John Herbert Varley was born on August 9, 1947 in Austin, Texas, USA. In the mid-1970s, John Varley started publishing science fiction stories and among them there were the first of the Eight Worlds series, a future history of the solar system marked by the invasion of Earth by an alien species. These invaders intend to protect the Earth’s cetaceans from the effects of human activities and for this reason destroy the infrastructures built on Earth. Most humans flee to colonize the rest of the solar system and only a few tribes remain on Earth living as primitives.
In the late 1970s, John Varley also began the Gaea trilogy, composed of “Titan” (1979), “Wizard” (1980) and “Demon” (1984). The story is focused on a gigantic wheel-shaped artificial habitat populated by strange living species created by an alien intelligence. In this series, the author used various elements of the fantasy genre but all have a scientific explanation.
Often John Varley has been compared to Robert A. Heinlein for the themes of many of his stories such as personal freedom and sexuality. The resemblances are particularly visible in novels such as “The Steel Beach” and the Thunder and Lightning series, inspired by Heinlein’s juveniles.
The novel “Lest Darkness Fall” by L. Sprague de Camp was published for the first time in 1941.
Martin Padway is an American archeologist visiting Rome. One day in 1938 he’s visiting the Pantheon when a strong storm starts and is almost hit by a lightning strike. Stunned, he slowly becomes aware that the people around him are strangely dressed and speak in an almost incomprehensible manner in a language other than Italian.
Recovered from dizziness, Martin Padway tries to figure out what happened and, asking for the date in the Latin spoken by the people he meets, finds out he’s in Rome in 535 A.D. during the reign of King Thiudahad. He has no way of returning to his time so he has to try to survive by exploiting his modern knowledge with the awareness that Italy is about to be invaded by Emperor Justinian’s army.
The novel “Kiteworld” by Keith Roberts was published for the first time in 1985 by fixing-up some stories published previously.
The Badlands are watched by the Corps of the Observers, who uses Kites to address the possible dangers that might threaten the Realm. There are many legends about who or what lives in the Badlands and it’s difficult to understand what’s true about them. Airships patrol those areas but encounters with their inhabitants are rare.
According to the Church Variant, the Badlands are inhabited by demons and not conforming to the will of the priests constitutes a sin. The relationships between Kite Pilots and the Church Variant are not always easy and there are religious fundamentalist factions that make the situation more complicated.
In 1982, Keith Roberts published the short story “Kitemaster”, which won the British Science Fiction Award as the best short story of the year. It introduced Kiteworld and in subsequent years the author added other stories that he then fixed-up to form the novel “Kiteworld”.
The novel “The Feast of the Drowned” by Stephen Cole was published for the first time in 2006.
A British Navy ship sank under mysterious circumstances in the North Sea and all its crew members died. Rose Tyler goes to find her old friend Keisha, whose brother Jay was part of the ship’s crew. The Tenth Doctor accompanies her and becomes curious about that strange event.
After the Doctor goes to get something to eat, Jay appears to Keisha and Rose and asks her sister to reach her before disappearing. Meanwhile, the Doctor finds out that an abnormal number of people are suffering from fainting and when told about the strange appearance decides to ask Mickey to do some research. The next stage of the investigation is on the banks of the river Thames where the wreckage of the sunken ship was carried.
The novel “The Croning” by Laird Barron was published for the first time in 2012.
Don Miller is a geologist who sometimes travels to various countries along with his wife, anthropologist Michelle Mock. During one of these trips, Don has reason to believe that Michelle ha disappeared but trying to find her almost gets killed. He survives but remembers very little of his ordeal.
Don and Michelle’s life seems overall normal and yet some events are weird to say the least. In his old age, Don tries to put together the pieces of a strange puzzle but meddling with certain things can be dangerous and death is only one of the possible consequences but not necessarily the worst.