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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:

The Complete Robot

The Positronic Robot Stories

Isaac Asimov

The complete collection of Isaac Asimov's classic Robot stories.In these stories, Asimov creates the Three Laws of Robotics and ushers in the Robot Age - when Earth is ruled by master-machines and when robots are more human than mankind.The Complete Robot is the ultimate collection of timeless, amazing and amusing robot stories from the greatest science fiction writer of all time, offering golden insights into robot thought processes. Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics were programmed into real computers thirty years ago at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology - with suprising results. Readers of today still have many surprises in store...

Table of Contents:

  • Introduction (The Complete Robot) - (1982) - essay
  • Some Non-Human Robots - (1982) - essay
  • A Boy's Best Friend - (1975) - short story
  • Sally - (1953) - short story
  • Someday - (1956) - short story
  • Some Immobile Robots - (1982) - essay
  • Point of View - (1975) - short story
  • Think! - (1977) - short story
  • True Love - (1977) - short story
  • Some Metallic Robots - (1982) - essay
  • Robot AL-76 Goes Astray - (1942) - short story
  • Victory Unintentional - (1942) - short story
  • Stranger in Paradise - (1974) - novelette
  • Light Verse - (1973) - short story
  • Segregationist - (1967) - short story
  • Robbie - (1940) - short story
  • Some Humanoid Robots - (1982) - essay
  • Let's Get Together - (1957) - short story
  • Mirror Image - (1972) - short story
  • The Tercentenary Incident - (1976) - short story
  • Powell and Donovan - (1982) - essay
  • First Law - (1956) - short story
  • Runaround - (1942) - novelette
  • Reason - (1941) - short story
  • Catch That Rabbit - (1944) - short story
  • Susan Calvin - (1982) - essay
  • Liar! - (1941) - short story
  • Satisfaction Guaranteed - (1951) - short story
  • Lenny - (1958) - short story
  • Galley Slave - (1957) - novelette
  • Little Lost Robot - (1947) - novelette
  • Risk - (1955) - novelette
  • Escape! - (1945) - short story
  • Evidence - (1946) - novelette
  • The Evitable Conflict - (1950) - novelette
  • Feminine Intuition - (1969) - novelette
  • Two Climaxes - (1982) - essay
  • --That Thou Art Mindful of Him! - (1974) - novelette
  • The Bicentennial Man - (1976) - novelette
  • A Last Word - (1982) - essay

Exit Strategy

The Murderbot Diaries: Book 4

Martha Wells

BSFA Award-nominated Novella and Prometheus Award-nominated series

Murderbot wasn't programmed to care. So, its decision to help the only human who ever showed it respect must be a system glitch, right?

Having traveled the width of the galaxy to unearth details of its own murderous transgressions, as well as those of the GrayCris Corporation, Murderbot is heading home to help Dr. Mensah--its former owner (protector? friend?)--submit evidence that could prevent GrayCris from destroying more colonists in its never-ending quest for profit.

But who's going to believe a SecUnit gone rogue?

And what will become of it when it's caught?

The Expert System's Brother

The Expert System's Brother: Book 1

Adrian Tchaikovsky

After an unfortunate accident, Handry is forced to wander a world he doesn't understand, searching for meaning. He soon discovers that the life he thought he knew is far stranger than he could even possibly imagine.

Can an unlikely saviour provide the answers to the questions he barely comprehends?

The Positronic Man

The Positronic Robot Stories: Book 3

Robert Silverberg
Isaac Asimov

In a twenty-first century Earth where the development of the positronic brain has revolutionized the way of life, beloved household robot "Andrew" struggles with his unusual capacity for emotion and dreams of becoming human.

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.

Cyberabad Days

India 2047: Book 2

Ian McDonald

Extraordinary new fiction set in the future India of River of Gods.

Ian McDonald's River of Gods called a "masterpiece" by Asimov's Science Fiction and praised by the Washington Post as a --"major achievement from a writer who is becoming one of the best SF novelists of our time"-- painted a vivid picture of a near future India, 100 years after independence. It revolutionized SF for a new generation by taking a perspective that was not European or American. Nominated for the Hugo Award and the Arthur C. Clarke Award, and winning the BSFA Award, the rich world of this novel has inspired McDonald to revisit its milieu in a series of short stories, all set in the world of River of Gods.

Cyberabad Days is a triumphant return to the India of 2047, a new, muscular superpower of one and a half billion people in an age of artificial intelligences, climate-change induced drought, water-wars, strange new genders, genetically improved children that age at half the rate of baseline humanity, and a population where males outnumber females four to one. India herself has fractured into a dozen states from Kerala to the headwaters of the Ganges in the Himalayas.

Cyberabad Days is a collection of seven stories, one Hugo nominee and one Hugo winner among them, as well as a thirty-one-thousand word original novella. As with everything Ian McDonald does, it is sure to be one of the most talked about books of the year.

WWW: Wonder

The WWW Trilogy: Book 3

Robert J. Sawyer

"A writer of boundless confidence and bold scientific extrapolation" (New York Times) concludes his mindbending trilogy.

Webmind-the vast consciousness that spontaneously emerged from the infrastructure of the World Wide Web-has proven its worth to humanity by aiding in everything from curing cancer to easing international tensions. But the brass at the Pentagon see Webmind as a threat that needs to be eliminated.

Caitlin Decter-the once-blind sixteen-year-old math genius who discovered, and bonded with, Webmind-wants desperately to protect her friend. And if she doesn't act, everything-Webmind included-may come crashing down.

Great Sky River

The Galactic Center Series: Book 3

Gregory Benford

At the center of the galaxy, a small band of humans, trapped on the barren world of Snowglade and facing extinction, discovers that they will play a new role in the order of the universe.

The Expert System's Champion

The Expert System's Brother: Book 2

Adrian Tchaikovsky

It's been ten years since Handry was wrenched away from his family and friends, forced to wander a world he no longer understood. But with the help of the Ancients, he has cobbled together a life, of sorts, for himself and his fellow outcasts.

Wandering from village to village, welcoming the folk that the townships abandon, fighting the monsters the villagers cannot - or dare not - his ever-growing band of misfits has become the stuff of legend, a story told by parents to keep unruly children in line.

But there is something new and dangerous in the world, and the beasts of the land are acting against their nature, destroying the towns they once left in peace.

And for the first time in memory, the Ancients have no wisdom to offer...

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 Long Utopia

The Long Earth: Book 4

Stephen Baxter
Terry Pratchett

2045-2059. Human society continues to evolve on Datum Earth, its battered and weary origin planet, as the spread of humanity progresses throughout the many Earths beyond.

Lobsang, now an elderly and complex AI, suffers a breakdown, and disguised as a human attempts to live a "normal" life on one of the millions of Long Earth worlds. His old friend, Joshua, now in his fifties, searches for his father and discovers a heretofore unknown family history. And the super-intelligent post-humans known as "the Next" continue to adapt to life among "lesser" humans.

But an alarming new challenge looms. An alien planet has somehow become "entangled" with one of the Long Earth worlds and, as Lobsang and Joshua learn, its voracious denizens intend to capture, conquer, and colonize the new universe - the Long Earth - they have inadvertently discovered.

Sailing Bright Eternity

The Galactic Center Series: Book 6

Gregory Benford

The slaughter has begun. The mechs -- violent artificial intelligences dedicated to the total destruction of the human race -- have ravaged humanity's planets throughout the galaxy, forcing the survivors to flee to the Esty, a strange space-time continuum constructed by ancient beings near the galaxy's True Center.

In the Esty, the battered human race makes its final stand against the relentless mechs. It soon becomes hideously clear that young warrior Toby Bishop, his father Killeen, and his grandfather have become special targets that the mechs' terrifying design involves their capture, torture, and extinction.

The Stone Canal

The Fall Revolution: Book 2

Ken MacLeod

Life on New Mars is tough for humans, but death is only a minor inconvenience. The machines know their place, the free market rules all, and only the Abolitionists object.

Then a stranger arrives on New Mars, a clone who remember his life on Earth as Jonathan Wilde, the anarchist with a nuclear capability who was accused of losing World War III. This stranger also remembers one David Reid, who now serves as New Mars's leader. Long ago, it turns out, Wilde and Reid had shared ideals and fought over the same women.

Moving from 20th-century Scotland through a tumultuous 21st century and outward to humanity's settlement on a planet circling another star, The Stone Canal is idea-driven sci-fi at its best., making real and believable a future where long lives, strange deaths, and unexpected knowledge await those who survive the wars and revolutions to come.

Sailing to Byzantium

Robert Silverberg

Their hotel was beautifully situated, high on the northern slope of the huge artificial mound known as the paneium that was sacred to the goat-footed god. From here they had a total view of the city: the wide noble boulevards, the soaring obelisks and monuments, the palace of Hadrian just below the hill, the stately and awesome Library, the temple of Poseidon, the teeming marketplace, the royal lodge that Mark Antony had built after his defeat at Actium. And of course the Lighthouse, the wondrous many-windowed Lighthouse, the seventh wonder of the world, that immense pile of marble and limestone rising in majesty at the end of its mile-long causeway. Black smoke from the beacon-fire ar its summit curled lazily into the sky. The city was awakening.

It looked like the past, on Earth. But times had changed...and changed...and changed.

There were ghosts and chimeras and phastasies everywhere about. A burly thick-thighed swordsman appeared on the porch of the temple of Poseidon holding a Gorgon's severed head and waved it in a wide arc, grinning broadly. In the street below the hotel gate, three small pink sphinxes, no bigger than housecats, stretched and yawned and began to prowl the curbside. A larger one, lion-sized, watched warily from an alleyway: their mother, surely. Even at this distance he could hear her loud purring....

The Jagged Orbit

John Brunner

Matthew Flamen, the last of the networks' spoolpigeons, is desperate for a big story. He needs it to keep his audience - and his job. And there is no shortage of possibilities: the Gottschalk cartel is fomenting trouble among the knees in order to sell their latest armaments to the blanks; which ties in nicely with the fact that something big is brewing with the X Patriots; and it looks as if the inconceivable is about to happen and that one of Britain's most dangerous revolutionaries is going to be given a visa to enter America. And then there's the story that just falls into his lap. The one that suggests that the respected Director of the New York State Mental Hospital is a charlatan...

3001: The Final Odyssey

Space Odyssey: Book 4

Arthur C. Clarke

One thousand years after the Jupiter mission to explore the mysterious Monolith had been destroyed, after Dave Bowman was transformed into the Star Child, Frank Poole drifted in space, frozen and forgotten, leaving the supercomputer HAL inoperable. But now Poole has returned to life, awakening in a world far different from the one he left behind--and just as the Monolith may be stirring once again . . .

The Line of Polity

Agent Cormac Series: Book 2

Neal Asher

Outlink station Miranda has been destroyed by a nanomycelium and, because of this method of sabotage, the alien bioconstruct, Dragon – a creature as untrustworthy as it is gigantic – is thought to be involved. Sent on the titanic Polity dreadnought, the Occam Razor, Agent Cormac must investigate this, and resolve the question of Masada, a world about to be subsumed when the line of polity is drawn across it.

But the biophysicist Skellor has not been captured, and controls something so potent that Polity AIs are prepared to hunt him down forever, to prevent him using it.

On Masada the rebellion can never rise above ground as the slave population is subjugated by orbital laser arrays controlled by the Theocracy in their cylinder worlds, and by the fact that they cannot leave their compounds. For the wilderness of Masada is without breathable air, and out there roam the monstrous hooders, siluroynes, and the weird and terrible gabbleducks.

Machinehood

S. B. Divya

Welga Ramirez, executive bodyguard and ex-special forces, is about to retire early when her client is killed in front of her. It's 2095 and people don't usually die from violence. Humanity is entirely dependent on pills that not only help them stay alive, but allow them to compete with artificial intelligence in an increasingly competitive gig economy. Daily doses protect against designer diseases, flow enhances focus, zips and buffs enhance physical strength and speed, and juvers speed the healing process.

All that changes when Welga's client is killed by The Machinehood, a new and mysterious terrorist group that has simultaneously attacked several major pill funders. The Machinehood operatives seem to be part human, part machine, something the world has never seen. They issue an ultimatum: stop all pill production in one week.

Global panic ensues as pill production slows and many become ill. Thousands destroy their bots in fear of a strong AI takeover. But the US government believes the Machinehood is a cover for an old enemy. One that Welga is uniquely qualified to fight.

Welga, determined to take down the Machinehood, is pulled back into intelligence work by the government that betrayed her. But who are the Machinehood and what do they really want?

Genesis

Poul Anderson

Astronaut Christian Brannock ahs lived to see artificial intelligence develop to a point where a human personality can be uploaded into ac computer, achieving a sort of hybrid immortality. He welcomes that because the technology will make it possible for him to achieve his dream and explore the stars... A billion years later, Brannock is dispatched to Earth to check on some strange anomalies. While there, he meets Laurinda Ashcroft, another hybrid upload. Brannock and Laurinda join forces and investigate Gaia, the supermind dominating the planet, and learn the truth of her shocking and terrifying secret plans for Earth.