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By the Pricking of Her Thumb

Real-Town Murders: Book 2

Adam Roberts

Private Investigator Alma is caught up in another impossible murder. One of the world's four richest people may be dead - but nobody is sure which one. Hired to discover the truth behind the increasingly bizarre behaviour of the ultra-rich, Alma must juggle treating her terminally ill lover with a case which may not have a victim.

Inspired by the films of Kubrick, this stand-alone novel returns to the near-future of THE REAL-TOWN MURDERS, and puts Alma on a path to a world she can barely understand. Witty, moving and with a mystery deep at its heart, this novel again shows Adam Roberts' mastery of the form.

The Golden Age

The Golden Age: Book 1

John C. Wright

The Golden Age is Grand Space Opera, a large-scale SF adventure novel in the tradition of A. E. Van vogt and Roger Zelazny, with perhaps a bit of Cordwainer Smith enriching the style. It is an astounding story of super science, a thrilling wonder story that recaptures the excitements of SF's golden age writers.

The Golden Age takes place 10,000 years in the future in our solar system, an interplanetary utopian society filled with immortal humans. Within the frame of a traditional tale-the one rebel who is unhappy in utopia-Wright spins an elaborate plot web filled with suspense and passion.

Phaethon, of Radamanthus House, is attending a glorious party at his family mansion to celebrate the thousand-year anniversary of the High Transcendence. There he meets first an old man who accuses him of being an impostor and then a being from Neptune who claims to be an old friend. The Neptunian tells him that essential parts of his memory were removed and stored by the very government that Phaethon believes to be wholly honorable. It shakes his faith. He is an exile from himself.

And so Phaethon embarks upon a quest across the transformed solar system--Jupiter is now a second sun, Mars and Venus terraformed, humanity immortal--among humans, intelligent machines, and bizarre life forms that are partly both, to recover his memory, and to learn what crime he planned that warranted such preemptive punishment. His quest is to regain his true identity.

The Golden Age is one of the major, ambitious SF novels of the year and the international launch of an important new writer in the genre.

Ubik

Gregg Press Science Fiction Series: Book 63

Philip K. Dick

Philip K. Dick's searing metaphysical comedy of death and salvation is a tour de force of panoramic menace and unfettered slapstick, in which the departed give business advice, shop for their next incarnation, and run the continual risk of dying yet again.

Atlas Alone

Planetfall: Book 4

Emma Newman

Six months after she left, Dee is struggling to manage her rage toward the people who ordered the nuclear strike that destroyed Earth. She's trying to find those responsible, but she's not getting very far alone.

A dedicated gamer, Dee is endeavoring to discover a mersive good enough to enable her to escape her trauma. When she is approached by a designer who asks her to play test his new game, she hopes it will be what she needs--but it isn't like any mersive she's played before. When a man suddenly dies in the real world, she realizes that at the same time in the game, she killed a character who bears a striking resemblance to the dead man--a man she discovers was one of those responsible for the death of millions on Earth.

Disturbed, but thinking it must be a coincidence, Dee continues the hunt for information. But when she finds out the plans for the future colony, she realizes that to save what is left of humanity, she might have to do something that risks what remains of her own.

The Invention of Morel

Adolfo Bioy Casares

Jorge Luis Borges declared The Invention of Morel a masterpiece of plotting, comparable to The Turn of the Screw and Journey to the Center of the Earth. Set on a mysterious island, Bioy's novella is a story of suspense and exploration, as well as a wonderfully unlikely romance, in which every detail is at once crystal clear and deeply mysterious.

Inspired by Bioy Casares's fascination with the movie star Louise Brooks, The Invention of Morel has gone on to live a secret life of its own. Greatly admired by Julio Cortázar, Gabriel García Márquez, and Octavio Paz, the novella helped to usher in Latin American fiction's now famous postwar boom. As the model for Alain Resnais and Alain Robbe-Grillet's Last Year in Marienbad, it also changed the history of film.

We Are Legion (We Are Bob)

Bobiverse: Book 1

Dennis E. Taylor

Bob Johansson has just sold his software company and is looking forward to a life of leisure. There are places to go, books to read, and movies to watch. So it's a little unfair when he gets himself killed crossing the street. Bob wakes up a century later to find that corpsicles have been declared to be without rights, and he is now the property of the state. He has been uploaded into computer hardware and is slated to be the controlling AI in an interstellar probe looking for habitable planets. The stakes are high: no less than the first claim to entire worlds. If he declines the honor, he'll be switched off, and they'll try again with someone else. If he accepts, he becomes a prime target. There are at least three other countries trying to get their own probes launched first, and they play dirty. The safest place for Bob is in space, heading away from Earth at top speed. Or so he thinks. Because the universe is full of nasties, and trespassers make them mad - very mad.

WWW: Watch

The WWW Trilogy: Book 2

Robert J. Sawyer

Award-winning author Robert J. Sawyer continues his "wildly though- provoking" science fiction saga of a sentient World Wide Web.

Webmind is an emerging consciousness that has befriended Caitlin Decter and grown eager to learn about her world. But Webmind has also come to the attention of WATCH-the secret government agency that monitors the Internet for any threat to the United States-and they're fully aware of Caitlin's involvement in its awakening.

WATCH is convinced that Webmind represents a risk to national security and wants it purged from cyberspace. But Caitlin believes in Webmind's capacity for compassion-and she will do anything and everything necessary to protect her friend.

Neuromancer

The Sprawl Trilogy: Book 1

William Gibson

The Matrix is a world within the world, a global consensus - hallucination, the representation of every byte of data in cyberspace...

Case had been the sharpest data-thief in the business, until vengeful former employees crippled his nervous system. But now a new and very mysterious employer recruits him for a last-chance run. The target: an unthinkably powerful artificial intelligence orbiting Earth in service of the sinister Tessier-Ashpool business clan. With a dead man riding shotgun and Molly, mirror-eyed street-samurai, to watch his back, Case embarks on an adventure that ups the ante on an entire genre of fiction.

Hotwired to the leading edges of art and technology, Neuromancer ranks with 1984 and Brave New World as one of the century's most potent visions of the future.

Glasshouse

Charles Stross

When Robin wakes up in a clinic with most of his memories missing, it doesn't take him long to discover that someone's trying to kill him. It's the twenty-seventh century, when interstellar travel is by teleport gate and conflicts are fought by network worms that censor refugees' personalities-including Robin's earlier self.

On the run from unknown enemies, he volunteers to participate in a unique experimental polity, the Glasshouse, constructed to simulate a preaccelerated culture. Participants are assigned anonymized identities: it looks like the ideal hiding place for a posthuman on the run. But in this escape-proof environment, Robin will undergo an even more radical change, placing him at the mercy of the experimenters-and at the mercy of his own unbalanced psyche.

Mona Lisa Overdrive

The Sprawl Trilogy: Book 3

William Gibson

William Gibson, author of the extraordinary multiaward-winning novel Neuromancer, has written his most brilliant and thrilling work to date... The Mona Lisa Overdrive.

Enter Gibson's unique world--lyric and mechanical, erotic and violent, sobering and exciting--where multinational corporations and high tech outlaws vie for power, traveling into the computer-generated universe known as cyberspace.

Into this world comes Mona, a young girl with a murky past and an uncertain future whose life is on a collision course with internationally famous Sense/Net star Angie Mitchell.

Since childhood, Angie has been able to tap into cyberspace without a computer.

Now, from inside cyberspace, a kidnapping plot is masterminded by a phantom entity who has plans for Mona, Angie, and all humanity, plans that cannot be controlled... or even known.

And behind the intrigue lurks the shadowy Yazuka, the powerful Japanese underworld, whose leaders ruthlessly manipulate people and events to suit their own purposes... or so they think.

The Android's Dream

John Scalzi

A human diplomat creates an interstellar incident when he kills an alien diplomat in a most... unusual... way. To avoid war, Earth's government must find an equally unusual object: A type of sheep ("The Android's Dream"), used in the alien race's coronation ceremony.

To find the sheep, the government turns to Harry Creek, ex-cop, war hero and hacker extraordinare, who with the help of Brian Javna, a childhood friend turned artificial intelligence, scours the earth looking for the rare creature. And they find it, in the unknowing form of Robin Baker, pet store owner, whose genes contain traces of the sheep DNA.

But there are others with plans for the sheep as well: Mercenaries employed by the military. Adherents of a secret religion based on the writings of a 21st century science fiction author. And alien races, eager to start a revolution on their home world and a war on Earth.

To keep our planet from being enslaved, Harry will have to pull off the greatest diplomatic coup in history, a grand gambit that will take him from the halls of power to the lava-strewn battlefields of alien worlds. There's only one chance to get it right, to save the life of Robin Baker -- and to protect the future of humanity.

Summer Frost

Forward: Book 2

Blake Crouch

A video game developer becomes obsessed with a willful character in her new project, in a mind-bending exploration of what it means to be human by the New York Times bestselling author of Recursion.

Maxine was made to do one thing: die. Except the minor non-player character in the world Riley is building makes her own impossible decision--veering wildly off course and exploring the boundaries of the map. When the curious Riley extracts her code for closer examination, an emotional relationship develops between them. Soon Riley has all new plans for her spontaneous AI, including bringing Max into the real world. But what if Max has real-world plans of her own?

Lock In

Lock In: Book 1

John Scalzi

Fifteen years from now, a new virus sweeps the globe. 95% of those afflicted experience nothing worse than fever and headaches. Four percent suffer acute meningitis, creating the largest medical crisis in history. And one percent find themselvs "locked in"-fully awake and aware, but unable to move or respond to stimulus.

One per cent doesn't seem like a lot. But in the United States, that's 1.7 million people "locked in"... including the President's wife and daughter.

Spurred by grief and the sheer magnitude of the suffering, America undertakes a massive scientific initiative. Nothing can restore the ability to control their own bodies to the locked in. But then two new technologies emerge. One is a virtual-reality environment, "The Agora," in which the locked-in can interact with other humans, both locked-in and not. The other is the discovery that a few rare individuals have brains that are receptive to being controlled by others, meaning that from time to time, those who are locked in can "ride" these people and use their bodies as if they were their own.

This skill is quickly regulated, licensed, bonded, and controlled. Nothing can go wrong. Certainly nobody would be tempted to misuse it, for murder, for political power, or worse....

For We Are Many

Bobiverse: Book 2

Dennis E. Taylor

Bob Johansson didn't believe in an afterlife, so waking up after being killed in a car accident was a shock. To add to the surprise, he is now a sentient computer and the controlling intelligence for a Von Neumann probe.

Bob and his copies have been spreading out from Earth for 40 years now, looking for habitable planets. But that's the only part of the plan that's still in one piece. A system-wide war has killed off 99.9% of the human race; nuclear winter is slowly making the Earth uninhabitable; a radical group wants to finish the job on the remnants of humanity; the Brazilian space probes are still out there, still trying to blow up the competition; And the Bobs have discovered a spacefaring species that sees all other life as food.

Bob left Earth anticipating a life of exploration and blissful solitude. Instead he's become a sky god to a primitive native species, the only hope for getting humanity to a new home, and possibly the only thing that can prevent every living thing in the local sphere from ending up as dinner.

Snapshot

Brandon Sanderson

If you could re-create a day, what dark secrets would you uncover?

From New York Times #1 bestselling author Brandon Sanderson comes a detective thriller in a police beat like no other. Anthony Davis and his partner Chaz are the only real people in a city of 20 million, sent there by court order to find out what happened in the real world 10 days ago so that hidden evidence can be brought to light and located in the real city today.

Within the re-created Snapshot of May 1st, Davis and Chaz are the ultimate authorities. Flashing their badges will get them past any obstruction and overrule any civil right of the dupes around them. But the crimes the detectives are sent to investigate seem like drudgery--until they stumble upon the grisly results of a mass killing that the precinct headquarters orders them not to investigate. That's one order they have to refuse.

The hunt is on. And though the dupes in the replica city have no future once the Snapshot is turned off, that doesn't mean that both Davis and Chaz will walk out of it alive tonight.

The Terminal Experiment

Robert J. Sawyer

To test his theories of immortality and life after death, Dr. Peter Hobson has created three electronic simulations of his own personality. The first has all knowledge of physical existence edited out, to simulate life after death. The second is without knowledge of aging or death, to simulate immortality. The third is unmodified, a control.

Now they are free. One is a killer.

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 Rapture of the Nerds

Charles Stross
Cory Doctorow

Welcome to the fractured future, at the dusk of the twenty-first century.

Earth has a population of roughly a billion hominids. For the most part, they are happy with their lot, living in a preserve at the bottom of a gravity well. Those who are unhappy have emigrated, joining one or another of the swarming densethinker clades that fog the inner solar system with a dust of molecular machinery so thick that it obscures the sun.

The splintery metaconsciousness of the solar-system has largely sworn off its pre-post-human cousins dirtside, but its minds sometimes wander... and when that happens, it casually spams Earth's networks with plans for cataclysmically disruptive technologies that emulsify whole industries, cultures, and spiritual systems. A sane species would ignore these get-evolved-quick schemes, but there's always someone who'll take a bite from the forbidden apple.

So until the overminds bore of stirring Earth's anthill, there's Tech Jury Service: random humans, selected arbitrarily, charged with assessing dozens of new inventions and ruling on whether to let them loose. Young Huw, a technophobic, misanthropic Welshman, has been selected for the latest jury, a task he does his best to perform despite an itchy technovirus, the apathy of the proletariat, and a couple of truly awful moments on bathroom floors.

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

Software

Ware: Book 1

Rudy Rucker

It was Cobb Anderson who built the"boppers"--the first robots with real brains. Now, in 2020, Cobb is just another aged "pheezer" with a bad heart, drinking and grooving an the old tunes in Florida retirement hell. His "bops" have came a long way, though, rebelling against their subjugation to set up their own society an the moon. And now they're offering creator Cobb immortality but at a stiff price: his body his soul... and his world.

Rainbows End

Vernor Vinge

Four time Hugo Award winner Vernor Vinge has taken readers to the depths of space and into the far future in his bestselling novels A Fire Upon the Deep and A Deepness in the Sky. Now, he has written a science-fiction thriller set in a place and time as exciting and strange as any far-future world: San Diego, California, 2025.

Robert Gu is a recovering Alzheimer's patient. The world that he remembers was much as we know it today. Now, as he regains his faculties through a cure developed during the years of his near-fatal decline, he discovers that the world has changed and so has his place in it. He was a world-renowned poet. Now he is seventy-five years old, though by a medical miracle he looks much younger, and he's starting over, for the first time unsure of his poetic gifts . Living with his son's family, he has no choice but to learn how to cope with a new information age in which the virtual and the real are a seamless continuum, layers of reality built on digital views seen by a single person or millions, depending on your choice. But the consensus reality of the digital world is available only if, like his thirteen-year-old granddaughter Miri, you know how to wear your wireless access-through nodes designed into smart clothes-and to see the digital context-through smart contact lenses.

With knowledge comes risk. When Robert begins to re-train at Fairmont High, learning with other older people what is second nature to Miri and other teens at school, he unwittingly becomes part of a wide-ranging conspiracy to use technology as a tool for world domination.

In a world where every computer chip has Homeland Security built-in, this conspiracy is something that baffles even the most sophisticated security analysts, including Robert's son and daughter-in law, two top people in the U.S. military. And even Miri, in her attempts to protect her grandfather, may be entangled in the plot.

As Robert becomes more deeply involved in conspiracy, he is shocked to learn of a radical change planned for the UCSD Geisel Library; all the books there, and worldwide, would cease to physically exist. He and his fellow re-trainees feel compelled to join protests against the change. With forces around the world converging on San Diego, both the conspiracy and the protest climax in a spectacular moment as unique and satisfying as it is unexpected. This is science fiction at its very best, by a master storyteller at his peak.

Silently and Very Fast

Catherynne M. Valente

Hugo- and Nebula-nominated Novella

Fantastist Catherynne M. Valente takes on the folklore of artificial intelligence in this brand new, original novella of technology, identity, and an uncertain mechanized future.

Neva is dreaming. But she is not alone. A mysterious machine entity called Elefsis haunts her and the members of her family, back through the generations to her great-great grandmother-a gifted computer programmer who changed the world. Together Neva and Elefsis navigate their history and their future, an uneasy, unwilling symbiote. But what they discover in their dreamworld might change them forever...


Read this story online for free at Clarkesworld: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

The Cookie Monster

Vernor Vinge

Hugo and Locus Award winning and Nebula Award nominated novella. It originally appeared in Analog Science Fiction and Fact, October 2003. The story can also be found in the anthologies Science Fiction: The Best of 2003, edited by Karen Haber and Jonathan Strahan, The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-First Annual Collection (2004), edited by Gardner Dozois and Digital Rapture: The Singularity Anthology (2012), edited by John Kessel and James Patrick Kelly.

The Restoration Game

Ken MacLeod

There is no such place as Krassnia. Lucy Stone should know - she was born there.

In that tiny, troubled region of the former Soviet Union, revolution is brewing. Its organisers need a safe place to meet, and where better than the virtual spaces of an online game? Lucy, who works for a start-up games company in Edinburgh, has a project that almost seems made for the job: a game inspired by The Krassniad, an epic folk tale concocted by Lucy's mother Amanda, who studied there in the 1980s. Lucy knows Amanda is a spook. She knows her great-grandmother Eugenie also visited the country in the '30s, and met the man who originally collected Krassnian folklore, and who perished in Stalin's terror.

As Lucy digs up details about her birthplace to slot into the game, she finds the open secrets of her family's past, the darker secrets of Krassnia's past - and hints about the crucial role she is destined to play in The Restoration Game ...

Mother of Storms

John Barnes

In the middle of the Pacific, a gigantic hurricane accidentally triggered by nuclear explosions spawns dozens more in its wake.A world linked by a virtual-reality network experiences the devastation first hand, witnessing the death of civilization as we know it and the violent birth of an emerging global consciousness.

Vast in scope, yet intimate in personal detail, Mother of Storms is a visionary fusion of cutting-edge cyberspace fiction and heart-stopping storytelling in the grand tradition, filled with passion, tragedy, and the triumph of the human spirit.

Idoru

The Bridge Trilogy: Book 2

William Gibson

In twenty-first century Tokyo, Rez, one of the world's biggest rock stars, prepares to marry Rei Toe, Japan's biggest media star, who is known as the Idoru and who exists only in virtual reality.

The Werewolf Principle

Masters of Science Fiction: Book 40

Clifford D. Simak

After several years' absence and the loss of his memory, Andrew Blake returns to earth only to find himself accused of being a werewolf.

Fall, or Dodge in Hell

Neal Stephenson

In his youth, Richard "Dodge" Forthrast founded Corporation 9592, a gaming company that made him a multibillionaire. Now in his middle years, Dodge appreciates his comfortable, unencumbered life, managing his myriad business interests, and spending time with his beloved niece Zula and her young daughter, Sophia.

One beautiful autumn day, while he undergoes a routine medical procedure, something goes irrevocably wrong. Dodge is pronounced brain dead and put on life support, leaving his stunned family and close friends with difficult decisions. Long ago, when a much younger Dodge drew up his will, he directed that his body be given to a cryonics company now owned by enigmatic tech entrepreneur Elmo Shepherd. Legally bound to follow the directive despite their misgivings, Dodge's family has his brain scanned and its data structures uploaded and stored in the cloud, until it can eventually be revived.

In the coming years, technology allows Dodge's brain to be turned back on. It is an achievement that is nothing less than the disruption of death itself. An eternal afterlife--the Bitworld--is created, in which humans continue to exist as digital souls.

But this brave new immortal world is not the Utopia it might first seem.

Silver Screen

Justina Robson

When Ray Croft dies he leaves behind a mystery that can only be solved by Anjuli O'Connell who has the memory of a machine. It's a mystery whose solution brings into question what it really means to be human. And it will reveal who Ray really was. Will Anjuli go through with it?

Queen of Angels

Queen of Angels: Book 1

Greg Bear

Los Angeles 2047, a city on the eve of the Binary Millennium. Public Defender Mary Choy faces her toughest assignment yet - to bring back Emanuel Goldsmith, acclaimed poet turned mass killer, from the heart of a Caribbean island that is about to explode in revolution.

The Computer Connection

Alfred Bester

Alfred Bester's first science fiction novel since The Stars My Destination was a major event. A fast-moving adventure story set in Earth's future. A band of immortals - as charming a bunch of eccentrics as you'll ever come across - recruit a new member, the brilliant Cherokee physicist Sequoya Guess. Dr. Guess, with group's help, gain control of Extro, the supercomputer that controls all mechanical activity on Earth. They plan to rid Earth of political repression and to further Guess's researches - which may lead to a great leap in human evolution to produce a race of supermen. But Extro takes over Guess instead and turns malevolent. The task of the merry band suddenly becomes a fight in deadly earnest for the future of Earth.

Sequoya Guess, whom they love, must be killed. And how do you kill an immortal?