The Science Fiction Century Hardcover – 1997
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This book includes stories from the founding fathers of the field, such as H G Wells, C S Lewis, Jack London, And Rudyard Ki;ling beloved mainstays of the genre, such a Philip Jose Farmer, Roger Zelazny, Jack Vance, and Paul Anderson
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
This book isn't a collection of the greatest sci-fi from the last century, which is a real bummer because that's exactly what I was hoping for. Instead it's just a collection of random sci-fi stories from various authors spanning about a hundred years. The Acknowledgments page notes the absence of Asimov, Campbell, Clark, and Heinlein because they have been honored elsewhere and the editor didn't need them to clarify his point with this book. I'm not really sure what his point was though. To bring to light largely unknown sci-fi writers? That would be great if their work was worth remembering. I certainly didn't know C.S. Lewis wrote some sci-fi, of course that's probably just because it's not very good stuff and not worth remembering. This isn't to belittle the authors or their selected works. It's just that a title with the word "century" in it leads one to think the selections would mostly be the heavy-hitters instead of just the farm teams (with occasional standouts).
Only 13 of these stories are worth the time to read:
Beam Us Home (James Tiptree, Jr.)
A Work of Art (James Blish)
The Machine Stops (E.M. Forster)
The Hounds of Tindalos (Frank Belknap Long)
The Angel of Violence (Adam Wisniewski-Snerg)
Time in Advance (William Tenn)
Veritas (James Morrow)
The King and the Dollmaker (Wolfgang Jeschke)
Fire Watch (Connie Willis)
Greenslaves (Frank Herbert)
Consider Her Ways (John Wyndham)
Swarm (Bruce Sterling)
Beggars in Spain (Nancy Kress)
As a somewhat interesting aside, the intro paragraphs of each selection DO in fact give a good indication of what's to come. Swanwick's for instance (who at his best is only good about 50% of the time) reprints a statement from Science Fiction Writers that his style is largely "without a strong, action-oriented plot." Really, you could say the same thing about this volume as a whole.
He mentions the beginning of this as an argument between H. G. Wells and Henry James about that sort of thing. Something like 'Hey, H. G., how dare you write something good that isn't all depressing and deathly', in a nutshell. Apparently Forster agreed with James, which may explain the extremely tedious nature of The Machine Stops.
Apart from that and the junk C. S. Lewis story this is a high quality anthology. Pointing out that you used Clarke, Asimov etc. in a previous bigarse volume is one thing, but at least put something better in their place.
I think the point might be to skip the most famous, most well known stories though, perusing this lineup. How Johnny Mnemonic snuck in then, not sure.
A Century is correct though, from around 1890 to 1990, or Kipling to Kress if you prefer alpha to numeric.
Still, a very nice volume and absolutely a major anthology, with a 3.73 average, over such a broad timespan, with some gems you aren't too likely to come across in other places.
The other thing Hartwell has included is a smattering of non-English originally stories from Europe (although none from Asia, or South America or Africa) as other examples, and these are also pretty reasonable selections. He points out that the major centre of SF is America, something which is undeniable except maybe to some bizarre holdout extremely parochial poms perhaps.
If you get a chance to pick this over 1000 page monster up, do so.
Science Fiction Century : Beam Us Home - James Tiptree Jr.
Science Fiction Century : Ministering Angels - C. S. Lewis
Science Fiction Century : The Music Master of Babylon - Edgar Pangborn
Science Fiction Century : A Story of the Days to Come - H. G. Wells
Science Fiction Century : Hot Planet - Hal Clement
Science Fiction Century : A Work of Art [Art-Work] - James Blish
Science Fiction Century : The Machine Stops - E. M. Forster
Science Fiction Century : Brightness Falls from the Air - Margaret St. Clair
Science Fiction Century : 2066 Election Day - Michael Shaara
Science Fiction Century : The Rose - Charles Harness
Science Fiction Century : The Hounds of Tindalos - Frank Belknap Long
Science Fiction Century : The Angel of Violence - Adam Wisniewski-Snerg
Science Fiction Century : Nobody Bothers Gus - Algis Budrys
Science Fiction Century : The Time Machine - Dino Buzzati
Science Fiction Century : Mother - Philip Jose Farmer
Science Fiction Century : As Easy as A.B.C. - Rudyard Kipling
Science Fiction Century : Ginungagap - Michael Swanwick
Science Fiction Century : Minister Without Portfolio - Mildred Clingerman
Science Fiction Century : Time in Advance - William Tenn
Science Fiction Century : Good Night Sophie - Lino Aldani
Science Fiction Century : Veritas - James Morrow
Science Fiction Century : Enchanted Village - A. E. van Vogt
Science Fiction Century : The King and the Dollmaker - Wolfgang Jeschke
Science Fiction Century : Fire Watch - Connie Willis
Science Fiction Century : Goat Song - Poul Anderson
Science Fiction Century : The Scarlet Plague - Jack London
Science Fiction Century : Drunkboat - Cordwainer Smith
Science Fiction Century : Another World - J. H. Rosny-Aîné
Science Fiction Century : If the Stars Are Gods - Gregory Benford and Gordon Eklund
Science Fiction Century : I Still Call Australia Home - George Turner
Science Fiction Century : Liquid Sunshine - Alexander Kuprin; trans. by Leland Fetzer
Science Fiction Century : Great Work of Time - John Crowley
Science Fiction Century : Sundance - Robert Silverberg
Science Fiction Century : Greenslaves - Frank Herbert
Science Fiction Century : Rumfuddle - Jack Vance
Science Fiction Century : The Dimple in Draco - Philip Latham
Science Fiction Century : Consider Her Ways - John Wyndham
Science Fiction Century : Something Ending - Eddy C. Bertin
Science Fiction Century : He Who Shapes - Roger Zelazny
Science Fiction Century : Swarm - Bruce Sterling
Science Fiction Century : Beggars in Spain [SS] - Nancy Kress
Science Fiction Century : Johnny Mnemonic [SS] - William Gibson
Science Fiction Century : Repent Harlequin! Said the Ticktockman - Harlan Ellison
Science Fiction Century : Blood's a Rover - Chad Oliver
Science Fiction Century : Sail the Tide of Mourning - Richard A. Lupoff
Dogstar biowar ending.
4 out of 5
Space escort barrel scraping.
2.5 out of 5
An elderly survivor of some nuking lives in a museum, and one day comes across a couple of primitive kids, nascent musicians.
4 out of 5
Giving the past lifestyle a try.
3 out of 5
3.5 out of 5
4 out of 5
Can't do anything ourselves.
3 out of 5
Bird people buried.
3 out of 5
This is a job for eight of us man, Uncle Sam?
4 out of 5
This is a book about science and art, and how people view such things might have an impact on human evolution and the development of a new species, homo superior. Also sarcastic commentary on authorities that want to hamper or censor such things.
3 out of 5
Author's drug doom by dimension dogs.
4 out of 5
4.5 out of 5