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Overture—Adagio Misterioso THE NEUROSURGEON peeled the thin surgical gloves from his hands as the nurse blotted the perspiration from his forehead for the last time after the long, grueling hours. "They're waiting outside for you, Doctor," she said quietly. The neurosurgeon nodded wordlessly. Behind him, three assistants were still finishing up the operation, attending to the little finishing touches that did not require the brilliant... more...

ark knew he shouldn't stop. He was already late for Jennette's birthday party, but the sight of three people out in the open like this was too much. He pulled around and hovered over the undulating flow of glassy magma, frozen on its way to the long, dry Potomac river bed, with its shallow caverns and fascinating mile-wide potholes. Just under an overhanging cliff of half-vitrified soil were two cars, obviously damaged. The three men were... more...

Strange how often the Millennium has been at hand. The idea is peace on Earth, see, and the way to do it is by figuring out angles. When Gelsen entered, he saw that the rest of the watchbird manufacturers were already present. There were six of them, not counting himself, and the room was blue with expensive cigar smoke. "Hi, Charlie," one of them called as he came in. The rest broke off conversation long enough to wave a casual greeting at... more...

Anders lay on his bed, fully dressed except for his shoes and black bow tie, contemplating, with a certain uneasiness, the evening before him. In twenty minutes he would pick up Judy at her apartment, and that was the uneasy part of it. He had realized, only seconds ago, that he was in love with her. Well, he'd tell her. The evening would be memorable. He would propose, there would be kisses, and the seal of acceptance would, figuratively... more...

It was a very different thing, Algernon Weaver decided, actually to travel in space. When you read about it, or thought about it in terms of what you read, it was more a business of going from one name to another. Algol to Sirius. Aldebaran to Epsilon Ceti. You read the names, and the descriptions that went with them, and the whole thing—although breathtaking in concept, of course, when you really stopped to meditate on it—became... more...


n their ship just beyond the orbit of Mars the two aliens sat looking at each other. "No," Riuku said. "I haven't had any luck. And I can tell you right now that I'm not going to have any, and no one else is going to have any either. The Earthmen are too well shielded." "You contacted the factory?" Nagor asked. "Easily. It's the right one. The parking lot attendant knows there's a new weapon being produced in there. The waitress at the Jumbo... more...

he Ship dove into Earth's sea of atmosphere like a great, silver fish. Inside the ship, a man and woman stood looking down at the expanse of land that curved away to a growing horizon. They saw the yellow ground cracked like a dried skin; and the polished stone of the mountains and the seas that were shrunken away in the dust. And they saw how the city circled the sea, as a circle of men surround a water hole in a desert under a blazing sun.... more...

The Chief Officer of Scientific Services, Information and Coordination was a somewhat misleading and obscure title, and Dr. Sherman Hockley who held it was not the least of those whom the title misled and sometimes obscured. He told himself he was not a mere library administrator, although he was proud of the information files built up under his direction. They contained the essence of accumulated knowledge found to date on Earth and the... more...

n the morning of June 15th, Guy Burckhardt woke up screaming out of a dream. It was more real than any dream he had ever had in his life. He could still hear and feel the sharp, ripping-metal explosion, the violent heave that had tossed him furiously out of bed, the searing wave of heat. He sat up convulsively and stared, not believing what he saw, at the quiet room and the bright sunlight coming in the window. He croaked, "Mary?" His wife... more...

The silver needle moved with fantastic speed, slowed when it neared the air shell around Earth, then glided noiselessly through the atmosphere. It gently settled to the ground near a wood and remained silent and still for a long time, a lifeless, cylindrical, streamlined silver object eight feet long and three feet in diameter. Eventually the cap end opened and a creature of bright blue metal slid from its interior and stood upright. The figure... more...