Adrift on the Sea of Ruins: Volume 1 (Apollo Quartet)
WINNER OF THE 2013 BSFA AWARD
When a nuclear war breaks out and the nations of the Earth are destroyed, it maroons a group of astronauts on the Moon. Using the "torsion field generator", they hope to find an alternate Earth that did not suffer nuclear armageddon. But once they do, how will they return home? They have one Lunar Module,. which can carry only four astronauts into lunar orbit...
The Eye With Which The Universe Beholds Itself: Volume 2 (Apollo Quartet)
For fifteen years, Earth has had a scientific station on an exoplanet orbiting Gliese 876, humanity’s only presence outside the Solar System. But a new and powerful telescope at L5 can detect no evidence of Phaeton Base, even though it should be able to do so. So the US has sent Colonel Bradley Elliott, USAF, to investigate. Twenty years before, Elliott was the first, and to date only, man to land on the Martian surface. What he discovered there gave the US the stars, but it might also be responsible for the disappearance of Phaeton Base…
Then Will The Great Ocean Wash Deep Above: Volume 3 (Apollo Quartet)
It is April 1962. The Korean War has escalated and the US is struggling to keep the Russians and Chinese north of the 38th parallel. All the men are away fighting, but that doesn't mean the Space Race is lost. NASA decides to look elsewhere for its astronauts: the thirteen women pilots who passed the same tests as the original male candidates. These are the Mercury 13: Jerrie Cobb, Janey Hart, Myrtle Cagle, Jerri Sloan, Jan Dietrich, Marion Dietrich, Bernice Steadman, Wally Funk, Sarah Gorelick, Gene Nora Stumbough, Jean Hixson, Rhea Hurrle and Irene Leverton. One of these women will be the first American in space. Another will be the first American to spacewalk. Perhaps one will even be the first human being to walk on the Moon. Beneath the surface of the Atlantic Ocean, deep in the Puerto Rico Trench north of San Juan, lies a film bucket from a KH-4 Corona spy satellite. It should have been caught in mid-air by a C-130 from the 6549th Test Group. That didn't happen. So the US Navy bathyscaphe Trieste II must descend twenty thousand feet to retrieve the bucket, down where light has never reached and the pressure is four tons per square inch. But there is more in the depths than anyone had expected, much more. This is not our world. But it very nearly was.
All That Outer Space Allows: Volume 4 (Apollo Quartet)
It is 1965 and Ginny Eckhardt is a science fiction writer. She’s been published in the big science fiction magazines and is friends with many of the popular science fiction authors of the day. Her husband, Walden, has just been selected by NASA as one of the New Nineteen Apollo astronauts… which means Ginny will be a member of the Astronaut Wives Club. Although the realities of spaceflight fascinate Ginny, her genders bars her from the United State space programme. Her science fiction offers little in the way of consolation—but perhaps there is something she can do about that… Covering the years 1965 to 1972, when Walden Eckhardt lifts-off aboard Apollo 15 as the mission’s lunar module pilot, this is Ginny’s life: wife, science fiction writer, astronaut wife… because that is ALL THAT OUTER SPACE ALLOWS.
Apologies for the cutting and pasting, but thought it would do a better job at selling the books than I could. This is my rave of the year. Ian Sales has written 3 novellas (under 100 pages each) and one novellette (around the 200 page mark) detailing 4 different alternative histories of the Apollo missions. And quite frankly the books blew me away (especially the fourth volume which was astounding.) Incredibly intelligent sci fi, and brilliantly written. The speculative 'what ifs' are quite fascinating. Especially the final volume which explores an alternative time line where sci fi was considered a 'woman's genre of fiction' (say like romance fiction is), and all the major writers are female, and 90% of the readership is believed to be female, as sci fiction is simply the only way women in 1960s America can experience the stars. Rave over, go and read the books and make up your own minds.