Best of Lester del Rey Mass Market Paperback – Feb 12 1986
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Terry Brooks recalls Lester del Rey as being "not physically imposing, barely over 5 feet, rather hollow-cheeked and frail-looking." But "when Lester looked at you, he peered through his thick glasses in the same way a botanist might study an interesting specimen." A legendary editor whose exploits included scooping up untried unknowns like Stephen R. Donaldson, David Eddings, and Brooks himself (not to mention the coup of snagging the rights to Star Wars), the eccentric del Rey is one of SF's elite old guard, widely respected for years as a publisher and critic. But, as Brooks points out in this book's introduction, del Rey also slugged it out in the trenches, writing for John W. Campbell and others in the glory days of Unknown, Astounding Science Fiction, et al. ("In those days of long ago, any sale to John W. Campbell was something of a triumph," del Rey recalls.)
This collection pulls together del Rey's best short works from the '30s, '40s, and '50s, including many of his personal favorites and more than a couple that sprouted from ideas passed on by Campbell himself. Some of the 16 stories here show their age in places, but all reflect del Rey's inventive, often opinionated, top-shelf mind. Whether it's a classic tale of boy-builds-robot, boy-falls-in-love-with-robot, or a Rip Van Winkle-style riff on an elven tinker who's frustrated by modern alloys, del Rey always stuck to the big ideas that brought him--and us--to sci-fi in the first place. --Paul Hughes --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Winner of the prestigious Nebula Grand Master Award, Lester del Rey was the author of more than forty books, including such classic science fiction novels as Nerves and The Eleventh Commandment and nonfiction works on atomic power, oceanography, photography, and many other science-related topics. His stories have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies. In 1977, he and his wife, Judy-Lynn del Rey, formed Del Rey Books. Judy-Lynn became Editor-in-Chief, and Lester served as Fantasy editor discovering many authors who later became bestsellers, including Terry Brooks, David Eddings, Barbara Hambly, and Stephen R. Donaldson.
From the Trade Paperback edition. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The earlier stories are generally the more precise, and feature clear moral lessons: the work ethic of "The Coppersmith", the hope for the future evoked in "Into Thy Hands", the release from ignorance in "Superstition". Overall, not a bad collection. Only the plotless dog story, "The Keepers of the House" is a complete failure. Of course many of the ideas in these stories have since been used by other writers in better stories, and while this isn't Lester's fault, it does somewhat undercut this book for modern readers. A sound enough choice for fans of the speculative fiction of this era, but because it's so old-fashioned in style and approach, and because there aren't any stories that are just essential, three stars seems enough.
One thing that struck me about this collection is how memorable these stories are - they have characters and moods that stay with you for a long time. There are just too many good stories here to name them all, but "For I am a Jealous People" and "Vengeance is Mine" stand out. I also liked "Keepers of the House" (dog story that one of the previous reviewers did not like).
As with any collection, there are stories ranging from passable to absolute gems. My favorites included:
Helen O’Loy - Robotics experts Dave and Phil create a female robot complete with emotions and decide to name her Helen O’Loy, a derivative of Helen of Alloy, which is a pun on Helen of Troy. Got that? The only problem is that she falls in love with Dave, making his life miserable…at least at first.
The Coppersmith - Industrious elf Ellowan Coppersmith emerges from a long sleep in the Adirondacks looking for work among humans only to find that his skills in repairing copper and brass items are no longer in high demand. Worse, mankind has developed horrid combustion engines. Perhaps Ellowan could use his skills to bring an eventual end to that…
Hereafter, Inc. - Righteous and judgmental Phineas Theophilus Potts returns to work after a long illness, forcing himself to be kind to the disgusting sinners around him, until he begins to realize that something is amiss. Some of his colleagues had died before his illness, so what are they doing here? Perhaps the question should be, what is Phineas doing there?
The Wings of Night - Two astronauts land on the moon to repair their ship and encounter a bizarre but benevolent alien named Lhin. Through trial and error, the astronauts find a way to communicate with the alien and learn that Lhin is the last of his kind, but with a small supply of copper could repopulate his species.
For I Am a Jealous People - A preacher’s faith is shaken when aliens attack the Earth claiming to be on a holy mission from the Lord Almighty to eradicate humans from the planet. This is one of three novellas in the collection.
Vengeance is Mine - A robot named Sam is left behind on the moon when the humans are evacuated to Earth. Shortly thereafter, Sam notices bursts of light on the Earth’s surface before the planet goes completely dark. Believing that aliens had attacked, Sam finds his way back to the planet only to eventually learn the truth behind the death of mankind. The last of three novellas.