Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Masterpieces: The Best Science Fiction of the Twentieth Century” as Want to Read:
Masterpieces: The Best Science Fiction of the Twentieth Century
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Masterpieces: The Best Science Fiction of the Twentieth Century

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  1,595 ratings  ·  113 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.
Paperback, 422 pages
Published March 2nd 2004 by Ace Books (first published November 1st 2001)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Masterpieces, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.22  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,595 ratings  ·  113 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Masterpieces: The Best Science Fiction of the Twentieth Century
Dec 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Jerry Pogan
Oct 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I bought this book really for one reason and that was so I could read Robert A. Heinlein's story "All you Zombies" but I really enjoyed the other stories as well. The title of the book was very aptly titled "Masterpieces" because many of the stories were just that, masterpieces. I thought the Heinlein story especially fit that category and the others ranged from excellent to very good and a couple I would categorize as bad. However, I must admit I have a fondness for bad sci-fi especially the ol ...more
Kelly Danahy
Sep 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction
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
Apr 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Some of those stories were very creative, to the point of being amazing just by their concept. Even if the writter had let a sticker-note with a brief plot summury instead of actually writting the story, they would have still been worth reading.
Jul 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
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 - Pas
Mar 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dore' Ripley
Apr 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mike Kenefic
Jun 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful. Why we read stories and write books.

I've enjoyed this book more than the last ten books! If it is really true that we read and write for knowledge and its companion inspiration then this book has exceeded its mandate well. Very well written and beautifully edited. More!
Willow Grier
Dec 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A fantastic, varied collection I would recommend to any sci-fi and/or human philosophy nerd. Filled with short, impactful stories from some of the greats, and with ideas that will leave the mind churning endlessly after.
Jul 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Though dated, a great collection of sci fi writers by the ages. Nice way to show how sci fi literature has developed over the decades as well as the variety of what's included in this wide genre.
Oct 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
"Call Me Joe," by Poul Anderson (1957): 9.5
- Frankly, amazing that this was written in the mid-1950s, even if it has all the hallmarks of (even literary) fiction from the era--the sincere reliance on psychotherapy as an explanatory, scientific framework; the crude, forthright generalizations about those outside the author’s own experiential world [“cripples” here]; and the exploration of interiority as a phenomenon in lockstep with broader environmental surroundings. In short, this read like a
Oct 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Riju Ganguly
Nov 15, 2019 rated it liked it
This hefty tome is indeed a wonderful representative of science fiction as practised by authors of the last century. It contained stories from almost every major writer. In its own way it also acted as a mirror of issues that used to concern writers of that bygone era.
There are several memorable and evergreen stories here. Unfortunately, the stories also suffered from issues typical of that era, namely~
1. Very few women writers have been selected, with Ursula Guin getting a very drab piece of he
Rena Sherwood
Fabulous stuff. This short anthology is MILES better than many larger "best ever" anthologies I've read. I shot through this entire anthology when in the middle of reading The Big Book of Science Fiction. After reading this, I had the energy to go and finish Big Book.


Also has a short introduction where Card explains why he could not include all of the authors he wanted to. His author introductions are also short so you can get right on with reading the story or novella. My only quibbles are that
Nov 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
A decent collection of some of the classic SF stories in the past including some obvious classics (Heinlein's "All You Zombies --", Clarke's "Nine Billion Names of God", Ellison's "Repent! Harlequin! Said the Tick-tock-man" and LeGuin's "The Ones Who Walk Away from the Omelas"). Some new ones for me that I really liked: (1) "Inconsistent Moon" in which the moon grows disturbingly bright and a cynical, wry man deals with the consequences. I really enjoyed it; (2) "Sandkings" by GRRM is an interes ...more
Jun 26, 2017 rated it liked it
Read this aloud in the car, on a family trip. It is a good collection of science fiction stories (which is not a genre I read often). It reminded me of watching old Twilight Zone episodes as a child. There were a few stories we skipped (because they seemed more adult or less interesting) but we read about a third of them and then ran out of "car time". It was fun to discuss each story with my hubby and kids to get everyone's perspectives. We each had a different favorite and overall it was an en ...more
As a whole, I did enjoy this stroll through SF short stories covering a large portion of the 20th century. As with any compilation, some stories were more interesting than others. Your mileage may vary...

My favorite, I believe, may have been George R. R. Martin's entry, "Sandkings".

This also a great way to become familiar with authors one has never read! The introduction to each story also gave a quick discussion of the author's works (up to publication of this work) that sometimes gave me some
Angela Lawlor
Sep 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good selection of science fiction short stories

I enjoyed several of the stories in this collection. I liked that Orson Scott Card included a sampling of different types. My favorites? Ray Bradbury: Dark They Were, and Golden-Eyed and Isaac Asimov: Robot Dreams (from the Golden Age); Ursula K. Le Guin: The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas; and Larry Nevin: Inconstant Moon (from the New Wave); and Lisa Goldstein: Tourists (from the Media Generation).
Sep 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
An interesting mix of stories, some I liked, some I didn't. Some of them were thought provoking, some were just kind of weird leaving me wondering what the author was trying to say. But mostly they were good
Edward B.
Jul 24, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
Twenty-seven short stories, going as far back as 1936.
I'm not sure that I would have classified *any* of these as The Best of the Twentieth Century, and some of them not even as Science Fiction.
But it was still interesting.
I had not previously read most of the stories.
Apr 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
A great read for its sheer versality in illustrating the length and breadth of what sci-fi is. Thus, a good intro book to the genre, especially for those who might have a limited preset definition, having been exposed to only a few representative works, or even no works at all.
Mark Mitchell
May 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Good read

I had a hard time finding novels that kept my interest. I decided I needed a break. This was a way to get some satisfaction in a short period of time. All the stories were new to me except one, and I enjoyed rereading that one.
Jake Evans
May 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Pointed Review
Mar 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Can’t Go Wrong

Not a bad story in the bunch. Well worth the effort to read. If you like Sci Fi, take a look.
Pedro Esteves
Dec 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Pretty good.

I'm my opinion a couple of stories weren't good enough but a great book nonetheless.
David Critchfield
Mar 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Just like the book's name says, these are all great stories. Many I have read in other collections but it was nice to revisit them. These yarns are why I love science fiction.
Paul Goodison
Nov 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic anthology of short stories from the greats of the genre.
Jan 30, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.4. Some of the constituent stories in this sci fi short story anthology are 4- or even 5-Star worthy, but the overall quality is sub-4.
Jun 25, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A solid collection of stories from the described period, roughly grouped into "The Golden Age," "The New Wave," and "The Media Generation." This reader preferred authors and works from the first two categories, which averaged 4-star ratings overall, while the collection of newer works rated closer to 3 stars, on average. Overall, one of the better sci-fi collections I have read. The editor lists other works by each author in his introduction to each chapter, providing additional meat to my "to r ...more
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume One, 1929-1964
  • Filler Sultanı ile Kırmızı Sakallı Topal Karınca
  • The Girl Who Was Plugged In
  • Behold the Man
  • This Immortal
  • The Telling (Hainish Cycle #8)
  • Definitely Maybe
  • Galactic Pot-Healer
  • The Invincible
  • The Man Who Fell to Earth
  • The Amphibian
  • The Street of Crocodiles
  • The Science Fiction Hall of Fame: Volume II A (The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, #2A)
  • The Wild Girls
  • Dokunmadan
  • Şair Evlenmesi
  • A Martian Odyssey
See similar books…
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

Related Articles

Mercurial gods are trapped on Earth in The Lost Gate, a new fantasy from a science fiction master.
46 likes · 14 comments
“To a man with only a hammer, a screw is a defective nail.” 4 likes
More quotes…