- Paperback: 624 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press, U.S.A.; New Ed edition (12 Oct. 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0192803816
- ISBN-13: 978-0192803818
- Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 3.6 x 12.7 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 259,216 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- See Complete Table of Contents
The Oxford Book Of Science Fiction Stories Paperback – 12 Oct 2006
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Review from previous edition 'both authoritative and audacious, up-to-date and historically wise, the best yet introduction to a bewildering field' (Greg Benford)
'travels through ninety years' development from mechanical to fantastical ... first rate' (Daily Telegraph)
'ideal ... even contains much to convert the sceptics, with its survey of highlights from Wells to Kipling, via Arthur C. Clarke and J.G. Ballard, to David Brin' (Independent on Sunday)
'[Tom Shippey's] new anthology not only is useful and important, it illuminates the field with the editor's insights and selections.' (James Gunn)
About the Author
Tom Shippey inherited J. R. R. Tolkien's Chair of Medieval English Language at the University of Leeds, where he taught the syllabus Tolkien had set up. He now holds the Walter J. Ong Chair of Humanities at St Louis University, Missouri, specializing in Medieval Literature, Old English Arthurian and Romance Literature, Fantasy, and Science Fiction. He has written and edited numerous books, including J. R. R. Tolkien: Author of the Century (2001), The Road to Middle-earth (second edition, 1992), The Oxford Book of Fantasy Stories (reissue, 2003), and Fiction 2000: Cyberpunk and the Future of Narrative (co-edited with George Slusser, 1993).
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Top Customer Reviews
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).Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)
Shippey was wise to avoid the second-rate and overly anthologized work of Heinlein and Asimov, and to choose just one of Clarke's better stories. The rest of the anthology he reserves for SF's more literary, and occasionally more obscure, authors - Cordwainer Smith's luxuriant "The Ballad of Lost C'mell" and Frank L. Pollack's fuliginous "Finis" can compete with the most profound of traditional literary fiction. Other works like A.E. van Vogt's "The Monster" - so illogical that it becomes charmingly surreal, Raccoona Sheldon's artfully acidic "The Screwfly Solution", and David Brin's poignantly lambent "Piecework" reveal the thought processes and weltanschauungen which make SF so fascinating.
There are a few middling stories in the anthology - these were likely chosen by Shippey to demonstrate an evolution of the genre. Harry Harrison's "A Criminal Act" has homophobic dialogue and a clunky exposition (the 'ah, but first I will tell you...' syndrome of mid-century SF), and Gene Wolfe's "How The Whip Came Back" loses credibility when it makes the Catholic Church a guarantor of personal freedom. (Walter Miller's "Crucifixus Etiam" and George R.R. Martin's "The Way of Cross and Dragon" demonstrate more insightful takes on the muddled collisions of faith, religion, science fiction, and society.)
Oxford and Shippey have rendered a voluminous, cogent collection - if you appreciate the history and the potential of science fiction, I urge you to consider it.
If, on the other hand, like me, you read SF because you want to empathize with characters facing fascinating problems and you want to be thrilled by what happens next, then there are few stories here to thrill you.
The pick of the litter:
The Screwfly Solution is subtly perverse, dark, wonderfully told and scary as hell (is it happening now?).
Desertion is, though predictable, sweetly satisfying, especially to dog lovers.
The Monster is the cleverest Van Vogt ever wrote, mind blowing and will have you cheering for the human hero for a change.
The Swarm is such a vivid visit to a hive that it will have your skin crawling, and the twist is gut-wrenching.
Second Night of Summer is a fine heartwarming tale of evil aliens, a boy and a simpler time.
The others are snoozers only an Oxford English major (or the author's mother) could love.
But don't take my word for it...
But as a history, sometimes, I fear, quality has to be sacrificed. Not all these short stories are optimal for the genre.