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The Midwich Cuckoos

John Wyndham

In the sleepy English village of Midwich, a mysterious silver object appears and all the inhabitants fall unconscious. A day later the object is gone and everyone awakens unharmed – except that all the women in the village are discovered to be pregnant. The resultant children of Midwich do not belong to their parents: all are blonde, all are golden eyed. They grow up too fast and their minds exhibit frightening abilities that give them control over others and brings them into conflict with the villagers just as a chilling realisation dawns on the world outside . . .

The Midwich Cuckoos is the classic tale of aliens in our midst, exploring how we respond when confronted by those who are innately superior to us in every conceivable way.

The Midwich Cuckoos was made into a feature film title The Village of the Damned.

The Day of the Triffids

Masters of Science Fiction: Book 36

John Wyndham

In 1951 John Wyndham published his novel The Day of the Triffids to moderate acclaim. Fifty-two years later, this horrifying story is a science fiction classic, touted by The Times (London) as having "all the reality of a vividly realized nightmare."

Bill Masen, bandages over his wounded eyes, misses the most spectacular meteorite shower England has ever seen. Removing his bandages the next morning, he finds masses of sightless people wandering the city. He soon meets Josella, another lucky person who has retained her sight, and together they leave the city, aware that the safe, familiar world they knew a mere twenty-four hours before is gone forever.

But to survive in this post-apocalyptic world, one must survive the Triffids, strange plants that years before began appearing all over the world. The Triffids can grow to over seven feet tall, pull their roots from the ground to walk, and kill a man with one quick lash of their poisonous stingers. With society in shambles, they are now poised to prey on humankind. Wyndham chillingly anticipates bio-warfare and mass destruction, fifty years before their realization, in this prescient account of Cold War paranoia.

Annihilation

Southern Reach Trilogy: Book 1

Jeff VanderMeer

Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; the second expedition ended in mass suicide; the third expedition in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another. The members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within weeks, all had died of cancer. In Annihilation, the first volume of Jeff VanderMeer's Southern Reach trilogy, we join the twelfth expedition.

The group is made up of four women: an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, the de facto leader; and our narrator, a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain, record all observations of their surroundings and of one another, and, above all, avoid being contaminated by Area X itself.

They arrive expecting the unexpected, and Area X delivers--they discover a massive topographic anomaly and life forms that surpass understanding--but it's the surprises that came across the border with them and the secrets the expedition members are keeping from one another that change everything.

The Skinner

Spatterjay Series: Book 1

Neal Asher

To the Line planet Spatterjay come three travellers: Janer brings the eyes of a hornet Hive mind, and an agenda he would rather not own; Erlin comes to find Ambel – the ancient sea captain who can teach her to live; and Sable Keech is a man with a vendetta he will not give up, though he has been dead for seven hundred years.

The world is mostly ocean, where all but a few visitors from the Human Polity remain safely in the island Dome. Outside, the native hoopers risk the voracious appetite of the planet’s fauna in their struggle for life and life eternal. Somewhere out there is Spatterjay Hoop himself, and monitor Keech will not rest until he can bring this legendary renegade to justice – for crimes so hideous Keech can never forget.

Pursuing rumour, Keech learns that Hoop has become something monstrous: his body roaming free on an island wilderness, whilst his living head is confined in a box on board one of the old captain's ships. Janer, the eternal tourist, is bewildered by this place where sails speak and the people just will not die, but his bewilderment turns to anger when he learns the Hive mind’s intentions. Erlin thinks she has all the time she will ever need to find the answers she requires, and could not be more wrong. And so these three travel and search, not knowing that one of the brutal Prador is about to pay a surreptitious visit, intent on exterminating witnesses to wartime atrocities, nor do they know how terrible is the price of immortality on Spatterjay.

As the fortunes of these travellers unwittingly converge, a major hell is about to erupt in this chaotic waterscape ... where minor hell is already a remorseless fact of everyday life – and death.

The Dreaming Jewels

Theodore Sturgeon

Retro Hugo-nominated Novella

Theodore Sturgeon's stunning debut novel, about a young boy who is drawn into a dangerous conspiracy when he leaves home to join a circus of shadows

Though only eight years old, little Horton "Horty" Bluett has known a lifetime of sadness. Tormented and abused by his adoptive family, he's had enough—and with a beloved broken toy he calls "Junky" as his sole companion, the desperate little boy runs away to join a carnival. There, among the fortune tellers, fire-eaters, sideshow freaks, and assorted "strange people," Horty hopes to find acceptance and, at long last, a real home.

But disgraced doctor Pierre "Maneater" Monetre's traveling show is no ordinary entertainment, and its performers are not what they appear to be. The Maneater has sinister plans for the world that go far beyond fleecing unsuspecting rubes and other easy marks—a dark and terrible scheme that requires unleashing the extraterrestrial power of the dreaming jewels, and the unwitting assistance of a young boy who may be far more remarkable than he's ever imagined.

This ebook features an illustrated biography of Theodore Sturgeon including rare images and never-before-seen documents from the University of Kansas's Kenneth Spencer Research Library and the author's estate, among other sources.

Also published as The Synthetic Man (Pyramid Books, 1957)

The Body Snatchers

Gregg Press Science Fiction Series: Book 42

Jack Finney

On a quiet fall evening in the small, peaceful town of Mill Valley, California, Dr. Miles Bennell discovered an insidious, horrifying plot. Silently, subtly, almost imperceptibly, alien life-forms were taking over the bodies and minds of his neighbors, his friends, his family, the woman he loved -- the world as he knew it.

First published in 1955, this classic thriller of the ultimate alien invasion and the triumph of the human spirit over an invisible enemy inspired three major motion pictures.

Also published as Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Authority

Southern Reach Trilogy: Book 2

Jeff VanderMeer

In the second volume of the Southern Reach Trilogy, questions are answered, stakes are raised, and mysteries are deepened...

Following the disastrous twelfth expedition chronicled in 'Annihilation', the second book of the Southern Reach trilogy introduces John Rodriguez, the new head of the government agency responsible for the safeguarding of Area X. His first day is spent grappling with the fall-out from the last expedition. Area X itself remains a mystery. But, as instructed by a higher authority known only as The Voice, the self-styled Control must battle to 'put his house in order'.

From a series of interrogations, a cache of hidden notes and hours of profoundly troubling video footage, the mysteries of Area X begin to reveal themselves--and what they expose pushes Control to confront disturbing truths about both himself and the agency he's promised to serve.

Undermined and under pressure to make sense of everything, Rodriguez retreats into his past in a labyrinthine search for answers. Yet the more he uncovers, the more he risks, for the secrets of the Southern Reach are more sinister than anyone could have known.