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The Big Book of Science Fiction

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  408 ratings  ·  83 reviews
Quite possibly the greatest science fiction collection of all time - past, present and future. What if life was neverending? What if you could change your body to adapt to an alien ecology? What if the pope were a robot? Spanning galaxies and millennia, this must-have anthology showcases classic contributions from H. G. Wells, Arthur C. Clarke, Octavia E. Butler, and Kurt Vonnegut, alongside ...more
Paperback, 1178 pages
Published July 12th 2016 by Vintage
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John Jr. I'd say yes. I can imagine—and so can at least one reviewer—this book being used as a textbook for an SF 101 course.

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Jenny (Reading Envy)
How do you read an anthology? I always buy them and they sit on my shelf. Well I started a few stories from the end and read forward, and at some point will pick another starting point. I'll write tiny reviews of the stories when I finish them. I didn't want to retype the table of contents, but this one is alphabetical by author last name rather than in the order the book has them. Behind a spoiler tag for space.

(view spoiler) ...more
Jan 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017, 2019, 2018

It's been a journey of almost two years at one story per week. Sometimes I let a few stories pile up before reading them all at once, but the overall average rate was one per week. This book is huge, like a telephone book, with telephone book-like pages, so it was a daunting project. And for someone who tends to start things with the best of intentions, but then doesn't finish for whatever reason, I am very happy that I stuck with this short story project
Paul Bryant
Apr 28, 2017 marked it as to-read
The Next 58

Following on from


1968 (continued)
The Dance of the Changer and the Three : Terry Carr
Going Down Smooth : Robert Silverberg
The Comsat Angels : J G Ballard

"Franz Kafka" by Jorge Luis Borges : Alvin Greenberg
The Holland of the Mind : Pamela Zoline
Sundance : Robert Silverberg

Heresies of the Huge God : Brian W Aldiss
The Worm that Flies : Brian W Aldiss
Where No Sun Shines : Gardner Dozois

Jared Millet
After reading the introduction by the editors, Holy Crap am I excited for this anthology. The VanderMeers have got to be the most well-read SF goons on the face of the planet. They appreciate the entirety of the genre, with a breadth that even a lifelong fan like myself hardly knew existed. This is gonna be good.

One year, four months later…

OMG I finished it. That was a fantastic anthology, and it was a monster. 105 stories by 104 authors (William Tenn sneaks in twice). 100 years of stories/>One
Jul 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fans of sci-fi short fiction, Lit profs looking for sci-fi textbook
Full disclosure: I received an ARC of this book on Goodreads giveaways in exchange for my honest opinion. Secondly, I haven't fully read the book yet. That may take me a long time to do, given the enormous size (1178 pages) of this book. Therefore, an update will be forthcoming once I finish the book.

This is an incredible anthology of science fiction. I think all of these works have been previously published, although a number of them are either newly translated into English or have
Jan 31, 2019 rated it liked it
The SpecFic Buddy Reads group read this mammoth anthology starting in January 2017 at a rate of one story per week and just finished it about a week ago in January 2019. It was a long, often frustrating, but voluminous, education on what one pair of really notable editors consider to be important waypoints from the origins of the genre to its most modern antecedents.

Along the way there are some amazing gems, Bloodchild and Story of Your Life among them, but there are also plenty of stories that would b
Lisa Feld
Dec 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
They're not kidding when they call this The Big Book of Science Fiction -- the book is the size of a dictionary, with two columns of text on every page. It is mind-blowingly, wrist-snappingly huge.

But there is a method to this madness. Over the past few years, there's been a great deal of tension in the science fiction community over what constitutes the field's canon. There are those who claim you need a grounding in the (primarily white and male) Golden Age pulp authors to understand the
Loring Wirbel
Feb 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Time was when an ideal collection of sci-fi could be judged solely by its Thud Factor. Monstrous collections would try to include a couple old-masters works by Asimov and Bradbury, some scary new efforts from Sturgeon or Knight, and a few unknown space-opera chestnuts. But then along came the 1980s fragmentation into New Wave, feminist, humanist, absurdist, cyberpunk, ad infinitum, and it became harder and harder to find the monster collection that pleased everyone.

Jeff and Ann Vande
Chris Bauer
Jul 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I'll keep it simple. If you either read much speculative fiction or write, this is kinda a MANDATORY book for you to own. It is a Bible of science fiction short stories and probably weighs as much as a Guttenberg.

I have not had such a sense of accomplishment in finishing a book from cover to cover since I finished reading James Joyce in high school.

So very worth it.
Sep 07, 2016 marked it as to-read
Shelves: short-stories
$25 cover price, marked down at, less 40% off coupon and free shipping = about 1200 pages of sci-fi goodness for less than $9. I've read "The Star" by Arthur C Clarke and "New Rose Hotel" by William Gibson (from back when he was good) and both are excellent. Looking forward to this one.
Apr 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction
This is one of the best science fiction anthologies I've ever read. Not a dud in the bunch. And not the usual stories either.
Dec 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I read this book from cover to cover, first story to last. It was a rewarding quest, and it gives you a sense of the evolution of science fiction, as the stories are arranged roughly chronologically.

One of the really cool things about this anthology is that it includes a selection of stories from many non-english speaking countries. This was probably my first real exposure the Japanese literary science fiction, and I absolutely loved the stories from Japan. But there are many wonderful science
Mike Jansen
Aug 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
A little light reading for the holidays. The first 75% of the book I liked a lot; several stories I read in other anthologies, so a bit like coming home. After that I hit a bit of a snag with stories I just couldn't relate to. Fortunately there were a few gems in there still. A memorable collection.
Joe Backus
May 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Big Book of Science Fiction is a book of marvelous adventures and different opinions. My opinion of the book depends on the story in which I read. If I read a story related to more adventure and philosophy, I enjoy it. If I read a book more about talking and a process, then I start to lose interest. Since there are so many different stories and plots in this book, Im going to review one of my favorites so far called The Star by H.G. Wells. The basic plot of this book is that a dangerous star ...more
Alaa Yusuf
Jan 26, 2019 is currently reading it
I'll read it one story at a time , giving time to devour and enjoy each one as it should be done.
Brandon Carper
Feb 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
If there had been a Sci-Fi lit course in college instead of just Brit, Am, and World, this would have been the textbook and I would have been inspired and flummoxed in similar proportions.
"Sultana's Dream," by Rokheya Shawkat Hossain (1905): 8.25
- wonderfully essentialist feminist tale. I like the complete reversal of oppression rather than gleichberechtigkeit. and you can guess a lot about the authors class and education therefrom. enjoyable nonetheless, esp. the abrupt ending!

"The Doom of Principal City," by Yefim Zozulya (1918): 7
- it's kind of blank vagueness is both asset and detriment, as the former allows it to remain timeless, as we can fill the gap a
Andrew Nick
Jan 29, 2018 is currently reading it
Shelves: library-book
The selection is suspect as there is an obvious feminist, even intersectional, agenda at work here. Nevertheless, the masters are at least nominally represented. But some are notably absent, again, likely for political reasons, like Orson Scott Card.

Learned about the (unfortunate) existence of subgenres like "Humanist" and "Feminist" sci-fi, and others--basically, sci-fi as a commentary on the sociological and otherwise impact of technology, aliens, or other "science-y" stuff. I thereafter/>
Jul 06, 2017 added it
Shelves: read-2017
I can't give this book a rating as I didn't read every single story in it (it was over 1000 pages and frankly some of them just didn't interest me), or I had already read some of them before previously. However, in my mind this is a 5 star collection as a whole. The introduction gave some great history into the sci-fi genre, where it came from, where it is now, and where it's going, and a good short synopsis over the many eras of sci-fi. There was a very conscious effort to fill the collection with many ...more
Susan Marcus
Apr 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Science fiction stories and novels have engaged me since my teens. My hero authors then were Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, and Ursula K. LeGuin. Happily devouring all their works, I was oblivious to the wealth of writings in the genre from dozens of other creative minds. This anthology, edited and annotated by Ann and Jeff Vandermeer, contains sample works, mostly short stories, by those writers I ignored in my youth. Varied in agendae, whether politcal or aesthetic, in tone, imagery, and subj ...more
Dec 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
This anthology turned out to be an educational experience for me as a reader. I would have called myself a sci-fi buff, but it turns out that I am buffed only for sci-fi in the form of short stories that tend toward fantasy or humor or genuine human feeling that just happens to be felt on another planet. Turns out I wasn't all that enthusiastic for the lengthier novelettes or the SCIENCE science fiction.

So I just skipped those, and thoroughly enjoyed the gorgeous "The Story of Your L
Aug 03, 2016 rated it liked it
There's a saying that goes "Quantity has a quality all its own," and I think they decided to go with that in spades. More than 100 short stories from the history of SF. It's a FAT book. I just couldn't get myself to read them all. After reading the first dozen or so, it just wasn't paying off. The old stuff is a walk down memory lane of SciFi, and if you like the OLD stuff, great. It's here. But lots of it just felt moldy and old fashioned. Dated. Almost silly sometimes. So I skipped ahead to th ...more
Jan 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi, short-stories
I got this book to read Ted Chiang's story that the film Arrival is based on. That story (The Story of Your Life) was a great mix of hard sci-fi and human emotion, but I ended up leaving this book on my bedside table for the next month and reading almost half the stories in an 1,100 page anthology. There were great re-reads of stories by Philip K. Dick, JG Ballard and Greg Bear and awesome new finds by Bruce Sterling, Ursula LeGuin and Liu Cixin. Each story is introduced with a one page summary ...more
Nov 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Just got this to read "Story of Your Life" by Ted Chiang and holy shit.

It took me a while to get into the beat/pace of the short tale but after I did, and near the end, I was pretty blown away.

The story was a lot more subtle and mysterious than the movie adaptation too. But both the movie and this story were good in their own right. I do like the story a bit better though.

Kristina Leonard
Aug 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
A must read for lovers of science fiction.
John Jr.
Apr 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf
Science fiction keeps arguing with itself and interested others over what it really is. Potentially, every anthology makes a case for what constitutes SF; this one certainly does. It offers 105 stories, follows chronological order, essentially limits itself to the 20th century, ranges across languages and countries of origin, includes work by women as well as men, and represents widely varying angles of approach, thematic concerns, and stylistic movements. The breadth of its view hits you quickl ...more
Apr 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: review
If science fiction is even remotely of interest to you, this is a veritable treasure trove! 105 stories spanning 1160 pages. Only a couple of authors get to have more than one story, and that means there is a diversity of work that's arguably unparalleled in any collection of this nature. The stated objective of the book is indeed that - diversity. And it happens on multiple counts - non-English writings (and therefore, the variety of geographical settings - other than Antarctica, all continents ...more
Kira Nerys
I was in a bookstore, with Borne in one hand and this in the other (well, in my lap), and you can guess which one I purchased. Ann can take it as a compliment. I planned to start with the authors I recognized (not that there were many, at first) until I read the introduction, which implies a benefit to reading the stories chronologically, some larger knowledge to be gained about sf trends and developments over time. It's a scholarly essay I'll understand better once I've made it through some of the b ...more
Rena Sherwood
Oct 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
Man, reading this 1200-page monster was hard work. I think it has cured me from ever reading a science fiction anthology ever again.


And it wasn't worth the bother. About 100 pages of introductions and detailed descriptions of each writer (and translator) presented could have been cut out to make room for a short story (ANY short story) by Robert A. Heinlein.

That's right, folks -- a science fiction antho
Steven Cole
Jul 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaway-prize
"The Big Book of Science Fiction" this is called. That really makes it feel like it's aimed at three-year-olds, but these stories are for sure not for three-year-olds.

I got a copy of this massive tome by winning a sweepstakes on the website, sometime during the summer of 2016, and started reading it in earnest in November of that year. Here it is, 13 months later, and I'm finally done.

"The Big Book of Science Fiction" is a survey of Science Fiction from the very v
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Ann VanderMeer is an American publisher and editor, and the second female editor of the horror magazine Weird Tales. She is the founder of Buzzcity Press.

Her work as Fiction Editor of Weird Tales won a Hugo Award. Work from her press and related periodicals has won the British Fantasy Award, the International Rhysling Award, and appeared in several year's best anthologies. Ann was also
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