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Colossus: The Collected Science Fiction of Donald Wandrei [Hardcover]

Philip J. Rahman , Dennis Weiler , Rodger Gerberding , Richard L. Tierney

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Amazon.com: 3.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Uneven book, uneven writer... 4 Jan 2001
By Rory Coker - Published on Amazon.com
This volume, and a companion volume, DON'T DREAM, collect all the science fiction and weird fiction of Donald Wandrei, generally remembered today mainly as co-founder of Arkham House and walking companion of H. P. Lovecraft.
Somehow I missed the first edition of COLOSSUS. This 2nd edition has two extra, previously unpublished stories and some interesting photos.
First the bad news: I don't know what kind of poet Wandrei was, but as a writer and plotter of prose fiction, he had some severe limitations. Almost all of his sf was published between 1930 and 1936, and it is archaic even by the standards of that day. He has three basic story ideas, which he uses over and over: (1) something from outer space plays havoc with human society. (2) Uncontrolled scientific curiosity plays havoc with humanity and the earth itself. (3) A lovers' triangle becomes displaced in time, space or both.
His best known story, "Colossus," is an example of type (3). It is also Wandrei's worst written story, in fact one of the worst written sf stories I have ever read, and I speak as a reader of "The Blind Spot," by Austin Hall and Homer Eon Flint. Typical sentence: "His accumulated hopes, tragedy and undertaking of the day were above rational analysis." Do what?
There are no real neglected gems in this collection; in fact, I had to force myself ot keep reading. Wandrei seems at his best when he can throw plot, characterization and dialogue (none of which he can handle) to the winds, and spin wild prose poems describing the breakdown of "space, time, matter, energy and consciousness." This makes "Finality Unlimited" (he wasn't much for titles either), "A Trip to Infinity," and the previously unpublished "If---" the best stories in the book.
Wandrei ceased writing sf just before the dawn of the Golden Age of Science Fiction in 1939. He tried to make a few sales to John W. Campbell's ASTOUNDING, but his archaic output had no hope of publication in a magazine newly emphasizing realism in science and characterization.
Here is a very minor talent. He shouldn't be forgotten, but don't go into this volume expecting something wonderful. If Wandrei is remembered only as a publisher and friend of Lovecraft, maybe that is only justice, and his just due.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Science Fiction Without Boundaries 16 Jun 2001
By Scott Wyatt - Published on Amazon.com
Arkham House co-founder, friend and correspondent of H.P. Lovecraft, and a highly respected writer for the pulps in the late 20s and 30s - Donald Wandrei was considered a poet and visionary by HPL and Clark Ashton Smith. His stories of alien intrusions and universe shaking cataclysms are somewhat dated to those who are only used to the psychologically driven fiction of more modern years. His unique visions were considered groundbreaking when first published and are still highly entertaining decades later. This is first of all an enjoyable read as well as a fascinating look at the beginning of modern science fiction.
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