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A Treasury of Great Science Fiction…

A Treasury of Great Science Fiction [2-volume set]

by Anthony Boucher (Editor)

Other authors: Poul Anderson (Contributor), Alfred Bester (Contributor), Nelson S. Bond (Contributor), Ray Bradbury (Contributor), Arthur C. Clarke (Contributor)17 more, Mildred Clingerman (Contributor), Richard Deming (Contributor), Philip K. Dick (Contributor), George P. Elliott (Contributor), Robert A. Heinlein (Contributor), Malcolm Jameson (Contributor), C.M. Kornbluth (Contributor), Henry Kuttner (Contributor), Oscar Lewis (Contributor), Judith Merril (Contributor), C.L. Moore (Contributor), Joel Townsley Rogers (Contributor), George O. Smith (Contributor), Theodore Sturgeon (Contributor), A.E. Van Vogt (Contributor), E. B. White (Contributor), John Wyndham (Contributor)

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Showing 4 of 4
Vol 1 - 4/5

Some memorable works here, particularly by John Wyndham, Robert Heinlein, Theodore Sturgeon and Poul Anderson. The contributions from George P. Elliott and Joel Townsley Rogers are also good finds. The rest I found forgettable, no middle ground for me. A mix of YA, fantasy and harder science fiction.

Re-Birth, Wyndham [aka The Chrysalids] - 5/5 - A great coming-of-age-cum-enlightenment novella. This tends more towards YA than science fiction, but don't let that detract from its power. The story revolves around a mind-reading gestalt community and how they survive in an oppressive, religiously conservative society intolerant of anything or anyone abnormal. Similar in some ways to Sturgeon's fix-up More Than Human.

The Shape of Things That Came, Deming - 1/5 - A writer tries to convince an editor that he has engaged in time travel. Pointless little story.

Pillar of Fire, Bradbury - 2/5 - YA horror about an anachronistic individual born of hatred who decides to wreak havoc in search of companions. Cremation, considered by the protagonist as an aberration, is the norm in the world he discovers. If it sounds confused and a little out-there, you're right. It didn't strike the right cord with me.

Waldo, Heinlein - 4/5 - Enjoyable, sometimes comical, short story about a misanthropic cripple who becomes a "mad scientist" of sorts, specialising in mechanical engineering. Heinlein seamlessly blends plenty of hard science into a plot which pits the protagonist's brilliance against corporate greed.

The Father Thing, Dick - 2/5 - Another YA horror, this time about an alien life form which subsumes the form of a father.

The Children's Hour, Kuttner and Moore - 2/5 - Well written psychological drama. Nominally science fiction, but too mystical for my liking and with a rather limited plot.

Gomez, Kornbluth - Unread; plan to read as part of The Best of C. M. Kornbluth.

The Widget, The Wadget, and Boff, Sturgeon - 5/5 - A beautiful, uplifting gem of a short story. The only science here is psychology. We follow around half a dozen characters who live together in a boarding house. Each have their own ingrained problems which permeate their lives. Unbeknownst to them, they are being psychoanalysed by the old landlord couple, who cause them to face up their issues, reassessing their attitudes and changing their lives.

Sandra, Elliott - 4/5 - A thought-provoking short story about a bachelor who buys a slave in a department store to look after a large house he inherits - and him. Written in a straight, simplistic style, it explores issues such as marriage, partnership and sexism with the backdrop of an alternate future where slavery and psychological programming flourish.

Beyond Space and Time, Rogers - 5/5 - Interesting plot revolving around two contrasting personalities, one a master theoretical physicist, the other a millionaire engineer. They combine to create a super-fast space shuttle, leading to an unforeseeable tragedy.

The Martian Crown Jewels, Anderson - 5/5 - Extra-terrestrial Sherlock Holmes! An enjoyable short story about a missing shipment. A human inspector calls on an alien detective to assist him in the hunt for the thief. This is science fiction at its best; science is presented accurately but doesn't overshadow the storyline. If you enjoy detective stories or small, clever plots, this one's for you.

The Weapon Shops of Isher, van Vot - 1/5 - Meh. I know this is meant to be philosophical and an allegory of sorts. But the story still needs to be well told, not just a whirlwind of action. Part of this fix-up I had already found in The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume One.

Vol 2 - 3/5

There are twelve works here, but don't be fooled: over half this volume is taken up by Anderson's Brain Wave and Bester's The Stars My Destination. The highlights for me are Brain Wave and Dead Center, the rest fluctuating widely in quality.

Brain Wave, Anderson - 5/5 - Previously read. Great novel about a world where all animals instantaneously become more intelligent. Raises important questions in a light-hearted and often comical way. Fun read.

Bullard Reflects, Jameson - 4/5 - Sport in space, interesting twist and great punch line.

The Lost Years, Lewis - 1/5 - Epistolary account of Booth's attack on Lincoln, the twist being the attack failed and the President retired after the attack. I just didn't get it, the format and content together seem an experiment gone wrong.

Dead Center, Merril - 5/5 - Psychological drama which provides a fascinating insight into the human condition. Similar to Merril's That Only a Mother (anthologised in The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume One), Dead Center focuses on a wife and mother whose world revolves around her family. A startling and unforgettable ending.

Lost Art, Smith - 1/5 - For electrical engineers, or those who feed on hard science fiction. Not for me.

The Other Side of the Sky, Clarke - 3/5 - Good, though dated, hard science fiction. From a literary perspective nothing special, this is a collection of excerpts on the effects of living in space.

The Man Who Sold the Moon, Heinlein - 1/5 - A man concocts a plan to acquire and sell the moon. Reading in 2019, this felt weak and dated. Sure, there may be some historical significance. But I don't read science fiction for historical purposes; the story still needs to entertain, and this one did not.

Magic City, Bond - 4/5 - What begins a fantasy turns into a post-apocalyptic adventure. Some interesting ideas: tribal culture, belief in spirits and demons, gender role reversals, rebuilding of lost knowledge.

The Morning of the Day They Did It, White - 2/5 - Somewhat dated description of a futuristic world where everything (food production, entertainment, medicine, transport) is artificial or derived from technology.

Piggy Bank, Kuttner - 3/5 - Entertaining read about a valuable robot programmed to evade capture.

Letters from Laura, Clingerman - 1/5 - Weak time-travel story intertwined with classical Greek mythology.

The Stars My Destination, Bester [aka Tiger! Tiger!] - 3/5 - Cyberpunk classic about a man abandoned in space and his quest for vengeance. Too many ideas in too small a package. Touching start and end, but not so much in the middle to really connect with the reader. A must if you are interested in the history of science fiction. ( )
  jigarpatel | Mar 22, 2019 |
Read at the distance of more than 50 years (and many stories date to a decade or two prior to the collection's publication), this 2-volume anthology is very uneven with a few fine pieces but much more mediocre and totally forgetable stuff.
Re-birth by John Wyndham 3 stars. Post nuclear apocalypse society kills mutants. Telepathic children seem norm and are allowed to live but are seen as threat when their abilities are discovered.Cliched but good characterization.
The Shape of Things that Came by Richard Deming 1/2 star. Dumb.
Pillar of Fire by Ray Bradbury 4 stars. A dead man walks after hundreds of years in the grave motivated by hatred of the living. But he finds a society that has no fear or crime, and no place for him.
Waldo by Robert Heinlein 2 stars. Super genius with serious physical limitation (nasty unpleasant character) figures out connection to alternative world. Lots of hard science fiction speculation that was probably moot before this book was published.
The Father Thing by Philip K. Dick. 4 1/2 stars. Great horror short story on the pod people theme.
The Children's Hour by Henry Kuttner and C.L.Moore. 4 stars. An alien-among-us story, The Star Trek episode The Squire of Gothos echos this theme. Super race lets their kiddies play with us then makes us forget.
Gomez by C.M Kornbluth. 1.5 stars. Boy-genius makes stunning scientific discovery and decides to erase it. Filled with post-atomic weapons fear of science and ethnic stereotypes. Very dated.
The [Widget], the [Wadget], and Boff by Theodore Sturgeon.2 stars (barely). Another aliens-among-us story, this time they're studynig us for psychological reactions. Way too much exposition and overuse of cutesy [can't translate into earth language] phases, turned into a real slog. Stereotypical characters right out of central casting and overwrought mid-20th century pseoudo-psychologiy.
Sandra by George P. Elliott.0 stars. Guy buys a slave woman, likes her so much she "takes advantage" so he starts beating her. Horrible misogynistic crap. Sorry I wasted my time reading it.
Beyond Space and Time by Joel Townsley Rogers. 1.5 stars. Fanciful sci-fi space and time travel all to support a cliched plot about killing the inconvenient husband.
The Martian Crown Jewels by Poul Anderson. 1.5 stars. Kind of dumb transposition of Sherlock Holmes into a Martian.
The Weapon Shops of Isher by A.E. von Vogt.2 stars. Muddled plot that tries to pull in some extreme physics but doesn't end up making a lot of sense. Decent characters (some of them).
Brain Wave by Poul Anderson.4 stars. Novella stands head-and-shoulders above the dreck (i.e., most of the collection). Everybody on earth is suddenly a whole lot smarter. Results are cataclysmic. Bugged me that while author could image much, he couldn't image any other social order than the patriarchal sexist one he was familiar with.
Bullard Reflects by Malcolm Jameson 2.5 stars. Well enough written story but it's basically just a lengthy set up for a dumb pun.
The Lost Years by Oscar Lewis. 2 stars. Bland alternative history in which Lincoln survives Booth's bullet. The point seemed to be that one man, even one important man, doesn't really impact the flow of history.
Dead Center by Judith Merril. 3 stars. Like the best sci fi, less about the gadgets and more about the people. A family tragedy facilitated by space travel.
Lost Art by George O. Smith 1.5 stars. Mostly about the gadget, a bit tedious. Presents the underwhelming revelation that someone a long time ago on another planet may have known how to do something we don't know how to do.
The Other Side of the Sky by Arthur C. Clark 4.5 stars. A gem sparkling among the cinders in this collection. People moving out from earth into space told as vignettes from one man's life.
The Man Who Sold the Moon by Robert A. Heinlein 2.5 stars. Heinlein's sometimes lovely language struggles to make this rather dull story of the Moses of space travel interesting. Lots of back-room wheeling and dealing goes on as the story focuses on the business of getting to the Moon--the least interesting part of the process. Plus the dialog sounds like a hackneyed mid-century B movie script.
Magic City by Nelson S. Bond. 3 stars. Above-average post nuclear apocalypse tale finds survivors reverted to primitive lives ruled by magic and good and evil deities.
The Morning of the Day They Did It by E. B. White. 2 stars .Imaginative world-building in a holocaust tale with a twist on human-caused world annihilation, although the twist doesn't really make any sense.
Piggy Bank by Henry Kuttner 2 stars. OK story about a ruthless man who gets exactly what he asks for--which turns out to be exactly what he deserves.
Letters from Laura by Mildred Clingerman 2 stars. Silly time travel tale with sexist stereotyped female character.
The Stars my Destination by Alfred Bester 4 stars. This novella is one of the gems; not perfect but head-and-shoulders above most of the collection. Story about the people, refreshingly, and not just showing off clever ideas about future technology but still having plenty of fresh world-building to support the wonder in the story.
2 vote WildMaggie | Mar 1, 2015 |
Classic collection of Golden Age sci-fi stories, some of which are long enough to qualify as novellas. First published in 1959, this includes Wyndham, Bradbury, Heinlein, Dick, and on and on. It helped get me and many others get hooked on the genre, and is a prime source for those who want an overview of the old stuff. Old, but gold. ( )
3 vote annbury | Sep 29, 2010 |
Two volume set. Mine is a book club edition. I loved sci-fi short story when I was a kid, I still do but find less and less interesting to read. This classic set still entertains me. ( )
  Borg-mx5 | Feb 12, 2010 |
Showing 4 of 4
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Boucher, AnthonyEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Anderson, PoulContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bester, AlfredContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bond, Nelson S.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bradbury, RayContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Clarke, Arthur C.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Clingerman, MildredContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Deming, RichardContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dick, Philip K.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Elliott, George P.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Heinlein, Robert A.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jameson, MalcolmContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kornbluth, C.M.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kuttner, HenryContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lewis, OscarContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Merril, JudithContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Moore, C.L.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rogers, Joel TownsleyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Smith, George O.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sturgeon, TheodoreContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Van Vogt, A.E.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
White, E. B.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wyndham, JohnContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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