The Final Frontier: Stories of Exploring Space, Colonizing the Universe, and First Contact

Start Publishing LLC
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The vast and mysterious universe is explored in this reprint anthology from award-winning editor and anthologist Neil Clarke (Clarkesworld magazine, The Best Science Fiction of the Year).

The urge to explore and discover is a natural and universal one, and the edge of the unknown is expanded with each passing year as scientific advancements inch us closer and closer to the outer reaches of our solar system and the galaxies beyond them.

Generations of writers have explored these new frontiers and the endless possibilities they present in great detail. With galaxy-spanning adventures of discovery and adventure, from generations ships to warp drives, exploring new worlds to first contacts, science fiction writers have given readers increasingly new and alien ways to look out into our broad and sprawling universe.

The Final Frontier delivers stories from across this literary spectrum, a reminder that the universe is far large and brimming with possibilities than we could ever imagine, as hard as we may try.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Start Publishing LLC
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Published on
Jul 10, 2018
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Pages
512
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ISBN
9781597806503
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / Science Fiction / Alien Contact
Fiction / Science Fiction / Collections & Anthologies
Fiction / Science Fiction / Space Exploration
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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From tales of alien invasions and intergalactic war to visions of dystopian tomorrows, an astonishing collection from one of literary science fiction’s all-time greats, Hugo Award winner Clifford D. Simak.

The twentieth century’s so-called golden age of science fiction produced many great writers—including Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, and Robert Heinlein—yet none is greater than Clifford D. Simak, named Grand Master by the Science Fiction Writers of America. His bold visions of and ingenious speculations about humankind’s future, always enriched with empathy and a deep understanding of human strengths, foibles, and failings, have stood the test of time, remaining powerful, affecting, and relevant.
 
This sterling collection of fantastic stories by the multiple Hugo and Nebula Award–
winning master showcases some of Simak’s finest short fiction, from his earliest published tales to his later masterworks. In the wry and wonderful title story, a science fiction writer of the far future returns to a nearly abandoned Earth in search of inspiration—and finds that the dying planet holds more wonder than he bargained for. The interdimensional invasion Simak imagines in “Hellhounds of the Cosmos” displays a conceptual ingenuity not typically seen in speculative fiction prior to World War II. And other tales in this marvelous compendium offer a wide range of wonders, from the surrender terms dictated by a cute and cuddly alien enemy and a get-rich-quick real-estate scam originating from another galaxy to the truth behind a series of strange disappearances on Jupiter and an explosion of ladybugs in a salesman’s suburban home—an infestation quite possibly not of this Earth.
 
Whether he’s rocketing us to another galaxy, leading us through the otherworldly shadows of small-town America, or preparing us for a Wild West shootout, every literary outing with Simak is an excursion to remember.
A message appears on the moon. It is legible from Earth, and almost no one knows how it was created. Markus West leads the government’s investigation to find the creator.

The message is simple and familiar. But those three words, written in blazing crimson letters on the lunar surface, will foster the strangest revolution humankind has ever endured and make Markus West wish he was never involved.

The message is ‘Drink Diet Coke.’

When Coca-Cola denies responsibility, global annoyance with the beverage-industrial complex becomes indignation. And when his investigation confirms Coca-Cola’s innocence, Markus West becomes one of the most hated men on Earth.

Later, five miles above the White House, a cylinder is discovered floating in the night. It is 400 feet tall, 250 feet in diameter, and exactly resembles a can of Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup. Nearly everyone thinks the cylinder is a promotional stunt gone wrong, just like the lunar advertisement. And this is exactly what the alien in the cylinder wants people to think.

Ralph, an eccentric extraterrestrial who’s been hiding on the moon, needs Markus’s help to personally deliver a dark warning to the White House. Ralph has a big heart, a fetish for Andy Warhol, and a dangerous plan to save the world.

Looking upon the cylinder, Markus realizes we are not the ones in control. The unexpected guest becomes the host, and somehow humans never belonged: “We are the homeless orphans peeking through the banquet window. We are the frills of the universe gazing upon something unspeakably more central than ourselves.”
As Earth dies, an architect is commissioned to remote build a monument on Mars from the remains of a failed colony; a man who has transferred his consciousness into a humanoid robot discovers he’s missing thirty percent of his memories, and tries to discover why; bored with life in the underground colony of an alien world, a few risk life inside one of the “whales” floating in the planet’s atmosphere; an apprentice librarian searching through centuries of SETI messages from alien civilizations makes an ominous discovery; a ship in crisis pulls a veteran multibot out from storage with an unusual assignment: pest control; the dead are given a second shot at life, in exchange for a five-year term in a zombie military program. For decades, science fiction has compelled us to imagine futures both inspiring and cautionary. Whether it’s a warning message from a survey ship, a harrowing journey to a new world, or the adventures of well-meaning AI, science fiction inspires the imagination and delivers a lens through which we can view ourselves and the world around us. With The Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume Three, award-winning editor Neil Clarke provides a year-in-review and twenty-seven of the best stories published by both new and established authors in 2017.


Table of Contents

Introduction: The State of Short SF Field in 2017

A Series of Steaks by Vina Jie-Min Prasad

Holdfast by Alastair Reynolds

Every Hour of Light and Dark by Nancy Kress

The Last Novelist, or a Dead Lizard in the Yard by Matthew Kressel

Shikasta by Vandana Singh

Wind Will Rove by Sarah Pinsker

Focus by Gord Sellar

The Martian Obelisk by Linda Nagata

Shadows of Eternity by Gregory Benford

The Worldless by Indrapramit Das

Regarding the Robot Raccoons Attached to the Hull of My Ship by Rachel Jones and Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali

Belly Up by Maggie Clark

Uncanny Valley by Greg Egan

We Who Live in the Heart by Kelly Robson

A Catalogue of Sunlight at the End of the World by A.C. Wise

Meridian by Karin Lowachee

The Tale of the Alcubierre Horse by Kathleen Ann Goonan

Extracurricular Activities by Yoon Ha Lee

In Everlasting Wisdom by Aliette de Bodard

The Last Boat-Builder in Ballyvoloon by Finbarr O’Reilly

The Speed of Belief by Robert Reed

Death on Mars by Madeline Ashby

An Evening with Severyn Grimes by Rich Larson

ZeroS by Peter Watts

The Secret Life of Bots by Suzanne Palmer

Zen and the Art of Starship Maintenance by Tobias S. Buckell

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