The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume Two A: The Greatest Science Fiction Novellas of All Time Chosen by the Members of the Science Fiction Writers of America: 2A Paperback – 7 Jul 2009
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"Libraries can toss out worn collections of partly good/partly poor and buy this volume of the "creme de la creme."" --"Library Journal""
Libraries can toss out worn collections of partly good/partly poor and buy this volume of the "creme de la creme." "Library Journal""
About the Author
Ben Bova is the author of more than a hundred works of science fact and fiction, including "Able One," "Leviathans of Jupiter" and the Grand Tour novels, including "Titan," winner of John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best novel of the year. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Arthur C. Clarke Foundation in 2005, and in 2008 he won the Robert A. Heinlein Award "for his outstanding body of work in the field of literature." He is President Emeritus of the National Space Society and a past president of Science Fiction Writers of America, and a former editor of "Analog" and former fiction editor of "Omni." As an editor, he won science fiction's Hugo Award six times. Dr. Bova's writings have predicted the Space Race of the 1960s, virtual reality, human cloning, the Strategic Defense Initiative (Star Wars), electronic book publishing, and much more. He lives in Florida.
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Top Customer Reviews
My three favorites from these eleven novellas are:
Poul Anderson's "Call Me Joe" explores the relationship between Joe, a hardy creature gengineered to thrive in the hostile environment of Jupiter, and Edward Anglesey, a wheelchair-bound remote operator who links with Joe to direct his daily activities. A question emerges of who is in charge.
John Campbell's "Who Goes There?" shows us how a group of Antarctic researchers deal with an alien visitor awakened from the ice. A creature that insinuates itself into their group in an unexpected way. This story is a must-read for fans of The Thing.
Robert Heinlein's "Universe" is the prototypical generation spaceship story. The Ship has been traveling for a long time--long enough for the original crew's descendants to begin pursuing dreams of their own.
The Science Fiction Writers of America who selected these novellas have done their job well. Not only are the stories entertaining in their own right, but it is fascinating to see the roots of many of science fiction's now-oft-used themes. Highly recommended.
Rereading these stories makes me remember why I fell in love with science fiction in the first place many years ago.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The second two volumes took me years to track down; II B I managed to find in a sale of discards from my school library; II A I didn't find at all until Amazon came along.
The conceit of this series is that the Science Fiction Writers of America picked the best short stories, novellas, and novels from before the Nebula Awards were commenced in 1965, and published them as a hall-of-fame anthology. Volume 1 collected the short stories and volume II (A and B) collected the novellas -- essentially, one stop volumes of all the "Nebula Emeritus" books, the sci-fi that professional SF writers of the sixties felt had most influenced and impacted them up to that point.
As such, this series is perfect for two groups of people: people who are completely ignorant of sci fi, and people who want to gain a better critical understanding of sci fi and its history as a genre. You can't find a better starting place, because these are the stories that the great modern SF writers started on, so by reading these, you'll understand more about what modern writers are doing, and you'll have the opportunity to experience the tropes first hand, from the stories that coined them, not in later knockoffs.
This volume (II A) I prefer slightly less than I and II B, if only because by the time I'd found it, I was older and had read some of the stories elsewhere and seen the tropes before, so it didn't have quite the same glow to it as the other two did, read in childhood; I also feel a couple of the stories in here aren't quite up to the same level as the rest. Still, there are some definite essentials -- "Universe" was the first generation-ship story, "Who Goes There?" is the source story for John Carpenter's film _The Thing_, The Marching Morons is an early version of the conceit in Idiocracy, etc.
Probably the best benefit of these volumes is that they'll give you a general familiarity with the big names of Golden Age SF, so that you'll know who you like and don't and whose works you want to find more of. If you're looking to expand your knowledge of Golden Age era SF, this series is an excellent place to start, and you'll probably find yourself tracking down most of the other works by most of these authors. I would, however, point you to Volume 1 first, especially if you're new to the genre.
This volume contains:
Call Me Joe by Poul Anderson
Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell Jr.
Nerves by Lester Del Rey
Universe by Robert A. Heinlein
The Marching Morons by C.M. Kornbluth
Vintage Season by Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore
. . . And Then There Were None by Eric Frank Russell
The Ballad of Lost C'Mell by Cordwainer Smith
Baby is Three by Theodore Sturgeon
The Time Machine by H.G. Wells
With Folded Hands by Jack Williamson
The novella, longer than a short story, shorter than a full novel, is the ideal length for science fiction, providing enough room for an author to present an idea and work through all its implications, without the padding that often seems obligatory for marketing purposes today.
This book includes key works by some of the field's biggest names from the 1940s and 50s. Most will probably be new to anyone who started reading science fiction after the 1980s, including Campbell's "Who Goes There", filmed twice as "The Thing" but much creepier in print, and Lester del Rey's "Nerves", which pre-dated Three Mile Island and Chernobyl by decades.
While the science may have dated, these are still terrific stories.
Let's look at a couple examples. Kornbluth's work is a lugubrious application of eugenics to humans. With the reduction in accidents, war, illness, fewer ungifted people were "weeded out." The end result? As a character says, "The average IQ is now 45." Why not just let the ungifted die out through stupidity? One of the "gifted" who were around to keep the world going on mentioned that they had--but the "marching morons" were too dense to know that anything was wrong, as they began to die by large numbers. So, the gifted continue to keep the species alive. When I read this, I have mixed emotions indeed! I am not a fan of eugenics, but the novella lays out an interesting scenario.
Another favorite is Russell's "And Then There Were None." A sort of libertarian work, in which residents of a planet had seen their society evolve in a very different path from a galactic state. The central government decided to reassert authority over "The Gands" (residents of the planet, followers of the ideas of Gandhi). The society of the Gands is libertarian, with people having no right to define the duties of another. The ship's crew, when interacting with the Gands, decide they like their way of life better. Many desertions follow, before the officers and some crewmen lift off, to escape the society.
H. G. Wells' "The T8ime Machine" is here. So, too, Campbell's "Who Goes There?", the source for two different versions of a movie known to us as "The Thing." As other reviewers note, the novella is appropriately creepy.
Anyhow, if you don't like the style of classic science fiction, this may be unsatisfying. But for those of us who grew up with these authors, the book is a glorious reminder of our experiencing sci-fi in our younger days!
Not surprisingly, with the longer stories, there is a shorter table of contents than for Volume I, with just 11 stories in Volume IIA. Nevertheless, there are some all-time classics here:
* Call Me Joe by Poul Anderson - novelette
* Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell, Jr. - novella
* Nerves by Lester del Rey - novella
* Universe by Robert A. Heinlein - novella
* The Marching Morons by C. M. Kornbluth - novelette
* Vintage Season by Henry Kuttner & C. L. Moore - novella
* ...And Then There Were None by Eric Frank Russell - novella
* The Ballad of Lost C'Mell by Cordwainer Smith - novelette
* Baby Is Three by Theodore Sturgeon - novella
* The Time Machine by H. G. Wells - novella
* With Folded Hands... by Jack Williamson - novelette
This volume does a little better job of balancing out the different eras of Science Fiction than Volume I did. At the same time, the quality of the collection remains at the highest level, with classic stories from start to finish. In addition to the stories themselves, there is an introduction by Ben Bova, who goes into more detail on how the stories were chosen for Volume IIA and IIB. This is definitely one to pick up if you have the chance, especially if you don't have these stories in another collection.