Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Bonus FFB on Wednesday: The Space Magicians -- Alden H. Norton & Sam Moskowitz, eds.

There's probably a very good reason why this anthology is called The Space Magicians, but I have no idea what it could be.  Not all of the stories are about space, and there are no magicians in any of them.  As far as I know, the none of the writers was a magician, either.  The back cover gives the rationale for the anthology, although the statement that "each one is a masterpiece" might be considered an exaggeration by some readers (me).

I'm a big fan of Clifford D. Simak, but there was way too much going on in "The Call from Beyond."  It certainly wasn't typical of his best work, either, being set on Pluto.  Isaac Asimov's "Half-Breed" was written when he was 19, and it shows.  Wyndham's "The Venus Adventure" has a lot of weaknesses of stories of its era, and I'm not talking about the science.  "The Black Sun Rises" ends about where it began, with no resolution.  Maybe there was a sequel.  "Constant Reader" is fun if you can accept the outrageous premise.  Robert W. Chambers' "In Search of the Unknown" has great auks and a merman.  What's not to like?  

The Space Magicians is more of a curiosity than a great anthology.  I like the wraparound cover, which also has no more to do with the contents than the title does.

ToC:  Introduction • (1971) • essay by Alden H. Norton and Sam Moskowitz 
The Venus Adventure • (1932) • novelette by John Wyndham 
The Black Sun Rises • (1944) • novelette by Henry Kuttner 
Half-Breed • (1940) • novelette by Isaac Asimov 
The Call from Beyond • (1950) • novelette by Clifford D. Simak 
Bitter End • (1953) • short story by Eric Frank Russell 
Constant Reader • (1953) • short story by Robert Bloch 
In Search of the Unknown • (1899) • novelette by Robert W. Chambers (aka The Harbor-Master)

7 comments:

George said...

I remember buying THE SPACE MAGICIANS for the cover. Like you, I never figured out what the title had to do with the contents.

Rick said...

Maybe "The Space Magicians" referred to the authors, rather than the stories. Not a very good title, for sure.
(Rick Libott).

Bill Crider said...

Could be, Rick. It's a better idea than thinking it refers to the stories.

TracyK said...

I agree with Rick's assessment of the title. And I do love the cover. I have plenty of books just for the cover.

Jerry House said...

The original title was supposed to be THE SPACE COVFEFE but wiser heads prevailed.

Thomas Miller said...

Back in those days, the science fiction reader was ready to grab up any halfway decent collection of stories reprinted from the magazines. Nowadays, there's way more to choose from.

Todd Mason said...

Sam Moskowitz as editor benefited from so few of the publishers' editors in the '50s-'70s knowing their elbows from a hole in the ground when it cam to SF, and his enthusiasm for old, often half-assed material seemed as sensible a representation as anything else.

I've yet to read a first-rate anthology he has had anything to do with.