The strange but beautiful purple blossoms now grew wild in his backyard. One day Brad Carter tripped and fell into an alternate world, a world peopled by these very flowers.
Robots, strange planets with creatures that aren't quite vegetables or mammals, aliens that steal childhood laughter... these are the subjects of the yarns Clifford D. Simak spins in this book containing a selection of his short stories.
One day they were there, the next they were gone--all but a small tribe of American Indians, a family and friends gathered for a party, and the ubiquitous robots. Whatever mysterious power it was that had snatched up eight billion human souls and spirited them away had overlooked very few. Deprived of a labor force, technology disintegrated. The Indians went back to nature, the others ... something very strange happened to them. In exchange for the overpowering presence of the vanished hordes, they acquired mental powers beyond imagining which whisked them through the stars, extraordinary longevity, and a painfully garnered wisdom. As for the robots, some went to live with the remnants of humanity, though the Indians forthrightly rejected their services; others gathered into a robot community and commenced work on the Project, a work baffling to human understanding, but in all its fantastic electronic complexity an apotheosis of robotry; still others, a very few, stubbornly maintained the old religion and lived as monks, worshiping they knew not what by who knows what right. Then one day a traveler returned from the stars. The people had been found and were planning to return. More important and more dreadful, a Principle had been discovered in the center of the Galaxy, a disembodied intelligence of awesome capacity and godlike indifference. The idyllic existence of the last of Earth's humans was threatened. The carefully composed elegy to mankind was under siege.
The years had moved too fast. Years that had brought the family plane and helicopter, leaving the auto to rust in some forgotten place, the unused roads to fall into disrepair. Years that had virtually wiped out the tilling of the soil with the rise of hydroponics. Years that had brought cheap land with the disappearance of the farm as an economic unit, had sent city people scurrying out into the country where each man, for less than the price of a city lot, might own broad acres. Years that had revolutionized the construction of homes to a point where families simply walked away from their old homes to the new ones that could be bought, custom-made, for less than half the price of a prewar structure and could be changed, at small cost, to accommodate need of additional space or just a passing whim .... *** Earth was very different without its cities. There were no more wars, because the population centers which had formerly been prime targets no longer existed. Among the people who left the cities and their descendants, some took to the stars and met beings from other worlds; some took to the woods, and let their primitive lifestyle carry them further and further from the basic design of society. And some simply remained on the land their families originally bought, growing ever more deeply ensconced in those pockets of tradition. *** It was Bruce Webster, from the pocket known as Webster House, who first changed the dogs. Recognizing that the differences between humans and canines might be an advantage--dogs, with their own brand of intelligence, would be able to comprehend things people could not--he reasoned that two thinking races would have to be better than one. So he surgically altered a few dogs' throats and tongues, enabling them to mimic the words he taught them. Special contact lenses were invented, changing canine eyesight enough to allow them to learn to read. As time went on, the traits Bruce initiated were passed on to each successive generation of dogs. And as the Dogs developed and advanced--aided by robots that humans had built ages ago--Man ceased to be the dominant species on Earth and became a creature of legend. A legend the Dogs still tell on winter nights, when the wind is from the north and the fires burn high ....
From the vaults of The SF Gateway, the most comprehensive digital library of classic SFF titles ever assembled, comes an ideal introduction to the work of one of the giants of the Golden Age, Clifford D. Simak. A regular contributor to ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION throughout the influential John W. Campbell era, Simak produced a body of highly regarded work, winning the NEBULA and multiple HUGO AWARDs, and is best known for his story suite of future histories, City. This omnibus collects three novels that explore his favoured theme of a depopulated future: TIME IS THE SIMPLEST THING, A CHOICE OF GODS and the HUGO AWARD-winning WAY STATION.
The planet beckoned them from space, and then closed around them like a Venus fly trap.
Mark Cornwall is a young man who asks questions, in a society where all answers come from above. His questing spirit leads him into deadly exile.
Through a wilderness blighted by horror rode Duncan, son of the noble House of Standish. Astride his mighty war horse, he was pursuing a quest vital to the future of civilization. With him went a strange fellowship: a brawny man-at-arms, a banshee, a hermit, a ghost, a turncoat demon, a goblin and a witch. Opposing them came forces of supernatural malignancy. And aiding Dunan: a girl with the blood of enchanters in her veins who was mounted on an ancient griffin.
Professor Peter Maxwell is in desperate straits. En route to an interplanetary research mission, he was snatched by a strange, shadowy race to a previously uncharted planet. Ancient beyond comprehension, this planet is a storehouse of information that would be invaluable to the people of Earth-even an Earth so far advanced that perfected time travel allows goblins, dinosaurs, ghosts, even Shakespeare to coexist. His attempts to interest the rulers of Earth are thwarted, however, by a startling discovery- Maxwell was ingeniously duplicated. The "other" him came back before he did, and soon after was "accidentally" killed. Now no one will believe the original Maxwell really exists...
An adventure of the Far Future by Grand Master of Science Fiction Clifford D. Simak While Earth sleeps her thousand years, the City looks starward . . . It was a city on a high rock in a vast plain--on a planet whose glory was long forgotten. The gaunt "wardens" which roamed the prairie called it Thunder, and feared it well. But Cushing, who had read of it in the Story, who had crossed an empty continent to find it, knew it by another name: the Place of Going to the Stars.
Private investigator Jay Corcoran searches across time and space for a client who has mysteriously disappeared and discovers more questions than answers. Who are the Infinites, and what do they know?
This book is a sampling of Clifford D. Simak's short stories. They range from the satirical to the sad. The main concern is what it means to be a human being in the universe and what it means to become an adult.
Time-traveling turns into big business and big trouble when a casual walk down a farm path in a quiet Wisconsin town leads an archeologist into the Pleistocene era and he uncovers an interstellar mystery from before recorded time ... Asa Steele is unprepared for the incredible events that begin to unfold when Rila Elliot--a woman he loved two decades before--steps out of the past and his faithful dog Bowser starts loping into it through time trails he's discovered in his own backyard. Rila's appearance is mere coincidence, but Bowser's retrieval of fresh dinosaur bones is as inexplicable as is the curious crater in Asa's backyard that seems to have been made by a spaceship from the stars. And that's only the beginning. Soon Asa himself trips in time, led into prehistoric eras by an enigmatic cat-faced creature. Unable to communicate with his alien guide except through a local simpleton named Hiram, Asa attempts to understand the meaning and the purpose of these time trails. Meanwhile, Rila, always looking toward the future, arranges to turn them into one of the biggest money-making travel ventures of all time. In short order, the time trails in the quiet town of Willow Bend become the focus of global attention, government scrutiny and the target for an unprecedented solution to overpopulation. But from the moment the first modern men begin trekking back in time, there's more danger, excitement and trouble than any of them would ever have bargained for.
The entire earth's population from 500 years in the future begins immigrating back in time to the 1980s to flee ferocious alien monsters that thrive on hunting humans. The problem is: they've brought the aliens back in time with them...
7 short stories - Target Generation, Mirage, Beachhead, The Answers, Retrograde Evolution, The Fence, and Shadow Show
Carter Horton arrives at the first planet away from Earth that can support life after spending a thousand years in frozen sleep. Now his only companion is the almost human android transportation, Ship. Another stranded inhabitant of this planet, Carnivore, recalls that William Shakespeare was also here, after coming across a strange tunnel. This planet appears to be a decent planet but something is very wrong.
4 novelettes - So Bright the Vision, The Golden Bugs, Galactic Chest, and Leg Forst.
English professor Edward Lansing finds himself transported to an unknown world by a talking slot machine. With five companions, including a poet, a robot, and a general that are from other worlds and times, he must discover the meaning of his existence.
A Hugo and Nebula Award-winning Author The aliens wouldn't kill ... They'd take over earth and let man survive -- if he could. A few people tried to tell that Earth was being taken over by alien beings in the shape of bowling balls, talking dogs, dolls that walked like men. The trouble was, no one believed them.
This book contains three novellas: Threads of Time by Greg Benford, The Marathon Photograph by Clifford Simak, Riding the Torch by Norman Spinrad and an Introduction by Robert Silverberg. In "Threads of Time," Gregory Benford introduces the reader to a crisis at a moon station, where a mysterious domelike structure has been discovered and threatens all who try to approach it. Veteran science fiction writer Clifford D. Simak gives us "The Marathon Photograph," the story of two scientists who stumble on time travelers from four hundred million years in the past. And Norman Spinrad in "Riding the Torch" creates for us a world long sick of its own evil, which dies only to be reborn, with a second chance to redeem itself.
When Asher Sutton returned to Earth, he discovered that beings from the future had made preparations for him: some would help him, some would try to own him, some would see him dead.
A CLOSE ENCOUNTER OF THE MOST AMAZING KIND ... Some of them, having set down, stayed where they were. Some, after a time, floated into the air and set about their observations. They cruised back and forth over industrial plants, they circled and recircled cities, they made sweeps of vast stretches of farmlands. Others sought out forests and settled down to eat. They gobbled up a number of lumberyards. In the St. Louis area, three of them landed in a parking lot, ate a dozen or so cars and then took off. They did little actual harm. Most people with whom they came in contact were only marginally inconvenienced; no one was killed. The highway accidents, few of them more than fender-benders, fell off as motorists became accustomed to the sight of the great black boxes floating in the sky, coming at last to pay but slight attention to them. The visitors qualified as first-class nuisances ... It looked like a big black box--perhaps fifty feet high, two hundred long. And it had settled squarely on forestry student Jerry Conklin's car, parked next to a fishing stream outside Lone Pine, Minnesota. The townspeople of Lone Pine were the first to see it--and one of them was the first and only human to shoot at it. He paid for his rashness with instant death. Within hours the press, the government and the public knew something strange had happened in Lone Pine and were beginning to face the incredible possibility that Earth now harbored something from outer space. A machine? An intelligent being? There was no way to know. But Jerry Conklin knew. The visitor had scooped him up, held him prisoner for hours, then let him go--and he had sensed its thoughts and feelings. Jerry knew the visitor was a living, intelligent creature. Then more of the giant black boxes descended to Earth, almost all in the United States. And they began eating ... and reproducing. The visitors seemed harmless if left alone, but their powers of defense, and their very existence, threatened world stability. The public, the nation's allies--and its enemies--demanded more information. But there was none. Then Jerry followed up on a rumor and made one more discovery. The visitors were paying for their food and lodging with fantastic gifts. And that payment could destroy Earth's civilization. In The Visitors Clifford Simak presents one of the most original concepts of alien contact yet in this multilevel novel of human intelligence and emotion in a close encounter with truly non-human beings!
HE WAS THE KEEPER OF INTERGALACTIC WAY STATION 18327 ... and he had one goal: To prepare Earth to join the other races of the universe. The alien planets had many things that Earth lacked: eternal peace and prosperity, advanced knowledge of the sciences and arts. And they were willing to share their benefits--provided that Earth showed signs of being civilized. As the only Earthman in touch with the universe, the keeper of Way Station 18327 was beginning to hope that his fellow men might prove worthy. Then his plans started to go wrong--beginning with a grave robbery and a kidnapping, and ending on the night when an ignorant, howling mob tried to penetrate the innermost secrets of the way station.
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