These twenty-seven science fiction stories are those Orson Scott Card found memorable, enjoyable and influential. Card stratifies his collection by three eras of twentieth century science fiction: The Golden Age (beginning of the century to the mid-1960s); The New Wave (mid-1960s to mid-1970s); and The Media Generation (mid-1970s and onward). Readers interested in the genre's history might consult Adam Roberts' History of Science Fiction for a definition of these eras--and pre-twentieth-century periods that Card omits from consideration.
The Golden Age "includes the writers and stories that created science fiction as we know it." Of Card's nine stories, two stand out. Poul Anderson's "Call Me Joe" explores the psychological connection between a biologically-engineered "remote" on Jupiter's surface and its human operator in orbit above. The still-current topic contrasts with a retro feel from "tubes and circuits" technology. Robert Heinlein's "All You Zombies--" guides us through the now-familiar scenario of a time-traveling police force that guards the timelines and recruits from various eras. The story's recruitment is undertaken with a close-knit cast of characters.
New Wave stories are drawn from a period when science fiction was moving beyond the common story structures of the Golden Age. I have two favorites of Card's seven. Ursula Le Guin's "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas" reminds us that we pay an almost-hidden price for our happy lives. After reading her story, we cannot claim to have no choice. 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.
Media Generation stories come from a less well-defined era, produced by writers who grew up watching science fiction movies and television shows. Here are the best two of Card's eleven. George Martin's "Sandkings" features a wealthy man who is self-centered, vain and cruel. And yet his alien pets worship him. Terry Bisson's "Bear's Discover Fire" explores the implications of a slight intelligence increase in a familiar mammal. It is understated, clever, and emotionally rich.
The collection is highly recommended, both to experienced fans and to those needing an introduction to this century's science fiction. As Card admits, there are many good stories left out, many important authors not represented. Read for what is here. And enjoy.
A brilliant collection of award winning short stories. There's something for everyone here, and some really meaty topics are chewed over. The only complaint I have is the awful cover art; They should have come to me.
There are a few sci-fi anthologies knocking about but I checked the contents of this one against "A Science Fiction Omnibus" (Penguin Modern Classics) 29 Nov 2007 by Brian Aldiss and there is only one story that's in both books, all the others are different. This was a present for my partner and he seems very happy with it, so there you go...
An excellent reminder for me of stories that I had read many years ago. Also introduced to me some 'new' authors whose books I will be exploring in the future. This book would make a good read for anyone contemplating reading Science Fiction.