Top critical review
24 people found this helpful
on 11 June 2012
For 49 of our English pence, you get 25 stories ranging from recognised classics by renowned names to second-tier work by renowned names to stories from renowned hacks to tales from forgotten hacks. The oldest story dates from 1930 and the most recent is from 1994, though most are from the '40s and '50s, and are showing their age, though usually in quite an endearing way. The tone and themes vary widely, which is good, but that only reinforces the fact there's no unifying editorial vision - though the age of most of the stories suggests that being out of copyright could have been a key consideration. The lack of any editorial matter further supports the "all expenses spared" impression. The suggestion it's edited by Robert Siverberg should be taken with a very large pinch of what you earthlings call sodium chloride.
Some of it's really good. Some of it's terrible. Anthologies being anthologies, you'll probably agree with that principle but disagree over choices so I won't waste your time listing my favourites, though it's a fair guess that "Arena" and "The Little Black Bag" will be near the top of most readers' lists.
The Kindle formatting is poor. There's no contents page and the text hasn't been edited from wherever it appeared before, so there are numerous randomly hyphenated words in the middle of paragraphs. This gives the impression that it's been written by old-fashioned robots, which if nothing else is pleasingly ironic.
So all told, a curate's egg. If it had involved anything other than nominal expenditure, this could have been a scathing review. But for 49p, you get a smattering of real quality, and a lot of fun even when - or perhaps because - the quality dips. In conclusion, it's hard to say anything other than - what have you got to lose?