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The Ultimate Egoist: 1 (Complete Stories of Theodore Sturgeon) [Hardcover]

Ray Bradbury , Theodore Sturgeon , Paul Williams
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

9 Nov 2010 Complete Stories of Theodore Sturgeon (Book 1)
The Ultimate Egoist, the first volume of The Complete Stories of Theodore Sturgeon, contains the late author's earliest work, written from 1937 to 1940. Although Sturgeon's reach was limited to the lengths of the short story and novelette, his influence was strongly felt by even the most original science fiction stylists, including Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, and Gene Wolfe, all contributors of laudatory forewords. The more than forty stories here showcase Sturgeon's masterful knack with clever, O. Henry-ish plot twists, sparkling character development, and archetypal “why didn't I think of that?” story ideas. Early Sturgeon masterpieces include “It,” about the violence done by a creature spontaneously born from garbage and mud, and “Helix the Cat,” about an inventor's bizarre encounter with a disembodied soul and the cat that saves it. Sturgeon's unique genius is timelessly entertaining.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 387 pages
  • Publisher: North Atlantic Books (9 Nov 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1556436580
  • ISBN-13: 978-1556436581
  • Product Dimensions: 3.6 x 16.5 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 463,575 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars About time 3 Jun 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Just about any good science fiction/fantasy fan has known of the genius of Theodore Sturgeon and now everyone has the chance to experience his genius with this series which basically reprints everything he set down on paper. This is the first set of stories he did and even here you can see the gems shining through. A lot of the stories are formulaic at times but you never seem to notice that he works the same type of plot twist over and over because of his eye for detail and his love for the human spirit. Reading his stories you get a feeling of dwelling with something utterly unique and just when you think that you have him pegged down, a story like "Helix the Cat" or "It" or "The Ultimate Egoist" or even "Bianca's Hands" shows up and you realize that this guy is something special. By all means get all these volumes and treasure them. It's worth the expense.
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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Learn about the development of a master storyteller 6 Aug 2003
By Glen Engel Cox - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I've been excited by the prospect of this book for quite some time. Imagine all the Sturgeon short stories collected in a series of volumes, and not just the ones that were published or previously collected, but ALL of them. Edited and with notes, to top it off, by that most meticulous of literary executors, Paul Williams (the man behind the Collected Philip K. Dick). Unfortunately, Sturgeon never attracted the same fanaticism that Dick did, and this project was on shaky ground for some time. The first book is finally out, and it definitely lives up to the expectations for it.
Selected stories here include:
* "Heavy Insurance" -- Sturgeon's first published and possibly first completed work. A clever short short revolving around the, then, unusual properties of dry ice. With short shorts I am always reminded of Jack Ritchie's LITTLE BOXES OF BEWILDERMENT, and this story, even as early in Sturgeon's career as it was, can stand among those tales.
* "Fluffy" -- A few awkward wording moments, but they don't detract from the joy of a clever little twist story. This would have been a page from Jonathan Carroll except Sturgeon has to have a "logical" explanation (well, OK, *an* explanation--Carroll wouldn't have felt the need for any) for the basic conceit. However, it's still just a twist story. Sturgeon quickly moved beyond it.
* "Alter Ego" -- Almost a study in what not to do in a story, this previously unpublished piece reeks of the new writer, for it is all tell and no show. It spans years, yet there is not time sense. There are some specifics, but no details. While the plot itself could become something, it's too pithy for this treatment and too pathetic for longer. It's not too surprising that this one didn't see print in its time.
* "Permit Me My Gesture" -- This is my kind of short short: neat set up, perfect background, and clever ending twist. The notes include a letter from Sturgeon to his wife; in it, he calls this kind of story a gadget plot, and "Golden Day" a gag.
* "One Sick Kid" -- A short based on Sturgeon's personal experience, kind of a "true life" op-ed piece. A bit formless, though, without a genuine payoff, i.e., life isn't as clever as fiction.
* "A God in a Garden" -- Here is the *raison d'etre* for this volume, for the admiration that writers and readers have for Sturgeon is based on stories like this one. The perfect twist tale--what some people would term a Twilight Zone story. A man with a character flaw (he lies to his wife), a conflict (his wife knows about the lying, and is upset), and the twist (he digs up a god in his garden that gives him the ability to always tell the truth--not the actual truth, but whatever he says *becomes* the truth). Sturgeon handles it all brilliantly. The notes seem to agree. This story--Sturgeon's first sale to John W. Campbell for Unknown--was like his coming out party. Finally he had found a market that didn't require formula (the string- tugging as described under "Some People Forget" above), yet welcomed cleverness.
* "Bianca's Hands" -- A disturbing little fantasy/horror piece, showing the depth of Sturgeon's mastery of character, mood, and language. Yes, there's a plot, but the plot is nothing besides the description. It is so well done--this description of Bianca's hands and Ran's love for them--that is is close to erotic. Of course, Sturgeon was no stranger to that genre, although his take on it would not be fully revealed until years later with the novels SOME OF YOUR BLOOD and GODBODY.
* "The Ultimate Egoist" -- The logical extreme of the philosophical question best answered by Rene Descartes when he wrote, "Cogito, ergo sum." Whatever Woody thinks is, and what he doubts isn't, and it doesn't take long for him to break under the strain.
* "It" -- Probably one of the most famous Sturgeon stories, spawning at least two comic creatures: DC's Swamp Thing and Marvel's Man-Thing. Actually what Sturgeon accomplishes here is the envy of every horror writer--he invents a new monster. Unfortunately he did it in a short story rather than a novel or a movie, so his creation has yet to join the full pantheon to which it belongs, taking its place beside Frankenstein's monster, Dracula, the Wolf Man, the Mummy, and the Creature from the Black Lagoon.
I hope that this project--to collect all of Sturgeon's short stories-- continues apace. Paul Williams' earlier effort in this vein was the incredible Collected Philip K. Dick, and while the Dick was interesting, PKD was a writer who excelled at novels, not really the short. Sturgeon, on the other hand, was the opposite. I learned a lot about writing from the Dick volumes, and I hope to learn even more from Sturgeon.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The beginning of one of the truly great careers 25 Oct 2002
By Robert James - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
One of the great tragedies of science fiction's success in taking over the world is that we've lost our sense of the history of the genre. After the explosion of popularity the genre saw in the late seventies, there has simply been way too much science fiction and fantasy for anyone to read all of it, much less read the best of the past. In other words, the time when every fan had read the essential works has passed; in other words, any sense of tradition and common ground has vanished into the mediocrities of Hollywood and the latest endless series of repetitious commercial formula. Which is precisely why this series of Theodore Sturgeon's complete stories, accompanied by the recent reprints of most of his novels, is so incredibly important. When one considers the fact that at the 2002 World Science Fiction Convention I met three fans who had never even heard of Sturgeon, much less read him, these reprints are highly essential. How anyone can call themselves a fan without reading Sturgeon (and Heinlein, and Asimov, and C.L. Moore, and Kuttner, and so many more) is beyond me. This first installment of the complete works of the greatest short story writer science fiction and fantasy ever produce may not be his best, but it is critical for any understanding of where science fiction began to attain the levels of greatness it has all too often forgotten. Among the best this volume has to offer includes the utterly chilling and absolutely unique "Bianca's Hands," which will both revolt and delight you, and the charming "Ether Breather," with its original aliens. As a writer myself, I enjoyed all the journeyman work, especially since I could see how the craft developed; as a science fiction critic and scholar, I also thoroughly enjoyed the biographical story notes at the end, which may be the closest we ever get to a biography. All in all, one of the great publishing events of the history of our chosen obsession.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars About time 3 Jun 1999
By Michael Battaglia - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Just about any good science fiction/fantasy fan has known of the genius of Theodore Sturgeon and now everyone has the chance to experience his genius with this series which basically reprints everything he set down on paper. This is the first set of stories he did and even here you can see the gems shining through. A lot of the stories are formulaic at times but you never seem to notice that he works the same type of plot twist over and over because of his eye for detail and his love for the human spirit. Reading his stories you get a feeling of dwelling with something utterly unique and just when you think that you have him pegged down, a story like "Helix the Cat" or "It" or "The Ultimate Egoist" or even "Bianca's Hands" shows up and you realize that this guy is something special. By all means get all these volumes and treasure them. It's worth the expense.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The beginning of one of the truly great careers 25 Oct 2002
By Robert James - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
One of the great tragedies of science fiction's success in taking over the world is that we've lost our sense of the history of the genre. After the explosion of popularity the genre saw in the late seventies, there has simply been way too much science fiction and fantasy for anyone to read all of it, much less read the best of the past. In other words, the time when every fan had read the essential works has passed; any sense of tradition and common ground has vanished into the mediocrities of Hollywood and the latest endless series of repetitious commercial formula. Which is precisely why this series of Theodore Sturgeon's complete stories, accompanied by the recent reprints of most of his novels, is so incredibly important. When one considers the fact that at the 2002 World Science Fiction Convention I met three fans who had never even heard of Sturgeon, much less read him, these reprints are highly essential. How anyone can call themselves a fan without reading Sturgeon (and Heinlein, and Asimov, and C.L. Moore, and Kuttner, and so many more) is beyond me. This first installment of the complete works of the greatest short story writer science fiction and fantasy ever produced may not be his best, but it is critical for any understanding of where science fiction began to attain the levels of greatness it has all too often forgotten. Among the best this volume has to offer includes the utterly chilling and absolutely unique "Bianca's Hands," which will both revolt and delight you, and the charming "Ether Breather," with its original aliens. As a writer myself, I enjoyed all the journeyman work, especially since I could see how the craft developed; as a science fiction critic and scholar, I also thoroughly enjoyed the biographical story notes at the end, which may be the closest we ever get to a biography. All in all, one of the great publishing events of the history of our chosen obsession.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best short story writer of the 20th century 11 Jan 2000
By David N. Reiss - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Ted Sturgeon was the best short story writer of the 20th century. He wrote the novel "More than Human" in the early 1950's.
Writers try to change the world in a way to make it better. Isaac Asimov looked for more intelligence in the world. Robert Heinlein for more deliberate good work, not accidental, in the world. Ted Stugeon, however, looked for more love in the world. Which is pretty much what all of Sturgeon's great work is about: love.
It is probably because of this that Sturgeon is still read today. But not as much as he should be. He should be a writer who everybody has heard of.
It is sad that the SFWA don't give out the grand master award to those who have shuffled off their mortal coil. Theodore Sturgeon is one who should be granted the title postumously. It is sad that he couldn't be granted it in life, but it something that should be granted to him now that he has pasted from this world.
This volume of this series focus' on the early work of Sturgeon. Probably from even before he started thinking of himself as anything more than a parttime writer. It is still good stuff to read though.
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