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The Big Book of Science Fiction

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  528 ratings  ·  114 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 ...more
Paperback, 1178 pages
Published July 12th 2016 by Vintage
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Kris I asked him on twitter and he said "Nope. Too complicated."…moreI asked him on twitter and he said "Nope. Too complicated."
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.…moreI'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.(less)

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Oct 17, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018-read, 2017-read
Finished! Overall this was really more educational than enjoyable, but I'm glad I read it.

The Star by H.G. Wells -" small the vastest of human catastrophes may seem, at a distance of a few million miles."

Sultana's Dream by Rokheya Shekhawat Hossain -"You have neglected the duty you owe to yourselves and you have lost your natural rights by shutting your eyes to your own interests."

The Triumph of Mechanics by Karl Hans Strobl - apparently Strobl spent a good portion of his career producing
Jan 25, 2017 rated it really liked it

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 to
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)
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 from
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

The Sliced-Crosswise Only-on-Thursday World
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 been retrans
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
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 field
Janet Jay
I read a LOT, and a lot of that is sci fi, and a lot of THAT is short stories. All that to say, when I say “this is the best comp I’ve ever read,” it means something. Of course it had a lot of gold standards, but also delved into the historical origins of the form. One thing I really appreciated was their concern with and attention to non-English stories, both presenting rare and new stuff, and by paying to retranslate some older stories that benefited from the treatment.

It’s long but great.
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 VanderMeer have r
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.
RJ from the LBC
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. ...more
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. ...more
Dec 03, 2019 marked it as to-read
A birthday gift! I'm hoping to make it through all of this beast next year, reading a couple of stories a week. Some of my favorite stories are in here, but most of them will be new to me, and I trust the VanderMeers' tastes. ...more
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.
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. ...more
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, I´m 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 sta ...more
Mark Palermo
Dec 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Yeah, I'll read the longest short fiction anthologies ever compiled from front to back. Some of them might just take me three years.

Calling this an alternative history of science fiction feels shortsighted when it serves to be more of a corrective. There's a heavier emphasis on international and feminist writers than has been common in these sorts of collections, and that only makes sense, since science fiction should be about an expansion of genre conventions, not a narrowing.
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.
Norman Cook
Mar 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-book
This massive anthology contains a broad overview of science fiction from the 20th Century, with a combination of classic stories, (mostly) by white men, and stories by a diverse set of authors representing non-English and female voices. Some of the non-English stories are a bit flat, but it's not clear if it's the stories themselves or the translations. Nevertheless, it's good to spotlight some of the overlooked sf from around the world.

Some of the highlights:

"The Star" by H. G. Wells (The Graph
Christopher Sutch
Jan 02, 2021 rated it liked it
An anthology does a number of things on at least two levels. On the larger, social level a good comprehensive anthology (as this one is) sets out to redefine a canon: it confirms or reworks boundaries of what "is" or "is not" "good" science fiction (or American fiction or mystery fiction or African-American fiction and so on). Not only does this include stories and longer works but also which authors should be considered to be significant (both historically and on the contemporary scene). It sho ...more
Jon DenHouter
Jul 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I will get right to the good stuff! Reviews for the stories that I read (I didn't read all of them) follow:

3/5 "The Star" by H. G. Wells - Describes a "star" (an asteroid that smashes into Neptune) that is on a collision course with Earth. The main character is the event, which made me not like this story very much. My favorite part was when I got to know the math professor who was working on determining the exact path this "star" was on. So while Wells' description of the event is captivating,
Akemi G.
Nov 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great read. The introduction is already very considerate, and the choice of works is global. (Some are translated into English for the first time.) I'm still working on this tome, but here is my quick notes. (it's hard to discuss short fiction without spoilers, so I'll hide the whole thing.)

(view spoiler)
Jun 27, 2020 is currently reading it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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 ...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 Life" (Ted Ch
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
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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 the founder

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