Overall an excellent introduction to (mostly American) magazine science fiction from the beginnings of 'Weird Tales' and it's stars HP Lovecraft and C...moreOverall an excellent introduction to (mostly American) magazine science fiction from the beginnings of 'Weird Tales' and it's stars HP Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith in the 20s up through the 1970s and the continuing dominance of 'The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction' in the field. The selection is excellent overall, there are few if any duds here, but I do have a couple of caveats, namely that the book might have done better to have chosen some longer stories in the case of certain writers (Lovecraft and Sturgeon are not at their best here IMO with their quite short contributions), and the selections overall are just a might too familiar. Do HPL, Ray Bradbury and Shirley Jackson really need to be here at all? Given the stated restriction to magazine fantasy, perhaps a selection of lesser-known, even forgotten names might have been of more use.
But that's the POV of someone who is fairly cognizant of the history of the field; were I a little less knowledgeable, this would probably deserve a 5th star. Many of the stories are unquestionably classics -- my own faves are probably "Piper at the Gates of Dawn" by Richard Cowper and Harlan Ellison's masterpiece "Jeffty is Five."(less)
A good introductory book for young burgeoning SF/fantasy fans, as I was when I received this book for Christmas over 30 years ago as an 11-year-old. S...moreA good introductory book for young burgeoning SF/fantasy fans, as I was when I received this book for Christmas over 30 years ago as an 11-year-old. Stories by Anne McCaffrey -- an original Pern story which I'm not sure has been republished -- and lesser-known names like Arthur Tofte, Raymond F Jones and the late lamented Terry Carr, himself a great anthologizer. My favorite story, which has stuck with me all of these years, is "The Mysteious Gem" by one Claire Edwin Street, a complete unknown to me, about a couple of kids who accidentally pick up the title stone and find themselves caught up in an attempted alien invasion. Evocative black and white line drawings throughout by Rod Ruth; intro by Ted Sturgeon.(less)
The stories and authors presented in this anthology have long since faded into obscurity; even the great writer that is noted in the title is now litt...moreThe stories and authors presented in this anthology have long since faded into obscurity; even the great writer that is noted in the title is now little more than a footnote in English literature, at least if one looks at American bookshelves. But if one is interested in the early history of the genre that Wells helped to popularize, it is probably worth looking out for this out-of-print volume, which contains much in the same vein that wells was mining, if little of bears anything like the stamp of his genius. Disaster and future-war stories are commonplace; the last few stories in the book are a whole cycle by Fred M White about different ways in which London might be destroyed. Lost worlds and undiscovered races are also present here, as are a few trips around a fanciful solar system. Little in the way of editorial comments here; virtually the whole volume is taken up by the stories, presented in close 2-column type with their original illustrations from the magazines that published them (mostly The Strand or Pearsons). A nice companion piece to Sam Moskowitz's "Science Fiction by Gaslight"; between the two books all but the most dedicated will probably be satiated on Victorian SF.(less)
I don't think this was the very first SF anthologoy published in the USA -- I believe there was a Pocket paperback original a couple of years earlier,...moreI don't think this was the very first SF anthologoy published in the USA -- I believe there was a Pocket paperback original a couple of years earlier, and Groff Conklin's 'The Best of Science Fiction' came out the same year (1946) -- but it remains the best-known and best-loved early example. It's easy to see why; 1000 pages of extremely well-chosen stories from the early years of the "Golden Age", 1937-1945, by virtually every big-name American writer in the field. It's all from the magazines, mostly "Astounding", and nearly every story and writer featured went on to become classics in the field. Sadly, in 2008, both the anthology and even some of the writers within are now fading into history; the book is apparently out of print as I write this. It can be easily found on eBay or in used book stores though; I'd plump for a copy of the Modern Library edition from the 50s, a hardcover with thin paper but nice heft and quality. This is one that you'll want to keep.
Personal favorite stories: van Vogt, "The Weapon Shop"; Campbell Jr, "Who Goes There"; Asimov, "Nighfall"; Heinlein, "Requiem"; van Vogt, "Black Destroyer"; Del Rey, "Nerves". I still haven't gotten through every story, so I expect that list to grow.(less)