The United States government is given a warning by the pre-eminent biophysicists in the country: current sterilization procedures applied to returning space probes may be inadequate to guarantee uncontaminated re-entry to the atmosphere.
Two years later, seventeen satellites are sent into the outer fringes of space to “collect organisms and dust for study.” One of them falls to earth, landing in a desolate area of Arizona.
Twelve miles from the landing site, in the town of Piedmont, a shocking discovery is made: the streets are littered with the dead bodies of the town’s inhabitants, as if they dropped dead in their tracks.
The terror has begun . . .
Philip K. Dick - Ubik (angol)
Glen Runciter is dead. Or is he? Someone died in the explosion orchestrated by his business rivals, but even as his funeral is scheduled, his mourning employees are receiving bewildering messages from their boss. And the world around them is warping and regressing in ways which suggest that their own time is running out. If it hasn't already.
Alastair Reynolds - On the Steel Breeze
We have found a distant planet. It carries sign of an alien civilisation. And on a fleet of holoships, vast asteroids hollowed out and turned into miniature worlds, millions of us are heading there. With engines designed to exploit a physics we barely understand we are on a one way journey, travelling at one sixth the speed of light, to a new home. And an encounter with the unknown. And we take with us hopes and lies, secrets and betrayals. And another, quite alien intelligence. The Akinya family have not finished with space. Their destiny still lies with the stars, however they get there, whichever of them make it. And the Mechanism has not finished with the Akinyas…
Arthur C. Clarke - Stephen Baxter - Time's Eye
Sir Arthur C. Clarke is a living legend, a writer whose name has been synonymous with science fiction for more than fifty years. An indomitable believer in human and scientific potential, Clarke is a genuine visionary. If Clarke has an heir among today’s science fiction writers, it is award-winning author Stephen Baxter. In each of his acclaimed novels, Baxter has demonstrated dazzling gifts of imagination and intellect, along with a rare ability to bring the most cerebral science dramatically to life. Now these two champions of humanism and scientific speculation have combined their talents in a novel sure to be one of the most talked-about of the year, a 2001 for the new millennium.
Brian W. Aldiss - Helliconia Spring
A planet orbiting binary suns, Helliconia has a Great Year spanning three millennia of Earth time: cultures are born in spring, flourish in summer, then die with the onset of the generations-long winter. Helliconia is emerging from its centuries-long winter. The tribes of the equatorial continent emerge from their hiding places and are again able to dispute possession of the planet with the ferocious phagors. In Oldorando, love, trade and coinage are being redisovered, This is the first volume of the Helliconia Trilogy - a monumental saga that goes beyond anything yet created by this master among today's imaginative writers.
Connie Willis - Passage
A tunnel, a light, a door. And beyond it ... the unimaginable. Dr. Joanna Lander is a psychologist specializing in near-death experiences. She is about to get help from a new doctor with the power to give her the chance to get as close to death as anyone can. A brilliant young neurologist, Dr. Richard Wright has come up with a way to manufacture the near-death experience using a psychoactive drug. Joanna’s first NDE is as fascinating as she imagined — so astounding that she knows she must go back, if only to find out why that place is so hauntingly familiar. But each time Joanna goes under, her sense of dread begins to grow, because part of her already knows why the experience is so familiar, and why she has every reason to be afraid. Yet just when Joanna thinks she understands, she’s in for the biggest surprise of all — a shattering scenario that will keep you feverishly reading until the final climactic page.
Charles Stross - Halting State
It was called in as a robbery at Hayek Associates, an online game company. So you can imagine Sergeant Sue Smith's mood as she watches the video footage of the heist being carried out by a band of orcs and a dragon, and realises that the robbery from an online game company is actually a robbery from an online game. Just wonderful. Like she has nothing better to do. But online entertainment is big business, and when the bodies of real people start to show up, it's clear that this is anything but a game. For Sue, programmer Jack Reed, and forensic accountant Elaine Barnaby, the walls between the actual and the virtual are about to come crashing down. There is something very dangerous and very real going on at Hayek Associates, and those involved are playing for more than experience points. No cheats, no extra lives, no saving throw - make a wrong call on this one and it'll be more than game over.
Tony Gonzales - The Empyrean Age
A man wakes, trapped inside a cloning vat. He has no idea how he got there, no idea where he is, and no idea who he is. But someone is trying to kill him, and they're about to succeed . . . A disgraced Foreign ambassador leaves his post humiliated, and ignored by his superiors, only to meet Ameline - a woman who seems to know everything about him, and an alarming amount about a conspiracy to overthrow the government. And on a back-water world during an economic crisis a worker called Tibus Heth leads a revolt against the corporation which earns him an unexpected and mysterious ally with astounding influence, and an inclination to aid his revolutionary ideas . . .
Gene Wolfe - The Fifth Head of Cerberus
Far from Earth two sister planets, Sainte Anne and Sainte Croix, circle each other. It is said that a race of shapeshifting aliens once lived here, only to become extinct when human colonists arrived. But one man believes they still exist, somewhere out in the wilderness. In The Fifth Head of Cerberus, Gene Wolfe brilliantly interweaves three tales: a scientist's son gradual discovery of the bizarre secret of his heritage; a young man's mythic dreamquest for his darker half; the mystifying chronicle of an anthropologist's seemingly-arbitrary imprisonment. Gradually, a mesmerising pattern emerges.
Kurt Vonnegut - Galápagos (angol)
Galápagos takes the reader back one million years, to A.D. 1986. A simple vacation cruise suddenly becomes an evolutionary journey. Thanks to an apocalypse, a small group of survivors stranded on the Galápagos Islands are about to become the progenitors of a brave, new, and totally different human race. In this inimitable novel, America’s master satirist looks at our world and shows us all that is sadly, madly awry–and all that is worth saving.
Robert Charles Wilson - Axis
Wildly praised by readers and critics alike, Robert Charles Wilson’s Spin won science fiction’s highest honor, the Hugo Award for Best Novel. Now, in Spin’s direct sequel, Wilson takes us to the "world next door"--the planet engineered by the mysterious Hypotheticals to support human life, and connected to Earth by way of the Arch that towers hundreds of miles over the Indian Ocean. Humans are colonizing this new world--and, predictably, fiercely exploiting its resources, chiefly large deposits of oil in the western deserts of the continent of Equatoria. Lise Adams is a young woman attempting to uncover the mystery of her father's disappearance ten years earlier. Turk Findley is an ex-sailor and sometimes-drifter. They come together when an infall of cometary dust seeds the planet with tiny remnant Hypothetical machines. Soon, this seemingly hospitable world will become very alien indeed--as the nature of time is once again twisted, by entities unknown.
Philip K. Dick - Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
World War Terminus had left the Earth devastated. Through its ruins, bounty hunter Rick Deckard stalked, in search of the renegade replicants who were his prey. When he wasn't 'retiring' them with his laser weapon, he dreamed of owning a live animal -- the ultimate status symbol in a world all but bereft of animal life. Then Rick got his chance: the assignment to kill six Nexus-6 targets, for a huge reward. But in Deckard's world things were never that simple, and his assignment quickly turned into a nightmare kaleidoscope of subterfuge and deceit -- and the threat of death for the hunter rather than the hunted...
James Smythe - The Echo
The stunning sequel to James Smythe’s critically acclaimed literary sci-fi novel The Explorer. TWENTY YEARS following the disappearance of the infamous Ishiguro – the first manned spacecraft to travel deeper into space than ever before – humanity are setting their sights on the heavens once more. Under the direction of two of the most brilliant minds science has ever seen – that of identical twin brothers Tomas and Mirakel Hyvönen – this space craft has a bold mission: to study what is being called ‘the anomaly’ – a vast blackness of space into which the Ishiguro disappeared. Between them Tomas (on the ground, guiding the mission from the command centre) and Mira (on the ship, with the rest of the hand-picked crew) are leaving nothing to chance. But soon these two scientists are to learn that there are some things in space beyond our understanding. As the anomaly begins to test the limits of Mira’s comprehension – and his sanity – will Tomas be able to save his brother from being lost in space too?
Daniel Keyes - Flowers for Algernon
Charlie Gordon, IQ 68, is a floor sweeper, and the gentle butt of everyone's jokes, until an experiment in the enhancement of human intelligence turns him into a genius. But then Algernon, the mouse whose triumphal experimental tranformation preceded his, fades and dies, and Charlie has to face the possibility that his salvation was only temporary.
Greg Egan - Schild's Ladder
The new novel from one of the world's most respected and acclaimed writers marks a dramatic move into a new arena - that of the wide-screen SF epic a la Baxter, Banks, Hamilton and Macleod. Cass has stumbled on something that might be an entirely different type of physics and she's travelled three hundred and fifty light-years to Mimosa Station, a remote experimental facility, to test her theory. The novo-vacuum she creates is predicted to begin decaying the instant it's created, but even so shortt-lived a microscopic speck could shed new light on the origins of the universe. But instead of decaying, Cass's novo-vacuum is wildly successful and begins expanding, slowly but inexorably taking over the universe...
Alastair Reynolds - Zima Blue and Other Stories
Reynolds' pursuit of truth is not limited to wide-angle star-smashing - not that stars don't get pulverised when one character is gifted (or cursed) with an awful weapon by the legendary Merlin. Reynolds' protagonists find themselves in situations of betrayal, whether by a loved one's accidental death, as in 'Signal to Noise', or by a trusted wartime authority, in 'Spirey and the Queen'. His fertile imagination can resurrect Elton John on Mars in 'Understanding Space and Time' or make prophets of the human condition out of pool-cleaning robots in the title story. But overall, the stories in _Zima Blue_ represent a more optimistic take on humanity's future, a view that says there may be wars, there may be catastrophes and cosmic errors, but something human will still survive.
Peter F. Hamilton - Pandora's Star
In AD 2329, humanity has colonised over four hundred planets, all of them interlinked by wormholes. With Earth at its centre, the Intersolar Commonwealth now occupies a sphere of space approximately four hundred light years across. When an astronomer on the outermost world of Gralmond observes a star 2000 light years distant - and then a neighbouring one - vanish, it is time for the Commonwealth to discover what happened to them. For what if their disappearance indicates some kind of galactic conflict? Since a conventional wormhole cannot be used to reach these vanished stars, for the first time humans need to build a faster-than-light starship, the Second Chance. But it arrives to find each 'vanished' star encased in a giant force field - and within one of them resides a massive alien civilisation.
Ursula K. Le Guin - The Telling
Sutty, an Observer from Earth for the interstellar Ekumen, has been assigned to a new world-a world in the grips of a stern monolithic state, the Corporation. Embracing the sophisticated technology brought by other worlds and desiring to advance even faster into the future, the Akans recently outlawed the past, the old calligraphy, certain words, all ancient beliefs and ways; every citizen must now be a producer-consumer. Their state, not unlike the China of the Cultural Revolution, is one of secular terrorism. Traveling from city to small town, from loudspeakers to bleating cattle, Sutty discovers the remnants of a banned religion, a hidden culture. As she moves deeper into the countryside and the desolate mountains, she learns more about the Telling - the old faith of the Akans - and more about herself. With her intricate creation of an alien world, Ursula K. Le Guin compels us to reflect on our own recent history.
Ken MacLeod - The Cassini Division
Ellen May Ngewthu is a soldier and leader of the Cassini Division, the elite defense force of the utopian Solar Union. Here in the twenty-fourth century, the forts of the Division, in orbit around Jupiter, are the front line in humanity's long standoff with the unknowable post-humans godlike beings descended from the men and women who transformed themselves with high technology centuries ago. The post-humans' capacities are unknown... but we know they disintegrated Ganymede, we know they punched a wormhole into Jovian space, and we know that the very surface of the solar system's largest planet has been altered by them. Worse, we know that they have been bombarding the inner solar system with powerful data viruses for generations. Now Ellen has a plan to rid humanity of this threat once and for all. But she needs to convince others to mistrust the post-humans as much as she does. In the process, much will be revealed - about history, about power, and about what it is to be human.
Peter F. Hamilton - Judas Unchained
After hundreds of years secretly manipulating the human race, the Starflyer alien has succeeded in engineering a war which should result in the destruction of the Intersolar Commonwealth. Now, thanks to Chief Investigator Paula Myo, the Commonwealth's political elite finally acknowledges the Starflyer's existence, and puts together an unlikely partnership to track down this enigmatic and terrifying alien. The invasion from Dyson Alpha continues with dozens of Commonwealth worlds falling to the enemy. The navy fights back with what it believes to be war-winning superweapons, only to find that the alien fleet has equally powerful weapons. How the aliens got them is the question which haunts Admiral Kime. Could it be that the Commonwealth's top-secret defence project has been compromised by the Starflyer's agents, or is the truth even worse?