This collection was initially issued in 1992; in 2003 it is a welcome reissue. At this moment in time SF is more accessible than ever- with the reissue of short-story collections like this & the brilliant SF-masterworks series that features authors like PK Dick, JG Ballard, Richard Matheson, James Blish & Theodore Sturgeon. As this book demonstrates, SF is a wide church- frequently not the space fiction/star trek stereotype perpetuated by people who perpetuate such things... Shippey offers a brilliant introduction, noting that the book can't cover anything (though a second volume might be a great idea!)- there is also a select bibliography- which I feel is a little incomplete (for that see books like Trillion Year Spree & The Encyclopedia of SF- listed in this rudimentary bibliography). The 30 odd stories are what this collection is about, and reason why this collection is such great value. All of the stories can be read in short sessions- whether communting, accelerating towards sleep or waiting, waiting, waiting...Then the reader can decide which kind of SF they most enjoy & pursue other works by that writer (most probably reissued by people like SF masterworks!). The collection opens with key SF-writer (if mild proponent of eugenics), HG Wells and ends bang up to date on Dave Brin. Between we get stories from such key SF-writers as Arthur C Clarke, Ursula K Le Guin, James Blish, Gene Wolfe, Bruce Sterling & William Gibson. Favourites include John W. Campbell Jr's Night, Brian Aldiss's Who Can Replace a Man? (definite AI-related territory & a place where cybernetic notions are beginning to develop- into the new wave) & JG Ballard's hilarious Billennium- which takes a Kafka-inspired look at over-population (and stems from the brilliant Terminal Beach collection). Shippey's collection is the perfect SF-introduction, or if you are quite au fait with the genre- an obligatory purchase. It is also 500plus pages evidence that in SF, the short-story is still as important as the novel- and the place where the latter usually stem from...
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