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As astronomers collect a growing menagerie of exoplanet systems, they are struggling to square their observations with current theories on how the Solar System formed. Our system has rocky planets near the Sun and giant gas balls farther out, but the panoply of exoplanets obeys no tidy patterns. Nature 13 min read. Two Nature stories from won top awards for excellence in healthcare journalism.

A shifting political situation, violence, poor infrastructure, travel restrictions and limited financial support are among the challenges facing scientists in the region. Nature Video uses painted hands to tell the tale. Watch the video. Reference: Nature paper. Download a PDF. Something beyond human comprehension. Something that has no use for biological life in any form. This intense linguistic thriller will change the way you think about language. Babel is all about the power of language. Humanity, which has spread throughout the universe, is involved in a war with the Invaders, who have been covertly assassinating officials and sabotaging spaceships.

The only clues humanity has to go on are strange alien messages that have been intercepted in space. Poet and linguist Rydra Wong is determined to understand the language and stop the alien threat. Now more than a century old, has that unique writing style you can only find in adventure classics.

Dying Mars was based on outdated scientific ideas of canals. The savage, frontier world has honor, noble sacrifice and constant struggle, where martial prowess is paramount and races fight over dwindling resources. This book is interesting for its view of what a golden age of mankind would look like, and what would the shortcomings of that be. It also has a very interesting take on mass psychology - I don't want to give away too much, but the Overlords are a nifty bunch.

This is a good early Clarke, and has two of his favorite themes; the first that remote work will be possible with technology, and the second that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Without warning, giant silver ships from deep space appear in the skies above every major city on Earth. Manned by the Overlords, in fifty years, they eliminate ignorance, disease, and poverty. Then this golden age ends—and then the age of Mankind begins…. This is a long book, but absolutely fantastic.

It redefined for me the scale at which science fiction was possible, especially given the human elements are very fleshed out as opposed to other massive space epics, like Olaf Stapledon's 'Last and First Men'. A brilliant look at the future, going off of only two small changes - what if we had drugs to defeat death, and cities could fly. In the first novel, They Shall Have Stars , man has thoroughly explored the Solar System, yet the dream of going even further seems to have died in all but one man. His battle to realize his dream results in two momentous discoveries anti-gravity and the secret of immortality.

In A Life for the Stars , it is centuries later and antigravity generations have enabled whole cities to lift off the surface of the earth to become galactic wanderers. In Earthman, Come Home , the nomadic cities revert to barbarism and marauding rogue cities begin to pose a threat to all civilized worlds.

In the final novel, The Triumph of Time , history repeats itself as the cities once again journey back in to space making a terrifying discovery which could destroy the entire Universe. Based on Sagan's own studies as an astrophysicist and philosopher, Contact provides a possible glimpse of the world's reaction to extraterrestrial life - augustopedro. At first it seemed impossible - a radio signal that came not from Earth but from far beyond the nearest stars.

But then the signal was translated, and what had been impossible became terrifying. For the signal contains the information to build a Machine that can travel to the stars. A Machine that can take a human to meet those that sent the message. They are eager to meet us: they have been watching and waiting for a long time.

And now they will judge. What a weird, funny and lovely little book. Fred Cassidy, a perpetual student, scrounger, and acrophile, is the last known person to have seen an important stone that his friend had. Various criminals, Anglophile zealots, government agents and aliens torture, shoot, beat, trick, chase, terrorize, assault telepathically, stalk, and importune Fred in attempts to get him to tell them the location of the stone.

He denies any knowledge of its whereabouts, and decides to make his own investigation. I think what is most fascinating about Dune isn't that it is so commonly read, but the ubiquity with which it is referenced. Once you read this, you start seeing Dune quotes everywhere. Dune is monumental in scope, and the cautionary tone in which it was written - this is what happens when you put faith in a single person trained scientifically - almost completely backfires in an amazing story of heroism, revenge, and reconciliation.

A book worth reading multiple times. Of course, it is also a series - the first stands alone, and I haven't read beyond the first two. There almost isn't a need. Dune alone is that good. The story explores the complex, multilayered interactions of politics, religion, ecology, technology and human emotion, as the forces of the empire confront each other for control of Arrakis. In the far future, humans have colonized a distant planet, home to the enigmatic Ariekei, sentient beings famed for a language unique in the universe, one that only a few altered human ambassadors can speak.

Avice Benner Cho, a human colonist, has returned to Embassytown after years of deep-space adventure. She cannot speak the Ariekei tongue, but she is an indelible part of it, having long ago been made a figure of speech, a living simile in their language. When distant political machinations deliver a new ambassador to Arieka, the fragile equilibrium between humans and aliens is violently upset.

Catastrophe looms, and Avice is torn between competing loyalties—to a husband she no longer loves, to a system she no longer trusts, and to her place in a language she cannot speak yet speaks through her. A series comprised as of late of five full-length novels with a sixth one in the works and a total of nine entries planned. Several shorts not relevant to the main plot also exist. Notable for this series is the attention to detail regarding the actual physics involved in space travel and the challenges of daily life outside a friendly biosphere.

The narrative, which is told from the changing perspectives of a cast of diverse characters, offers a healthy mix of humor and suspension, making it an entertaining read. Humanity has colonized the solar system - Mars, the Moon, the Asteroid Belt and beyond - but the stars are still out of our reach.

Jim Holden is XO of an ice miner making runs from the rings of Saturn to the mining stations of the Belt. When he and his crew stumble upon a derelict ship, "The Scopuli," they find themselves in possession of a secret they never wanted. A secret that someone is willing to kill for - and kill on a scale unfathomable to Jim and his crew.

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War is brewing in the system unless he can find out who left the ship and why. This book will teach you to stretch your imagination and see things in a different way. This masterpiece of science and mathematical fiction is a delightfully unique and highly entertaining satire that has charmed readers for more than years. The work of English clergyman, educator and Shakespearean scholar Edwin A. Abbott , it describes the journeys of A. Square, a mathematician and resident of the two-dimensional Flatland, where women—thin, straight lines—are the lowliest of shapes, and where men may have any number of sides, depending on their social status.

Through strange occurrences that bring him into contact with a host of geometric forms, Square has adventures in Spaceland three dimensions , Lineland one dimension and Pointland no dimensions and ultimately entertains thoughts of visiting a land of four dimensions—a revolutionary idea for which he is returned to his two-dimensional world.

Charmingly illustrated by the author, Flatland is not only fascinating reading, it is still a first-rate fictional introduction to the concept of the multiple dimensions of space. This book is often given to high school students, but stands up well as an adult read. I think the best part about it is what Charlie does once he starts being intelligent; he suddenly likes art and making things and scientific theory.

I think the altruism and openness of that time shows that the experiment, such as it was, didn't change everything. It's fun to think about. Also, this book made me cry the first time I read it. I was With more than five million copies sold, Flowers for Algernon is the beloved, classic story of a mentally disabled man whose experimental quest for intelligence mirrors that of Algernon, an extraordinary lab mouse.

In poignant diary entries, Charlie tells how a brain operation increases his IQ and changes his life. The experiment seems to be a scientific breakthrough of paramount importance—until Algernon begins his sudden, unexpected deterioration. Will the same happen to Charlie? For twelve thousand years the Galactic Empire has ruled supreme.

Now it is dying. But only Hari Sheldon, creator of the revolutionary science of psychohistory, can see into the future—to a dark age of ignorance, barbarism, and warfare that will last thirty thousand years. To preserve knowledge and save mankind, Seldon gathers the best minds in the Empire—both scientists and scholars—and brings them to a bleak planet at the edge of the Galaxy to serve as a beacon of hope for a future generations. He calls his sanctuary the Foundation.

But soon the fledgling Foundation finds itself at the mercy of corrupt warlords rising in the wake of the receding Empire. Archetypal tale of mad science with the theme of 'how far can Science go' that arguably spawned the modern genre of Science Fiction. Mary Shelley began writing Frankenstein when she was only eighteen. At once a Gothic thriller, a passionate romance, and a cautionary tale about the dangers of science, Frankenstein tells the story of committed science student Victor Frankenstein.

Obsessed with discovering the cause of generation and life and bestowing animation upon lifeless matter, Frankenstein assembles a human being from stolen body parts but; upon bringing it to life, he recoils in horror at the creature's hideousness. Tormented by isolation and loneliness, the once-innocent creature turns to evil and unleashes a campaign of murderous revenge against his creator, Frankenstein.

Frankenstein, an instant bestseller and an important ancestor of both the horror and science fiction genres, not only tells a terrifying story, but also raises profound, disturbing questions about the very nature of life and the place of humankind within the cosmos: What does it mean to be human? What responsibilities do we have to each other?

How far can we go in tampering with Nature? In our age, filled with news of organ donation genetic engineering, and bioterrorism, these questions are more relevant than ever. The civil war is over and Robin has been demobilized, but someone wants him out of the picture because of something his earlier self knew.

On the run from a ruthless pursuer and searching for a place to hide, he volunteers to participate in a unique experimental polity, the Glasshouse, constructed to simulate a pre-accelerated culture. Participants are assigned anonymized identities: It looks like the ideal hiding place for a posthuman on the run. But in this escape-proof environment, Robin will undergo an even more radical change, placing him at the mercy of the experimenters—and at the mercy of his own unbalanced psyche….

This is a pretty good book. Like later Gene Wolfe books, it reads a bit dry, and the main character is sometimes one sided. But the context and the fleshed out world entirely make up for it, as does Gene Wolfe's standard of never mentioning an important detail more than once as a foreshadowing. Gene Wolfe takes us to a future North America at once familiar and utterly strange. A young man and woman, Skip and Chelle, fall in love in college and marry, but she is enlisted in the military, there is a war on, and she must serve her tour of duty before they can settle down.

But the military is fighting a war with aliens in distant solar systems, and her months in the service will be years in relative time on Earth. Chelle returns to recuperate from severe injuries, after months of service, still a young woman but not necessarily the same person—while Skip is in his forties and a wealthy businessman, but eager for her return. Still in love somewhat to his surprise and delight , they go on a Caribbean cruise to resume their marriage.

Their vacation rapidly becomes a complex series of challenges, not the least of which are spies, aliens, and battles with pirates who capture the ship for ransom. A really good book. I would like to see it, one day, as a movie. Jean le Flambeur gets up in the morning and has to kill himself before his other self can kill him first. Just another day in the Dilemma Prison. Rescued by the mysterious Mieli and her flirtatious spacecraft, Jean is taken to the Oubliette, the Moving City of Mars, where time is a currency, memories are treasures, and a moon-turned-singularity lights the night.

Meanwhile, investigator Isidore Beautrelet, called in to investigate the murder of a chocolatier, finds himself on the trail of an arch-criminal, a man named le Flambeur…. This book has a few beautiful passages. It deals mainly with the ethics of using alien species for nationalistic purposes, and for that alone was an interesting read.

Like a lot of science fiction, I found it a bit hard to empathize with any particular characters, but it's a short read and worth it anyway. The politics are a bit dated. The discovery of another habitable world might spell salvation to the three bitterly competing power blocs of the resource-starved 21st century; but when their representatives arrive on Jem, with its multiple intelligent species, they discover instead the perfect situation into which to export their rivalries.

This was like if Hermann Hesse decided he was tired of writing Steppenwolf and Siddhartha and wanted to do something interesting for a change. What a weird book. Earth is long since dead. On a colony planet, a band of men has gained control of technology, made themselves immortal, and now rule their world as the gods of the Hindu pantheon. Only one dares oppose them: he who was once Siddhartha and is now Mahasamatman.

Binder of Demons, Lord of Light. The Murderbot Diaries is a series of novellas, each one around pages starring a human-like android who keeps getting sucked back into adventure after adventure, though it just wants to be left alone, away from humanity and small talk and watch tv series. Banks' Culture novels, this series of novellas might be for you. They are light, fun to read but yet still engaging enough to get your synapses fired up. In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company.

Exploratory teams are accompanied by Company-supplied security androids, for their own safety.

Summer briefing: The five must-read and science-fiction books of the season

But when a neighboring mission goes dark, it's up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth. Neal Asher has written almost 20 books if you include short story compilations set within the universe of the Polity, an interstellar human civilization ruled by mostly benevolent AIs, all overseen by the most powerful AI of all: Earth Central.

There are several distinct series within the larger Polity collection, as well as several standalone novels and short story collections. The Ian Cormac series follows a human agent of Earth Central as he investigates threats towards the Polity. The Spatterjay series explores the hostile world of Spatterjay and the lives of its hoopers: humans infected by an alien virus that grants its hosts functional immortality, immense strength, and incredible durability, but not without a cost.

The Transformations series focuses on a rogue AI named Penny Royal capable of granting almost any wish, but its help is always a double-edged sword. His most recent series, Rise of the Jain , is about the re-emergence of an ancient and incredibly powerful alien race that disappeared after seeding the galaxy with technological seeds designed to destroy any intelligent civilization that came across one. All of Asher's Polity novels are chock full of amazing technology, vibrant characters, picture-painting prose, and themes that explore the nature and limits of humanity.

I was tempted to put this series under the Hard Sci-Fi category, as Asher introduces very few technologies that can't be extrapolated from existing tech, but a few things e.

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FTL travel and the distance in the future in which the series is set convinced me it should probably not be included in the "hard" category. In the universe of the Polity Neal Asher has created ancient, but no longer completely active, races who remain a threat to the existence of humanity. We get to see a world pre-Polity in The Line of the Polity and post-Polity twenty years later in The Technician, though the comparison is an aside to the storytelling. This book is filled with a quiet suspense that is almost palpable; in that, it does an extraordinary job of showing how humans respond to alien encounters.

The otherworldliness of Rama isn't always interesting, but the reaction of the reader to it is. At first, only a few things are known about the celestial object that astronomers dub Rama. It is huge, weighing more than ten trillion tons. And it is hurtling through the solar system at an inconceivable speed. Then a space probe confirms the unthinkable: Rama is no natural object. It is, incredibly, an interstellar spacecraft. It will kindle their wildest dreams… and fan their darkest fears. For no one knows who the Ramans are or why they have come. And now the moment of rendezvous awaits—just behind a Raman airlock door.

Red Schuhart is a stalker, one of those strange misfits compelled to venture illegally into the Zone and collect the strange artifacts that the alien visitors left scattered there. His whole life, even the nature of his daughter, is determined by the Zone. When Kris Kelvin arrives at the planet Solaris to study the ocean that covers its surface, he finds a painful, hitherto unconscious memory embodied in the living physical likeness of a long-dead lover. Others examining the planet, Kelvin learns, are plagued with their own repressed and newly corporeal memories.

The Solaris ocean may be a massive brain that creates these incarnate memories, though its purpose in doing so is unknown, forcing the scientists to shift the focus of their quest and wonder if they can truly understand the universe without first understanding what lies within their hearts. A fairly well-wrapped first book in a trilogy, that has some very imaginative and well worked through takes on what Martian life may have looked like at the time. I love the imagery, and the theology isn't as worked through everything as the other books.

In the first novel of C. Ransom, a Cambridge academic, is abducted and taken on a spaceship to the red planet of Malacandra, which he knows as Mars. This book has a wonderful look at non-technological space travel and what paradise might look like on another planet. Lots of good philosophy, too. Ransom is sent by the Elida to Perelandra Venus to battle against evil incarnate and preserve a second Eden from the evil forces present in the possessed body of his enemy, Weston.

Through these works, Lewis explores issues of good and evil, and his remarkable and vividly imaginative descriptions of other worlds cements his place as a first-class author of science fiction adventure. One of the weirdest books I have read and enjoyed. The third novel in the science-fiction trilogy by C. This final story is set on Earth, and tells of a terrifying conspiracy against humanity.

The story surrounds Mark and Jane Studdock, a newly married couple. Mark is a sociologist who is enticed to join an organization called N. His wife, meanwhile, has bizarre prophetic dreams about a decapitated scientist, Alcasan. Jane seeks help concerning her dreams at a community called St. Ransom the main character of the previous two titles in the trilogy.

The story ends in a final spectacular scene at the N. I had been putting off reading this book for years, after reading Ender's Game and not knowing wanting to belittle it with a bad sequel like I thought Ender's Shadow had been. I regret that immensely, having now read this book; it is deep, insightful, and brilliantly written. In the aftermath of his terrible war, Ender Wiggin disappeared, and a powerful voice arose: the Speaker for the Dead, who told of the true story of the Bugger War.

And it is only the Speaker for the Dead, who is also Ender Wiggin the Xenocide, who has the courage to confront the mystery…and the truth. One night in October when he was ten years old, Tyler Dupree stood in his back yard and watched the stars go out. They all flared into brilliance at once, then disappeared, replaced by a flat, empty black barrier. It would shape their lives. This book was written about , and what the world would be like when the world is over populated.

It is still very pertinent today, especially given the style of writing, which seems to have too much information packed in than needed. Norman Niblock House is a rising executive at General Technics, one of a few all-powerful corporations. Donald Hogan is his roommate, a seemingly sheepish bookworm. Where society is squeezed into hive-living madness by god-like mega computers, mass-marketed psychedelic drugs, and mundane uses of genetic engineering.

Though written in , it speaks of , and is frighteningly prescient and intensely powerful. If you're going to read one Science Fiction book to get a broader perspective on what it means to be human and the size of space and time, read this one. It blew me away. Star Maker is a science fiction novel by Olaf Stapledon, published in Star Maker tackles philosophical themes such as the essence of life, of birth, decay and death, and the relationship between creation and creator. A pervading theme is that of progressive unity within and between different civilizations.

Some of the elements and themes briefly discussed prefigure later fiction concerning genetic engineering and alien life forms. Arthur C. Clarke considered Star Maker to be one of the finest works of science fiction ever written. This is one of Arthur C. Clarke's novels that is less about space and more about humanity, and the oceans. Clarke lived for a large part of his later life in Sri Lanka, and always loved the sea; in this book, that sentiment really comes out.

I love it for that. It also has a nice view of ocean management, which is rare for books set in the future. A century into the future, humanity lives mostly on the sea. Gigantic whale herds are tended by submariners, and vast plankton farms feed the world. Walter Franklin, once a space engineer, now works on a submarine patrol. This is an incredible book. Absolutely incredible. The first section, about a son of a scientist, is a great example of Wolfe's ability to make the future sound like the Victorian past, and to add decay to what, to our eyes, seems incredibly futuristic.

The story about the traveler and the aborigines on Saint Croix is something I think about a lot - "old men think long thoughts", in particular, is a thought that I love, especially given its context. Gene Wolfe also uses the epistolary novel technique incredibly well in the third story. But the best part is how you come to realize that each of these stories is intertwined with the others, subtly.

Amazing storytelling. Far out from Earth, two sister planets, Saint Anne and Saint Croix, circle each other in an eternal dance. It is said a race of shapeshifters once lived here, only to perish when men came. But one man believes they can still be found, somewhere in the back of the beyond.

Like an intricate, braided knot, the pattern at last unfolds to reveal astonishing truths about this strange and savage alien landscape. In the twenty-second century Earth obtains limitless, free energy from a source science little understands: an exchange between Earth and a parallel universe, using a process devised by the aliens. But even free energy has a price. Only a few know the terrifying truth—an outcast Earth scientist, a rebellious alien inhabitant who senses the imminent annihilation of the Sun.

They know the truth—but who will listen? They have foreseen the cost of abundant energy—but who will believe? The Golden Age is 10, years in the future in our solar system, an interplanetary utopian society filled with immortal humans. Phaethon, of Radamanthus House, is attending a glorious party at his family mansion celebrating the thousand-year anniversary of the High Transcendence. There he meets an old man who accuses him of being an imposter, and then a being from Neptune who claims to be an old friend. The Neptunian tells him that essential parts of his memory were removed and stored by the very government that Phaethon believes to be wholly honorable.

It shakes his faith. Is he indeed an exile from himself? His quest must be to regain his true identity and fulfill the destiny he chose for himself. This is more of a read about what happens when you are outside the law than anything else. Fascinating, and kind of reads like Sherlock Holmes at times. This masterpiece of science fiction is the fascinating story of Griffin, a scientist who creates a serum to render himself invisible, and his descent into madness that follows.

Ursula Le Guin is an amazing writer, and this is one of her seminal works. It explores sexuality and humanity in ways that I didn't know were possible. I loved it. A groundbreaking work of science fiction, The Left Hand of Darkness tells the story of a lone human emissary to Winter, an alien world whose inhabitants can choose -and change - their gender.

His goal is to facilitate Winter's inclusion in a growing intergalactic civilization. But to do so he must bridge the gulf between his own views and those of the completely dissimilar culture that he encounters. Embracing the aspects of psychology, society, and human emotion on an alien world, The Left Hand of Darkness stands as a landmark achievement in the annals of intellectual science fiction.

Although each part can be read independently, the whole trilogy has a consistent story line which happens in a very huge time-space context and the first just a beginning. The later two are especially much more hardcore and dramatical, however, gloomy as well. While the first one got the Hugo Award, I'd like to say that it really worth a try for the whole trilogy, don't miss the later two. This book is not just filled to the brim with interesting and novel ideas about technology and civilization, it also offers some really great insights into China and its recent history.

The follow-up book: " The Dark Forest ", is great as well. An alien civilization on the brink of destruction captures the signal and plans to invade Earth. Meanwhile, on Earth, different camps start forming, planning to either welcome the superior beings and help them take over a world seen as corrupt, or to fight against the invasion. The result is a science fiction masterpiece of enormous scope and vision. In The Dark Forest, Earth is reeling from the revelation of a coming alien invasion — four centuries in the future.

The aliens' human collaborators have been defeated but the presence of the sophons, the subatomic particles that allow Trisolaris instant access to all human information, means that Earth's defense plans are exposed to the enemy. Only the human mind remains a secret. Now this epic trilogy concludes with Death's End. Half a century after the Doomsday Battle, the uneasy balance of Dark Forest Deterrence keeps the Trisolaran invaders at bay.

Earth enjoys unprecedented prosperity due to the infusion of Trisolaran knowledge. With human science advancing daily and the Trisolarans adopting Earth culture, it seems that the two civilizations will soon be able to co-exist peacefully as equals without the terrible threat of mutually assured annihilation. But the peace has also made humanity complacent. This is always fun; it's a classic, and it is fun remembering what science fiction was like before there were tropes. Man had not yet learned to fly when H. Wells conceived this story of a Martian attack on England. Giant cylinders crash to Earth, disgorging huge, unearthly creatures armed with heat-rays and fighting machines.

Amid the boundless destruction they cause, it looks as if the end of the world has come. Funny, touching, and full of unexpected details. Follow a motley crew on an exciting journey through space—and one adventurous young explorer who discovers the meaning of family in the far reaches of the universe—in this light-hearted debut space opera from a rising sci-fi star.

Life aboard the Wayfarer is chaotic and crazy—exactly what Rosemary wants. Tunneling wormholes through space to a distant planet is definitely lucrative and will keep them comfortable for years. In the far reaches of deep space, the tiny Wayfarer crew will confront a host of unexpected mishaps and thrilling adventures that force them to depend on each other.

Very interesting exploration of what happens when aliens arrive on earth, after the planet has been ravaged by war, with their own ideas of a path forward. Humans must learn to coexist with the Oankali, genetic colonizers of the cosmos, and confront what this means for their future — deciding whether to give up an essential part of their identity in order to survive.

I enjoyed the first book the most, for the worldbuilding and the way it introduces the Oankali and key concepts, but the series has a satisfying arc so I think it's worth reading all three books. Hundreds of years later Lilith awakes, deep in the hold of a massive alien spacecraft piloted by the Oankali—who arrived just in time to save humanity from extinction.

They have kept Lilith and other survivors asleep for centuries, as they learned whatever they could about Earth. Now it is time for Lilith to lead them back to her home world, but life among the Oankali on the newly resettled planet will be nothing like it was before. The Oankali survive by genetically merging with primitive civilizations—whether their new hosts like it or not. For the first time since the nuclear holocaust, Earth will be inhabited.

But their children will not be human. Not exactly.

In this sequel to Dawn, Lilith Iyapo has given birth to what looks like a normal human boy named Akin. But Akin actually has five parents: a male and female human, a male and female Oankali, and a sexless Ooloi. The Oankali and Ooloi are part of an alien race that rescued humanity from a devastating nuclear war, but the price they exact is a high one the aliens are compelled to genetically merge their species with other races, drastically altering both in the process. These resisters are sterilized by the Ooloi so that they cannot reproduce the genetic defect that drives humanity to destroy itself, but otherwise they are left alone unless they become violent.

When the resisters kidnap young Akin, the Oankali choose to leave the child with his captors, for he the most "human" of the Oankali children will decide whether the resisters should be given back their fertility and freedom, even though they will only destroy themselves again. Human and Oankali have been mating since the aliens first came to Earth to rescue the few survivors of an annihilating nuclear war. The Oankali began a massive breeding project, guided by the ooloi, a sexless subspecies capable of manipulating DNA, in the hope of eventually creating a perfect starfaring race.

Jodahs is supposed to be just another hybrid of human and Oankali, but as he begins his transformation to adulthood he finds himself becoming ooloi—the first ever born to a human mother. As his body changes, Jodahs develops the ability to shapeshift, manipulate matter, and cure or create disease at will. Or, if he is not careful, he could become a plague that will destroy this new race once and for all. This space opera novel reminds me of a series of Star Trek episodes, if Roddenberry's final frontier had been a Machiavellian rather than a utopian vision of the future.

Unlike the crew of Trek's Enterprise , the Beagle crew engage in power struggles between its civilian and military leaders. The plot of the third section is very reminiscent of the Alien movie. The book can be roughly divided into four sections corresponding to the four short stories on which it was based. In the first part, the Space Beagle is infiltrated by Coeurl, a starving, intelligent and vicious cat-like carnivore with tentacles on its shoulders. In the second, the ship is almost destroyed by internal warfare caused by telepathic contact with a race of bird-like aliens. The third features Ixtl, a scarlet alien that kidnaps several crew members in order to implant parasitic eggs in their stomachs.

In the last section, the crew battles Anabis, a galaxy-spanning consciousness. Though I read A Fire upon the Deep once and enjoyed it, I've read A Deepness in the Sky at least half a dozen times, and consider it my favorite hard sci-fi novel, period. Vernor Vinge was one of the first people to propose the idea of the technological singularity, and the near-future novels he wrote a decade or more ago have revealed themselves to be almost eerily prescient.

After thousands of years searching, humans stand on the verge of first contact with an alien race. Two human groups: the Qeng Ho, a culture of free traders, and the Emergents, a ruthless society based on the technological enslavement of minds. The group that opens trade with the aliens will reap unimaginable riches. But first, both groups must wait at the aliens' very doorstep for their strange star to relight and for their planet to reawaken, as it does every two hundred and fifty years Fleeing the threat, a family of scientists, including two children, are taken captive by the Tines, an alien race with a harsh medieval culture, and used as pawns in a ruthless power struggle.

A rescue mission, not entirely composed of humans, must rescue the children—and a secret that may save the rest of interstellar civilization. A cast of strange and wonderful characters. Overarching themes on consciousness, transhumanism, humanity and first contact. Lists with This Book. This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. More filters.

Sort order. May 19, A. Past the Borders is an unsettling collection of seven speculative fiction pieces. While the length varies widely from story to story, the crisp, sharp writing and almost naked honesty of emotion remain consistent throughout, creating a truly escapist anthology. A couple is trapped in a house by ceaseless black rain that plunges them into despair. How much of th Past the Borders is an unsettling collection of seven speculative fiction pieces. How much of the darkness is real? How much of it is paranoia? A stunning, nail-biting piece. An alcoholic man witnesses a mysterious death and is suspected of murder.

The cops are sure of his guilt, but he can barely remember his own past… and at the heart of his memory loss lies a dangerous secret. Here, Ruz explores a world where people upgrade their eyes to mechanical alternatives, depicting a bleak vision of the future. A boy finds a note in a bathroom and decides to reply, striking up a lifelong correspondence with a very unusual man. Excellent world-building which will leave you hungry for more!

What I most enjoyed about this admittedly dark collection was that each story offers a fresh take on the speculative. Christopher Ruz explores some highly original ideas whilst creating evocative settings and very believable characters. Buy a copy. Mar 17, J. This collection also has six short stories and a novella in it.