The year is 1983. The exploding star Briareus Delta, 132 light years away, provokes only mild interest from planet Earth. Suddenly, appalling tornadoes and storms ravage the cities and countryside, leaving death and desolation in their wake. Then mankind realises another terrifying side-effect - every adult in the world has been rendered infertile.
Schoolteacher Calvin Johnson discovers he is one of the select few to have acquired strange psychic powers. Termed 'Zetas', these people experience mental flashes of the future - a future of freezing isolation, snow-swept landscapes and bleak, ice-bound cities.
A second ice-age is imminent as man faces the ultimate horror . . . extinction.
But if a man lives in two worlds, and both are real, what then? Is he mad, or sane? One person, or two? And if one of his worlds should begin to grow dim, a shadow world, could one say he was in danger of going sane?
The son of the famous critic John Middleton Murry, Cowper announced himself to the science fiction world in 1967 with BREAKTHROUGH, which found favour for a subtlety and richness of characterisation not seen in most contemporary SF. The idea of a transformed future England became his signature leitmotif and it is this theme that informs the Corlay tales contained in this omnibus. This is the complete Corlay sequence, featuring introductory novella 'PIPER AT THE GATES OF DAWN' and novels THE ROAD TO CORLAY, A DREAM OF KINSHIP and A TAPESTRY OF TIME.
THE ROAD TO CORLAY:
On the Eve of the Fourth Millennium a slowly-building civilization, struggling out of the rubble of the Drowning, was crushed beneath the sceptre of a powerful and repressive Church. But on the Eve of the Fourth Millennium the sound of a magical pipe was heard, and the air was filled with songs of freedom and enlightenment. And on the Eve of the Fourth Millennium the Boy appeared, bringing the gift of sacrilege, a harbinger of the future, heralding the arrival of the White Bird of Dawning. It is the coming of a New Age. A glorious future bearing the presents of the past!
A DREAM OF KINSHIP:
They came to destroy! The treacherous Falcons, uniformed in the black leather tunics of the fanatic Secular Arm, descended on Corlay to burn and kill. Commanded by Lord Constant, ruler of the Seven Kingdoms, they were determined to crush the religious heresy of Kinship. But a new dream rose from the ashes... When four Kinsmen escaped the carnage of their beloved land, each helped to fulfill the miracle that had been foretold: the coming of the Child of the Bride of Time.
A TAPESTRY OF TIME:
Twenty years have passed since the martyrdom of the Boy-piper at York, twenty years in which his legacy, the movement of Kinship, has challenged the tyranny of the Church Militant in Britain's seven island kingdoms. Now his namesake, Tom, bearing the Boy's own pipes and perhaps himself imbued with the spirit of the White Bird, is wandering Europe in company with the girl, Witchet. But disaster overtakes them and Tom, in a furry of vengeance, breaks his vow of Kinship. A terrible path lies before him, one that transcends his own world. As he travels it, Tom must come to understand the true nature of the wild White Bird, of The Bride of Time and her Child, and of the Song the Star Born sang.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the galaxy, on the planet Chnas, life Zil Bryn and his wife Orgypp. Bryn is currently composing a long weird narrative called Shorge Gringe's Pilgrimage, set on a strange world called Urth . . .