Worlds Enough and Time: Five Tales of Speculative Fiction [NOOK Book]

Overview

An extraordinary artist with few rivals in his chosen arena, Dan Simmons possesses a restless talent that continually presses boundaries while tantalizing the mind and touching the soul. Now he offers us a superb quintet of novellas -- five dazzling masterworks of speculative fiction, including "Orphans of the Helix," his award-winning return to the Hyperion Universe -- that demonstrates the unique mastery, breathtaking invention, and flawless craftsmanship of one of ...

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Worlds Enough and Time: Five Tales of Speculative Fiction

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Overview

An extraordinary artist with few rivals in his chosen arena, Dan Simmons possesses a restless talent that continually presses boundaries while tantalizing the mind and touching the soul. Now he offers us a superb quintet of novellas -- five dazzling masterworks of speculative fiction, including "Orphans of the Helix," his award-winning return to the Hyperion Universe -- that demonstrates the unique mastery, breathtaking invention, and flawless craftsmanship of one of contemporary fiction's true greats.

  • Human colonists seeking something other than godhood encounter their long-lost "cousins"...and an ancient scourge.
  • A devastated man in suicide's embrace is caught up in a bizarre cat-and-mouse game with a young woman possessing a world-ending power.
  • The distant descendants of a once-oppressed people learn a chilling lesson about the persistence of the past.
  • A terrifying ascent up the frigid, snow-swept slopes of K2 shatters preconceptions and reveals the true natures of four climbers, one of whom is not human.
  • At the intersection of a grand past and a threadbare present, an aging American in Russia confronts his own mortality as he glimpses a wondrous future.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Dan Simmons is a supremely versatile storyteller who seems equally at home in every literary form: SF, horror, suspense, even mainstream fiction. This collection contains five memorable novellas that show us Simmons the science fiction writer at the top of his considerable form.

In "Looking for Kelly Dahl," Simmons depicts an extended, hallucinatory encounter between an alcoholic teacher and his former student set against the powerfully evoked backdrop of the Colorado Rockies. "Orphans of the Helix" presents an unexpected postscript to the Hyperion saga, describing an encounter between a band of interstellar travelers and a pair of deeply alien cultures. "The Ninth of Av" takes us to the next millennium, where a "post-human" society has gradually developed in which anti-Semitism still plays a significant role. "On K2 with Kankarides," is a viscerally exciting tale in which three veteran mountain climbers attempt to ascend K2 in the company of a visiting alien from Aldebaran. Finally, "The End of Gravity" presents a powerful reflection on one of SF's most durable themes: space travel. These five stories are supplemented by Simmons' generous, highly personal notes, which illuminate his creative process. Simmons is a gifted, ambitious storyteller who never fails to provide provocative, intelligent fiction. Worlds Enough & Time offers a rich display of his varied narrative talents and is required reading for anyone interested in first-rate genre fiction, or in humane, literate fiction of any sort. Bill Sheehan

Publishers Weekly
Those who missed Dan Simmons's Worlds Enough and Time: Five Tales of Speculative Fiction in the limited Subterranean hardcover edition will welcome this reprint from the Hugo-winning author of Hyperion. "Simmons shifts effortlessly between dark fantasy, space opera, hard SF and mainstream fiction," PW said earlier this year (Forecasts, Apr. 29).
Library Journal
The five novellas collected here illustrate the stylistic talent and storytelling expertise of the award-winning author of Hyperion and other series titles. Featured are "Looking for Kelly Dahl," in which a teacher's search for an enigmatic former student leads him on a journey of self-discovery that crosses time and space, and "The End of Gravity," which explores humanity's fascination with outer space. Rounding o3ut this eclectic collection are "Orphans of the Helix," set in the world of the Hyperion novels; "The Ninth of Av," a far-future tale of the rediscovery of ancient history and its dark secrets; and "On K2 with Kanakaredes," in which a group of humans accompanies an insectoid alien on a perilous mountain climbing expedition. The author's introductions add context and insight, making this a good choice for most sf collections. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
An easily absorbed, if none-too-challenging, batch of five long stories from the creator of the Hyperion series. As Simmons ("Fall of Hyperion") explains it, the volume should be considered a Zen garden, with all the elements in balance and plenty of room for reflection. It doesn't bode well if you're on the lookout for absorbing fiction, but fortunately the pieces here are more dramatic than his somewhat (as even Simmons admits) pretentious pronouncement would suggest. Falling more into the vein of an adventure tale is "On K2 with Kanakaredes," in which a team of hard-core mountaineers make a deal to stay out of jail by agreeing to bring the son of an alien visitor with them on their treacherous K2 ascent. The climb is intricately detailed and wrenchingly dramatic, even if the climax comes out of left field. The most engaging and confusing entry is "The Ninth of Av," set in the year 3001 and populated by a seemingly small band of humans and a mysterious race of "post-humans" who can be teleported around the world by a process referred to as "faxing." The humans are getting ready for the "final fax," a Rapture-like event that will send their beings whirling into the ether for 10,000 years while the posts fix the damaged Earth for their return. There's a grimly poetic On the Beach feel to the tale that carries through its baffling and chilling denouement. Of lesser interest are the bland "The End of Gravity," about a millionaire American who buys his way on to a Russian rocket, and "Orphans of the Helix," a spin-off set in Simmons's Hyperion universe that is too slight a construction to be of interest to most non-Hyperion fans. "Looking for Kelly Dahl," in which a schoolteacher huntsthrough a world created by a crazed ex-student of his, has an old-fashioned tinge to its simple story that keeps it interesting without being especially memorable. Like a book by Stephen King, whom Simmons references, this is an uneven if always readable collection highlighted by his charmingly chatty introductions to each story.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061809439
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/13/2009
  • Sold by: HARPERCOLLINS
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 366,702
  • File size: 851 KB

Meet the Author

Dan Simmons is the Hugo Award-winning author of Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion, and their sequels, Endymion and The Rise of Endymion. He has written the critically acclaimed suspense novels Darwin's Blade and The Crook Factory, as well as other highly respected works, including Summer of Night and its sequel A Winter Haunting, Song of Kali, Carrion Comfort, and Worlds Enough & Time. Simmons makes his home in Colorado.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
Introduction to "Looking for Kelly Dahl" 8
Looking for Kelly Dahl 14
Introduction to "Orphans of the Helix" 65
Orphans of the Helix 73
Introduction to "The Ninth of Av" 131
The Ninth of Av 138
Introduction to "On K2 with Kanakaredes" 164
On K2 with Kanakaredes 170
Introduction to "The End of Gravity" 218
The End of Gravity 227
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First Chapter

Looking For Kelly Dahl

Chiaroscuro

I awoke in camp that morning to find the highway to Boulder gone, the sky empty of contrails, and the aspen leaves a bright autumn gold despite what should have been a midsummer day, but after bouncing the jeep across four miles of forest and rocky ridgeline to the back of the Flatirons, it was the sight of the Inland Sea that stopped me cold.

"Damn," I muttered, getting out of the jeep and walking to the edge of the cliff.

Where the foothills and plains should have been, the great sea stretched away east to the horizon and beyond. Torpid waves lapped up against the muddy shores below. Where the stonebox towers of NCAR, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, had risen below the sandstone slabs of the Flatirons, now there were only shrub-stippled swamps and muddy inlets. Of Boulder, there was no sign -- neither of its oasis of trees nor of its low buildings. Highway 36 did not cut its accustomed swath over the hillside southeast to Denver. No roads were visible. The high rises of Denver were gone. All of Denver was gone. Only the Inland Sea stretched east and north and south as far as I could see, its color the gray-blue I remembered from Lake Michigan in my youth, its wave action desultory, its sound more the halfhearted lapping of a large lake than the surf crash of a real ocean.

"Damn," I said again and pulled the Remington from its scabbard behind the driver's seat of the jeep. Using the twenty-power sight, I scanned the gulleys leading down between the Flatirons to the swamps and shoreline. There were no roads, no paths, not even visible animal trails. I planted my foot on a lowboulder, braced my arm on my knee, and tried to keep the scope steady as I panned right to left along the long strip of dark shoreline.

Footprints in the mud: one set, leading from the gully just below where I stood on what someday would be named Flagstaff Mountain and crossing to a small rowboat pulled up on the sand just beyond the curl of waves. No one was in the rowboat. No tracks led away from it.

A bit of color and motion caught my eye a few hundred meters out from the shore and I raised the rifle, trying to steady the scope on a bobbing bit of yellow. There was a float out there, just beyond the shallows.

I lowered the Remington and took a step closer to the dropoff. There was no way that I could get the jeep down there -- at least not without spending hours or days cutting a path through the thick growth of ponderosa and lodgepole pine that grew in the gully. And even then I would have to use the winch to lower the jeep over boulders and near-vertical patches. It would not be worth the effort to take the vehicle. But it would require an hour or more to hike down from here.

For what? I thought. The rowboat and buoy would be another red herring, another Kelly Dahl joke. Or she's trying to lure me out there on the water so that she can get a clean shot.

"Damn," I said for the third and final time. Then I returned the rifle to its case, pulled out the blue daypack, checked to make sure that the rations, water bottles, and .38 were in place, tugged on the pack, shifted the Ka-bar knife in its sheath along my belt so that I could get to it in one movement, set the rifle scabbard in the crook of my arm, took one last look at the jeep and its contents, and began the long descent.

Kelly, you're sloppy, I thought as I slid down the muddy slope, using aspens as handholds. Nothing's consistent. You've screwed this up just like you did the Triassic yesterday.

This particular Inland Sea could be from one of several erasthe late Cretaceous for one, the late Jurassic for another -- but in the former era, some seventy-five million years ago, the great interior sea would have pushed much further west than here, into Utah and beyond, and the Rocky Mountains I could see twenty miles to the west would have been in the process of being born from the remnants of Pacific islands that had dotted an ocean covering California. The slabs of Flatirons now rising above me would exist only as a layer of soft substrata. Conversely, if it were the mid-Jurassic, almost a hundred million years earlier than the Cretaceous, this would all be part of a warm, shallow sea stretching down from Canada, ending in a shore winding along northern New Mexico. There would be a huge saline lake south of there, the mudflats of southern Colorado and northern New Mexico stretching as a narrow isthmus for almost two hundred miles between the two bodies of water. This area of central Colorado would be an island, but still without mountains and Flatirons.

You got it all wrong, Kelly. I'd give this a D-. There was no answer. Shit, this isn't even that good. An F. Still silence.

Nor were the flora and fauna correct. Instead of the aspen and pine trees through which I now descended, this area should have been forested during the Jurassic by tall, slender, cycadlike trees, festooned with petals and cones; the undergrowth would not be the juniper bushes I was picking my way around but exotic scouring rushes displaying leaves like banana plants. The late-Cretaceous flora would have been more familiar to the eye -- low, broad-leaved trees, towering conifers -- but the blossoms would be profuse, tropical, and exotic -- with the scent of huge, magnolialike blossoms perfuming the humid air.

The air was neither hot nor humid. It was a midautumn Colorado day. The only blossoms I saw were the faded flowers on small cacti underfoot.

Worlds Enough & Time. Copyright © by Dan Simmons. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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