Wow. That was certainly a Return To Where I Came In...since 1978 was the year I started reading the new fiction magazines regularly, and the annuals, too, as many as I can find...as well as collecting back issues, so I Get the reference to Richard Lupoff's "War of the Doom Zombies" as a parody of Wollheim Ace retitlings. And know that Poul Anderson as the Milton Friedman of sf is a slight undertatement. Having since read some of his earliest work in both ASTOUNDING and PLANET STORIES (and they are of comparable quality), I can see where the early doubles novellas/novels are Anderson settling down to business, having gotten the measure in that joyful early work...and perhaps not necessarily giving too much more than was deserved for those Ace advances (the best of Anderson is indeed pretty damned best). Of the annual reviews, I am flabbergasted by the suggestion that Allen's slight if funny (and as I recently commented on my blog, rather flat) "The Kugelmass Episode" and Stephen King's remarkably inept "The Cat from Hell" are cited as the clear and present Best of YEAR'S FINEST FANTASY...the King manages to out-bad even the typically notionally cutesy Raylyn Moore and the unjustly lauded Boyle boil, "Descent of Man" (typical of Boyle that he thought it good enough to entitle a collection after...given what else is likely in the book, which I haven't yet picked up, he might well be right), and out-clumsy the Julian Reid and the very shambolic early Utley and Waldrop...at least the latter two stories are decent fun.(It will surprise no one that the Davidson story, and the Ellison--Boyle almost always reads to me like failed Ellison--as well as the Vance (the return of Cugel) and the Aickman were the heart of the book for me.) De gustibus over time, I guess.Very interesting to see. Wonder if the typo on the Robinsons' names meant anything on the editor/transcriber's part, as they seem almost if not unique.Thanks, gents.
Carr wanted to include Borges's "The Book of Sand" in that first volume, but translator Di Giovanni's asking price for the reprint fee was too steep. Another strike against NTdG, perhaps...
And Bruce McAllister and John Varley were certainly blowing my doors off, too, in their almost opposite ways...the intense humanism of McAllister, following the Wells prescription of utter realism with one miracle per story, and Varley's dazzlement pitched just right for the lonely bright 13yo "golden ager"...
Well, "could find" and not the suggestion of the citation, but the citation...I really must stop rushing these things. And I'll stop now.
OK, I lied. "Descent of Man" is a hoorarious story about a guy whose womanfriend is being chemically semi-coerced by scientists of a sort into having sex with a gorilla or a chimp, I forget which, which mostly makes the protag feel inadequate as a man since she Seems to Like It. That T.C. Boy, hoo boy, what a Card. (Last term used advisdedly.)
Or even T.C. Boyle.
Poul Anderson always seemed at his best in short stories and novelettes. Recently reread Brain Wave and The High Crusade and neither hold up very well.
"The Man Who Counts" [also titled "War of the Wing Men"] was one of my earliest - perhaps Un-Man in 1953 was the first - exposures to Poul Anderson, and I loved the story immediately. Still do, and wish I could see the Van Dongen illustrations again.
I have no recollection of writing these reviews. They were written long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away. Loved your commentary, Todd!
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