Shakespeare’s Planet by Clifford D. Simak
Price I paid: $1
After a thousand years in space, the earth vessel lands on a remote planet capable of supporting human life. Inside the explorer ship an almost inaudible hum fills the silence; computer lights blink softly, signaling the awakening of the cryogenically preserved crew.
But only one crew member awakens from his artificial sleep. A systems malfunction has killed the others. Carter Horton is alone.
Horton learns almost immediately that the planet is inhabited by a bizarre creature who calls himself Carnivore. And the creature addresses him in English, the language he had learned from an earlier traveler who called himself Shakespeare. Now, Shakespeare is dead, and Horton soon learns that he and Carnivore, too, face certain peril unless they can get away from this strange planet.
Leaving is no simple affair. Carnivore, and before him, Shakespeare, had come to this planet via an inner-space tunnel, one of many such tunnels that exist throughout the galaxy. But this tunnel has broken down and works only one way―the wrong way―and there is no exit. And Horton’s explorer ship is a thousand years obsolete―incapable of returning them to civilization.
The creature called Carnivore and the earthman, Horton, are marooned on a planet of mysterious ruins bespeaking a catastrophic end to a once-grand civilization. The portentous signs they begin to encounter intimate some dire, ominous happening will soon befall them―unless they can repair the inner-space tunnel and leave Shakespeare’s Planet.
The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters
Quirk Books, 2012
Price I paid: none
What’s the point in solving murders if we’re all going to die soon, anyway?
Detective Hank Palace has faced this question ever since asteroid 2011GV1 hovered into view. There’s no chance left. No hope. Just six precious months until impact.
The Last Policeman presents a fascinating portrait of a pre-apocalyptic United States. The economy spirals downward while crops rot in the fields. Churches and synagogues are packed. People all over the world are walking off the job—but not Hank Palace. He’s investigating a death by hanging in a city that sees a dozen suicides every week—except this one feels suspicious, and Palace is the only cop who cares.
The first in a trilogy, The Last Policeman offers a mystery set on the brink of an apocalypse. As Palace’s investigation plays out under the shadow of 2011GV1, we’re confronted by hard questions way beyond “whodunit.” What basis does civilization rest upon? What is life worth? What would any of us do, what would we really do, if our days were numbered?
Mythmaster by Leo P. Kelley
Price I paid: 90¢
Stealing lives and peddling them from one end of the galaxy to another for unspeakable uses, the Mythmaster thought he was a free man. The Patrol that had cashiered him couldn’t catch him now. He was making his own life, alone.
Then a supposedly dead man decided he wanted a piece of the action―and the Mythmaster’s body―and the chase was on. Between the Patrol and the sinister Oxon Kaedler he knew his freedom was a mirage. Now he was fighting for his very life!
Chrome by George Nader
G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1978
Price I paid: none
In the future, there will be only one taboo: to love a robot. But in the desert hideaway where Chrome and the warrior King Vortex meet, a bond between man and machine is unknowingly taking shape. . . a bond that will ignite intergalactic violence and bring Earth once more to the brink of total destruction.
Sorcerer’s World by Damien Broderick
Signet Science Fiction, 1970
Price I paid: $1.25
Klim Xaraf, son of a nomadic chief, awoke from his monumental fall to find himself the prisoner of time―trapped a thousand million years in the future.
Around him was a dying world, its incredible power sucked by necromancers through a hole to the past…it’s cities preserved in stasis, awaiting his liberation, or their final doom.
Yet Klim could neither meet his world’s challenge, nor conquer the wizards of his own, until The Powers primed him for the battle. For with their knowledge, they would erase his memory and plunge him into a nightmare training ground…where all the wonders of tomorrow were the forgotten souvenirs of an ancient yesterday.
The Lion Game by James H. Schmitz
DAW Books, 1973
Price I paid: 90¢
was just a college girl―but she was one of the most valuable assets that the human-colonized worlds had. Because, besides her sharp mind and warm personality, she possessed a most unusual mutant accumulation of talents.
So when she found herself being hounded by a psi-powered killer, she was not too worried. But when that incident turned out to be merely the opening gambit in a game of mental chess with a planet of beast-masters who were challenging humanity for the grand-mastery of the universal board, Telzey was put to her full capacity.
Because she was never sure whether she was just someone else’s mind-pawn or really the queen on the human side of…
THE LION GAME
Strata by Terry Pratchett
Corgi Books, 1989 (Reprint)
Originally published by Colin Smythe Ltd., 1981
Price I paid: none
The excavation showed that the fossilized plesiosaur had been holding a placard which read, ‘End Nuclear Testing Now.’
That was nothing unusual.
But then came a discovery of something which did intrigue Kin Arad.
A flat earth was something new…
CAN FREDDIE FONG FINE SAVE THE WORLD? IF SO, SHOULD HE?
These are the questions that may or may not be the core of this extremely odd novel of the world of 1985. What the Israeli hyponuclear submarine Traif, Mavis Montreal the groupie, the giant cavern under the earth, Upchuck the Barbarian, and the Sacred Locomotive have to do with it all is hard to figure out. But entertaining―so who needs to figure?
Primortals: Target Earth by Steve Perry
Aspect/Warner Books, 1997
Price I paid: none
Sixty-five million years ago, aliens rescued a handful of promising species from doomed Jurassic Earth. They let them survive on new worlds and evolve into beings and civilizations far older, far wiser―and sometimes far deadlier―than anything we can imagine. Today, one of Earth’s lost descendants is coming home…
Grad student Stewart Davies, working at a minor SETI listening post on Long Island, is the first to intercept the signal. It is not a hoax or an accidental burst of radiation. It reads: “I am Zeerus of Achernar Three…We have much to discuss.” Those words will transform the lives of Stewart Davies and his girlfriend, Jess Rossini; of Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Larry Hightower and White House Chief of Staff Laurie Sherman; of NSA specialist Maj. Steve Hayes; and of Jake Holcroft, an eleven-year-old genius on the run from his fanatic father’s underground militia.
For the signal hasn’t come across billions of light years. A starship, carrying one alien, has entered the solar system, approaching Earth. And every old movie and TV show has suddenly become terribly real.
Is Zeerus ambassador or invader? Explorer or fugitive? Can we even understand his motives? What questions should we ask? What answers can we believe? If we don’t want Zeerus on our world, how can we stop him from coming? And if we are wrong about this being’s purpose for visiting, what are the consequences for humankind?