World Treasy Contpy Science Fictn Hardcover – 23 Mar 1989
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Gathers stories by Vonnegut, Ballard, Sturgeon, Clarke, Lem, Bester, Heinlein, Sheckley, Niven, Pohl, Asimov, Calvino, Borges, and the Strugatskys.
Top customer reviews
Kurt Vonnegut Jr.'s "Harrison Bergeron" is possibly the best political commentary disguised as science fiction I have ever read. It takes legally enforced "equality" to its ridiculous extreme. How far can we go down the path of handicapping those who might be smarter or stronger than average?
In Avram Davidson's "The Golem" a newly-created robot confronts the superstitious past of the human beings it is destined to replace.
Robert Heinlein's "The Green Hills of Earth" is the story of Rhysling, the Blind Singer of the Spaceways--but not the official version. It captures the feel of the author's future history series perfectly. And has the odd distinction of being a science fiction musical.
Larry Niven's "Inconstant Moon" paces through the long, sleepless night after its protagonist figures out the puzzle of the evening sky's too-bright moon. One of his very best tales, it is not connected to Larry Niven's Known Space, nor to any of his other sets of related stories.
Theodore Sturgeon's "The Man Who Lost the Sea" is a rambling, hard-to-follow story that comes eventually and finally to its end.
Dated, but highly recommended.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Many of the stories in The World Treasury of Science Fiction seem written as if the author was hoping the story would be picked up and filmed as an 'Outer Limits' or 'Twilight Zone' episode. I had to skip ahead and read 'Inconstant Moon' by Larry Niven, wondering if it was an episode of the new Outer Limits I had watched on television. It was. In 'Inconstant Moon' the male protagonists realizes that the extremely bright moon is a sign the other side of the Earth has been destroyed, in his estimation, by the Sun going Nova (which in reality would kill everyone on the Earth within a minute of the moon becoming bright?). He realizes he has one night at most to live. The protagonist calls up his sometime girlfriend and they go out on the town. It turns out it was just an extremely powerful solar flare, one with catastrophic results. The two end up being survivors. In the filmed version, near the end, when his girlfriend finds out, she is extremely angry saying, 'How dare you choose how the last night of my life will plays out'. In the book version, the girlfriend is an amateur astronomer herself and she also knows catastrophe has struck but doesn't reveal she knows. She plays a character in a sense stronger than he is. Wikipedia notes that Niven himself edited the story for The Outer Limits TV show. In both works, thinking they are the only one's who know, they come across others who know too.
Where there is smoke there is usually fire and in this book that comes in the form of Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov's contributions. Asimov and Heinlein being two of 'the big three' names in scifi. They prove why they are worthy of their reputations. Heinlein's whimsical 'The Green Hills of Earth' never-the-less has an intensity about it. If only Heinlein had hooked up with musician Ted Nugent while he was still alive. . . 'The Green Hills of Earth' being perhaps one of two stories included here that might possibly be included in a 'best 200 scifi stories of all time' anthology. The other story, and probably much, much, more deserving, would be 'A Vintage Season' by Henry Kuttner and C.L Moore. After 'A Vintage Season' I would say my two favorite stories here are 'The Fifth Head of Cerberus' by Gene Wolfe, who is clearly beyond being a master story teller. I had to Google him after reading his story. The other favorite story being, 'On the Inside Track' by German Author Karl Michael Armer. 'On the Inside Track' is a very introspective story about an elderly man taken over by an alien intelligence. They do this to humans (and I believe others) as part of doing business around the universe. It is said a full third of the stories included in this work are stories translated into English. The editor introduces each story by talking a little about the story and the author and by listing the translator (where applicable). Arthur C Clarke's (the third of the big three) story, 'A Meeting With Medusa' was fairly disappointing to me. It almost seemed as if Clarke were trying not to show up whatever other authors may have been in the magazine his story was originally written in. It does end with the 'big idea'. Science Fiction has been called idea-fiction before. In this case the idea, very casually approached, is that machines will one day take over from humans at the forefront of exploration and discovery.
So much of Science fiction seemed to have this capitalist, individualist bent to it. The great rocket builders are always private companies or individual great men. And here, while many of the stories are extremely far out, the need for making money seems little different than it was when these stories were written. Not quite so much with Isaac Asimov. Yes, great individual or peculiar men (with an almost Freudian mindset) inhabit the worlds of Isaac Asimov, they are the movers and shakers and subjects of the story, but they generally live inside a would run by a strong world government. Such is the case in Asimov's 'The Dead Past'. 'The Dead Past' concerns a Chronometer, a device that can look into the past by examining light traces left in physical objects. I've often remembered this device, I think written about in other stories (almost certainly by Asimov) such as one concerning a murder investigation. In 'The Dead Past, the government suppresses the general use of this device. They do print up articles about ancient history seen through the device (which turn out to be fake being the device can in reality only see back 120 years). The government officials, however, as is often the case with Asimov, end up being the good guys. Reading this story it becomes clear why Asimov would write about the same inventions (and governments) time and time again, in some cases creating a kind of unified future history. Asimov has so painstakingly examined the world and created this science, these devices, these computers, and these future governments (to the point of amazing prescience) one can see it would be foolish to abandon them and so Asimov discusses them further and in different ways in new stories. I knew I had read 'The Dead Past' before, and thought I knew how the story ended. The Historian in 'The Dead Past' wants permission to look into the history of Carthage (he thinks in reality this may have been a benevolent civilization [only maligned by it's enemies]). Refused this, he finds those who would help him illegally build his own Chronometer (which opens up a whole new can of worms). I thought at the end this Historian would see that Carthage was even worse than it has been horribly portrayed, but that wasn't how the story ended. For all Asimov's inventions, what really is of note in the story is it's psychology. Asimov deserves his place in the annals of science fiction. It does seem to me there is something missing in Asimov's stories (as impressive as they truly are, including a rare deeper level that is only also apparent, perhaps, in Gene Wolfe's entry?). What it is Asimov may be missing I'm not sure. At times the characters seem fleshed out, and completely separate characters, and at times their dialog seems mostly about advancing the plot or exposition of the story? Perhaps Asimov was shackled with the burden of having to make his fiction scientifically plausible. Within 30 years authors simply imagined that anything was possible, brought about by 'technology', and the ideas needed no further explanation.
The story 'The New Prehistory' by Colombian author Rene Rebetez-Cores reminded me of a movie I've never seen, 'The Human Centipede'. It was a European movie concerning 3 human beings who have been sown together mouth to anus. The movie in question was given 0 stars by noted critic Roger Ebert. In reality the movie probably has nothing to do with the story 'The New Prehistory'. If the movie maker ever needs a rationalization for his purportedly debased movie. . . In the story 'The New Prehistory' a line of people, observed by the author waiting to get into a movie theater, gradually merge into one new organism from which they cannot escape. And all over the city and countryside individuals are merging together forming new, giant organisms. He later writes, "in the old days when people were individuals, those who liked to form themselves into lines or crowds in the street were mediocrities, morons. Intelligent people would not have been caught up in such foolishness. They have been destroyed, or else, like me, they are wandering in the ruins. But I have met no one else here". To be honest, I didn't understand the story. It may be a lament for a world that no longer is and a note on the end of individuality.
I had issues (mostly in the introduction) with the editor himself, David G. Hartwell. He makes it known he's from the left side of the political spectrum in the introduction (without explicitly saying so). More disquieting is his unstated assumptions that his way of thinking is self evidently correct and the only possible way of seeing the world. Perhaps the editor is right, that his way of thinking is the norm for the world. I'm not so sure his way of thinking (that he takes for granted) is right. He includes a poorly written story (that there was no need to include in this anthology) 'Special Flight' by John Berryman and follows it with a very well written one whom the editor associates with the 'new wave' of science fiction. The new wave is sometimes seen as having a social or political (certainly a topical) bent. David G. Hartwell was willing to write about interesting ideas in his introduction to the work. I did grow to enjoy his introductions to the stories for the most part. By the end the introductions seem as if coming from someone who is an old friend.
The author places two kind of whimsical yet horror short short stories beside each other, 'Zero Hour' by Ray Bradbury and 'The Hurkle is a Happy Beast' by Theodore Sturgeon. The Hurkle is colored blue perhaps in homage to the aliens in 'Zero Hour' who are also blue. Sturgeon would seem to improve upon (and greatly change) the alien invasion story by Bradbury. 'The Hurkel is a Happy Beast' is very whimsical and light hearted, yet in a way it is a horror story for humans. It is feel good story for the Hurkle (a pet of an alien species who by chance is teleported to Earth) the subject of the story. The comedy episode of Star Trek 'The Trouble with Tribbles' had to have been influenced by this story. Ray Bradbury's story 'Zero Hour's is also whimsical being it involves children. It does become genuinely horrifying. In 'Zero Hour' a mother distractedly notes children are playing 'alien invasion' with new imaginary friends they've been promised much from.
I would say only two or three stories in The World Treasury of Science Fiction, for sure, would deserve a place in a 'best 200 science fiction stories' book. This isn't a re-hash of other 'best of science fiction' anthologies. I did enjoyed several of these stories immensely. As noted, many of the stories here are apparently harder-to-find translations.
Look for similar items by category