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Dune

Dune Chronicles: Book 1

Frank Herbert

The novel that to this day continues to shape modern science fiction. Set on the desert planet Arrakis, a world more awesome than any other in literature, Dune begins the story of the man known as Maud'dib -- and of a great family's plan to bring to fruition humankind's most ancient and unattainable dream. A stunning blend of adventure, mysticism, environmentalism and politics, Dune won the first Nebula Award, shared the Hugo Award, and formed the basis of what is undoubtedly the grandest epic in science fiction.

The Mountains of Mourning

The Vorkosigan Saga

Lois McMaster Bujold

Hugo- and Nebula-winning Novella

Despite being a space-faring empire, Barrayar still harbors deep-rooted prejudices and superstitions, including those against "mutants." When a Dendarii hill-woman comes before Aral Vorkosigan seeking justice for the murder of her infant baby, who has been killed because of her physical defects, the Barrayaran Lord sends his son Miles to a remote mountain village to discover the truth and carry out Imperial justice -- and at the same time, to attack these long-held barbaric beliefs. And who to send better than Miles Vorkosigan, who has himself struggled with these prejudices all his life because of his own physical deformities?

This novella was also published as part of Borders of Infinity

Foundation

The Foundation Series: Book 1

Isaac Asimov

For twelve thousand years the Galactic Empire has ruled supreme. Now it is dying. But only Hari Sheldon, creator of the revolutionary science of psychohistory, can see into the future--to a dark age of ignorance, barbarism, and warfare that will last thirty thousand years. To preserve knowledge and save mankind, Seldon gathers the best minds in the Empire--both scientists and scholars--and brings them to a bleak planet at the edge of the Galaxy to serve as a beacon of hope for a fututre generations. He calls his sanctuary the Foundation.

But soon the fledgling Foundation finds itself at the mercy of corrupt warlords rising in the wake of the receding Empire. Mankind's last best hope is faced with an agonizing choice: submit to the barbarians and be overrun--or fight them and be destroyed.

The Faded Sun: Kutath

Alliance-Union: The Faded Sun Trilogy: Book 3

C. J. Cherryh

When the third volume begins, the regul are in a state of disarray as a result of the assassination. Duncan returns to the mri and joins them in seeking assistance from the Elee, the other surviving race of ancient Kutath. After a new Elder has risen among the regul, they renew their attack on the Mri. This time humanity acts to halt the genocide, and as a result form a new partnership with the Mri.

A Desolation Called Peace

Teixcalaan: Book 2

Arkady Martine

An alien armada lurks on the edges of Teixcalaanli space. No one can communicate with it, no one can destroy it, and Fleet Captain Nine Hibiscus is running out of options.

In a desperate attempt at diplomacy with the mysterious invaders, the fleet captain has sent for a diplomatic envoy. Now Mahit Dzmare and Three Seagrass - still reeling from the recent upheaval in the Empire--face the impossible task of trying to communicate with a hostile entity.

Whether they succeed or fail could change the fate of Teixcalaan forever.

The Rediscovery of Man

The Instrumentality of Mankind

Cordwainer Smith

Welcome to the strangest, most distinctive future ever imagined by a science fiction writer. An insterstellar empire ruled by the mysterious Lords of the Instrumentality, whose access to the drug stroon from the planet Norstrilia confers on them virtual immortality. A world in which wealthy and leisured humanity is served by the underpeople, genetically engineered animals turned into the semblance of people. A world in which the great ships which sail between the stars are eventually supplanted by the mysterious, instantaneous technique of planoforming. A world of wonder and myth, and extraordinary imagination.

(Note that this collection was originally published in 1975 as The Best of Cordwainer Smith, the 3rd book in Ballantine's Classic Library of Science Fiction. It was then republished as The Rediscovery of Man in 1988 as VGSF Classics #25, then again in 1999 as a Gollancz SF Masterworks edition. It is a different collection from the NESFA press collection The Rediscovery of Man: The Complete Short Science Fiction of Cordwainer Smith, which has different contents).

Table of Contents:

  • Cordwainer Smith: The Shaper of Myths - essay by John J. Pierce
  • The Instrumentality of Mankind (timeline) - essay by John J. Pierce
  • Scanners Live in Vain (1950) - novelette
  • The Lady Who Sailed the Soul (1960) - novelette by Genevieve Linebarger and Cordwainer Smith
  • The Game of Rat and Dragon (1955) - short story
  • The Burning of the Brain (1958) - short story
  • Golden the Ship Was -- Oh! Oh! Oh! (1959) - short story by Genevieve Linebarger and Cordwainer Smith
  • The Crime and the Glory of Commander Suzdal (1964) - short story
  • The Dead Lady of Clown Town (1964) - novella
  • Under Old Earth (1966) - novelette
  • Mother Hitton's Littul Kittons (1961) - novelette
  • Alpha Ralpha Boulevard (1961) - novelette
  • The Ballad of Lost C'mell (1962) - novelette
  • A Planet Named Shayol (1961) - novelette

This Alien Shore

The Outworlds: Book 1

C. S. Friedman

It is the second stage of human colon-ization--the first age, humanity's initial attempt to people the stars, ended in disaster when it was discovered that Earth's original superluminal drive did permanent genetic damage to all who used it--mutating Earth's far-flung colonists in mind and body. Now, one of Earth's first colonies has given humanity back the stars, but at a high price--a monopoly over all human commerce. And when a satellite in earth's outer orbit is viciously attacked by corporate raiders, an unusual young woman flees to a ship bound for the Up-and-Out. But her narrow escape does not mean safety. For speeding across the galaxy pursued by ruthless, but unknown adversaries, this young woman will discover a secret which is buried deep inside her psyche--a revelation the universe may not be ready to face....

Transcendental

Transcendental Machine: Book 1

James E. Gunn

Riley, a veteran of interstellar war, is one of many beings from many different worlds aboard a ship on a pilgrimage that spans the galaxy. However, he is not journeying to achieve transcendence, a vague mystical concept that has drawn everyone else on the ship to this journey into the unknown at the far edge of the galaxy. His mission is to find and kill the prophet who is reputed to help others transcend. While their ship speeds through space, the voyage is marred by violence and betrayal, making it clear that some of the ship's passengers are not the spiritual seekers they claim to be.

Like the pilgrims in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, a number of those on the starship share their unique stories. But as tensions rise, Riley realizes that the ship is less like the Canterbury Tales and more like a harrowing, deadly ship of fools. When he becomes friendly with a mysterious passenger named Asha, he thinks she's someone he can trust. However, like so many others on the ship, Asha is more than she appears. Uncovering her secrets could be the key to Riley's personal quest, or make him question everything he thought he knew about Transcendentalism and his mission to stop it.

Foundation's Edge

The Foundation Series: Book 4

Isaac Asimov

At last, the costly and bitter war between the two Foundations had come to an end. The scientists of the First Foundation had proved victorious; and now they retum to Hari Seldon's long-established plan to build a new Empire that the Second Foundation is not destroyed after all-and that its still-defiant survivors are preparing their revenge. Now the two exiled citizens of the Foundation-a renegade Councilman and the doddering historian-set out in search of the mythical planet Earth. . .and proof that the Second Foundation still exists. Meanwhile someone-or something-outside of both Foundations sees to be orchestrating events to suit its own ominous purpose. Soon representatives of both the First and Second Foundations will find themselves racing toward a mysterious world called Gaia and a final shocking destiny at the very end of the universe!

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.

The Fresco

Sheri S. Tepper

The bizarre events that have been occuring across the United States -- unexplained "oddities" tracked by Air Defense, mysterious disappearances, shocking deaths -- seem to have no bearing on Benita Alvarez-Shipton's life. That is, until the soft-spoken thirty-six-year-old bookstore manager is approached by a pair of aliens asking her to transmit their message of peace to the powers in Washington. An abused Albuquerque wife with low self-esteem, Benita has been chosen to act as the sole liaison between the human race and the Pistach, who have offered their human hosts a spectacular opportunity for knowledge and enrichment.

But ultimately Benita will be called upon to do much more than deliver messages -- and may, in fact, be responsible for saving the Earth. Because the Pistach are not the only space-faring species currently making their presence known on her unsuspecting planet. And the others are not so benevolent.

God Emperor of Dune

Dune Chronicles: Book 4

Frank Herbert

Millennia have passed on Arrakis, and the oncedesert planet is green with life. Leto Atreides, the son of the world's savior, the Emperor Paul Muad'Dib, is still alive but far from human. To preserve humanity's future, he sacrificed his own by merging with a sandworm, granting him nearimmortality as God Emperor of Dune for the past 3,500 years.

Leto's rule is not a benevolent one. His transformation has not only made his appearance inhuman, but his morality. A rebellion has risen to oppose the despot's rule, led by Siona, a member of the Atreides family. But Siona is unaware that Leto's vision of a Golden Path for humanity requires her to fulfill a destiny she never wanted... or could possibly conceive....

Chapterhouse: Dune

Dune Chronicles: Book 6

Frank Herbert

The desert planet Arrakis, called Dune, has been destroyed. The remnants of the Old Empire have been consumed by the violent matriarchal cult known as the Honored Matres. Only one faction remains a viable threat to their total conquest-the Bene Gesserit, heirs to Dune's power.

Under the leadership of Mother Superior Darwi Odrade, the Bene Gesserit have colonized a green world on the planet Chapterhouse, and are turning it into a desert, mile by scorched mile. And once they've mastered breeding sandworms, the Sisterhood will control the production of the greatest commodity in the known galaxy-the spice Melange. But their true weapon remains a man who has lived countless lifetimes-a man who served under the God Emperor Paul Muad'Dib.

Pebble in the Sky

Trantorian Empire: Book 1

Isaac Asimov

One moment Joseph Schwartz is a happily retired tailor in Chicago, 1949. The next he's a helpless stranger on Earth during the heyday of the first Galactic Empire. Earth, as he soon learns, is a backwater, just a pebble in the sky, despised by all the other 200 million planets of the Empire because its people dare to claim it's the original home of man. And Earth is poor, with great areas of radioactivity ruining much of its soil--so poor that everyone is sentenced to death at the age of sixty. Joseph Schwartz is sixty-two.

This is young Isaac Asimov's first novel, full of wonders and ideas, the book that launched the novels of the Galactic Empire, culminating in the Foundation series. This is Golden Age SF at its finest.

The Currents of Space

Trantorian Empire: Book 3

Isaac Asimov

High above the planet Florinia, the Squires of Sark live in unimaginable wealth and comfort. Down in the eternal spring of the planet, however, the native Florinians labor ceaselessly to produce the precious kyrt that brings prosperity to their Sarkite masters.

Rebellion is unthinkable and impossible. Not only do the Florinians no longer have a concept of freedom, any disruption of the vital kyrt trade would cause other planets to rise in protest, ultimately destabilizing trade and resulting in a galactic war. So the Trantorian Empire, whose grand plan is to unite all humanity in peace, prosperity, and freedom, has stood aside and allowed the oppression to continue.

Living among the workers of Florinia, Rik is a man without a memory or a past. He has been abducted and brainwashed. Barely able to speak or care for himself when he was found, Rik is widely regarded as a simpleton by the worker community where he lives. But as his memories begin to return, Rik finds himself driven by a cryptic message he is determined to deliver: Everyone on Florinia is doomed . . . the Currents of Space are bringing destruction. But if the planet is evacuated, the power of Sark will end--so some would finish the job and would kill the messenger. The fate of the Galaxy hangs in the balance.

If All Men Were Brothers, Would You Let One Marry Your Sister?

Theodore Sturgeon

Nebula Award nominated novella. It originally appeared in the anthology Dangerous Visions (1967), edited by Harlan Ellison. It is included in the collections Case and the Dreamer and Other Stories (1974) and The Nail and the Oracle (2007).