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Tales of the Dying Earth

Dying Earth

Jack Vance

One of Jack Vances enduring classics is his 1964 novel, The Dying Earth, and its sequelsa fascinating tale set on a far-future Earth, under a giant red sun that is soon to go out forever. This volume comprises all four books in the series, The Dying Earth, The Eyes of the Overworld, Cugels Saga and Rialto the Magnificent.

The Scar

New Crobuzon: Book 2

China Miéville

Aboard a vast seafaring vessel, a band of prisoners and slaves, their bodies remade into grotesque biological oddities, is being transported to the fledgling colony of New Crobuzon. But the journey is not theirs alone. They are joined by a handful of travelers, each with a reason for fleeing the city. Among them is Bellis Coldwine, a renowned linguist whose services as an interpreter grant her passageand escape from horrific punishment. For she is linked to Isaac Dan der Grimnebulin, the brilliant renegade scientist who has unwittingly unleashed a nightmare upon New Crobuzon.

For Bellis, the plan is clear: live among the new frontiersmen of the colony until it is safe to return home. But when the ship is besieged by pirates on the Swollen Ocean, the senior officers are summarily executed. The surviving passengers are brought to Armada, a city constructed from the hulls of pirated ships, a floating, landless mass ruled by the bizarre duality called the Lovers. On Armada, everyone is given work, and even Remades live as equals to humans, Cactae, and Cray. Yet no one may ever leave.

Lonely and embittered in her captivity, Bellis knows that to show dissent is a death sentence. Instead, she must furtively seek information about Armada's agenda. The answer lies in the dark, amorphous shapes that float undetected miles below the watersterrifying entities with a singular, chilling mission....

Perdido Street Station

New Crobuzon: Book 1

China Miéville

Beneath the towering bleached ribs of a dead, ancient beast lies New Crobuzon, a squalid city where humans, Re-mades, and arcane races live in perpetual fear of Parliament and its brutal militia. The air and rivers are thick with factory pollutants and the strange effluents of alchemy, and the ghettos contain a vast mix of workers, artists, spies, junkies, and whores. In New Crobuzon, the unsavory deal is stranger to nonenot even to Isaac, a brilliant scientist with a penchant for Crisis Theory.

Isaac has spent a lifetime quietly carrying out his unique research. But when a half-bird, half-human creature known as the Garuda comes to him from afar, Isaac is faced with challenges he has never before fathomed. Though the Garuda's request is scientifically daunting, Isaac is sparked by his own curiosity and an uncanny reverence for this curious stranger.

While Isaac's experiments for the Garuda turn into an obsession, one of his lab specimens demands attention: a brilliantly colored caterpillar that feeds on nothing but a hallucinatory drug and grows largerand more consumingby the day. What finally emerges from the silken cocoon will permeate every fiber of New Crobuzon and not even the Ambassador of Hell will challenge the malignant terror it invokes...

A magnificent fantasy rife with scientific splendor, magical intrigue, and wonderfully realized characters, told in a storytelling style in which Charles Dickens meets Neal Stephenson, Perdido Street Station offers an eerie, voluptuously crafted world that will plumb the depths of every reader's imagination.

Cugel's Saga

Dying Earth: Book 3

Jack Vance

The roguish Cugel the Clever is stranded on a shore on the other side of the world by the Laughing Magic and must fight, bluff, and connive his way back to Almery to take vengeance on the wizard.

Alternate title: Cugel: The Skybreak Spatterlight

Grass

The Arbai Trilogy: Book 1

Sheri S. Tepper

What could be more commonplace than grass, or a world covered over all its surface with a wind-whipped ocean of grass? But the planet Grass conceals horrifying secrets within its endless pastures. And as an incurable plague attacks all inhabited planets but this one, the prairie-like Grass begins to reveal these secrets -- and nothing will ever be the same again...

Binti

Binti: Book 1

Nnedi Okorafor

Hugo and Nebula-winning and BSFA, BFA, and Locus-nominated Novella

Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs.

Knowledge comes at a cost, one that Binti is willing to pay, but her journey will not be easy. The world she seeks to enter has long warred with the Meduse, an alien race that has become the stuff of nightmares. Oomza University has wronged the Meduse, and Binti's stellar travel will bring her within their deadly reach.

If Binti hopes to survive the legacy of a war not of her making, she will need both the the gifts of her people and the wisdom enshrined within the University, itself - but first she has to make it there, alive.

The story can also be found in the anthologies The Year's Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Novellas 2016, edited by Paula Guran, Nebula Awards Showcase 2017, edited by Julie E. Czerneda, and Infinite Stars (2017), edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt.

The Eyes of the Overworld

Dying Earth: Book 2

Jack Vance

The Eyes of the Overworld is the first of Vance's picaresque novels about the scoundrel Cugel. Here he is sent by a magician he has wronged to a distant unknown country to retrieve magical lenses that reveal the Overworld. Conniving to steal the lenses, he escapes and, goaded by a homesick monster magically attached to his liver, starts to find his way home to Almery. The journey takes him across trackless mountains, wastelands, and seas. Through cunning and dumb luck, the relentless Cugel survives one catastrophe after another, fighting off bandits, ghosts, and ghouls-stealing, lying, and cheating without insight or remorse leaving only wreckage behind.

Betrayed and betraying, he joins a cult group on a pilgrimage, crosses the Silver Desert as his comrades die one by one and, escaping the Rat People, obtains a spell that returns him home. There, thanks to incompetence and arrogance he misspeaks the words of a purloined spell and transports himself back to the same dismal place he began his journey.

Alternate title: Cugel the Clever

The Many-Colored Land

The Saga of Pliocene Exile: Book 1

Julian May

When a one-way time tunnel to Earth's distant past, specifically six million B.C., was discovered by folks on the Galactic Milieu, every misfit for light-years around hurried to pass through it. Each sought his own brand of happiness. But none could have guessed what awaited them. Not even in a million years....

Under the Dome

Stephen King

On an entirely normal, beautiful fall day in Chester's Mill, Maine, the town is inexplicably and suddenly sealed off from the rest of the world by an invisible force field. Planes crash into it and fall from the sky in flaming wreckage, a gardener's hand is severed as "the dome" comes down on it, people running errands in the neighboring town are divided from their families, and cars explode on impact. No one can fathom what this barrier is, where it came from, and when -- or if -- it will go away.

Dale Barbara, Iraq vet and now a short-order cook, finds himself teamed with a few intrepid citizens -- town newspaper owner Julia Shumway, a physician's assistant at the hospital, a select-woman, and three brave kids. Against them stands Big Jim Rennie, a politician who will stop at nothing -- even murder -- to hold the reins of power, and his son, who is keeping a horrible secret in a dark pantry. But their main adversary is the Dome itself. Because time isn't just short. It's running out.

Rhialto the Marvellous

Dying Earth: Book 4

Jack Vance

Jack Vance is one of the most remarkable talents to ever grace the world of science fiction. His unique, stylish voice has been beloved by generations of readers. One of his enduring classics is hisThe Dying Earth series, fascinating, baroque tales set on a far-future Earth, under a giant red sun that is soon to go out forever.

Rhialto the Marvellous contains three linked novellas about the adventures of the wizard Rhialto across the decadent landscape of the Dying Earth, under its swollen red sun.

Iron Council

New Crobuzon: Book 3

China Miéville

Following Perdido Street Station and The Scar, acclaimed author China Miéville returns with his hugely anticipated Del Rey hardcover debut. With a fresh and fantastical band of characters, he carries us back to the decadent squalor of New Crobuzon-this time, decades later.

It is a time of wars and revolutions, conflict and intrigue. New Crobuzon is being ripped apart from without and within. War with the shadowy city-state of Tesh and rioting on the streets at home are pushing the teeming city to the brink. A mysterious masked figure spurs strange rebellion, while treachery and violence incubate in unexpected places.

In desperation, a small group of renegades escapes from the city and crosses strange and alien continents in the search for a lost hope.

In the blood and violence of New Crobuzon's most dangerous hour, there are whispers. It is the time of the iron council....

The bold originality that broke Miéville out as a new force of the genre is here once more in Iron Council: the voluminous, lyrical novel that is destined to seal his reputation as perhaps the edgiest mythmaker of the day.

God's War

Bel Dame Apocrypha: Book 1

Kameron Hurley

Nyx had already been to hell. One prayer more or less wouldn t make any difference...

On a ravaged, contaminated world, a centuries-old holy war rages, fought by a bloody mix of mercenaries, magicians, and conscripted soldiers. Though the origins of the war are shady and complex, there's one thing everybody agrees on--

There's not a chance in hell of ending it.

Nyx is a former government assassin who makes a living cutting off heads for cash. But when a dubious deal between her government and an alien gene pirate goes bad, Nyx's ugly past makes her the top pick for a covert recovery. The head they want her to bring home could end the war--but at what price?

The world is about to find out.

La beauté sans vertu

Genevieve Valentine

La beauté sans vertu by Genevieve Valentine is a vicious little swipe at the fashion industry as certain disturbing trends are amplified in the future and a famous fashion House prepares for an important show.

This short story can also be found in the anthology Worlds Seen in Passing: Ten Years of Tor.com Short Fiction (2018), edited by Irene Gallo.

Read the full story for free at Tor.com.

Radio Free Albemuth

Philip K. Dick

In Radio Free Albemuth, his last novel, Philip K. Dick morphed and recombined themes that had informed his fiction from A Scanner Darkly to VALIS and produced a wild, impassioned work that reads like a visionary alternate history of the United States. Agonizingly suspenseful, darkly hilarious, and filled with enough conspiracy theories to thrill the most hardened paranoid, Radio Free Albemuth is proof of Dick's stature as our century's greatest science fiction writer.

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.

The Ophiuchi Hotline

Eight Worlds: Book 1

John Varley

After the effortless capture of Earth by vastly superior aliens, humanity is forced to fight for existence on the Moon and other lumps of airless rock. The invention of the Hotline -- a constant stream of data from a star in the constellation Ophiuchus -- facilitates survival and enables the development of amazing new technologies.

Then, after 400 years, humanity's unknown helpers send a bill for their services... and suddenly everything is threatened once again.

The Ophiuchi Hotline was John Varley's first novel, and it received nominations for both the Hugo and Nebula awards he later won both for his book Persistence of Vision.

Floating Worlds

Cecelia Holland

2000 years in the future, runaway pollution has made the Earth uninhabitable except in giant biodomes. The society is an anarchy, with disputes mediated through the Machiavellian Committee for the Revolution. Mars, Venus and the Moon support flourishing colonies of various political stripes. On the fringes of the solar system, in the Gas Planets, a strange, new, violent kind of human has evolved. In this unstable system the anarchist Paula Mendoza, an agent of the Committee, works to make peace, and ultimately protect her people, in a catastrophic clash of worlds that destroys the order she knows.

Winterlong

Winterlong: Book 1

Elizabeth Hand

Amid the ruins of a once great city, a girl and her beautiful long-lost twin brother are drawn to the seductive voice of a green-eyed boy whose name is Death. Together they must journey through a poisoned garden filled with children who kill and beasts that speak--all the while resisting the evil that compels them to join in a nightmare ritual of blood that will unleash the power of the ancients and signal the end of humanity.

The Mount

Carol Emshwiller

Charley is an athlete. He wants to be painted crossing the finish line, in his racing silks, with a medal around his neck. But Charley isn't a runner. He is a human mount, the property of one of the alien invaders called Hoots. Charley hasn't seen his mother in years, and his father is hiding out in the mountains with the other Free Humans. The Hoots own the world, but the humans want it back. Charley knows how to be a good mount-now he's going to have to learn how to be a human being.

This remarkable novel, winner of the 2002 Philip K. Dick Award, should be read by every fan of speculative fiction, teenagers and adults alike.

Up the Walls of the World

James Tiptree, Jr.

A complex science fiction story of a secret military research project involving the investigative powers of the mind and their possible strategic applications and a distant planet which is being threatened by a monumental interstellar entity.

Humans who have shown indications of telepathic ability make mental contact with the Tyrenni, strange alien beings resembling winged squids who dwell in the upper atmosphere of their tempestuous world. But the Tyrenni are threatened by a huge being and forced into the decision to take over the bodies of their human contacts...