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The Anencephalic Fields The Anencephalic Fields by Dale Bailey
a story excerpt
"Daddy left with a big-city dollymop when I wasn't but six years old, and Mama got a job tending the corpse gardens outside of Scary, Kentucky. By the time I was twelve, a tow-headed not-quite boy in his daddy's hand-me-down jeans, I remembered the dollymop better than I did the man himself. She was a loud, brash redhead with tits like jugs and a mouth like a wound, but Daddy had faded to a dull blur of memory. I couldn't for the life of me remember how he looked and Mama said the resemblance was minimal; but I could remember how it felt when he touched me, and if I tried I could still smell his jackleg whiskey and the black-market smoke that always hung about him. Mostly, though, I could recollect his hands."

Noonshade Noonshade by James Barclay
a novel excerpt
"Thraun had unshouldered his pack and was stripping off his leather before the sound of the fallen bell registered as trouble in Hirad's mind.
    'You don't have to do this, Thraun,' said Will, his stance edgy, worry lining his face.
    'We must have a diversion or Ilkar and Denser will be killed.'
    'I doubt that,' said Hirad."

The Martian Race by Gregory Benford
a novel excerpt
For American John Axelrod, it's not about nationalism or personal fame. It's about the money: the Mars Prize, a $30 billion purse offered for the first successful manned mission to the Red Planet. When NASA becomes bogged down in politics and bureaucracy, businessman Axelrod and a conglomerate of backers seize their chance.
    But for astronauts Julia; her husband, Viktor; Marc; and Raoul -- Axelrod's team of ex-NASAnauts -- it's not about wealth or media attention. It's about courage, discovery, and facing the unknown. It's about Mars... and staying alive.

Roger Zelazny's The Dawn of Amber Roger Zelazny's The Dawn of Amber by John Gregory Betancourt
a novel excerpt
    A heavy pounding on the door down-stairs roused me from sleep.
    "Obere!" came a distant shout.
    Damnable timing. I squinted into near darkness, frowned. The hour lay somewhere between midnight and dawn, and blades of moonlight slid between the window shutters, cutting an intricate pattern of light and darkness across the checkered quilt. Off in the night I heard plodding hooves and creaks from some passing merchant's wagon, and from farther off still the distant baying of packs of wild dogs as they scavenged the battlefields a mile to the north of Kingstown.

Genetopia Genetopia by Keith Brooke
a novel excerpt
"In the day's harsh sunlight the Leaving Hill appeared white with bones. Flintreco Eltarn adjusted his sunhood and scrambled up the last of the rough incline, following the path his sister had taken moments before. It was good to get away after a morning spent working the fruit trees of the family holding."

The Warrior King The Warrior King by Chris Bunch
a novel excerpt
The wizard Tenedos transformed decaying Numantia into a mighty empire, but his lust for conquest has destroyed everything he created. Now, in the climax to the saga begun with The Seer King and The Demon King, Laish Tenedos returns from the grave to command hellish demons, not to free his people, but to gain absolute power.

To Visit the Queen To Visit the Queen by Diane Duane
a novel excerpt
    "Patel went slowly up the gray concrete stairs to the elevated Docklands Light Railway station at Island Gardens; he took them one at a time, rather than two or three at once as he usually did. Nothing was wrong with him: it was morning, he felt energetic enough—a good breakfast inside him, everything okay at home, the weather steady enough, cool and gray but not raining. However, the package he was carrying was heavy enough to pull a prizefighter's arms out of their sockets."

Patriarch's Hope Patriarch's Hope by David Feintuch
a novel excerpt
   "'. . . and so we gather to commission UNS Galactic, the greatest ship ever built, the pinnacle of human interstellar endeavor.'
   Surreptitiously, to avoid the attention of the pulsing holocams focused on the dais, I eased my aching leg, fixing a glazed stare at Admiral Dubrovik's broad back and the crowded London auditorium beyond. At my left Derek Carr smiled in sympathy."

Effendi Effendi by Jon Courtenay Grimwood
a novel excerpt
   "'Of course,' said Ashraf Bey. 'We could just kill the defendant and be done with it...' He let his suggestion hang in the cold air. And when no one replied, Raf shrugged. 'Okay,' he said.
    'Maybe not.'"

Pashazade Pashazade by Jon Courtenay Grimwood
a novel excerpt
   "The sound of fountains came in stereo. A deep splash from the courtyard below and a lighter trickle from the next room, where open arches cut in a wall over-looking the courtyard had marble balustrades stretched between matching pillars.
    It was that kind of house."

The Naked God The Naked God by Peter F. Hamilton
a novel excerpt
   Using antimatter weapons and Possessed sentient ships, the newly undead souls led by the resurrected Al Capone is expanding his empire in this realm. The satanist messiah Quinn Dexter also stalks the Earth. Dexter doesn't want heaven, or conquest, or simple revenge. He wants to conjure the Night's Dawn -- the absolute entropic annihilation of all Creation, all space/time, all everything.
    Meanwhile, two starships containing the living have entered unexplored space. Joshua Calvert, master of the Lady Macbeth, and Edenist pilot Syrinx are searching for a last hope, a miracle in the cosmic haystack. All they know is that 15,000 years ago the alien Tyrathca received a single message from somewhere beyond Orion but there's no clue to what the message really means.

Midnight Robber Midnight Robber by Nalo Hopkinson
a novel excerpt
   "Come Jour Ouvert morning, Tan-Tan was afraid to even self get out of bed. She had asked her mother the rules of the fight over and over till Ione got fed up and refused to repeat them any more. Tan-Tan knew the rules in her own head by now. As she opened her eyes she started to recite them like a mantra. Daddy would be all right..."

A Cavern of Black Ice Excerpt: A Cavern of Black Ice by J.V. Jones
As the first book in a trilogy, it hints at the true story that will drive them all. While the plot of ancient dark magics is central to the tale, the author does a wonderful job of keeping the reader just a bit unsure of who is key to the story and which characters are going to survive its telling.

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon Excerpt: The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King
Stephen King says this story came to him during a baseball game, when he was supposed to be enjoying some R&R after completing two books. Eventually he abandoned his vacation to complete one of his most compact novels in years -- the story of a nine-year-old girl who gets lost in the woods, and soon discovers she's not as alone as she thinks she is. Here is a 2,800-word excerpt, courtesy of Scribner.

Warchild Warchild by Karin Lowachee
a novel excerpt
   "You didn't see their faces from where you hid behind the maintenance grate. Smoke worked its fingers through the tiny holes and stroked under your nose and over your eyes, forcing you to stifle breaths, to blink, and to cry. Foot-steps followed everywhere that smoke went on the deck— heavy, violent footsteps—and everywhere they went, shouts went with them. Screams. Pulse fire. "
Read the excerpt, answer the questions, win a prize. Easy, eh?

The Grand Design The Grand Design by John Marco
a novel excerpt
   "The night burned a pulsing orange."
   "General Vorto, supreme commander of the legions of Nar, stood on a hillside beneath the red flash of rockets, safely distant from the bombardment hammering the walls of Goth. It was a cold night with frost in the air. He could see the crystaline snow in the sky and on his eyelashes. The northern gusts blew the battle rockets up and over the city and bent the fiery plumes of flame cannons..."

The Secret of Life The Secret of Life by Paul J. McAuley
a novel excerpt
     "All human life is here.
     It is almost midnight, yet dozens of barges still plough the black waters of the Huangpu Jiang, hazard lights winking red and green, passing either side of streamlined robot cargo clippers that swing at anchor in the midstream channel. The tall white cylinders of the clippers' rotary sails are fitfully illuminated by fireworks bursting above a rock concert in an amphitheatre on the Pudong shore, close to the minaret of the Oriental Pearl TV Tower."

Ringworld's Children Ringworld's Children by Larry Niven
a novel excerpt
"   Louis Wu woke aflame with new life, under a coffin lid.
   Displays glowed above his eyes. Bone composition, blood parameters, deep reflexes, urea and potassium and zinc balance: he could identify most of these. The damage listed wasn't great. Punctures and gouges; fatigue; torn ligaments and extensive bruises; two ribs cracked; all relics of the battle with the Vampire protector, Bram. All healed now. The 'doc would have rebuilt him cell by cell. He'd felt dead and cooling when he climbed into the Intensive Care Cavity."

The Standing Dead The Standing Dead by Ricardo Pinto
a novel excerpt
"Beneath the imperious gaze of the funerary colossi of the Chosen, the fires lit by a hundred thousand tributaries formed a trembling field of light on the Plain of Thrones. High above the colossi, on a balcony cut into the cliff enclosing the plain, stood the Ruling Lord of House Suth. He turned his head enough that the eyeslits of his mask shielded his eyes from the dying sun, then surveyed the scene below. Flanked by the immense, towered saurians the barbarians childishly called dragons, the crowd seemed numberless. More than a third were the children brought by tribes from beyond the Commonwealth to pay their flesh tithe."

Night Watch Night Watch by Terry Pratchett
a novel excerpt
    "Sam Vimes sighed when he heard the scream, but he finished shaving before he did anything about it. Then he put his jacket on and strolled out into the wonderful late spring morning. Birds sang in the trees, bees buzzed in the blossom. The sky was hazy though, and thunderheads on the horizon threatened rain later. But for now, the air was hot and heavy. And in the old cesspit behind the gardener's shed, a young man was treading water.
    Well ... treading, anyway."

The Burning Land The Burning Land by Victoria Strauss
a novel excerpt
    "The rush of water caught Gyalo full in the chest. It felt completely real; he gasped and leaped aside before he could stop himself, brushing at his face and clothes. Even as he did, he understood the trick, and straightened up again, angry at himself for being taken in.
    He thought he could see the one who had done it: a skinny postulant with the yellow headband of a trainee Shaper, leaning over the back of a passing parade cart and grinning in Gyalo's direction. Packed in around him, other trainees tossed blessings to the crowd: a shower of spangles, streamers of transparent gauze, a burst of rainbow brilliance..."

Every Inch a King Every Inch a King by Harry Turtledove
an excerpt
"I'm Otto of Schlepsig. Ah, you've heard the name, I see. Yes, I'm that Otto of Schlepsig. Some other people claim to be, but I'm the real one, by the Two Prophets. I'm the one who was King of Shqiperi. I ruled the Land of the Eagle for five whole days.
    No, I wasn't born blueblooded. By my hope of heaven, I wasn't. As a matter of fact, I was born in a barn. Truly. Literally. It was either that or make a mess of my parents' traveling caravan, and my mother—a trouper among troupers—would never have done such a thing."

The Ring of Five Dragons The Ring of Five Dragons by Eric Van Lustbader
an excerpt
"When they were fifteen years old, Giyan and Bartta found a lorg. It was hiding, as lorgs are wont to do, beneath a large flat rock of a golden hue lying like a wart on the belly of a bone-dry gully. Konara Mossa, their Ramahan guardian and teacher, had told them to keep a sharp eye out for lorgs, for lorgs preferred the thin, kuello-fir-scented air that drifted along the shoulders of the Djenn Marre."

Shriek: An Afterword Shriek: An Afterword by Jeff VanderMeer
a novel excerpt
"There came a night so terrible that no one ever dared to name it. There came a night so terrible that I could not. There came a night so terrible that no one could explain it. There came the most terrible of nights. No, that's not right, either. There came the most terrible of nights that could not be forgotten, or forgiven, or even named. That's closer, but sometimes I choose not to revise. Let it be raw and awkward splayed across the page, as it was in life."

The Mansions of the Moon The Mansions of the Moon by Jeff VanderMeer
a story excerpt
    "Once upon a time, in the city of Black in the midst of the Great Desert, there lived a man named Murak Ubu. Murak bred, sold, and butchered goats for a living. He was so good at breeding, selling, and butchering goats, and acquired so many acres of land to do so that he eventually amassed a fortune with far-flung tendrils in a dozen lands."

The Mimic The Mimic by Jeff VanderMeer
a story excerpt
   "Dressed in a black business suit, a mimic appeared among the office workers on the third floor. He set up his computer in a just-abandoned cubicle. The dull hiss of his gray-spackled monitor reflected ghoulishly off his chalky face. He had an odd way of staring at the monitor, with his head cocked to the side. He had wrists and hands pale as the underbelly of a toad. He did not talk much."

City of Saints and Madmen City of Saints and Madmen by Jeff VanderMeer
an excerpt
   "The hall contained the following items, some of which were later catalogued on faded yellow sheets constrained by blue lines and anointed with a hint of mildew:

24 moving boxes, stacked three high. Atop one box stood
1 stuffed black swan with banded blood-red legs, its marble eyes plucked, the empty sockets a shock of outrushing cotton (or was it fungus?), the bird merely a scout for the..."

Circus of the Grand Design Circus of the Grand Design by Robert Freeman Wexler
a novel extract
    "No sunlight, no waning crescent moon. And the wind? The chill, battering wind lay in wait, malevolent, hidden for the moment but ready to strike. Ice crumbled in its path; its onslaught leveled mountains. Not safe here, in this flimsy house-box with its No-heat No-light."

In Golden Blood In Golden Blood by Stephen Woodworth
an excerpt
"Natalie Lindstrom did not recognize the Corps Security agent who followed her to the movie theater that May afternoon: a man not much taller than she, of Southeast Asian Indian extraction, with slick black hair and sideburns. His gray suit seemed to blend chameleonlike into whatever background he passed."

The Quiet Invasion The Quiet Invasion by Sarah Zettel
a novel excerpt
    Everyone wants something from Venus.
    Dr. Helen Failia wants her orbital research city, Venera, to become a permanent Venusian colony. Dr. Grace Meyer wants to vindicate her theory of alien life. Techno-artist Dr. Veronica Hatch wants an inspiration. The U.N. wants to keep space colonies under its control, while covert rebels on Venera want to liberate the Moon and Mars from the U.N.
    All any of them need is a miracle, which is unlikely on an uninhabitable world of lethal heat, deadly pressure, and poison winds. But that's exactly what Venus yields, when a robot probe discovers on its surface a ruined building that promises proof of ancient extraterrestrial life.
    Then the humans are contacted by other, quite living, aliens.

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