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.