Thursday, June 16, 2005

The Omnibus of Science Fiction -- Groff Conklin

A long, long time ago, when I was just a kid, I joined the Science Fiction Book Club. I believe the deal at that time was that you got three books for a dime or something like that. Anyway, one of my choices was The Omnibus of Science Fiction. It was a huge volume, and it's one of the few that remain on my shelves from those days. The jacket is tattered, and the pages are browning, but it's the very same book that arrived in the mail at my house on McKinney Street in Mexia, Texas.

That was a great day for me, and the stories in the book marked me in a way that's hard to explain. Some of them I remember to this day, including the one I read this evening, Ray Bradbury's "Kaleidoscope." I probably haven't read this story in around 50 years, but then I didn't have to. From the very first time I read it, it stuck in my head, and for a long time I could practically quote the last few paragraphs word for word.

As I read it again this evening, it affected me just as powerfully as it did in the 1950s. Maybe even more. I don't care if the science is bad. That didn't bother me then, and it doesn't bother me now. What matters is the story, and the effect of those fine closing paragraphs. Wow. Talk about your Sense of Wonder. For me this was (and is) what it's all about.

6 comments:

JD Rhoades said...

Hey, I did the same thing...and I still have my copy, too, along with my 3 in 1 volume of the "Foundation Trilogy" and my 2-in-1 of Edgar Rice Burroughs' "The Gods of Mars" and "The Warlord of Mars". I'm still a member.

ttyler5@hotmail.com said...

Same here, dudes!

Graham said...

I didn't get "Omnibus" but I got "Adventures in Space and Time" from the same spot. It was basically the equivalent of "The Hard-Boiled Omnibus" and originally published around the same time, the late 40s.

That must have been a good time for anthos, because the great "Tales Of Terror And The Supernatural" came out around then too.

Bud Webster said...

Yeah, the Omnibus is a serious book. As is Adventures in Space and Time, Graham. That period is pretty ripe with great anthologies, in fact: The Best of SF, A Treasury of SF, Big Book of SF, all edited by Conklin; Boucher's two-volume A Treasury of Great SF with the rocketship diagonally across the spines; The Galaxy Reader, Fred Pohl's Star SF books, the first original anthology series; Judith Merril's best-of-the-year series, Bleiler and Dikty's best-of-the-year series, August Derleth, Margulies and Friend....
It's a long list, but I won't be satisfied until I have them ALL.

christopher hanks said...

I have what may be an impossible request for the particpants in this blog. Many years ago I read a nightmarish story in a science fiction anthology that involved black cars moving along a highway that somehow were able to attack one another - perhaps with tentacles. Does anyone remember such a story - i'd like to track it down.
let me know at hanks@rand.org

Bill said...

I've queried some experts. We'll see if you get an answer.