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A Science Fiction Omnibus [Paperback]

Brian Aldiss
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
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Book Description

29 Nov 2007
This new edition of Brian Aldiss’s classic anthology brings together a diverse selection of science fiction spanning over sixty years, from Isaac Asimov’s ‘Nightfall’, first published in 1941, to the 2006 story ‘Friends in Need’ by Eliza Blair. Including authors such as Clifford Simak, Harry Harrison, Bruce Sterling, A. E. Van Vogt and Brian Aldiss himself, these stories portray struggles against machines, epic journeys, genetic experiments, time travellers and alien races. From stories set on Earth, to uncanny far distant worlds and ancient burnt-out suns, the one constant is humanity itself, compelled by an often fatal curiosity to explore the boundless frontiers of time, space and probability.

Frequently Bought Together

A Science Fiction Omnibus + The Oxford Book of Science Fiction Stories + The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume One 1929-1964: The Greatest Science Fiction Stories of All Time Chosen by the Members of the Science Fiction (SF Hall of Fame)
Price For All Three: 30.10

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Product details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (29 Nov 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141188928
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141188928
  • Product Dimensions: 2.7 x 12.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 42,683 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Aldiss's father ran a department store that his grandfather had established, and the family lived above it. At the age of 6, Brian was sent to board at West Buckland School in Devon, which he attended until his late teens. In 1943, he joined the Royal Signals regiment, and saw action in Burma; his encounters with tropical rainforests at that time may have been at least a partial inspiration for Hothouse, as his Army experience inspired the Horatio Stubbs second and third books.

After World War II, he worked as a bookseller in Oxford. Besides short science fiction for various magazines, he wrote a number of short pieces for a booksellers trade journal about life in a fictitious bookshop, and this attracted the attention of Charles Monteith, an editor at the British publishers Faber and Faber. As a result of this, Aldiss's first book was The Brightfount Diaries (1955), a novel in diary form about the life of a sales assistant in a bookshop.
In 1955, The Observer newspaper ran a competition for a short story set in the year 2500, which Aldiss won with a story entitled "Not For An Age". The Brightfount Diaries had been a minor success, and Faber asked Aldiss if he had any more writing that they could look at with a view to publishing. Aldiss confessed to being a science fiction author, to the delight of the publishers, who had a number of science fiction fans in high places, and so his first science fiction book, a collection of short stories entitled Space, Time and Nathaniel was published. By this time, his earnings from writing equalled the wages he got in the bookshop, so he made the decision to become a full-time writer.
He was voted the Most Promising New Author at the World Science Fiction Convention in 1958, and elected President of the British Science Fiction Association in 1960. He was the literary editor of the Oxford Mail newspaper during the 1960s. Around 1964 he and his long-time collaborator Harry Harrison started the first ever journal of science fiction criticism, Science Fiction Horizons, which during its brief span of two issues published articles and reviews by such authors as James Blish, and featured a discussion among Aldiss, C. S. Lewis, and Kingsley Amis in the first issues, and an interview with William S. Burroughs in the second.

Besides his own writings, he has had great success as an anthologist. For Faber he edited Introducing SF, a collection of stories typifying various themes of science fiction, and Best Fantasy Stories. In 1961 he edited an anthology of reprinted short science fiction for the British paperback publisher Penguin Books under the title Penguin Science Fiction. This was remarkably successful, going into numerous reprints, and was followed up by two further anthologies, More Penguin Science Fiction (1963), and Yet More Penguin Science Fiction (1964). The later anthologies enjoyed the same success as the first, and all three were eventually published together as The Penguin Science Fiction Omnibus (1973), which also went into a number of reprints. In the 1970s, he produced several large collections of classic grand-scale science fiction, under the titles Space Opera (1974), Space Odysseys (1975), Galactic Empires (1976), Evil Earths (1976), and Perilous Planets (1978) which were quite successful. Around this time, he edited a large-format volume Science Fiction Art (1975), with selections of artwork from the magazines and pulps.
In response to the results from the planetary probes of the 1960s and 1970s, which showed that Venus was completely unlike the hot, tropical jungle usually depicted in science fiction, he and Harry Harrison edited an anthology Farewell, Fantastic Venus!, reprinting stories based on the pre-probe ideas of Venus. He also edited, with Harrison, a series of anthologies The Year's Best Science Fiction (1968-1976?)

Brian Aldiss also invented a form of extremely short story called the Minisaga. The Daily Telegraph hosted a competition for the best Minisaga for several years and Aldiss was the judge.[2] He has edited several anthologies of the best Minisagas.

He traveled to Yugoslavia, where he met Yugoslav fans in Ljubljana, Slovenia; he published a travel book about Yugoslavia; he published an alternative-history fantasy story about Serbian kings in the Middle Ages; and he wrote a novel called The Malacia Tapestry, about an alternative Dalmatia.

He has achieved the honor of "Permanent Special Guest" at ICFA, the conference for the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts, which he attends annually.

He was awarded the title of Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to literature in HM Queen Elizabeth II's Birthday Honours list, announced on 11 June 2005.

In January 2007 he appeared on Desert Island Discs. His choice of record to 'save' was Old Rivers sung by Walter Brennan, his choice of book was John Halpern's biography of John Osborne, and his luxury a banjo. The full selection of eight favourite records is on the BBC website .

On 1 July 2008 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Liverpool in recognition of his contribution to literature.

In addition to a highly successful career as a writer, Aldiss is also an accomplished artist whose abstract compositions or 'isolées' are influenced by the work of Giorgio de Chirico and Wassily Kandinsky. His first solo exhibition The Other Hemisphere was held in Oxford, UK, in August-September 2010, and the exhibition's centrepiece 'Metropolis' has since been released as a limited edition fine art print.

Product Description

About the Author

Poet, playwright, critic, fiction and science-fiction writer Brian Aldiss was born in 1925 in Dereham, Norfolk, and is the author of more than seventy-five books. He lives in Oxford and was awarded an OBE in 2005 for Services to Literature.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For what it is, this is worthwhile. 30 May 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This anthology is an update of the now classic survey of the SF field published originally in 1973 (there were 3 books that made that version up published 1961, 3 and 4). Obviously there has been a *lot* of SF published in the intervening years, so, necessarily, the contents of this book have been updated. Naturally, however, it's hardly definitive, however, I think that it does a reasonable job of showing where SF came from and where it's going.

The oldest story in it is Asimov's 1941 story, Nightfall and the most recent stories from Gary Kilworth and Eliza Blair. Something that I did notice reading through it is that while, obviously, the immediate concerns of the stories changed, a lot of the earlier short stories seemed to be concerned with building to a pay-off of some kind (if you know Nightfall, or Fred Pohl's The Tunnel Under the World you'll know what I mean) while some of the later stories seem less concerned with this. I suspect that this has something to do with the market that they were writing for in the 40s, 50s and 60s.

It seems, therefore, churlish to criticise the earlier stories for being concerned with politics we don't consider relevant, or to be in some way "one-dimensional" (and, I think, some are) this book does what it sets out to do very well. The other thing that I've found is that, perhaps, some of the stories have been over-anthologised (for example, I think I've seen the Ted Chiang story in several: it is superb and deserves to be there, but if you read a lot of SF anthologies, you may well come accross it a lot - similarly for some of the older ones, the Asimov and Pohl stories have shown up a lot). I suppose, though, that demonstrates that there is, generally, a high standard of quality amongst this stuff.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A welcome return 2 July 2008
Format:Paperback
I first read this anthology in its earlier incarnation in the 70s. There were several stories in the original which had created such a strong impression that their landscapes and events were etched into my mental archive. I was really excited to see it back in print and thoroughly enjoyed returning to some vividly rendered planets and plot lines. A couple of the new additions similarly impressed.

True, some stories seem dated in their imagery but in a rather charming sort of way.

A good book to escape into.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent selection 4 Jun 2008
Format:Paperback
An excellent selection of memorable tales. They are patchy in content, but all well written and my complaints are more to do with the "message" contained in a number of them - too obvious and not enough surprise. Nevertheless, not a bad read - but read with plenty of salt, your eyes open and your pre-conceptions left behind. Be aware that the ideological content is a sometimes quite childish. There is not much depth to the intellectual ideas.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Cracking collection 8 Oct 2009
Format:Paperback
This omnibus is a great collection for anyone who wants some quick fixes of some classic sci fi. Some of the short stories contained within move along with great pace, and have some great idea, however others are a little slow, overly long and flabby. But on the whole this is a good collection.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect 28 Dec 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book was an excellent read.
This item is exactly as described and performed perfectly.
Recommended seller would shop with them again.
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