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The Brains of Rats

Michael Blumlein

In the World Fantasy Award-nominated title story, a geneticist conflicted over his own sexuality, and the nature of male and female gender roles in general, proposes a drastic solution. The politically charged "Tissue Ablation and Variant Regeneration: A Case Report" describes in chilling detail a surgeon's evisceration of President Ronald Reagan. In "Bestseller," a struggling novelist unable to sell his books must sell something else unthinkably horrific in order to provide for his family. In these and the nine other startlingly original stories in this collection, Blumlein blurs the boundaries between horror, science fiction and fantasy, creating a strange and nightmarish world not unlike our own, where nothing is what it seems.


  • Introduction (The Brains of Rats) - (1990) - essay by Michael McDowell
  • The Brains of Rats - (1986) - short story
  • Tissue Ablation and Variant Regeneration: A Case Report - (1984) - short story
  • The Domino Master - (1988) - short story
  • Drown Yourself - (1988) - short story
  • Interview with C. W. - (1988) - short story
  • Shed His Grace - (1989) - short story
  • Keeping House - (1990) - short story
  • The Glitter and the Glamour - (1990) - short story
  • The Promise of Warmth - (1988) - short story
  • The Wet Suit - non-genre - (1990) - novelette
  • The Thing Itself - (1988) - short story
  • Bestseller - (1990) - novelette

The Brains of Rats

Michael Blumlein

World Fantasy Award nominated short story. It originally appeared in Interzone, #16 Summer 1986, and was reprinted in Lightspeed, March 2015. It can also be found in the anthologies Interzone: The 2nd Anthology (1987), edited by John Clute, David Pringle and Simon Ounsley, The Norton Book of Science Fiction: North American Science Fiction, 1960-1990 (1993), edited by Ursula K. Le Guin and Brian Attebery, and The Big Book of Science Fiction (2016), edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer. It is included in the collection The Brains of Rats (1990).

Read the full story for free at Lightspeed.

A Game of Rats and Dragon

Tobias S. Buckell

This short story originally appeared in the crowd-funded collection Mitigated Futures (2012) and was reprinted in Lightspeed, November 2012.

Read the full story for free at Lightspeed.

Men Like Rats

Rob Chilson

In a world where men and women live like rats in the corridors and pantries of gigantic conquering aliens, one man battles an alien plan to decimate the remains of humankind.

Rats of the System

Paul J. McAuley

This short story originally appeared in the anthology Constellations: The Best of New British SF, edited by Peter Crowther. It can also be found in the anthologies Year's Best SF 11 (2005), edited by David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer, and War & Space: Recent Combat (2012), edited by Rich Horton and Sean Wallace.


Sarah Porter

Ratspeak is the the shrill and sly language of the rats of New York City's subway. When a curious boy is granted his wish to speak and understand the secret language of the rats, he brings a curse upon his home. "Ratspeak" is a standalone story by the acclaimed author of Vassa in the Night (Tor Teen, September 2016).

Read the full story for free at

The Coming of the Rats

George H. Smith

Would this be the end of Mankind? The shadow of nuclear warfare falls on all of us. How many would survive? And how many are prepared?

After such a war... what then? Then the earth will be populated by whatever LIVING THINGS can best survive the radiation fallout. And rats can absorb more than twice as much radiation as man -- and live!

River Rats

Caroline Stevermer

A paddle wheeler cruises up the Mississippi, delivering mail and hosting an occasional concert. A scene straight out of the nineteenth century? Not quite. This Mississippi is a toxic brown river. And the paddle wheeler is run by the River Rats, a troop of orphans who survived the Flash, a nuclear holocaust. What were once huge cities are now plague-ridden ruins haunted by gangs of savage children. And the concerts the Rats play are post-apocalyptic rock and roll--a music as rough and ragged as the musicians who perform it.

When the Rats rescue a stranger from the river, all the troubles of the old world suddenly threaten to end their travels forever.

Cave Rats

'Three Days' Aftermath: Book 3

Kerry Greenwood

When Tehan is rescued from the sewers by Gwyn and the Travellers, he finds himself part of the New Revelation led by the courageous Prophet Sarah. As one of the city's few empaths, Tehan is recruited by the Prophet to help find the child of the Voice. Suddenly Tehan finds himself running in a race against time. Can he save the city from a force that threatens to destroy everything the Children of the Broken Wheel have fought so desperately to call their own?

The Rise of the Automated Aristocrats

Burton & Swinburne: Book 6

Mark Hodder

Sir Richard Francis Burton's expedition has returned from the future, bringing with it knowledge of technologies that must remain secret if history is to proceed as it should. However, when one of his colleagues turns rogue, the secret falls into the hands of the very people most likely to misuse it.

Betrayed, Burton and Swinburne watch in horror as the Empire's elite employ the technology to secure their positions of privilege. When London's parks are transformed into concentration camps, artists and philosophers are declared enemies of the State, and propaganda proliferates, the king's agent finds himself on the wrong side of—the king!

Can Burton and his band of hunted revolutionaries overthrow an apparently indestructible and immortal autocrat... and if so, at what personal cost?

The Spring Heeled Jack saga reaches its explosive conclusion!


Deadlands / Mall Rats: Book 1

Lily Herne

Welcome to the Deadlands, where life is a lottery. Since the apocalypse, Cape Town's suburbs have become zombie-infested Deadlands. Human survivors are protected from the living dead by sinister, shrouded figures - the Guardians. In return, five teenagers are 'chosen' and handed over to them for a mysterious purpose: this year, Lele de la Fontein's name is picked. But Lele will not stick around and face whatever shady fate the Guardians have in store for her. She escapes, willing to take her chances in the Deadlands. Alone, exiled and unable to return home, she runs into a misfit gang of renegade teens: Saint, a tough Batswana girl; Ginger, a wise-cracking Brit; and handsome Ash, a former child soldier. Under their tutelage, Lele learns how to seriously destroy zombies and together they uncover the corruption endemic in Cape Town, and come to learn the sickening truth about the Guardians...

Death of a Saint

Deadlands / Mall Rats: Book 2

Lily Herne

Some secrets are so unthinkable you can't even admit them to yourself...

Lele, Ginger, Ash and Saint - aka the Mall Rats - are hiding out in the Deadlands, a once-prosperous area of Cape Town, now swarming with the living dead. Exiled from the city enclave for crimes against the Resurrectionist State, the Rats face a stark choice: return and risk capture - or leave Cape Town and go in search of other survivors.But what if the rest of South Africa is nothing but a zombie-riddled wasteland?

Now Lele has discovered the truth about why the lurching dead leave them alone, she can't bring herself to tell the rest of the gang. And she's not the only Mall Rat harbouring a dangerous secret... Can the friends' survive on the road if all they have is each other? Or will their secrets tear them apart?

The Army of the Lost

Deadlands / Mall Rats: Book 3

Lily Herne

One of us is dead. One of us is broken. One of us will betray the others. And one of us will have to sell her soul to survive...

It's been eleven years since South Africa was ravaged by the walking dead. Johannesburg's impoverished survivors are ruled over by a minority of rich self-serving bureaucrats. As the remaining Mall Rats confront the dark heart of the twisted political system - in another part of town, Tommy dreams of joining the Army of the Left, a radical organisation intent on fighting for freedom. While Ash is forced to face his traumatic past, and Ginger struggles to regain his sanity; Lele goes head to head against a powerful foe, and Saint is dead set on a mission of her own: a fight for survival.

Welcome back to the Deadlands...

Ash Remains

Deadlands / Mall Rats: Book 4

Lily Herne

Everything's better with zombies - not. The electrifying final instalment of Lily Herne's Mall Rats series...

Struggling to cope with their physical and mental scars, the remaining Mall Rats limp back home to Cape Town. They think they have the answer to all the enclave's problems. They think they're going to get a hero's welcome. But things have changed since they've been gone. And not for the better...

Meanwhile, the Army of the Left is preparing to wipe out the dead once and for all. Its leaders think they've come up with a faultless plan. They think they have a secret weapon that will set the city free once and for all.

They're wrong.

Mason's Rats

Mason's Rats

Neal Asher

This short story originally appeared in Orion #2, November 1992, and was reprinted in Asimov's Science Fiction, April-May 2005. It can also be found in the anthology Year's Best SF 11 (2005), edited by David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer.

Rats and Gargoyles

Ratlords: Book 1

Mary Gentle

In a terraced city at the heart of the world, humans are mere underlings of the arrogant Rat-Lords. Men and women are confined to certain districts of the city, while the Rats are restricted to others by their own masters, the Decans. Incarnate in living rock, the thirty-six Lords of Heaven and Hell impose their divine will over Rats and humans alike through gargoyle acolytes, who in their hundreds of thousands wait to swoop down and devour any who oppose the god-daemons.

And opposition is growing.... For generations uncounted, human slaves were forced to build the mountainous Fane, but now the long-held dream of raising their own lost Temple has spurred the builders to revolt. Forbidden the knowledge to build for themselves, they plot to uncover the Masonic wisdom that has been lost for millennia - secrets that will free them from their rulers once and for all. But they need access to parts of the city denied them, and so they strike a deal with the Rat-Priest Plessiez, who has a grand scheme of his own.

Into this conspiracy step Prince Lucas of Candover, a student at the University of Crime, and no man's slave; Zari, a young Kadayan woman who is destined to become the living Memory of all that follows; and the White Crow, a woman whose powers are far greater than anyone suspects.

The Rats

Rats: Book 1

James Herbert

It was only when the bones of the first devoured victims were discovered that the true nature and power of these swarming black creatures with their razor-sharp teeth and the taste for human blood began to be realized by a panic-stricken city. For millions of years man and rats had been natural enemies. But now for the first time - suddenly, shockingly, horribly - the balance of power had shifted...


Rats: Book 2

James Herbert

The mutant white rat had grown and mated, creating offspring in its own image. They dominated the others, the dark-furred ones, who foraged for food and brought it back to the Lair. The Dark rats were restless, tormented by a craving they could not satisfy - but the white slug-like thing that ruled them knew. Its two heads weaved to and fro, and a stickiness drooled from its mouth, as it remembered the taste of human flesh.


Rats: Book 3

James Herbert

The long-dreaded nuclear conflict. The City torn apart, shattered, it people destroyed or mutilated beyond hope. For just a few, survival is possible only beneath the wrecked streets - if there is time to avoid the slow descending poisonous ashes. But below, the rats, demonic offspring of their irradiated forebears, are waiting. They know that Man is weakened, become frail. Has become their prey... Remember with fear.

The City

Rats: Book 4

James Herbert

This graphic novel, Illustrated by Ian Miller, is the fourth of James Herbert's "Rat" novels, after "The Rats", "Lair" and "Domain". It maps the chilling post-apocalyptic future where the pathetic remnants of mankind scrape out an existence in the ruins under the new order; the rats.

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH

Rats of NIMH: Book 1

Robert C. O'Brien

Some extraordinary rats come to the aid of a mouse family in this Newbery Medal Award-winning classic by notable children's author Robert C. O'Brien.

Mrs. Frisby, a widowed mouse with four small children, is faced with a terrible problem. She must move her family to their summer quarters immediately, or face almost certain death. But her youngest son, Timothy, lies ill with pneumonia and must not be moved. Fortunately, she encounters the rats of NIMH, an extraordinary breed of highly intelligent creatures, who come up with a brilliant solution to her dilemma. And Mrs. Frisby in turn renders them a great service.

Racso and the Rats of NIMH

Rats of NIMH: Book 2

Jane Leslie Conly

Racso, a brash and boastful little rodent, is making his way to Thorn Valley, determined to learn how to read and write and become a hero. His bragging and lies get him off to a bad start, but a crisis gives him the opportunity to prove his mettle.

R-T, Margaret, and the Rats of NIMH

Rats of NIMH: Book 3

Jane Leslie Conly

When Margaret and her younger brother, Artie, get lost in the woods on a family camping trip, they are rescued by rats -- the superintelligent rats of NIMH. Taken into the rat's community, the children are safe for the time being. But winter is coming. Margaret and Artie have to get back home. And when they do, they must protect the rats who have helped them. Everything depends on their silence... but it's hard to evade questions forever.

Rats, Bats & Vats

Rats, Bats & Vats: Book 1

Eric Flint
Dave Freer

Chip Connolly was a conscripted grunt in trouble. Here he was, stuck behind enemy lines with a bunch of cyber-uplifted rats and bats. Rats with human speech, but with rat values. Rats that knew what was worth fighting for: sex, food, and strong drink.

True, they were holed up on a ruined wine-farm with enough brandy to swim in. Trouble was, there wasn't much food. And with shrew-metabolism the rats had to eat. He was next on the menu. The bats were no help: they were crazy revolutionaries planning to throw off the yoke of human enslavement with high explosive.

As if that wasn't bad enough, there was the girl they'd rescued. Rich. Beautiful. With a passionate crush on her heroic rescuer. She came with added extras: a screwball alien tutor, and a cyber-uplifted pet galagoa tiny little lemur-like-critter with a big mouth and delusions about being the worlds greatest lover.

So: he'd volunteered for a suicide mission. Of course things only got worse. The whole crew decided to come along. Seven rats, five bats, a galago, two humans, a sea-urchin-like alien and an elderly vineyard tractor without brakes...against several million inimical aliens. He was going to die. Mind you, not dying could be even more terrible. That girl might get him.

The Rats, the Bats & the Ugly

Rats, Bats & Vats: Book 2

Eric Flint
Dave Freer

The intrepid team of mentally uplifted rats and bats, and their vat-born human leader had not only pulled off the only victory the beleaguered colony's feeble military forces had won against the invading aliens, but had also uncovered the secret that the invaders were really a feint, being under the control of the other aliens which the naive humans had thought were their allies. Unfortunately, that was the easy part, because now they had to convince their boneheaded military bureaucracy (burdened with incompetents and riddled with quisling humans) of their discovery, and keep from being court-martialed, drugged into submission, or executed by the human traitors. And they had to do this quickly, before the aliens launched their surprise attack. Fortunately, they had found a way around the alien's mental programming. What's more, the daring and resourceful Fluff, apparently the ineffectual pet of one of the colony's ruling class, was on their side. Only Fluff can save us now...

The Rats and the Ruling Sea

The Chathrand Voyage: Book 2

Robert V. S. Redick

THE RATS AND THE RULING SEA begins where THE RED WOLF CONSPIRACY ended; Thasha's wedding is hours away. It is a wedding that will both fulfil the promise of a mad god's return and see her murdered. Pazel has thwarted the sorcerer who would bring back the god but both sides now face deadlock. Can Thasha be saved? Can the war between two Empires be stopped?

THE RATS AND THE RULING SEA is, once again, focused on the giant ancient ship, the CHATHRAND, but now she must brave the terrors of the uncharted seas; the massive storms and the ship swallowing whirlpools and explore lands forgotten by the Northern world, all the time involved in a vicious running battle with a ship half her size but nearly her match. Robert Redick's new novel takes the reader further into the labyrinthine plots and betrayals that have underscored the trilogy from the beginning. We learn more about the Ixchel as they fight for survival against the Chathrand's rats, discover more about the true motives of conspirators, live with Thasha and Pazel as they face death and deceit, and as the Chathrand sails into the infamous Ruling Sea.

Robert Redick's sequel to the acclaimed THE RED WOLF CONSPIRACY is a masterpiece of plotting and adventure. As each page turns the reader shares with the characters the dawning realisation that nothing is at it seems.

Printed in the USA as The Ruling Sea.

The Rock Rats

The Grand Tour: 2: The Asteroid Wars: Book 9

Ben Bova

Visionary space industrialist Dan Randolph is dead-but his protégé, pilot Pancho Barnes, now sits on the board of his conglomerate. She has her work cut out for her. For Randolph's rival Martin Humphries still wants to control Astro and still wants to drive independent asteroid miners like Lars Fuchs out of business. Humphries wants revenge against Pancho-ands, most of all, he wants his old flame Amanda, who has become Lars Fuchs's wife.

In the struggle over the incalculable wealth of the Asteroid Belt, many will die-and many will achieve more than they ever dreamed was possible.