By Miss Read
Taken from A COUNTRY CHRISTMAS, this is the perfect short tale for the festive season.When the Emery family first moved into the village of Fairacre, the locals were not entirely sure what to make of them. With three children, and another on the way, Mrs Emery didn't exactly fit the villagers' idea of a perfect mother. On Christmas morning, with the sunshine catching the frost on the thatched roofs, there is an unexpected knock at the door of the cottage where Miss Margaret Waters and her sister Mary live. And the events which unfold that day ensure a very different Christmas to any either have seen in all their lives...
The Venetian Court
By Charles L. Harness
The Plaintiff, Universal Patents, Inc., was heartless.The judge, Rex "Spider" Speyer was merciless. Ellen Welles' case seemed hopeless.Unless her lawyer could locate the mad creator of FAUST - the robot-inventor who'd given Universal Patents its stranglehold on the world economy - she was sure to die for patent infringement, a capital crime in the twenty-first century.Quentin Thomas, Ellen's lawyer, already knew that the judge was a psychopath, and he quickly learned just how dirty Universal could play...
The Vanished Landscape
By Paul Johnson
Paul Johnson recalls, with warmth and affection, his childhood in the Potteries - and a unique industrial landscape that has now gone for everPaul Johnson, the celebrated historian, grew up in Tunstall, one of the six towns around Stoke-on-Trent that made up `the Potteries'. From an early age he was fascinated by the strange beauty of its volcanic landscape of fiery furnaces belching out heat and smoke. As a child he often accompanied his father - headmaster of the local art school and desperate to find jobs for his students, for this was the Hungry Thirties - to the individual pottery firms and their coal-fired ovens. His adored mother and father are at the heart of this story and his older sisters who, as much as his parents, brought him up. Children made their own amusements to an extent unimaginable today, and his life was extraordinarily free and unsupervised. No door was locked - `Poverty was everywhere but so were the Ten Commandments.' The book ends in 1938 as the 11-year-old author queues at the town-hall for a gas mask.
By Michael Moorcock
This is the story of Ulrich von Bek, a cynical mercenary who sells his skills as a soldier in the wars taking place all over Europe. After the particularly horrific destruction of a city in which he played a role, von Bek decides to desert the military company he was working for and travel alone for awhile before seeking further employment. On his solo journey, he happens upon a castle where he takes refuge with - and then falls in love with - the keeper of the castle, the beautiful Sabrina. It is in this castle that he meets Lucifer, the master of Hell, and finds out that his soul is already destined for Hell. And so, in exchange for his soul, von Bek agrees to go on a quest for Lucifer, namely to find the Cure for the World's Pain. This quest is also known as the Search for the Holy Grail. As von Bek travels around Europe on his impossible quest, he will find himself caught up in wars, politics, intrigue and romance. But he can never forget his purpose - or the terrible bargain he has made with the devil...Contains THE WARHOUND AND THE WORLD'S PAIN and THE CITY IN THE AUTUMN STARS.
Vergil in Averno
By Avram Davidson
Inspired by medieval legends about the poet Vergil, who was revered not only as the author of the Aeneid but also as a powerful necromancer, Davidson embarked on his Vergil Magus series in the '60s with the intriguing novel The Phoenix and the Mirror. In this sequel, Vergil answers a magical summons from Averno, both the wealthiest and the filthiest of cities. The magnates there are worried about the waning and shifting of the natural fires that have fueled their industries and fouled their air. The bare skeleton of plot is fleshed out with an eccentric, wide-ranging series of digressions, reminiscences, dreams and cabalistic glosses, all in a rich, baroque, rhetorical style.
The Valley-Westside War
By Harry Turtledove
Usually, Crosstime Traffic concerns itself with trade. Our world owns the secret of travel between parallel continuums, and we use it to trade for much-needed resources with the worlds next door; preferably without letting them know about any of that parallel-worlds stuff. But in one parallel world, Crosstime Traffic is present, not to trade, but to study what went wrong.In a Los Angeles where nuclear war broke out back in 1967, survival is a matter of neighbourhood versus neighbourhood. When the Westsiders block Sepulveda Pass, the inhabitants of the San Fernando Valley are forced to fight back. With the help of some prewar machine guns, the Valley prevails, and their forces occupy the Westside.In this brutal world, Liz and her family are undercover Crosstime Traffic agents living near the ruins of UCLA. Dan is a soldier in the occupying Valley army. Dan thinks Liz is the most impressive woman he's ever met. Liz thinks she'd better avoid Dan if she wants to protect the mission.To complicate matters, when Dan catches Liz in the UCLA library, he fears she may be a spy for the Westsiders. After all, what reason could anyone have for reading about the Old Times, if not to figure out how to reconstruct old weapons systems?Then a real spy for the Westside government-in-exile shows up at Liz's house...
A Village in Jeopardy
By Rebecca Shaw
Rivalries flare and scandal abounds in bestselling author Rebecca Shaw's sparkling tale of love, loyalty and village life.The villagers of Turnham Malpas are in for a shock. With Sir Ralph now dead, his fortune and title go to newcomer, Johnny Templeton. Johnny could not be more different from his well-loved predecessor, and he soon finds himself in conflict with the long-standing members of Turnham Malpas.Meanwhile, there are two other villagers in crises, but theirs is a much more private issue. Marcus and Alice March have longed for a child for years. But when Alice finally becomes pregnant, there are those in the village who question the child's paternity. After all, Alice has grown very close to Johnny... As gossip begins to circulate, Alice must make the most difficult of decisions - whether to follow her heart or her morals.
By Harry Turtledove
With the arrival of spring, the Emperor Maniakes vows to unleash his battle-hardened troops against the enemy capital, where a hated despot sits arrogantly upon the throne.But from the moment Maniakes reaches the land of the Thousand Cities, he is plagued by a question no one can answer. Where is his nemesis, the ruthless commander whose cavalry no opposing force can withstand? The answer is cataclysmic. In a bold tactical stroke, the enemy general has thrown his bloodthirsty army against the very gates of Videssos itself.Now besieger becomes besieged, as Maniakes struggles to avert total catastrophe...
Veronica Henry - Five Great Novels
By Veronica Henry
Five of Veronica Henry's brilliant novels, together in one collection. The collection comprises:Just a Family AffairMarriage and Other GamesThe Beach HutThe Birthday PartyThe Long Weekend
By Neil Oliver
The Vikings famously took no prisoners, relished cruel retribution, and prided themselves on their blood-thirsty skills as warriors. But their prowess in battle is only a small part of their story, which stretches from their Scandinavian origins to America in the west and as far as Baghdad in the east. As the Vikings did not write their history, we have to discover it for ourselves, and that discovery, as Neil Oliver reveals, tells an extraordinary story of a people who, from the brink of destruction, reached a quarter of the way around the globe and built an empire that lasted nearly 200 years.Drawing on the latest discoveries that have only recently come to light, Neil Oliver goes on the trail of the real Vikings. Where did they emerge from? How did they really live? And just what drove them to embark on such extraordinary voyages of discovery over 1000 years ago? VIKINGS will explore many of these questions for the first time in an epic story of one of the world's great empires of conquest.
By Lucius Shepard
A washed-up actor, a mysterious motel and a Malaysian "woman of power" form the central elements in a riveting account of a rootless man forced to confront the impossible - but very real- demons of his past.
Vampire World 3: Bloodwars
By Brian Lumley
Two monstrous armies stand opposed: Vormulac Unsleep's undead legions out of Turgosheim, and Wratha the Risen's Renegades, masters of the last great aerie of the Wamphyri. The spoils of war will be revenge, territory, and human flesh! And blood, of course - the sweet blood of Sunside's Szgany. For the blood is the life, and when life or land are threatened there's only one course of action for a vampire: battle to the death!Trapped in the middle: Nathan Keogh, Necroscope. And the espers of Earth's E-Branch, Trask and Zek, Goodly and Chung: Guardians of the Gate against a vampire invasion of Earth! The Necroscope holds the keys; he is the only one who can close the Gates to end the crimson carnage of the Bloodwars!But the past holds many a secret, and the future was ever a devious thing!
Vampire World 2: The Last Aerie
By Brian Lumley
Nathan is the new Necroscope!But in the Vampire World the dead won't talk to him. And in the world of men beyond the Hell-lands Gate, there are even worse terrors than the vampires of Starside. Yet that is Nathan's lot: to venture into the world of his father, Earth, there to seek the source of Harry Keogh's awesome talents with which to return to Sunside/Starside, defeat the Wamphyri, and destroy - THE LAST AERIE!Nathan is not alone; Ben Trask and the espers of E-Branch will befriend him even as they befriended his father twenty years ago. But against natural and supernatural forces alike, will even their metaphysical skills suffice to send him home again? And if they do, what then? For in Starside a new vampire walks the night: Lord Nestor Lichloathe of the Wamphyri...Nathan's brother!
By Sheri S. Tepper
Sheri Tepper, one of the foremost science fiction writers in the world, gives us an exciting, evocative and thought-provoking tale where science and magic meet head-on. A group of colonists, waking every few hundred years to see what's been happening on the planet they fled to from a dying Earth, watch as the systems and rules they set in place so long ago become debased and decayed. The corrupt leaders govern by oppression, but technological resources run low and the knowledge of how to replace them is lost in the mists of time. Instead, the power-hungry leaders turn to sorcery of the blackest kind, kindled by pain and despair. And when they launch a religious crusade to wipe out all those who won't conform to the government's ever-more-stringent dictates, not even the original colonists - the new gods - are safe from the ravaging sorcery-fuelled armies of the righteous . . .
Vampire World 1: Blood Brothers
By Brian Lumley
The vampires have been vanquished! Harry Keogh and the armies of the dead have destroyed the evil that once plagued the world. Nathan and Nestor, secret twin sons of the Necroscope and a proud gypsy woman, were children when their father, his humanity poisoned by his fearsome struggles, sacrificed himself to save mankind.Yet there are vampires still, vampires crueller and stranger than any the Necroscope had faced. When these new, merciless killers swoop out of the sky, Nathan and Nestor are men - but they have few of Harry Keogh's miraculous powers.Torn from each other by battle, the sons of the Necroscope journey across the vampire world, exploring its mysteries, each seeking the powerful, terrible vampires, his missing brother...and the woman they both love!
By Lucius Shepard
In a landscape that will exist only for as long as it is imagined, VALENTINE unfolds to reveal the intricacies of the human heart. In South Florida, a hurricane alert waylays a journalist in the coastal town of Piersall. This safe harbour hosts an unlikely reunion, as he miraculously finds himself stranded with a lost love. This chance encounter is merely the first in a chain of events that will again link these estranged lovers to one another. But eventually the suggestion emerges that their love may not be governed by chance alone, but by the ever-bending rules of the imagination. Investigating the nature of their love and the elusive, alienating force that separated them in the past, despite their seemingly boundless passion, this is an erotic valentine of insatiable longing and hope that will make a sensual and entrancing holiday gift.
By Lucius Shepard
The stories gathered here conduct the reader from the wastelands of the near future to the zoned-out bacchanals of Hollywood, from the fevered bordellos of Central America to the hallucinated revels of redneck country, from the broken hears of wandering loners to alluring fantasy realms just beyond the threshold of perception. And when the journey is over, eternal contrasts - of man and woman, bosses and workers, responsibility and escape, conformity and freedom - stand in more powerful definition than ever before...
Vengeance of the Dancing Gods
By Jack L. Chalker
Throckmorton P. Ruddygore, master wizard, had troubles again - but this time, they were partly of his own making. He'd finally beaten the Dark Baron, stripped him of all magical power, and exiled him from Husaquahr to Earth. But he hadn't counted on the Baron's using a computer there to create even more effective spells. Of course, the Baron couldn't use those spells. But the forces of Hell soon sent him a second-rank wizard who could - and a demon in the cellar to amplify the spells' power. And now the Baron was developing a scheme which would surely result in Armageddon before its time! So once again Marge the fairy and Joe the barbarian were called on to do the dirty work. They had to return to their home world and somehow stop the Baron - if they could...
By Tanith Lee
VOLKHAVAAR is a novel of witchcraft and wonders on a world far removed from those we know. Here the gods contend for power - the Dark forces against the Light - and here an entire city and its land is plunged into the shadow of an eil beyond anything conceivable. It is the story of Shaina the slave girl and of Volk the outcast who enslaved himself to cosmic forces to gain total power - and of how they were finally to meet and flash - with an entire world as their prize.
Vault of the Ages
By Poul Anderson
Archaeologists, studying the past, are handicapped by the fact that relics are usually few and in poor condition. Often, one is not even sure where to look for them. Out of such finds, from tombs, ruined cities, swamps, deserts, and any other place where men of the past have left some trace of themselves, the archaeologist tries to build up a picture of these men's lives and civilizations. but there are great gaps in our knowledge and probably always will be. For Instance, we cannot yet read the inscriptions left by the ancient Cretans, and so are in the dark about many features of their high civilization...