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Masterpieces: The Best Science Fiction of the Century

4.22  ·  Rating Details ·  1,076 Ratings  ·  67 Reviews

An overview of the best science fiction short stories of the 20th century as selected and evaluated by critically-acclaimed author Orson Scott Card.

Featuring stories from the genre's greatest authors:

Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Robert A. Heinlein, Ursula K. Le Guin, Ray Bradbury, Frederik Pohl, Harlan Ellison, George Alec Effinger, Brian W. Aldiss, William Gibson &

Hardcover, 422 pages
Published November 1st 2001 by Ace Hardcover
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Dec 23, 2010 Matthew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well, I finally finished it going about 1 story a day. "sandkings," "call me joe," "all you zombies--," "tunesmith," "dark they were, and golden-eyed," "repent harlequin," and "inconstant moon" are probably my favorites in this collection. Overall a wonderful collection. A must read for everyone. I would highly recommend this book to others.

Another compilation book to tackle, another batch of individual reviews. My review of the book overall is subject to change with each story read.

1. "Call me
Feb 12, 2015 Fernando rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Muy buen compilado de la ciencia ficción del siglo XX por Orson Scott Card. Me gustó más por la variedad de los relatos que por su calidad (en algunos casos superlativa, en otros pasable); en ese sentido, logra capturar las sustanciales diferencias de estilo en tres grandes épocas del género: la Edad de Oro (40s y 50s), la Nueva Ola (60s y parte de los 70s) y la Generación Mediática (último cuarto del siglo XX). Parecen estar presentes la mayor parte de los grandes (aunque desconocía a buena par ...more
Dore' Ripley
Apr 22, 2012 Dore' Ripley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Orson Scott Card, Ender's Game, collects together a fine group of short science fiction from the Golden Age, New Wave and Media Generation. New readers of the genre will get a good grounding in Golden Age science fiction with stories like Poul Anderson's "Call Me Joe," a story that explores what it means to be human (literally. Theodore Sturgeon's "A Saucer of Loneliness" presents an updated look at a message in a bottle.

The New Wave contains Harlan Ellison's classic "Repent, Harlequin!" Said
Jesse Jones
Sep 11, 2014 Jesse Jones rated it it was amazing
I love this book. It was used as one of the textbooks for a sci-fi literature class I took and it has been one of my favorites ever since. My copy is taped together with love due to the amount of travel it's gone through with me.

It contains masterworks by some of the best writers in sci-fi and is a great starting point for finding your next favorite author or book.

There are so many great stories here that I have repeated to many friends in rote fashion - they are that memorable.

I can't recomme
May 31, 2016 Gary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting ideas, describing our mental environment in ways that did not exist before and must be explained. These worlds aren't the world we know without thinking; these are ones where people must first strive to survive and then see what kind of people they are.
Kelly Danahy
I had never really read much science fiction before this, much less enjoyed short stories. I guess I've always imagined the genre as the stereotype: the cold, hard-calculated science that I couldn't possibly comprehend. Instead, I found that there is variety, soft and hard, some dealing with music, some with loneliness, etc. This book has a good selection of stories that has made me want to dive further into science fiction. I had to read a few stories out of this for class: I ended up reading t ...more
Dec 05, 2016 Andrew rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Sandkings by George R.R. Martin was terrifying.
Mar 27, 2016 Benjamin rated it really liked it
I tracked down this volume in order to find Heinlein's classic "All You Zombies--"; it did not disappoint. I was also very pleased to find a story I thought about often, despite forgetting who wrote it or when exactly I read it. I will not forget Le Guin's The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas again.

Card's introductory blurbs were, for the most part, a lackluster litany of the each story's author's works. Perhaps he took the book's title to heart and thought there no other way the interested reader
Jun 29, 2013 Ris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Masterpieces is, as the title suggests, a collection of science fiction short stories from the 20th century. The book breaks the stories down into eras: the Golden Age, New Wave, and the Media Generation.

Card's anthology does a very good job at sampling from both across eras and across sub-genres of science fiction in order to provide the introductory reader with a wide variety. There's both hard, extremely technological science fiction short stories alongside dystopian and social commentaries.
Rafal Jasinski
Zbiór opowiadań arcymistrzów science-fiction, choć niekoniecznie "arcydzieł", zarówno gatunku, jak i dorobku poszczególnych pisarzy. "Selekcjoner" podszedł do sprawy dość subiektywnie i posłużył się kluczem doboru raczej mniej powszechnie znanych - ale, zważywszy na nagrody, jakimi je obsypano, uznanych - krótkich form mistrzów fantastyki naukowej. Oczywiście, gusta pozostają gustami, ale w kilku przypadkach do zaszczytnego miana arcydzieł, niektórym z zamieszczonych tu opowiadań, co nieco, brak ...more
Dec 19, 2009 Todd rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Extremely uneven book. The knowledgeable reader can probably sense the uneveness by scanning the table of contents and will be able to fairly predict which stories are masterpieces and which ones aren't.

The collection is divided into three eras of stories and for my money, the middle or 'New Wave' era comes off the best- Every story in this section is great, but particularly the ones by Ellison, Aldiss, Le Guin and Niven. The beginning section or 'The Golden Age' has quite a few grand stories as
A very worthy collection of science fiction stories - most of which I'm slightly ashamed to say I hadn't read previously, given how many classics are present - ranging from 'The Golden Age' up to more contemporary stories. In any anthology, there are going to be hits and misses for most readers, and this was no exception for me, but the hits made it well worth the time invested, and there were definitely more hits than misses.

The stories are separated into three chronological sections: 'The Gol
Dec 28, 2012 Dan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-it
That is quite the grandiose title. Unfortunately, the book does not live up to it. There are definitely some great stories in here. My favorite is probably "The Road Not Taken" by Harry Turtledove. But there are also plenty of so-so stories. There were a couple that were awful. I had to force myself to finish those. The introduction to each story is a very dry history of the author's works that adds nothing to the enjoyment of the book. In looking back over the list of stories in this book, I wa ...more
Jul 06, 2014 Osmyska rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014, sf
The Golden Age
Poul Anderson - Call me Joe ***** perfect!
Robert A. Heinlein - All You Zombies—" ***
Lloyd Biggle, Jr. - Tunesmith ***
Theodore Sturgeon - A Saucer of Loneliness***
Isaac Asimov - Robot Dreams ***
Edmond Hamilton - Devolution ****
Arthur C. Clarke - The Nine Billion Names of God ***
James Blish - A Work of Art *
Ray Bradbury - Dark They Were, and Golden-Eyed ***

The New Wave
Harlan Ellison - "Repent, Harlequin!" Said the Ticktockman **
R.A. Lafferty - Eurema's Dam **
Robert Silverberg - Pass
Dec 26, 2011 R.I.N rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-books, sf, 2013
Dla fanów sf być może pozycja obowiązkowa, a może lista opowiadań, które i tak wszyscy już dawno znają. Dla mnie, jako fanki fantasy było to ciekawe doświadczenie. Poleciłabym każdemu fanowi fantasy, który dotrze do momentu, w którym nie chce się ograniczać do gatunku lub najzwyczajniej w świecie zapragnie drobnej odmiany. Poleciłabym nawet osobom, które nie mają z tymi dwoma gatunkami nic wspólnego, jako że niektóre opowiadania dotyczą problemów tak społecznych jak i jednostki - coś co może (ch ...more
Bob Rust
Jun 10, 2016 Bob Rust rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Golden Age
Poul Anderson Call me Joe
Robert A. Heinlein "All You Zombies—"
Lloyd Biggle, Jr. Tunesmith
Theodore Sturgeon A Saucer of Loneliness
Isaac Asimov Robot Dreams
Edmond Hamilton Devolution
Arthur C. Clarke The Nine Billion Names of God
James Blish A Work of Art
Ray Bradbury Dark They Were, and Golden-Eyed
The New Wave
Harlan Ellison "Repent, Harlequin!" Said the Ticktockman
R.A. Lafferty Eurema's Dam
Robert Silverberg Passengers
Frederik Pohl The Tunnel under the World
Brian W. Aldiss Wh
Wesley Fox
I skipped a couple stories but read about 85% of the total anthology. There are about a half dozen classics that I'd either read or knew about, plus another five or six that were new to me and excellent. George RR Martin's Sandkings, Larry Niven's Inconstant Moon, and Ray Bradbury's Dark skinned and Golden-Eyed were among my favorites. Asimov and Clarke also have excellent stories here.

Then there were a few stories that were absolutely awful, and could barely be considered sci-fi. Some lacked an
Dec 28, 2013 Laura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: laura
There is a vast disconnect between the tenor of Orson Scott Card's novels and what he clearly enjoys in short stories. The stories in this collection are almost unilaterally depressing. Some off them are good, but all are depressing.

I made it about halfway through the comprehensive collection of Card's own short stories before I gave up in the face of the horror, sadness and hopelessness found within. Maybe he directs all of his efforts in "literature" toward the short story form, but I maintai
Feb 01, 2015 Josh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I will keep this short & simple. Since we know that any collection, of anything, is always open to debate. This book delivers exactly what it promises. You may feel Orson Scott Card could have picked some different stories for this anthology, but, it does give you some of the greatest authors to ever write science fiction & some of the most remarkable examples of the field. I have my own opinions on which are the greatest. Also, on which ones are my favorites (greatest or not). However, ...more
Joseph Schlesinger
Damn you, Neil Gaiman! You got me interested in R. A. Lafferty, so my search for some of his stories led me to this anthology, which includes "Eurema's Dam." Other prominent sci-fi & fantasy writers of the 20th century are well represented. I knew this was a classy collection when I skimmed the table of contents & saw Robert Heinlein's "All You Zombies--," one of my favorite short stories. (But not THE favorite--that would be Joseph Conrad's "Youth," tho' that's hardly science fiction.) ...more
John S
Feb 21, 2011 John S rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: college, sci-fi
Overall, its very good collection of stories. Unfortunately, like most collections, there are definitely going to be a few stories that will not enjoy at all. A few of my favorites in here are Harry Turtledove's "The Road Not Taken," Gibson and Swanwick's "Dogfight," Harlan Ellison's "'Repent, Harlequin!' Said the Ticktockman," and Asimov's "Robot Dreams." In my opinion, the collection is worth the price for those stories alone. If you like reading science fiction or short stories at all you'll ...more
I've read some of the short stories in this anthology, but not all of them. The book has to go back to the library for now. I'll come back and finish the book at another time.

Short Stories read so far:

"Call Me Joe" by Poul Anderson (****) - Reminds me of the movie "Avatar".
"All You Zombies-" by Robert A. Heinlein (****)
"Tunesmith" by Lloyd Biggle, Jr. (***)
"A Saucer of Loneliness" by Theodore Sturgeon (**) - I didn't care for this one at all.
"Robot Dreams" by Isaac Asimov (****)
"Sandkings" by Ge
Jun 18, 2007 Andrea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a great collection of science fiction short stories. I liked almost all of them, and they were all thought-provoking. Some were clever, some were scary, some were funny, some were only too true. George R. R. Martin's "Sandkings" stands out as one of the ones that most affected me. Heinlein's "All You Zombies" is a classic that I think I had read before, or at least heard about. "Tunesmith" and "Tourists" I also liked. Anyone who has even the tiniest smidgen of interest in science fictio ...more
Mar 01, 2008 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Some of the stories in this book are outstanding and deserve the title "Masterpieces," but some of them aren't quite at that level. Mostly I feel like this book is a "who's who" of Science Fiction, which sometimes presents the author's best story, but others just feel like a story by an influential author. The introductions are informative, and tell us why we are reading anything by this author, but some of the stories didn't feel worthy of the title of the book.
Michael Wertz
Maybe not my idea of all "Masterpieces" nor "The Best Science Fiction of the 20th Century". Nonetheless, an excellent read. I was delighted to find an old favorite of mine: The Sand Kings" by George R.R. Martin. I'll bet you kiddies thought he only wrote fantasy like "Game of Thrones". I gave only three stars, well, in all honesty, because I kind-of expected better from Orson Scott Card; but, as is said: Hey man, that's just YOUR opinion!
Definitely a mixed bag. The first two sections covering the Golden Age and New Wave had quite a few solid choices that exemplified those eras well, but many of the Media Generation titles were weak, comparatively speaking - in some cases the stories came across as unfinished, or at least not as tightly written as the selections for the previous two parts. So overall I would recommend this collection as a good intro to the first two eras only.
A pretty good collection of short stories. Normal collections have a lot of ups and downs, and it's fortunate if you find more than two stories you like a lot. Since this is supposed to be some of the best, it should have more and does. All of the stories are readable.

Card's introductions to each author are a bit long and dry, but if you're interested in tracking down more material from that author they should be quite useful.
As Anthologies go, it's quite good. I loved the first two parts of the book. Several of the stories were quite good, and reminded me why I like science fiction in the first place. Alas, I did not get to the third, more recent section of the book (i.e. more recent authors), so I have to put 'stopped reading' on my status, but I did finish many of them. And liked them.
Dec 12, 2010 Erik rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Out....standing! My favs here: “Call me Joe” “All You Zombies” “Tunesmith” “A Saucer of Loneliness” “Robot Dreams” “A Work of Art” “Dark They Were and golden Eyed” “The One Who Walk Away From Omelas” “Inconstant Moon” “Dogfight” “Snow” “Rat” “Bears Discover Fire” “Tourists.” Add Dozois 20 years of Best of the Best to this and you have some great stuff.
Nov 03, 2016 Charl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: y2016
Agreed. The majority of these are masterpieces, and the only one that didn't thrill me was because of a scientific error that we simply didn't know about when it was written.

I'd read most of them other places, and enjoyed the others just as much as the ones I was familiar with. A must-read for any fan of the genre.
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Orson Scott Card is the author of the novels Ender's Game, Ender's Shadow, and Speaker for the Dead, which are widely read by adults and younger readers, and are increasingly used in schools.
Besides these and other science fiction novels, Card writes contemporary fantasy (Magic Street, Enchantment, Lost Boys), biblical novels (Stone Tables, Rachel and Leah), the American frontier fantasy series Th
More about Orson Scott Card...

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