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The Wandering Earth: Classic Science Fiction Collection

Cixin Liu

"The Wandering Earth" is a collection of short stories by Cixin Liu, China's most acclaimed contemporary science-fiction author. Unabashedly classic in the great tradition of Asimov and Clarke, Cixin Liu's science-fiction is firmly rooted in the cosmic.

Cixin Liu uses the unique perspective of science-fiction to take us on a journey into this majestic, desolate cosmos. He gives us the chance to reacquaint ourselves with the fundamental truth that in the face of a vast universe we are no more than a speck of dust; That the Earth is just another celestial body – And an extremely vulnerable one at that. The flash of a gamma-ray burst or the blast of a nearby supernova could, at any moment, reduce our cherished home to nothing but ashes. It can be terrifying to contemplate the end of our world and stories that describe such destruction can be disturbing. At the same time however, they can leave us feeling not only entertained, but exhilarated and inspired. Maybe, they can even give us a chance to renew our love of life.

Most stories found in the "The Wandering Earth" collection take us to a sci-fi vision of Earth's end. But here, there are no Hollywood aliens, descending from the depths of space to blow up our cities. In these futures, the dangers humanity faces are much stranger and whimsical than that. The unexpected calamities that befall his richly detailed worlds are only eclipsed by humanity's epic, but always plausible, attempts to escape destruction.

In all this peril and doom, Cixin Liu always feels for humanity. His stories are full of a deep love for all of Earth's peoples. But even this love does not escape reflection and even ridicule when viewed through his unrelenting cosmic lens. No matter how dearly one loves the Earth, humanity and all its cultures, there is no avoiding the cold, hard truth that they mean absolutely nothing when viewed against the vastness of the universe. But even an infinite universe could not change the simple fact that we are worthy of love, that we need love. It is this twist that lies at the very heart of the stories in this collection.

Robot Visions

The Positronic Robot Stories: Book 4

Isaac Asimov

From the writer whose name is synonymous with the science of robotics comes five decades of robot visions-36 landmark stories and essays, plus three rare tales-gathered together in one volume .

The Bicentennial Man

The Positronic Robot Stories

Isaac Asimov

Hugo, Nebula and Locus Award winning novelette. It originally appeared in the anthology Stellar #2 (1976) edited by Judy-Lynn del Rey. It has been reprinted many times and can be found in the anthologies:

The story is included in the collections:

The story was later expanded into the novel The Positronic Man (1992), written in collaboration with Robert Silverberg. It has been turned into a movie starring Robin Williams.

The Lifecycle of Software Objects

Ted Chiang

Hugo-winning and Nebula-nominated Novella

What's the best way to create artificial intelligence? In 1950, Alan Turing wrote, 'Many people think that a very abstract activity, like the playing of chess, would be best. It can also be maintained that it is best to provide the machine with the best sense organs that money can buy, and then teach it to understand and speak English. This process could follow the normal teaching of a child. Things would be pointed out and named, etc. Again I do not know what the right answer is, but I think both approaches should be tried.'

The first approach has been tried many times in both science fiction and reality. In this new novella, at over 30,000 words, his longest work to date, Ted Chiang offers a detailed imagining of how the second approach might work within the contemporary landscape of startup companies, massively-multiplayer online gaming, and open-source software. It's a story of two people and the artificial intelligences they helped create, following them for more than a decade as they deal with the upgrades and obsolescence that are inevitable in the world of software. At the same time, it's an examination of the difference between processing power and intelligence, and of what it means to have a real relationship with an artificial entity.

Read this story online for free at Subterranean Press.

Ironclads

Adrian Tchaikovsky

Scions have no limits. Scions do not die. And Scions do not disappear.

Sergeant Ted Regan has a problem. A son of one of the great corporate families, a Scion, has gone missing at the front. He should have been protected by his Ironclad--the lethal battle suits that make the Scions masters of war--but something has gone catastrophically wrong.

Now Regan and his men, ill equipped and demoralised, must go behind enemy lines, find the missing Scion, and uncover how his suit failed. Is there a new Ironclad-killer out there? And how are common soldiers lacking the protection afforded the rich supposed to survive the battlefield of tomorrow?

The Rise of Io

Io: Book 1

Wesley Chu

Ella Patel -- thief, con-artist and smuggler -- is in the wrong place at the wrong time. One night, on the border of a demilitarized zone run by the body-swapping alien invaders, she happens upon a man and woman being chased by a group of assailants. The man freezes, leaving the woman to fight off five attackers at once, before succumbing. As she dies, to both Ella and the man's surprise, the sparkling light that rises from the woman enters Ella, instead of the man. She soon realizes she's been inhabited by Io, a low-ranking Quasing who was involved in some of the worst decisions in history. Now Ella must now help the alien presence to complete her mission and investigate a rash of murders in the border states that maintain the frail peace.

With the Prophus assigned to help her seemingly wanting to stab her in the back, and the enemy Genjix hunting her, Ella must also deal with Io's annoying inferiority complex. To top it all off, Ella thinks the damn alien voice in her head is trying to get her killed. And if you can't trust the voices in your head, who can you trust?

Footfall

Larry Niven
Jerry Pournelle

They first appear as a series of dots on astronomical plates, heading from Saturn directly toward Earth. Since the ringed planet carries no life, scientists deduce the mysterious ship to be a visitor from another star.

The world's frantic efforts to signal the aliens go unanswered. The first contact is hostile: the invaders blast a Soviet space station, seize the survivors, and then destroy every dam and installation on Earth with a hail of asteriods.

Now the conquerors are descending on the American heartland, demanding servile surrender--or death for all humans.

Makers

Cory Doctorow

From the New York Times bestselling author of Little Brother, a major novel of the booms, busts, and further booms in store for America.

Perry and Lester invent things-seashell robots that make toast, Boogie Woogie Elmo dolls that drive cars. They also invent entirely new economic systems, like the "New Work," a New Deal for the technological era. Barefoot bankers cross the nation, microinvesting in high-tech communal mini-startups like Perry and Lester's. Together, they transform the country, and Andrea Fleeks, a journo-turned-blogger, is there to document it.

Then it slides into collapse. The New Work bust puts the dot.combomb to shame. Perry and Lester build a network of interactive rides in abandoned Wal-Marts across the land. As their rides, which commemorate the New Work's glory days, gain in popularity, a rogue Disney executive grows jealous, and convinces the police that Perry and Lester's 3D printers are being used to run off AK-47s.

Hordes of goths descend on the shantytown built by the New Workers, joining the cult. Lawsuits multiply as venture capitalists take on a new investment strategy: backing litigation against companies like Disney. Lester and Perry's friendship falls to pieces when Lester gets the 'fatkins' treatment, turning him into a sybaritic gigolo.

Then things get really interesting.

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

Ring Around the Sun

Masters of Science Fiction: Book 28

Clifford D. Simak

This novel is set in a future world where the equipment of ordinary, everyday life has become indestructible; there are everlasting lightbulbs and infallible cars, but no-one knows where they have come from.

Head On

Lock In: Book 2

John Scalzi

In the standalone follow-up to Lock In, chilling near-future SF is combined with the thrill of a gritty cop procedural, snappy dialogue and technological speculation on the future world of sports.

Hilketa is a frenetic and violent pastime where players attack each other with swords and hammers. The main goal of the game: obtain your opponent's head and carry it through the goalposts. With flesh and bone bodies, a sport like this would be impossible. But all the players are "threeps," robot-like bodies controlled by people with Haden's Syndrome, so anything goes. No one gets hurt, but the brutality is real and the crowds love it.

Until a star athlete drops dead on the playing field.

Is it an accident or murder? FBI Agents and Haden-related crime investigators, Chris Shane and Leslie Vann, are called in to uncover the truth -- and in doing so travel to the darker side of the fast-growing sport of Hilketa, where fortunes are made or lost, and where players and owners do whatever it takes to win, on and off the field.

Nekropolis

Maureen F. McHugh

An extraordinary literary artist offers a powerful vision of tomorrow in a world barely touched by the passing centuries.

There is life in the Nekropolis -- but no future. Hariba spent her youth here, among the exquisite paper flower wreaths her mother meticulously constructed, playing contentedly with other children around the rows and rows of old buildings housing the crumbling bones of the dead. But when an older brother's criminal indiscretion robbed Hariba of any possibility of a husband, she agreed to have herself "jessed" -- submitting to the technoblological process designed to render her docile and subservient to whomever has purchased her service. In this way, Hariba could escape the confinement of her surroundings and hopelessness of her fate...though she could never again be truly free.

At the age of twenty-six, she enters the house of a wealthy merchant as an indentured servant. It is a new world for Hariba, filled with many wondrous objects and strange amusements that she has never before seen. But there is one thing in this place that greatly disturbs her: a harni, an intelligent, machine-bred creature of flesh and organs, a perfect replica of a man. A menial, like herself, it calls itself "Akhmim." And it unsettles Hariba with its beauty, its nave, inappropriate tenderness -- and with prying, unanswerable questions like "Why are you sad?"

But slowly, almost imperceptibly, Hariba's revulsion metamorphoses into acceptance, and then into something much more. For Akhmim, like her, is a nonentity at the very bottom of the social order -- and the harni's gentle concern for her is real. And if she shuts out the accusing voices in her head, Hariba can even forget that Akhmim is less than human.

Dangerous thoughts, however, must inevitably lead to dangerous actions -- and outlaw emotions can breed an unholy love defying the strictly enforced edicts of God and man. Soon feelings Hariba can neither control nor ignore have her contemplating the unthinkable -- escape. But the "jessed" abandon their masters at the risk of sickness, pain, imprisonment, and perhaps even death. And there is no safe haven for a rebel servant and a runaway A.I. -- not even within the shunned, technology-barren bowels of the city of the dead.

Hugo Award winner Maureen F. McHugh has written a provocative, powerfully dazzling novel of repression and reawakening -- and a unique, profoundly moving love storythat stands alongside the acclaimed works of Ursula K. Le Guin and Margaret Atwood.

The Humanoids

Galaxy Science Fiction: Book 21

Jack Williamson

On the far planet Wing IV, a brilliant scientist creates the humanoids--sleek black androids programmed to serve humanity.

But are they perfect servants--or perfect masters?

Slowly the humanoids spread throughout the galaxy, threatening to stifle all human endeavor. Only a hidden group of rebels can stem the humanoid tide...if it's not already too late.

Fist published in Astounding Science Fiction during the magazine's heyday, The Humanoids--sceince fiction grand master Jack Williamson's finest novel--has endured for fifty years as a classic on the theme of natural versus artificial life.

Sleeping Giants

The Themis Files: Book 1

Sylvain Neuvel

A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.

Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved--its origins, architects, and purpose unknown. Its carbon dating defies belief; military reports are redacted; theories are floated, then rejected.

But some can never stop searching for answers.

Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top secret team to crack the hand's code. And along with her colleagues, she is being interviewed by a nameless interrogator whose power and purview are as enigmatic as the provenance of the relic. What's clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unraveling history's most perplexing discovery--and figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result prove to be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?

Camouflage

Joe Haldeman

Two aliens have wandered Earth for centuries. The Changeling has survived by adapting the forms of many different organisms. The Chameleon destroys anything or anyone that threatens it.

Now, a sunken relic that holds the key to their origins calls to them to take them home--but the Chameleon has decided there's only room for one.

The Silver Metal Lover

Silver Metal Lover: Book 1

Tanith Lee

Love is made of more than mere flesh and blood....

Tanith Lee is one of the most thought-provoking and imaginative authors of our time. In this unforgettably poignant novel, Lee has created a classic tale--a beautiful, tragic, erotic, and ultimately triumphant love story of the future.

For sixteen-year-old Jane, life is a mystery she despairs of ever mastering. She and her friends are the idle, pampered children of the privileged class, living in luxury on an Earth remade by natural disaster. Until Jane's life is changed forever by a chance encounter with a robot minstrel with auburn hair and silver skin, whose songs ignite in her a desperate and inexplicable passion.

Jane is certain that Silver is more than just a machine built to please. And she will give up everything to prove it. So she escapes into the city's violent, decaying slums to embrace a love bordering on madness. Or is it something more? Has Jane glimpsed in Silver something no one else has dared to see--not even the robot or his creators? A love so perfect it must be destroyed, for no human could ever compete?

The Mad Scientist's Daughter

Cassandra Rose Clarke

There's never been anyone - or anything - quite like Finn. He looks, and acts human, though he has no desire to be. He was programmed to assist his owners, and performs his duties to perfection. A billion-dollar construct, his primary task is to tutor Cat. When the government grants rights to the ever-increasing robot population, however, Finn struggles to find his place in the world.

The Alien Years

Robert Silverberg

It Was The Worst of Times...

Fifteen feet tall, the Entities land in cities across Earth. Ignoring humankind, they wall themselves in impenetrable enclaves, enslaving a few willing collaborators with their telepathic PUSH. Then they plunge humans into a new Dark Age without electricity, allowing us to live--but no longer as a dominant species.

But a few refuse to submit to fate, including the Carmichael family, whose patriarch, an aging colonel devoted to resistance, will inspire a daring new generation of dissidents. United in spirit, these diverse rebels--an aging hippie, a cold-blooded Muslim assassin, a prodigal son, and a renegade hacker--will carry on the colonel's legacy as they attempt to kill the mysterious Prime Entity and free the planet.

Your Favorite Band Cannot Save You

Scotto Moore

I was home alone on a Saturday night when I experienced the most beautiful piece of music I had ever heard in my life.

Beautiful Remorse is the hot new band on the scene, releasing one track a day for ten days straight. Each track has a mysterious name and a strangely powerful effect on the band's fans.

A curious music blogger decides to investigate the phenomenon up close by following Beautiful Remorse on tour across Texas and Kansas, realizing along the way that the band’s lead singer, is hiding an incredible, impossible secret.

The Game-Players of Titan

Gregg Press Science Fiction Series: Book 62

Philip K. Dick

Philip K Dick's classic dystopian novel set in the future where the remaining human survivors on Earth must gamble for their future with aliens from Titan, one of the moons circling Saturn.

Roaming the pristine landscape of Earth, cared for by machines and aliens, the few remaining humans alive since the war with Titan play Bluff, allowing them to win or lose property and also form new marriages in order to maximise the remote chance some pairings will produce a child. When Pete Garden, a particularly suicidal member of the Pretty Blue Fox game-playing group, loses his current wife and his deed to Berkeley, he stumbles upon a far bigger, more sinister version of the game.

The telepathic, slug-like Vugs of Titan are the players and at stake is the Earth itself. The Game-Players of Titan is a brilliantly conceived vision of a future dystopia, full of imaginative detail, moments of pure humour and thought-provoking musings on the nature of perception, as the seemingly straightforward narrative soon turns into a tumultuous nightmare of delusion, precognition and conspiracy.

Uncanny Valley

Greg Egan

Immortality, but at what price, in what form, and how could you be you? In the near future it's possible to build a new you, a better you, one that could carry on forever. But if you could carry on, if you could make choices about who you would be forever, how much of your past would you bring with you? Would you be tempted to maybe...edit? Adam isn't all that he used to be, but he wants to be.

BSFA nominated short fiction. This story can be found in the anthologies The Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume 3 (2018), edited by Neil Clarke, The Year's Best Science Fiction: Thirty-Fifth Annual Collection (2018), edited by Gardner Dozois, and Wilde Stories 2018: The Year's Best Gay Speculative Fiction (2018), edited by Steve Berman.

Read the full story for free at Tor.com.

vN: The First Machine Dynasty

Machine Dynasties: Book 1

Madeline Ashby

Amy Peterson is a self-replicating humanoid robot known as a VonNeumann.

For the past five years, she has been grown slowly as part of a mixed organic/synthetic family. She knows very little about her android mother's past, so when her grandmother arrives and attacks her mother, Amy wastes no time: she eats her alive.

Now she carries her malfunctioning granny as a partition on her memory drive, and she's learning impossible things about her clade's history - like the fact that she alone can kill humans without failsafing...

The Host

Stephenie Meyer

Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. The earth has been invaded by a species that takes over the minds of their human hosts while leaving their bodies intact, and most of humanity has succumbed.

Wanderer, the invading 'soul' who has been given Melanie's body, knew about the challenges of living inside a human: the overwhelming emotions, the too-vivid memories. But there was one difficulty Wanderer didn't expect: the former tenant of her body refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.

Melanie fills Wanderer's thoughts with visions of the man Melanie loves - Jared, a human who still lives in hiding. Unable to separate herself from her body's desires, Wanderer yearns for a man she's never met. As outside forces make Wanderer and Melanie unwilling allies, they set off to search for the man they both love.

Homeland

Little Brother: Book 2

Cory Doctorow

In Cory Doctorow's wildly successful Little Brother, young Marcus Yallow was arbitrarily detained and brutalized by the government in the wake of a terrorist attack on San Francisco-an experience that led him to become a leader of the whole movement of technologically clued-in teenagers, fighting back against the tyrannical security state.

A few years later, California's economy collapses, but Marcus's hacktivist past lands him a job as webmaster for a crusading politician who promises reform. Soon his former nemesis Masha emerges from the political underground to gift him with a thumbdrive containing a Wikileaks-style cable-dump of hard evidence of corporate and governmental perfidy. It's incendiary stuff-and if Masha goes missing, Marcus is supposed to release it to the world. Then Marcus sees Masha being kidnapped by the same government agents who detained and tortured Marcus years earlier.

Marcus can leak the archive Masha gave him-but he can't admit to being the leaker, because that will cost his employer the election. He's surrounded by friends who remember what he did a few years ago and regard him as a hacker hero. He can't even attend a demonstration without being dragged onstage and handed a mike. He's not at all sure that just dumping the archive onto the Internet, before he's gone through its millions of words, is the right thing to do.

Meanwhile, people are beginning to shadow him, people who look like they're used to inflicting pain until they get the answers they want.

Fast-moving, passionate, and as current as next week, Homeland is every bit the equal of Little Brother -- a paean to activism, to courage, to the drive to make the world a better place.

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

Autonomous

Annalee Newitz

Earth, 2144. Jack is an anti-patent scientist turned drug pirate, traversing the world in a submarine as a pharmaceutical Robin Hood, fabricating cheap scrips for poor people who can't otherwise afford them. But her latest drug hack has left a trail of lethal overdoses as people become addicted to their work, doing repetitive tasks until they become unsafe or insane.

Hot on her trail, an unlikely pair: Eliasz, a brooding military agent, and his robotic partner, Paladin. As they race to stop information about the sinister origins of Jack's drug from getting out, they begin to form an uncommonly close bond that neither of them fully understand.

And underlying it all is one fundamental question: Is freedom possible in a culture where everything, even people, can be owned?

Clay's Ark

The Patternist: Book 3

Octavia E. Butler

In a frightening near future, an alien disease is poised to become a devastating global epidemic - unless someone can stop it.

Blake Maslin and his two daughters are driving to Flagstaff when bandits swarm their car. At gunpoint, the marauders kidnap one of Blake's children, promising to keep her safe in return for medical care. Warily, the doctor goes with them, not realizing that he has just taken the first step down a terrifying path that will consume his life.

The gunmen take him deep into the desert, to a colony of people infected with a gruesome alien disease. It causes weakness, sallow skin, and birth defects so horrible that the children who suffer them cannot rightly be called human. The victims have quarantined themselves in the desert lest their illness spread and doom mankind. But as their willingness to accept isolation falters, Blake becomes the last hope for the survival of an uncontaminated Earth.

A Borrowed Man

A Borrowed Man: Book 1

Gene Wolfe

It is perhaps a hundred years in the future, our civilization is gone, and another is in place in North America, but it retains many familiar things and structures. Although the population is now small, there is advanced technology, there are robots, and there are clones.

E. A. Smithe is a borrowed person. He is a clone who lives on a third-tier shelf in a public library, and his personality is an uploaded recording of a deceased mystery writer. Smithe is a piece of property, not a legal human.

A wealthy patron, Colette Coldbrook, takes him from the library because he is the surviving personality of the author of Murder on Mars. A physical copy of that book was in the possession of her murdered father, and it contains an important secret, the key to immense family wealth. It is lost, and Colette is afraid of the police. She borrows Smithe to help her find the book and to find out what the secret is. And then the plot gets complicated.

The Bone Season

Paige Mahoney: Book 1

Samantha Shannon

It is the year 2059. Several major world cities are under the control of a security force called Scion. Paige Mahoney works in the criminal underworld of Scion London, part of a secret cell known as the Seven Seals. The work she does is unusual: scouting for information by breaking into others' minds. Paige is a dreamwalker, a rare kind of clairvoyant, and in this world, the voyants commit treason simply by breathing.

But when Paige is captured and arrested, she encounters a power more sinister even than Scion. The voyant prison is a separate city--Oxford, erased from the map two centuries ago and now controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. These creatures, the Rephaim, value the voyants highly--as soldiers in their army.

Paige is assigned to a Rephaite keeper, Warden, who will be in charge of her care and training. He is her master. Her natural enemy. But if she wants to regain her freedom, Paige will have to learn something of his mind and his own mysterious motives.

The Coming

Joe Haldeman

From the depths of space comes a startling message: "We're Coming."

On the brink of war and hysteria, Earth must prepare for the arrival. But the question still remains as to who-or what-will actually arrive...

White Queen

The Aleutian Trilogy: Book 1

Gwyneth Jones

Johnny Guglioli used to be a journalist, but his QV virus has rendered him an outcast. In exile from his native America, he encounters an enigmatic young woman. He is convinced she is an alien, and that she is part of a small force sent to reconnoitre Earth.