Masters of Science Fiction

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Centipede Press started a new collector series in 2016, choosing cover artists Jim & Ruth Keegan to set the scene, and we love these books, huge, important and great looking! These are all signed limited editions, typically by the artists and the introductory writer.

What you’re holding in your hands is part of a science fiction revolution. James Patrick Kelly is much more than an award-winning author. He’s an SF visionary. His writing has redefined the cyberpunk genre, with a uniquely edgy, outré style. This book is a literal treasure trove of Kelly’s most memorable stories and novellas. Here you’ll see classic science fiction blended with New Age technology — and an unparalleled understanding of human psychology.

“Think Like a Dinosaur” takes us on a troubling, sometimes terrifying interstellar journey, as we track a young woman’s transformation into an alien life-form, with some unexpected results. “The Last Judgment” is a startlingly original meld of noir and cyberpunk, as a tough private eye gets embroiled in a world dominated by a race of robots. Kelly also adds some murderous extra-terrestrials to the mix. In “Ten To The Sixteenth To One,” it’s 1962, and a young science fiction fan is shoring up his mundane world with comic books and pulp magazines — until he’s visited by a creature that will alter the fate of the human race. “Daemon” is a piece of first-person fiction, in which Kelly himself is the lead character, attending a book signing and confronted by a fan from Hell. In “Going Deep,” Kelly explores teen-age rebellion in outer space, with a compelling, complex, and cloned heroine whose talent for mind-melds makes texting look antiquated. “Mr. Boy” is Peter Cage, who’s been surgically altered to remain forever young. Ever wish you were twelve years old again? Eternal youth isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

James Patrick Kelly has won the Hugo, Nebula and Locus awards; his fiction has been translated into twenty-two languages. He writes a column on the internet for Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine and is on the faculty of the Stonecoast Creative Writing MFA Program at the University of Southern Maine. 

Poet, actor, playwright, chess expert, master of fantastic fiction. Fritz Leiber was a true Renaissance Man. His writing crossed all boundaries, from horror to sword and sorcery. This book goes deep into Leiber’s underrated science fiction oeuvre. It’s a comprehensive, page-turning cache that captures Leiber’s thoroughly original style — altogether mystical, beautiful, and sometimes disturbing.

“The Foxholes of Mars” is a literary assault: a frightening, nitro-fueled tale of war on Mars, with one soldier questioning the futility and purpose of the battle against bug-eyed aliens — a distant mirror-image of our own times. “Space-Time for Springers” is told through the glaring eyes of Gummitch, a cat who happens to possess a genius IQ and a voracious appetite for scientific knowledge. “Night Passage” takes us on a dark journey into a Las Vegas where Earthlings and extra-terrestrials mingle and gamble — and where one man takes a moonlit ride with a mystery woman from Mercury, tailed by some very scary pursuers. “The Mutant’s Brother” is a malevolent mix of horror and SF, a tale of identical twins who each carry a frightful chromosome. One of them is also a monstrous serial killer. The literally chilling “A Pail of Air” takes place in an underground nest, where a family fights to survive in a sunless, moonless, post-apocalyptic world where even helium and carbon dioxide become crawling, shapeless threats.

Fritz Leiber was a storyteller and prophet for the ages. His work will never be dated or irrelevant. Treat this book like a crystal ball. These pages chronicle the world to come. You’ve been warned.

The late Richard Wilson’s fifty-year career began with “Retribution” in Oswald Train’s zine Science Adventure Stories and finished in 1988 with “The Name on the Book” in Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone Magazine.

Wilson’s writing was particularly noteworthy for its consistently high level of quality. Whether working at novel length or with short stories, Wilson was incapable of writing anything less than professional, highly polished work.

This volume collects nearly two dozen of his best stories, ranging from “The Hoaxters,” “The Inhabited,” and “Those Idiots from Earth” to his brilliant posthumously-published novella “At the Sign of the Boar’s Head Nebula,” originally slated for The Last Dangerous Visions and kindly made available to us by Harlan Ellison.

“At the Sign of the Boar’s Head Nebula” is considered by several knowledgeable critics of the genre to be the finest single work that Mr. Wilson produced. It is in remarkably good company, joined with two other powerful novellas, “The Far King” and “The Nineteenth-Century Spaceship,” giving Richard Wilson a fair claim to being one of the founding fathers of steampunk.

Along with the stories, this collection includes several highly regarded novelettes, including the Nebula Award-winning “Mother to the World,” “The Story Writer,” “Gone Past,” “If A Man Answers,” “It’s Cold Outside,” “A Man Spekith,” and “See Me Not.” Rounding out the book are a selection of the author’s finest short pieces, making this a cornerstone volume for any serious collection of modern science fiction.

Richard Wilson (1920-1987), a member of the near-legendary Futurians, is considered by many to have been one of the most consistently excellent writers of science fiction. A journalist by trade, Wilson brought to his fiction a crisp economy of style and a precise language in a field often criticized for overly-florid prose. With stories running the gamut from the humorous to bone-chilling horror and everything in between, Richard Wilson could quite accurately be said to have written something for everyone. 

In the 1950s, Kate Wilhelm began publishing science fiction after she read a story in a magazine and said, “I can do better than that.” She quickly proved that she could do better, selling “The Mile-Long Spaceship” to John W. Campbell at Astounding. “You have an easy, pleasing and readable style, one that would, moreover, be a marked change in science fiction,” John W. Campbell wrote to her in 1957. Soon she was invited to attend a Milford writers conference in Pennsylvania and there she met Damon Knight, whom she eventually married.

Working with Knight as he edited his Orbit anthology series,  Kate Wilhelm came into her own as a writer, publishing stories that grounded their extrapolations in strong naturalistic depictions of the here-and-now. In tales such as “Ladies and Gentlemen, This Is Your Crisis” and “Baby, You Were Great,” she demonstrated her facility with speculation and science-fictional ideas, while tales like “The Village” and “The Funeral” spoke with great relevance to social and political matters. She received a Nebula Award in 1969 for “The Planners,” one of her many well-crafted stories of scientific inquiry. Kate Wilhelm once said she didn’t set out to cross genre lines with her fiction, she just had a blind spot when it came to genre boundaries. Consequently, her stories often blend elements of mystery, crime, and the supernatural with the scientific rigor of science fiction, and readers never know what to expect when they start to read stories like “The Gorgon Field” or “The Day of the Sharks” or “The Look Alike.” There’s no telling where these characters will take you.     

Many of Kate Wilhelm’s classics tell the tale of a young woman drawn into a web of scientific intrigue, and here you’ll find “The Winter Beach,” “The Fullness of Time,” and “The Bird Cage,” prime examples of this storytelling mode. 
The depth of characterization and the psychological insight in stories like “The Downstairs Room” and “The Infinity Box” firmly established her at the forefront of her generation. 
Over the next five decades, Wilhelm went on to fulfill the promise — many times over — of her first wave of top-flight work. 
With forty-one stories (reprinted from a wide variety of sources), a perceptive introduction by Jack Dann, and an informative afterword by editor John Pelan, these two volumes are troves of reading pleasure for everyone lucky enough to get their hands on them. 

  • Two volume set, over 1,500 pages of Kate Wilhelm’s best science fiction.
  • Introduction by Jack Dann.
  • Cover artworks by Jim & Ruth Keegan.
  • Afterword by John Pelan.
  • Limited to 500 signed and numbered copies.
  • Signed by Jack Dann, Jim & Ruth Keegan, and John Pelan, with a facsimile signature by Kate Wilhelm.