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Robert Silverberg's Worlds of Wonder (1987)

by Robert Silverberg (Contributor)

Other authors: Brian W. Aldiss (Author), Alfred Bester (Author), James Blish (Author), Philip K. Dick (Author), Damon Knight (Author)8 more, C. M. Kornbluth (Author), Henry Kuttner (Author), C. L. Moore (Author), Frederik Pohl (Author), Bob Shaw (Author), Robert Sheckley (Author), Cordwainer Smith (Author), Jack Vance (Author)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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206498,653 (3.82)5
Contains thirteen sample chapters from classic science-fiction books written by several different authors. Each chapter is followed by Silverberg's insightful explanation behind each author's writing.
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I was attracted to this anthology because Silverberg describes the work as possessing three elements in one.
" An anthology of what he regards as some of the most meaningful science fiction
" Essays on the art and craft of writing science fiction.
" Personal reminiscences by the authors

It was the second in particularly that particularly appealed to me. Aside from that, however, the forward is a largely self-indulgent (self-important) effort to define science fiction. The resulting definition is unimpressive. It is neither inclusive nor exclusive.

The introduction makes up for this dreary beginning with an interesting and informative autobiographical recounting of his development as a science fiction writer. Silverberg includes notes about writing and also personal reminiscences about notable SF writers of the 40s and 50s. In retrospect, this is the best part of the book and readers who are pressed for time might limit their reading to the introduction.

Silverberg's selection of stories seems to focus on stories that had a formative impact on him as a teen just developing his writing skills ca 1953. As promised in the forward, many of the elements of his essays are essentially a memoir. After the introduction there are few practical tips on writing short stories in general and only a few general principles on writing science fiction short stories.

Readers who are not interested in the tips on writing and the personal reminiscences will find many better science fiction anthologies.

Following is a thumbnail description of the thirteen short stories included in the anthology.

Four In One
Four explorers, absorbed by an amoeba-like creature, engage in an internal war for supremacy and survival.

Fondly Fahrenheit
A malfunctioning robot - or is it the robot's owner - begins killing people. Do the personal values and personality characteristics of people project on to their robots and vice versa?

No Woman Born
This is old fashioned SF in the sense the first 11-12 pages are a long monologue by the protagonist telling us "how it works." It then turns to an abstract discussion of the essential nature of a human. It is twice as long as the average SF story and could have been edited greatly to advantage.

Home is the Hunter
In a society in which professional killers (headhunters) vie to amass the greatest number of kills, one headhunter seeks a way to retire with honor.

The Monsters
In a society where wives are killed after 25 days and a new wife is secured from the replacement pool, the creatures debate whether humans who do not follow that practice are ethical and "human."

Common Time
Not much happens. The emphasis is on character development. What plot there is focuses on FTL travel and the adjustment of physiological time to the altered physical time. Then first contact.

Scanners Live in Vain
In order to survive the "pain" of space and pilot spaceship, individuals must sacrifice their physical bodies and become androids. But what happens to these androids when that is no longer necessary?

Hothouse.
This is part one of a five-part story that was eventually published as a book-length novel. It details the struggles of humans to survive on a planet that has been completely overrun by vegetation that is so massive it extends from earth to the moon.

The New Prime
The Prime (ruler of the galaxy) developed a series of six tests that would be used to judge the candidates for his position. The tests measure social intuition, flexibility, leadership, devotion to duty, imagination, and resolution. The Prime obtained the highest score of all the candidates but was not selected as the new Prime because of qualities he failed to test that the ruling council considered to be more important.

Colony by Philip K. Dick
Explorers evaluating a new planet to determine its suitability for colonization are attacked by microscopes, gloves, towels, rugs, and other inanimate objects.

The Little Black Bag by C. M. Kornbluth
A disgraced, alcoholic MD is the accidental recipient of a medical bag from more than 500 years in the future.

Light of Other Days by Bob Shaw
Slow glass that takes 10 years for light to pass through has an influence on an unhappy marriage.

Day Million by Frederick Pohl
Describes a "romance?" between Dora, a girl with a silky pelt, tail, and gills who is actually a man, and Don, a 187 year old tall, muscular, bronze cybernetic man who was on his way to have his legs renewed."Will you marry me?" he asked. "Wednesday," she replied. ( )
  Tatoosh | Mar 9, 2018 |
Robert Silverberg writes about how he learned to write science fiction. He includes several short stories and writes about what he likes about them. ( )
  ZenPatrice | Jan 11, 2008 |
A fascinating tour with Silverberg leading the way. If you read SF, you've read most of these, but Silverberg's inroduction and notes make the book. ( )
  bgbooks | Aug 6, 2006 |
A collection of high-quality SF stories chosen by Silverberg and glossed (in introductory and concluding comments) to illustrate principles of good SF writing. The stories are uniformly interesting, and the commentary is so good you wish there was more of it. ( )
  ABVR | Jul 25, 2006 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Silverberg, RobertContributorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Aldiss, Brian W.Authorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bester, AlfredAuthorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Blish, JamesAuthorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dick, Philip K.Authorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Knight, DamonAuthorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kornbluth, C. M.Authorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kuttner, HenryAuthorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Moore, C. L.Authorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Pohl, FrederikAuthorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Shaw, BobAuthorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sheckley, RobertAuthorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Smith, CordwainerAuthorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Vance, JackAuthorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bear, GregIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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FOR CLIF BENNETT AND JIM BLISH AND DAMON KNIGHT AND HORACE GOLD AND FRED POHL AND LESTER DEL REY AND ALFIE BESTER AND ALL THE OTHERS WHO KNEW THE SECRET THAT I WAS TRYING SO HARD TO LEARN.
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I MUST HAVE BEEN A PECULIAR LITTLE BOY. MOST people who grow up to be professional science-fiction writers were peculiar little boys, except for those who were peculiar little girls.
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Contains thirteen sample chapters from classic science-fiction books written by several different authors. Each chapter is followed by Silverberg's insightful explanation behind each author's writing.

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