Friday, December 23, 2011

Forgotten Books: My Best Science Fiction Story -- Edited by Leo Margulies & Oscar J. Friend

Is anyone but old guys like me interested in the history of certain genres these days? I've seen blog posts from whippersnappers who don't have any interest at all in reading the older books in their area of interest.  I can understand, however, since I have little interest in reading the newer ones.

But for somebody who does care about the history of SF, this would seem to be an essential book. It's fun because of the stories, of course, but each writer provides a short introduction to explain why a particular story was picked for the collection. (My favorite line in these is the final one in Henry Kuttner's intro: "Anyway, my wife wrote it.")

You have to wonder, considering the date of the collection (1949) if the writers would have chosen different stories later on in their careers. Too bad they're not around to ask. Cheap copies abound around the Internet, so why not pick one up an give it a try. See if you agree with the authors' choices.


Anonymous said...

You forgot to remind the whippersnappers to stay off your lawn.

(Whippersnappers is a great word, by the way.)


Todd Mason said...

Ah, but Bill...this is a corrupt example of this kind of thing. Asimov, for example, almost certainly wouldn't've nominated that story for himself (despite intro claims) even in 1949...while the Pratt made for an excellent SUSPENSE episode or two, I suspect he might choose another, as well...a later volume such as Robert P. Mills's THE WORLDS OF SCIENCE FICTION, built around the same conceit (a decade later, but probably actually representing the writers' choices not overruled by the book's editors or copyright considerations) is a rather better snapshot, I also suspect.

Or so says this middle-aged man willing to read the older and newer books as they make themselves known or available...

James Reasoner said...

I still remember the "hardboiled" mystery writer at a convention who looked totally blank and then asked in all seriousness, "What's a Gold Medal?"

This looks like a fine book, by the way.

Jerry House said...

The paperback you show carried only 12 of the 25 stories printed in the hardbound edition (Merlin, 1949).

The other thirteen stories are:
- Grief of Bagdad by Arthur K. Barnes
- Zero Hour by Ray Bradbury
- Nothing Sirius by Fredric Brown
- Visiting Yokel by Cleve Cartmill
- The Hibited Man by L. Sprague de Camp
- The Thing in the Pond by Paul Ernst
- Wanderer of Time by John Russell Fearn
- The Green Hills of Earth by Robert A. Heinlein
- The Professor Was a thief by L. Ron Hubbard
- The House of the Rising Winds by Frank Belknap Long
- The Carriers by Sam Merwin
- The Uncharted Isle by Clark Ashton Smith
- Thunder and Roses by Theodore Sturgeon

Some good stories here, as well as some "top" writers of the time who have faded from memory.

Thanks for reminding me of this book, Bill. Either the paperback or the hardcover would make a great addition to anyone's library.

David Scholes said...

I've been reading scienc fiction for well over 50 years and do tend to favour the older writings.

The above publcation will be a welcome addition to my science iction library.

After all that pleasurable reading I decided to try and give something back to the genre:

Todd Mason said...

You know, I think Asimov even mentioned this anthology in his two-volume memoir, and his discomfort with the choice of this story by the editors (possibly through some hassle with Street and Smith over rights...why S&S would allow the Sturgeon story to be reprinted and not one of Asimov's is beyond me, but perhaps S&S wanted to limit the number of "their" stories in a book edited by Guys from The Competition, Margulies and Friend being from the Thrilling pulp magazine group.

Nonetheless, it is an interesting slice through the field at the turn of the decade.

Bud said...

Thanks for he ref. After over 60 years of reading this stuff as well as histories and commentaries on same, I don't remember even hearing about this one!

Margot Kinberg said...

It's good to be reminded of Bill Crider, Patti - thanks

Diane Kelley said...

I miss Bill Crider. And, what a great book reviewer he was!

Jeff Meyerson said...

What George said. I miss Bill a lot.