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Before They Were Giants: First Works from Science Fiction Greats Paperback – Aug 24 2010

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Paizo Publishing, LLC. (Aug. 24 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1601252668
  • ISBN-13: 978-1601252661
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.5 x 24.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 299 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #976,280 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4 reviews
Great collection of great writers at their non-greatest Feb. 4 2011
By mikesbigego - Published on
Format: Paperback
I think that if you like science fiction, or the craft of writing, or want to be an author, or like authors, or wondered if all authors started out as amazing writers, then this book is for you.

When I was a teenager I read many of these authors pretty religiously, including Greg Bear, Piers Anthony, and a few others. What I didn't realize until reading this collection, though, was that I knew almost nothing about their short stories, having read mostly novels.

This collection is fantastic at doing three things. First, it connects you with some authors you have probably heard of but might not have read, it exposes you to some pretty great short stories, and it confirms what most of us have suspected. Most of these guys and girls DID start out as amazing authors. But that's not to say that some of the stories, or sections within stories, weren't a bit rough.

But that's what I loved most about it. It made the authors more human, and really laid bare the craft of writing that these people were developing and honing. A few of the stories I didn't care for at all (I won't name names so as not to offend) but unlike other anthologies where I'd feel slighted, here it was illustrative and interesting. Some of these authors had no idea what they were doing at all and were still writing compelling stories!

Editor James Sutter does a good job in the foreward of setting the expectation-level by introducing the collection as the first published short stories by these amazing sci-fi writers. A few had already published novels, or written elsewhere, but these were their first published shorts, which many novel-writers struggle with even after they are professional/succesful.

Each story also has a standard/structured Q&A where the authors answer questions about where they were in their life when they wrote the story (that was fascinating) and what led them to want to be writers, why this story, etc.

Like I said, it's not your usual polished collection of high-level authorship, but that's exactly the point. It's a more down-to earth look at short stories by writers who would go on to greatness, and I find that infinitely more engaging than when they've already made it and are just churning out more of the same great stuff.
A very mixed bag July 8 2013
By Cissa - Published on
Format: Paperback
These stories will probably not change anyone's opinions of the authors involved. The ones I already respected had pretty decent- though sometimes a bit rough- first published stories; the ones I have less respect for had worse ones. I was quite impressed with the quality of the first published works by most of the authors I have come to respect! And there's at least one author I've not been reading regularly that I will check out based on his story here.

I also want to point out that of the 15 "giants" included here, exactly one of them is a woman. I would say that Le Guin, for example, is far more a "giant" than, say, R. A. Salvatore, just as an example. But no- only one female "giant" was included (Nicola Griffith, whose work I admire.. but still- only ONE???). I read a lot of f/sf written by women who are at least as good as some of the male "giants" here. This is an ongoing problem in the field, and Sutter- the editor- did pretty much nothing to bring us a broader scope.

In short: this book has serious flaws, only some of which were obvious from the premise. If one is a huge fan of several of the authors included, one will probably want to read it, since most of these stories are otherwise hard to find. Else? skip it.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Great introduction to some talented authors Oct. 19 2010
By Olga Morozova - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
While the quality of writing this working isn't always spectacular - this is, after all, the very first works of most of these authors - this collection is remarkable for three reasons. First, the choice of authors - Greg Bear, Ben Bova, William Gibson, Joe Haldeman, China Mieville, Charles Stross, etc - is a hit list of Sci Fi Authors That You Simply Must Read, and their first works are indicative of their huge talent. Second, each story is followed by an interview with its author, who wax nostalgic on their first published story, their experience in print publication, advise to new authors, etc. Finally, this book is published by the remarkable Paizo Publishing, a group of terrifically talented people working out of Washington State who have set the bar in terms of quality role playing game publishing.
3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Mostly pointless Sept. 14 2010
By Manly Reading - Published on
Format: Paperback
Before They were Giants is an anthology without a theme, a collection of the "first published" works of a wide range of living SF writers. There are 15 short stories in about 200 pages, which includes a brief questionnaire with answers by each author (itself generally two or three pages long). As a result, there is a real grab-bag of things here, with "sci-fi" being pretty widely interpreted and the authors involved ranging from Piers Anthony to China Mieville.

As a result, by operation of the simple law of averages, there are bound to be a few things here you like. The bad news is, its probable there will be quite a bit more you either dislike or are indifferent to. Its also billed as a primer for aspiring writers - which it may very be of some use as, I have no idea - but as a result it also straddles into teachiness in places at the expense of fun. Throw in the fact that this is, by definition, the rawest works of the authors involved, and the book becomes of more use as a curiosity striving for "importance" than a book trying to be "fun".

Two and half stars might be fairer than two, but I cant rate in half stars, and can't give it three stars just for meaning well and trying hard.