned their homeworld for a life in deep space.

Then, after 3000 years, a star-rover discovered what had happened to Earth's original inhabitants -- and that they were coming to reclaim their heritage. Those who had stayed behind knew, with a growing fear, that the mystery of what had been done to Earth and why was about to be solved ... in a way that would change humanity forever.

Fourth Mansions

R. A. Lafferty

Take a trip through a near-psychedelic reality, with seven very special people blending to create a higher form of humanity. A laughing man living alone on a mountaintop, guarding the world. The Returnees: men who live again and again, century after century. A dog-ape "Plappergeist," who can only be seen out of the corner of one's eye. And a young man named Foley, very much like you and me, who begins to find out about the above people and things, and how they are reshaping the world!

The Will to Battle

Terra Ignota: Book 3

Ada Palmer

"For Warre, consisteth not in Battell onely, or the act of fighting; but in a tract of time, wherein the Will to contend by Battell is sufficiently known..."

-- Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan XIII.

The world of Terra Ignota has been upended. War is inevitable. But after three centuries of peace, how does a war begin? With every world ruler friends with every other, how do the nations pick sides? How can war begin when every nation already has surrendered? Genius convict Mycroft Canner has completed the history started in Too Like the Lightning and concluded in Seven Surrenders. Now he begins his chronicle of the guideless search for an order to the conflict as the world slouches toward war, while a living myth contends with a celebrity assassin, a corrupt priestess and a captive god to shape the conflict and the world to come.

Lord of Light

Roger Zelazny

Earth is long since dead. On a colony planet, a band of men has gained control of technology, made themselves immortal, and now rules their world as the gods of the Hindu pantheon. Only one dares oppose them: he who was once Siddhartha and is now Mahasamatman. Binder of Demons. Lord of Light.

Faith of Our Fathers

Philip K. Dick

Hugo Award nominated novelette. It originally appeared in the anthology Dangerous Visions (1967). The story can also be found in the anthologies Alpha 2 (1971), edited by Robert Silverberg, The Fantasy Hall of Fame (1989), also edited by Silverberg, and Foundations of Fear: An Exploration of Horror (1992), edited by David G. Hartwell. It is included in the collections The Best of Philip K. Dick (1977), The Little Black Box (1987), We Can Remember It for You Wholesale (1991), Selected Stories of Philip K. Dick (2002) and Minority Report (2002).

The Boys from Brazil

Ira Levin

The classic thriller of Dr. Josef Mengele's nightmarish plot to restore the Third Reich.

Alive and hiding in South America, the fiendish Nazi Dr. Josef Mengele gathers a group of former colleagues for a horrifying project--the creation of the Fourth Reich. Barry Kohler, a young investigative journalist, gets wind of the project and informs famed Nazi hunter Ezra Lieberman, but before he can relay the evidence, Kohler is killed.

Thus Ira Levin opens one of the strangest and most masterful novels of his career. Why has Mengele marked a number of harmless aging men for murder? What is the hidden link that binds them? What interest can they possibly hold for their killers: six former SS men dispatched from South America by the most wanted Nazi still alive, the notorious "Angel of Death"? One man alone must answer these questions and stop the killings--Lieberman, himself aging and thought by some to be losing his grip on reality.

Echopraxia

Blindsight: Book 2

Peter Watts

Prepare for a different kind of singularity in Peter Watts' Echopraxia, the follow-up to the Hugo-nominated novel Blindsight.

It's the eve of the twenty-second century: a world where the dearly departed send postcards back from Heaven and evangelicals make scientific breakthroughs by speaking in tongues; where genetically engineered vampires solve problems intractable to baseline humans and soldiers come with zombie switches that shut off self-awareness during combat. And it's all under surveillance by an alien presence that refuses to show itself.

Daniel Bruks is a living fossil: a field biologist in a world where biology has turned computational, a cat's-paw used by terrorists to kill thousands. Taking refuge in the Oregon desert, he's turned his back on a humanity that shatters into strange new subspecies with every heartbeat. But he awakens one night to find himself at the center of a storm that will turn all of history inside-out.

Now he's trapped on a ship bound for the center of the solar system. To his left is a grief-stricken soldier, obsessed by whispered messages from a dead son. To his right is a pilot who hasn't yet found the man she's sworn to kill on sight. A vampire and its entourage of zombie bodyguards lurk in the shadows behind. And dead ahead, a handful of rapture-stricken monks takes them all to a meeting with something they will only call "The Angels of the Asteroids."

Their pilgrimage brings Dan Bruks, the fossil man, face-to-face with the biggest evolutionary breakpoint since the origin of thought itself.

A Psalm for the Wild-Built

Monk & Robot: Book 1

Becky Chambers

It's been centuries since the robots of Earth gained self-awareness and laid down their tools; centuries since they wandered, en masse, into the wilderness, never to be seen again; centuries since they faded into myth and urban legend.

One day, the life of a tea monk is upended by the arrival of a robot, there to honor the old promise of checking in. The robot cannot go back until the question of "what do people need?" is answered.

But the answer to that question depends on who you ask, and how.

They're going to need to ask it a lot.

The World Inside

Robert Silverberg

Earth 2381: The hordes of humanity have withdrawn into isolated 1000-story Urbmons, comfortably controlled multicity-buildings which perpetuate an open culture of free sex and unrestricted population growth. Nearly all of Earth's 75 billion live in the hundreds of monolithic structures scattered across the globe, with the exception of the small agricultural communes that supply the Urbmons with food. When a restless Urbmon computer engineer begins to think unblessworthy thoughts of making a trip outside, he risks being labeled a flippo, for whom there is only one punishment.

Star Maker

Early Classics of Science Fiction: Book 9

Olaf Stapledon

Widely regarded as one of the true classics of science fiction, Star Maker is a poetic and deeply philosophical work. This 1937 successor to Last and First Men offers another entrancing speculative history of the future. The story details the mental journey of an unnamed narrator who is transported not only to other worlds but also other galaxies, intelligent star clusters, mingles amoung alien races and continues on to parallel universes, until he eventually becomes part of the "cosmic mind."

First published in 1937, Olaf Stapledon's descriptions of alien life are a political commentary on human life in the turbulent inter-war years. The book challenges preconceived notions of intelligence and awareness, and ultimately argues for a broadened perspective that would free us from culturally ingrained thought and our inevitable anthropomorphism.

This is the first scholarly edition of a book that influenced such writers as C.S. Lewis, Doris Lessing, and Arthur C. Clarke. Jorge Luis Borges called this work "a prodigious novel."

Too Like the Lightning

Terra Ignota: Book 1

Ada Palmer

Mycroft Canner is a convict. For his crimes he is required, as is the custom of the 25th century, to wander the world being as useful as he can to all he meets. Carlyle Foster is a sensayer--a spiritual counselor in a world that has outlawed the public practice of religion, but which also knows that the inner lives of humans cannot be wished away.

The world into which Mycroft and Carlyle have been born is as strange to our 21st-century eyes as ours would be to a native of the 1500s. It is a hard-won utopia built on technologically-generated abundance, and also on complex and mandatory systems of labelling all public writing and speech. What seem to us normal gender distinctions are now distinctly taboo in most social situations. And most of the world's population is affiliated with globe-girdling clans of the like-minded, whose endless economic and cultural competion is carefully managed by central planners of inestimable subtlety. To us it seems like a mad combination of heaven and hell. To them, it seems like normal life.

And in this world, Mycroft and Carlyle have stumbled on the wild card that may destablize the system: the boy Bridger, who can effortlessly make his wishes come true. Who can, it would seem, bring inanimate objects to life...

Calculating God

Robert J. Sawyer

Calculating God is the new near-future SF thriller from the popular and award-winning Robert J. Sawyer. An alien shuttle craft lands outside the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. A six-legged, two-armed alien emerges, who says, in perfect English, "Take me to a paleontologist."

It seems that Earth, and the alien's home planet, and the home planet of another alien species traveling on the alien mother ship, all experienced the same five cataclysmic events at about the same time (one example of these "cataclysmic events" would be the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs). Both alien races believe this proves the existence of God: i.e. he's obviously been playing with the evolution of life on each of these planets.

From this provocative launch point, Sawyer tells a fast-paced, and morally and intellectually challenging, SF story that just grows larger and larger in scope. The evidence of God's universal existence is not universally well received on Earth, nor even immediately believed. And it reveals nothing of God's nature. In fact. it poses more questions than it answers.

When a supernova explodes out in the galaxy but close enough to wipe out life on all three home-worlds, the big question is, Will God intervene or is this the sixth cataclysm?

Calculating God is SF on the grand scale.

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.

The Alteration

Masters of Science Fiction: Book 2

Kingsley Amis

The year is 1976 and we are alive in an all-Catholic world. The Reformation never took place because Martin Luther made a deal with Rome and became Pope Martin I. The "alteration" proposed to Hubert Anvil, brilliant 10-year-old boy soprano, is that most feared by all males. Pope John XXIV wishes Hubert to preserve the purity of his voice to glorify the Church on a permanent basis; Hubert wishes to share his talent but he has some disquieting thoughts about Pope John's proposal.

Behold the Man

Karl Glogauer: Book 1

Michael Moorcock

Karl Glogauer is a disaffected modern professional casting about for meaning in a series of half-hearted relationships, a dead-end job, and a personal struggle. His questions of faith surrounding his father's run-of-the-mill Christianity and his mother's suppressed Judaism lead him to a bizarre obsession with the idea of the messiah. After the collapse of his latest affair and his introduction to a reclusive physics professor, Karl is given the opportunity to confront his obsession and take a journey that no man has taken before, and from which he knows he cannot return. Upon arriving in Palestine, A.D. 29, Glogauer finds that Jesus Christ is not the man that history and faith would like to believe, but that there is an opportunity for someone to change the course of history by making the ultimate sacrifice.

First published in 1969, Behold the Man broke through science fiction's genre boundaries to create a poignant reflection on faith, disillusion and self-sacrifice. This is the classic novel that established the career of perhaps contemporary science fiction's most cerebral and innovative author.

Eifelheim

Michael Flynn

In 1349, one small town in Germany disappeared and has never been resettled. Tom, a contemporary historian, and his theoretical physicist girlfriend Sharon, become interested. Tom indeed becomes obsessed. By all logic, the town should have survived, but it didn't and that violates everything Tom knows about history. What's was special about Eifelheim that it utterly disappeared more than 600 years ago?

Father Deitrich is the village priest of Oberhochwald, the village that will soon gain the name of Teufelheim, in later years corrupted to Eifelheim, in the year 1348, when the Black Death is gathering strength across Europe but is still not nearby. Deitrich is an educated man, knows science and philosophy, and to his astonishment becomes the first contact between humanity and an alien race from a distant star when their interstellar ship crashes in the nearby forest. It is a time of wonders, in the shadow of the plague.

Tom and Sharon, and Father Deitrich, have a strange and intertwined destiny of tragedy and triumph in this brilliant SF novel by the winner of the Robert A. Heinlein Award.

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.

Sideshow

The Arbai Trilogy: Book 3

Sheri S. Tepper

On the planet of Elsewhere, the Council had always enforced the governing of each province in the manner the people had chosen, so long as each respected its neighbors' local customs -- and so long as the people remained within their homelands. Generations later, inhabitants have begun to question this tradition. The Council has received mysterious messages and reports of strange manifestations across the planet.

Now, Enforcer Fringe Owldark has been sent with a small crew of seven, each possessing an unusual talent, to investigate their worst fear -- the arrival of the Hobbs Land gods. Free will and the reality of God are just too of the timeless issues this courageous band of humans must confront as they strive to decide if complete tolerance and leaving others alone is evil... and what they should do if it is.

Children of Dune

Dune Chronicles: Book 3

Frank Herbert

The sand-blasted world of Arrakis has become green, watered and fertile. Old Paul Atreides, who led the desert Fremen to political and religious domination of the galaxy, is gone. But for the children of Dune, the very blossoming of their land contains the seeds of its own destruction. The altered climate is destroying the giant sandworms, and this in turn is disastrous for the planet's economy. Leto and Ghanima, Paul Atreides's twin children and his heirs, can see possible solutions - but fanatics begin to challenge the rule of the all-powerful Atreides empire, and more than economic disaster threatens ...

The Jesus Incident

WorShip: Book 2

Frank Herbert
Bill Ransom

A sentient Ship with godlike powers (and aspirations) delivers the last survivors of humanity to a horrific, poisonous planet, Pandora--rife with deadly Nerve-Runners, Hooded Dashers, airborne jellyfish, and intelligent kelp. Chaplain/Psychiatrist Raja Lon Flattery is brought back out of hybernation to witness Ship's machinations as well as the schemes of human scientists manipulating the genetic structure of humanity. Sequel to Frank Herbert's Destination: Void, the first book in Herbert & Ransom's Pandora Sequence.

The Joy Makers

James E. Gunn

Happiness, Guaranteed...

In the not-too-distant future, money truly can buy happiness, and Hedonics, Inc., is willing to sell it to you. They'll even offer you a money-back guarantee, if you're not "happy" with the product. But with their team of psychologists, life specialists, and self-improvement coaches, they don't have any "unhappy" customers.

What happens when a company grows too big, becomes too successful? It wants to guarantee its place in society and its future, and Hedonics is no exception. When your product is happiness, the way you guarantee your success is to pass laws mandating happiness.

But when universal happiness is required, does it really matter if you're getting what you want, or happy with what you have?

James Gunn has been a professional science fiction writer for more than 60 years, and in 2007, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America named him a Grand Master.

Stranger in a Strange Land

Robert A. Heinlein

Stranger in a Strange Land is the epic saga of an earthling, Valentine Michael Smith, born and educated on Mars, who arrives on our planet with psi powers - telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, telekinesis, teleportation, pyrolysis, and the ability to take control of the minds of others - and complete innocence regarding the mores of man.

After his tutelage under a surrogate-father figure, Valentine begins his transformation into a messiah figure. His introduction into Earth society, together with his exceptional abilities, lead Valentine to become many things to many people: freak, scam artist, media commodity, searcher, free-love pioneer, neon evangelist, and martyr.

Heinlein won his third Hugo award for this novel, sometimes called Heinlein's earthly "divine comedy."

Dune Messiah

Dune Chronicles: Book 2

Frank Herbert

Dune Messiah continues the story of Paul Atreides, better known-and feared-as the man christened Muad'Dib. As Emperor of the Known Universe, he possesses more power than a single man was ever meant to wield. Worshipped as a religious icon by the fanatical Fremens, Paul faces the enmity of the political houses he displaced when he assumed the throne-and a conspiracy conducted within his own sphere of influence.

And even as House Atreides begins to crumble around him from the machinations of his enemies, the true threat to Paul comes to his lover, Chani, and the unborn heir to his family's dynasty.

Afterparty

Daryl Gregory

It begins in Toronto, in the years after the smart drug revolution. Any high school student with a chemjet and internet connection can download recipes and print drugs, or invent them. A seventeen-year-old street girl finds God through a new brain-altering drug called Numinous, used as a sacrament by a new Church that preys on the underclass. But she is arrested and put into detention, and without the drug, commits suicide.

Lyda Rose, another patient in that detention facility, has a dark secret: she was one of the original scientists who developed the drug. With the help of an ex-government agent and an imaginary, drug-induced doctor, Lyda sets out to find the other three survivors of the five who made the Numinous in a quest to set things right.

The Transmigration of Timothy Archer

The Valis Trilogy: Book 3

Philip K. Dick

The final book in Philip K. Dick's VALIS trilogy, The Transmigration of Timothy Archer brings the author's search for the identity and nature of God to a close. The novel follows Bishop Timothy Archer as he travels to Israel, ostensibly to examine ancient scrolls bearing the words of Christ. But, more importantly, this leads him to examine the decisions he made during his life and how they may have contributed to the suicide of his mistress and son.

This introspective book is one of Dick's most philosophical and literary, delving into the mysteries of religion and of faith itself. As one of Dick's final works, it also provides unique insight into the mind of a genius, whose work was still in the process of maturing at the time of his death.

Shaman

Kim Stanley Robinson

There is Thorn, a shaman himself. He lives to pass down his wisdom and his stories - to teach those who would follow in his footsteps. There is Heather, the healer who, in many ways, holds the clan together. There is Elga, an outsider and the bringer of change. And then there is Loon, the next shaman, who is determined to find his own path. But in a world so treacherous, that journey is never simple - and where it may lead is never certain.

Shaman is a powerful, thrilling and heart-breaking story of one young man's journey into adulthood - and an awe-inspiring vision of how we lived 30,000 years ago.

Maze of Death

Philip K. Dick

Fourteen strangers came to Delmak-O. Thirteen of them were transferred by the usual authorities. One got there by praying. But once they arrived on that planet whose very atmosphere seemed to induce paranoia and psychosis, the newcomers found that even prayer was useless. For on Delmak-O, God is either absent or intent on destroying His creations.

Also published as A Maze of Death.

Valis

The Valis Trilogy: Book 1

Philip K. Dick

Valis is the first book in Philip K. Dick's incomparable final trio of novels (the others being are The Divine Invasion and The Transmigration of Timothy Archer).

This disorienting and bleakly funny work is about a schizophrenic hero named Horselover Fat; the hidden mysteries of Gnostic Christianity; and reality as revealed through a pink laser. Valis is a theological detective story, in which God is both a missing person and the perpetrator of the ultimate crime.

The Gods of Mars

The Barsoom Series: Book 2

Edgar Rice Burroughs

Soldier and adventurer John Carter tells the story of how he returns to the planet Mars to be reunited with his love, the Martian princess Dejah Thoris. With his great friend Tars Tarkas, mighty Jeddak of Thark, Carter sets out in search of his princess. But Dejah Thoris has vanished. And Carter becomes trapped in the legendary Eden of Mars from which none has ever escaped alive.

Sirius: A Fantasy Of Love And Discord

Olaf Stapledon

Sirius is the titular character and a 1944 science fiction novel by the British philosopher and author Olaf Stapledon.

Scientist Thomas Trelone creates a super-intelligent dog, named Sirius. He is the only dog to have attained a humanlike intelligence. Other dogs of the same breed Trelone created, have an intermediate intelligence (they are above the dog's average intelligence, but they cannot master human language and complex analytic thinking as Sirius does. A sense of existential questioning suffuses the book, as the author delves into every aspect of Sirius's psyche. The novel deals with a lot of human issues through Sirius and his experiences, his unusual nature, his ideas and his relationships with humans, showing a very gloomy, intelligent, obscure, sad, and complex tale, whose significance and depth cannot be fully understood, and is often misinterpreted.

The Night Sessions

Ken MacLeod

A bishop is dead. As Detective Inspector Adam Ferguson picks through the rubble of the tiny church, he discovers that it was deliberately bombed. That it's a terrorist act is soon beyond doubt. It's been a long time since anyone saw anything like this. Terrorism is history...

After the Middle East wars and the rising sea levels - after Armageddon and the Flood - came the Great Rejection. The first Enlightenment separated church from state. The Second Enlightenment has separated religion from politics. In this enlightened age there's no persecution, but the millions who still believe and worship are a marginal and mistrusted minority.

Now someone is killing them. At first, suspicion falls on atheists more militant than the secular authorities. But when the target list expands to include the godless, it becomes evident that something very old has risen from the ashes. Old and very, very dangerous...

Mysterium

Robert Charles Wilson

A science fiction mystery from the author of THE HARVEST, in which a small American town vanishes, and its inhabitants wake up one morning in a world strangely different from their own - a world of curfews, rationing and secret police.

Dark Benediction

Walter M. Miller, Jr.

Originally published in 1980 as The Best of Walter M. Miller, then republished in 2000 as Dark Benediction.

Walter M. Miller, Jr. is best remembered as the author of A Canticle for Leibowitz, universally recognized as one of the greatest novels of modern SF. But as well as writing that deeply felt and eloquent book, he produced many shorter works of fiction of stunning originality and power.

His profound interest in religion and his innate literary gifts combined in the production of such works as "The Darfstellar", for which he won a Hugo in 1955, "Conditionally Human", "I, Dreamer" and "The Big Hunger", all of which are included in this brilliant and essential collection.

Table of Contents:

  • You Triflin' Skunk! - (1965) - shortstory
  • The Will - (1954) - shortstory
  • Anybody Else Like Me? - (1952) - novelette
  • Crucifixus Etiam - (1953) - shortstory
  • I, Dreamer - (1953) - shortstory
  • Dumb Waiter - (1952) - novelette
  • Blood Bank - (1952) - novella
  • Big Joe and the Nth Generation - (1952) - shortstory
  • The Big Hunger - (1952) - shortstory
  • Conditionally Human - (1952) - novella
  • The Darfsteller - (1955) - novella
  • Dark Benediction - (1951) - novella
  • The Lineman - (1957) - novella
  • Vengeance for Nikolai - (1957) - novelette

Dimension of Miracles

Robert Sheckley

Thomas Carmody wins the Intergalactic Sweepstakes and leaves Earth behind. He ends up following his fast-talking Prize from place to place, seeing talking dinosaurs, a perfect city smothering its residents with motherly love, a giant slightly bored God and much more. The only problem is that Death is chasing closely after him and there seems to be no way to get safely home...

Pirate Cinema

Cory Doctorow

Trent McCauley is sixteen, brilliant, and obsessed with one thing: making movies on his computer by reassembling footage from popular films he downloads from the net. In the dystopian near-future Britain where Trent is growing up, this is more illegal than ever; the punishment for being caught three times is that your entire household's access to the internet is cut off for a year, with no appeal.

Trent's too clever for that too happen. Except it does, and it nearly destroys his family. Shamed and shattered, Trent runs away to London, where he slowly he learns the ways of staying alive on the streets. This brings him in touch with a demimonde of artists and activists who are trying to fight a new bill that will criminalize even more harmless internet creativity, making felons of millions of British citizens at a stroke.

Things look bad. Parliament is in power of a few wealthy media conglomerates. But the powers-that-be haven't entirely reckoned with the power of a gripping movie to change people's minds...

Download this book for free from the author's website.

The Divine Invasion

The Valis Trilogy: Book 2

Philip K. Dick

God is not dead, he has merely been exiled to an extraterrestrial planet. And it is on this planet that God meets Herb Asher and convinces him to help retake Earth from the demonic Belial. Featuring virtual reality, parallel worlds, and interstellar travel, The Divine Invasion blends philosophy and adventure in a way few authors can achieve.

As the middle novel of Dick's VALIS trilogy, The Divine Invasion plays a pivotal role in answering the questions raised by the first novel, expanding that world while exploring just how much anyone can really know--even God himself.

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.

The Flicker Men

Ted Kosmatka

A quantum physicist shocks the world with a startling experiment, igniting a struggle between science and theology, free will and fate, and antagonizing forces not known to exist

Eric Argus is a washout. His prodigious early work clouded his reputation and strained his sanity. But an old friend gives him another chance, an opportunity to step back into the light.

With three months to produce new research, Eric replicates the paradoxical double-slit experiment to see for himself the mysterious dual nature of light and matter. A simple but unprecedented inference blooms into a staggering discovery about human consciousness and the structure of the universe.

His findings are celebrated and condemned in equal measure. But no one can predict where the truth will lead. And as Eric seeks to understand the unfolding revelations, he must evade shadowy pursuers who believe he knows entirely too much already.

To Your Scattered Bodies Go

The Riverworld Saga: Book 1

Philip José Farmer

All those who ever lived on Earth have found themselves resurrected--healthy, young, and naked as newborns--on the grassy banks of a mighty river, in a world unknown. Miraculously provided with food, but with no clues to the meaning of their strange new afterlife, billions of people from every period of Earth's history--and prehistory--must start again.

Sir Francis Bacon would be the first to glimpse the incredible way-station, a link between worlds. This forbidden sight would spur the renowned 19th-century explorer to uncover the truth. Along with a remarkable group of compatriots, including Alice Liddell Hargreaves (the Victorian girl who was the inspiration for Alice in Wonderland), an English-speaking Neanderthal, a WWII Holocaust survivor, and a wise extraterrestrial, Burton sets sail on the magnificent river. His mission: to confront humankind's mysterious benefactors, and learn the true purpose--innocent or evil--of the Riverworld...

Courtship Rite

Courtship Rite

Donald Kingsbury

The planet of Geta is a harsh and unforgiving world where only one source of meat exists: man. Cyclical famines have made a distinct, ritualistic form of cannibalism a necessity, and intricate rituals involving courtship, love, death, and multiple marriages are the rule. Gaet, Hoemei and Joesai are three sons of the old Prime Predictor, Tae ran-Kaiel of the Kaiel clan. They are bound to each other, as well as their two wives, Noe and Teenae. They hope to soon complete their most-desirable Six-marriage with Kathein, a scientist. But the new Prime Predictor, Aesoe, has other plans.... In order to gain an outlet to the sea, Aesoe orders the brothers to marry Oelita, the Clanless One.

The Gentle Heretic has a legion of followers that would give the Kaiel allies against their powerful opponents, and a foothold in the coastal lands. The brothers choose to court Oelita - and have her prove her worth - through a complicated Death Ritual. Oelita has the audacity to question the existence of the God of the Sky - who has begun to speak. Pestilence, plague and conflict are brewing across the land. Now the courted and her suitors find themselves in the center of a violent storm where destiny and death walk hand-in-hand with the secrets of an ancient past....

The Years of Rice and Salt

Kim Stanley Robinson

It is the fourteenth century and one of the most apocalyptic events in human history is set to occur - the coming of the Black Death. History teaches us that a third of Europe's population was destroyed. But what if? What if the plague killed 99 percent of the population instead? How would the world have changed? This is a look at the history that could have been - a history that stretches across centuries, a history that sees dynasties and nations rise and crumble, a history that spans horrible famine and magnificent innovation. These are the years of rice and salt.

This is a universe where the first ship to reach the New World travels across the Pacific Ocean from China and colonization spreads from west to east. This is a universe where the Industrial Revolution is triggered by the world's greatest scientific minds - in India. This is a universe where Buddhism and Islam are the most influential and practiced religions and Christianity is merely a historical footnote.

Through the eyes of soldiers and kings, explorers and philosophers, slaves and scholars, Robinson renders an immensely rich tapestry. Rewriting history and probing the most profound questions as only he can, Robinson shines his extraordinary light on the place of religion, culture, power, and even love on such an Earth. From the steppes of Asia to the shores of the Western Hemisphere, from the age of Akbar to the present and beyond, here is the stunning story of the creation of a new world.

Radiomen

Eleanor Lerman

There are two themes to Radiomen. First, if there are aliens interacting with our world they are likely just as confused about who or what God is as human beings are; and second, whoever they are, they're probably just as fond of dogs as we are.

Laurie, a woman who works at a bar at Kennedy airport doesn't remember that when she was a child, she met an alien on the fire escape of a building where her uncle kept a shortwave radio. The radio is part of a universal network of repeaters maintained by an unknown alien race; they use the network to broadcast prayers into the universe.

She meets a psychic who is actually part of a Scientology-like cult called the "Blue Awareness," as well as a late-night radio host. All have their own reasons for unraveling the mystery of the lost radio network.

Laurie is given a strange dog by her neighbor, an immigrant and a member of the Dogon tribe - people who believe they were visited by aliens long ago and repeat a myth about how the aliens brought dog-like animals with them. All Dogon dogs are supposedly descended from that animal.

As conflict develops between the Blue Awareness leader and the other characters, the Dogon acts as an intermediary between the humans, who want to understand why the aliens need the radio network, and the aliens who need the humans to help them find a lost element of the universal network.

Passage

Connie Willis

At Mercy General Hospital, Dr. Joanna Lander will soon be paged -- not to save a life, but to interview a patient just back from the dead. A psychologist specializing in near-death experiences, Joanna has spent two years recording the experiences of those who have been declared clinically dead and lived to tell about it.

It's research on the fringes of ordinary science, but Joanna is about to get a boost from an unexpected quarter. A new doctor has arrived at Mercy General, one with the power to give Joanna the chance to get as close to death as anyone can.

A brilliant young neurologist, Dr. Richard Wright, has come up with a way to manufacture the near-death experience using a psychoactive drug. Dr. Wright is convinced that the NDE is a survival mechanism and that if only doctors understood how it worked, they could someday delay the dying process, or maybe even reverse it. He can use the expertise of a psychologist of Joanna Lander's standing to lend credibility to his study.

But he soon needs Joanna for more than just her reputation. When his key volunteer suddenly drops out of the study, Joanna finds herself offering to become Richard's next subject. After all, who better than she, a trained psychologist, to document the experience?

Her first NDE is as fascinating as she imagined it would be -- so astounding that she knows she must go back, if only to find out why this place is so hauntingly familiar. But each time Joanna goes under, her sense of dread begins to grow, because part of her already knows why the experience is so familiar, and why she has every reason to be afraid....

Godbody

Theodore Sturgeon

A charismatic, Christ-like figure--Godbody--appears in the midst of a small American town and transforms the lives of a select few.

Prophets

Apotheosis: Book 1

S. Andrew Swann

It's been nearly 200 years since the collapse of the Confederacy, the last government to claim humanity's colonies. So when signals come in revealing lost human colonies that could shift the power balance, the race is on between the Caliphate ships and a small team of scientists and mercenarys. But what awaits them all is a threat far beyond the scope of any human government.

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...

The Fabulous Riverboat

The Riverworld Saga: Book 2

Philip José Farmer

Resurrected on the lush, mysterious banks of Riverworld, along with the rest of humanity, Samuel Langhorne Clemens (a.k.a. Mark Twain) has a dream: to build a riverboat that will rival the most magnificent paddle-wheelers ever navigated on the mighty Mississippi. Then, to steer it up the endless waterway that dominates his new home planet--and at last discover its hidden source.

But before he can carry out his plan, he first must undertake a dangerous voyage to unearth a fallen meteor. This mission would require striking an uneasy alliance with the bloodthirsty Viking Erik Bloodaxe, treacherous King John of England, legendary French swordsman Cyrano de Bergerac, Greek adventurer Odysseus, and the infamous Nazi Hermann Göring. All for the purpose of storming the ominous stone tower at the mouth of the river, where the all-powerful overseers of Riverworld--and their secrets--lie in wait...

Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions

Flatland: Book 1

Edwin A. Abbott

Flatland (1884) is an influential mathematical fantasy that simultaneously provides an introduction to non-Euclidean geometry and a satire on the Victorian class structure, issues of science and faith, and the role of women. A classic of early science fiction, the novel takes place in a world of two dimensions where all the characters are geometric shapes. The narrator, A Square, is a naïve, respectable citizen who is faced with proof of the existence of three dimensions when he is visited by a sphere and is forced to see the limitations of his world. The introduction to this Broadview Edition provides context for the book's references to Victorian culture and religion, mathematical history, and the history of philosophy. The appendices contain contemporary reviews; extracts from the work of fellow mathematical fantasy writer/mathematician Charles Hinton; Hermann von Helmboltz's "The Axioms of Geometry" (1870); and autobiographical passages from Abbott's The Kernel and the Husk (1886).

Hybrids

The Neanderthal Parallax: Book 3

Robert J. Sawyer

Ponter Boddit and his Homo sapiens lover, geneticist Mary Vaughan, are torn between two worlds, struggling to find a way to make their star-crossed relationship work. Aided by banned Neanderthal technology, they plan to conceive the first hybrid child, a symbol of hope for the joining of their two versions of reality.

But after an experiment shows that Mary's religious faith - something completely absent in Neanderthals - is a quirk of the neurological wiring of Homo sapiens brains, Ponter and Mary must decide whether their child should be predisposed to atheism or belief. Meanwhile, as Mary's Earth is dealing with a collapse of its planetary magnetic field, her boss, the enigmatic Jock Krieger, has turned envious eyes on the unspoiled Eden that is the Neanderthal world...

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.

Revolt in 2100

Robert A. Heinlein

"Revolt in 2100": After the fall of the American Ayatollahs (as foretold in "Stranger in a Strange Land") there is a Second American Revolution; for the first time in human history there is a land with Liberty and Justice for All.

Table of Contents:

  • "If This Goes On --" - [Future History] - (1940) - novel
  • Coventry - [Future History] - (1940) - novella
  • Misfit - [Future History] - (1939) - novelette

Job: A Comedy of Justice

Robert A. Heinlein

After he firewalked in Polynesia, the world wasn't the same for Alexander Hergensheimer, now called Alec Graham. As natural accidents occurred without cease, Alex knew Armageddon and the Day of Judgement were near. Somehow he had to bring his beloved heathen, Margrethe, to a state of grace, and, while he was at it, save the rest of the world....

Forever Free

Forever War: Book 3

Joe Haldeman

William Mandela is a genetic throwback, one of the small group of humans who fought and survived the Forever War. They returned to find humanity has evolved into a group mind called Man. Surrounded by a society that is too autocratic and intrusive, living a dull existence which cannot compare to the certainties of combat and feeling increasingly alienated, the veterans plan an escape to the future by means of space travel and relativity. But when their ship starts to fail, their journey becomes a search for the Unknown, the elusive entity responsible.

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 Dark Design

The Riverworld Saga: Book 3

Philip José Farmer

Years have passed on Riverworld. Entire nations have risen, and savage wars have been fought--all since the dead of Earth found themselves resurrected in their magnificent new homeworld. Yet the truth about the Ethicals, the powerful engineers of this mysterious "afterlife," remains unknown. But a curious cross-section of humanity is determined to change that situation... at any cost.

Intrepid explorer Sir Richard Francis Burton leads the most remarkable voyage of discovery he has ever undertaken. Hot on his heels are Samuel Clemens, King John of England, and Cyrano de Bergerac. Spurred by the promise of ultimate answers, they chart a course across the vast polar sea--and toward the awesome tower that looms above it. But getting there will be more than half the battle. For death on Riverworld has become chillingly final...

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.

A Case of Conscience

After Such Knowledge: Book 3

James Blish

Father Ruiz-Sanchez is a dedicated man--a priest who is also a scientist, and a scientist who is also a human being. He has found no insoluble conflicts in his beliefs or his ethics... until he is sent to Lithia. There he comes upon a race of aliens who are admirable in every way except for their total reliance on cold reason; they are incapable of faith or belief.

Confronted with a profound scientific riddle and ethical quandary, Father Ruiz-Sanchez soon finds himself torn between the teachings of his faith, the teachings of his science, and the inner promptings of his humanity. There is only one solution: He must accept an ancient and unforgivable heresy--and risk the futures of both worlds...

Counter-Clock World

Gregg Press Science Fiction Series: Book 62

Philip K. Dick

In Counter-Clock World, time has begun moving backward. People greet each other with "goodbye," blow smoke into cigarettes, and rise from the dead. When one of those rising dead is the famous and powerful prophet Anarch Peak, a number of groups start a mad scramble to find him first-but their motives are not exactly benevolent because Anarch Peak may just be worth more dead than alive, and these groups will do whatever they must to send him back to the grave.

What would you do if your long-dead relatives started coming back? Who would take care of them? And what if they preferred being dead? In Counter-Clock World, one of Dick's most theological and philosophical novels, these troubling questions are addressed; though, as always, you may have to figure out the answers yourself.

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.

The Book of Strange New Things

Michel Faber

Peter - devoted pastor, dedicated missionary, and loving husband to his wife, Bea - has just accepted a demanding and perilous new job. He's to travel to a new planet, Oasis, to work for a mysterious corporation called USIC. He's tasked with reaching out to the indigenous race, to make sure they are as peaceful as they seem. Resolutely devout and strengthened by his letters from Bea at home, Peter undertakes his job with complete focus. The Oasans are shockingly open to his teachings, but things start to unravel when Bea's missives from Earth take a dark tone. Earth appears to be coming apart at the seams: typhoons and earthquakes are devastating whole countries and governments are crumbling. Even the hospital where she works has ceased to function. Their unearthly divide is testing Peter and Bea's relationship to a startlingly degree. Peter is thrown into crisis. USIC might be hiding its true motives in developing Oasis, and the Oasans themselves are frustratingly opaque. Bea's desperate letters are only fomenting his doubt. Peter is suddenly faced with an impossible-and dangerous-decision: to follow his faith, or follow his heart. His life depends on it.

The Magic Labyrinth

The Riverworld Saga: Book 4

Philip José Farmer

The answers behind the enigmatic origins of Riverworld lie at last within reach, as the remarkable gathering of Earthlings--including Sir Richard Francis Burton, Samuel Clemens, Alice Liddell Hargreaves (the real-life Alice in Wonderland), Cyrano de Bergerac, Ulysses S. Grant, and Baron Von Richtoven--finally breaches the stronghold of Riverworld's extraordinary super-race.

But answers would lead to more enigmatic questions...

Who is the Mysterious Stranger who taunted the Riverworld resurrectees with hints of the truth? What is the key to the gargantuan computer that wields the power of life and death? The astonishing secrets lie within the Dark Tower--but only for those brave enough to seek them and wise enough to decipher them...

Good News from the Vatican

Robert Silverberg

This Nebula Award-winning short story originally appeared in the anthology Universe 1 (1971), edited by Terry Carr., and can also be found in:

It is also included in the collections:

Atlas Shrugged

Ayn Rand

This is the story of a man who said that he would stop the motor of the world--and did. Was he a destroyer or the greatest of liberators? Why did he have to fight his battle, not against his enemies, but against those who needed him most, and his hardest battle against the woman he loved? What is the world's motor--and the motive power of every man? You will know the answer to these questions when you discover the reason behind the baffling events that play havoc with the lives of the characters in this story.

Tremendous in its scope, this novel presents an astounding panorama of human life--from the productive genius who becomes a worthless playboy--to the great steel industrialist who does not know that he is working for his own destruction--to the philosopher who becomes a pirate--to the composer who gives up his career on the night of his triumph--to the woman who runs a transcontinental railroad--to the lowest track worker in her Terminal tunnels.

You must be prepared, when you read this novel, to check every premise at the root of your convictions. This is a mystery story, not about the murder--and rebirth--of man's spirit. It is a philosophical revolution, told in the form of an action thriller of violent events, a ruthlessly brilliant plot structure and an irresistible suspense. Do you say this is impossible? Well, that is the first of your premises to check.

Good News from Outer Space

John Kessel

The year is 1999. The millennium is approaching fast, and America is ready to believe that the World is indeed about to End. The economy is a disaster, despite a complete restructuring of the money supply. Nuclear war in the middle east has created a new, permanent gasoline shortage. Gene-splicing technology has given terrorists almost undetectable weapons. Poverty, drugs, disease are rampant in the cities, while the new Christian Fundamentalism has taken almost total control of the countryside. The Church is even running the prison system. The most popular on-line news service in America is the Hemisphere Confidential Report, a computer network descendant of today's supermarket tabloids.

George Eberhart is HCR's top reporter and writer--once a legitmate newsman, the crumbling economy has forced him into writing "news" that is little more than fiction. But now George is onto something, something real. He has perceived a pattern in the sensationalist stories he reports, a pattern that has led him to believe that the stories of alien invasion may be something more than hysteria.

The Reverend Jimmy-Don Gilray is a TV evangelist, whose Zion Tribulation Hour brings in millions of dollars and converts every day. His message is simple: on the stroke of midnight, December 31, 1999, God will send his messengers to Earth in a spaceship, and the Day of Judgement will dawn. There is nothing that The Rev wants less than some reporter proving that the Aliens are already here.

And meanwhile, all over America, strange beings who look human are doing totally inexplicable things--committing acts which seem like meaningless cruelty or kindness to their victims.

The Gods of Riverworld

The Riverworld Saga: Book 5

Philip José Farmer

Thirty-five billion people from throughout Earth's history were resurrected along the great and winding waterways of Riverworld. Most began life anew--accepting without question the sustenance provided by their mysterious benefactors. But a rebellious handful burned to confront the unseen masters who controlled their fate--and these few launched an invasion that would ultimately yield the mind-boggling truth.

Now Riverworld's omnipotent leaders have been confronted, and the renegades of Riverworld--led by the intrepid Sir Richard Francis Burton--control the fantastic mechanism that once ruled them. But the most awesome challenge lies ahead. For in the vast corridors and secret rooms of the tower stronghold, an unknown enemy watches and waits to usurp the usurpers...

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?