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The Best From Fantasy and Science Fiction:…

The Best From Fantasy and Science Fiction: 13th Series (1964)

by Avram Davidson (Editor)

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An anthology that, for me, was average in tone, although it has high as well as lower points. I suspect some of this is due to time and distance - what once seemed groundbreaking is no longer, and for some of these stories it was only their novelty that made them once interesting. As well, most of these stories fall firmly into the genre of fantasy rather than SF, and I am not a great fan of fantasy in general. If you are, this book may be more to your taste.

P M Hibbard's "The Golden Brick" is a moralistic fantasy tale revolving around someone, or something, with the Midas touch, and the great wrongs that are done to them. Some good people survive, some evil ones die.

Don White's "Peggy and Peter Go to the Moon" is a short-short in which a man sends his children to the moon in order to run off with his mistress. It doesn't really do anything for me.

"Now Wakes The Sea" is a J G Ballard fantasy, in which a man is continually sure that he hears and sees the sea approach his house each night, despite living many miles from it. And in the end, in some way, he finds it. The end is rather more definite than is typical of Ballard's other dreamlike work.

An early Jack Vance story, "Green Magic" is the typical tale of someone meddling in magic which they shouldn't, but with a twist. For this is a world in which white and black magic are normal things, used by all. Our protagonist discovers that there are other types, forbidden to us, and discovers why.

Harry Harrison's "Captain Honario Harpplayer" is obviously intended to be a satire on the Hornblower works. It feels rather heavy-handed to me, and didn't raise a smile. Our first alien visitor is unwittingly sent to his grave by ignorant sailors.

In "Treaty in Tartessos", Karen Anderson explores with a final twist why it is that the world no longer contains centaurs.

Richard McKenna's "Hunter Come Home" is one of the more interesting stories, although with somewhat extremely-drawn characters. A tale of some who would wreak ecological genocide and how their lack of understanding turns against them.

"McNamara's Fish" by Ron Goulart is a sort of occult detective story.

"Nina Sol" by Felix Marti-Ibanez is a grail-like pursuit of an impossible sun-like creature in the mountainous regions of Peru. It's evocative, although slight.

"They Don't Make Life Like They Used to" is a very different sort of post-apocalyptic tale from Alfred Bester. Boy meets girl in the ruins, but they don't so much meet as pass each other by. Until they realise they aren't alone.

Avram Davidson has written a mock-Victorian horror story in "What Strange Stars and Skies" set in London's docklands.

Ray Nelson's "Eight o clock in the morning" is another short-short telling how one man saves humanity from its unwitting domination by alien Fascinators, but succumbs to them in the process. His fate was predetermined.

Finally, there is one of Zenna Henderson's tales of The People, which I recall enjoying so much as a teenager. Not so much now, I'm afraid, although much of the magic is still there. This their tale of creation or exodus - the way in which they left their home world. And reading it now, it is all a bit too preachily religious for me in some way. ( )
  kevinashley | Jun 3, 2009 |
[Avram Davidson] was a kind of miracle, as shows in his short wonderful term editing The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. He kept up his own writing, he followed Alfred Bester as the F&SF book reviewer, and he brought out others’ marvels.

Behold this anthology.

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Davidson, AvramEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hubbard, P. M.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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