Friday, October 05, 2012

Forgotten Books: Isaac Asimov presents The Great SF Stories 25 (1963) -- Martin H. Greenberg and Isaac Asimov, Editors

Okay, to tell the truth, I'm not just recommending one book today.  I'm recommending 25 of them, the 25 in the DAW series under the general heading of Isaac Asimov Presents the Great SF Stories.  Marty Greenberg and Asimov worked on the series together, and in most of the volumes both provide introductions to the stories that are included.  Greenberg gives a brief overview of the main events of the year the stories were published.  Those are great, but it's the stories that count.  The first volume contains stories from 1939, and we move right along until the concluding volume that's pictured here.  I can't think of a better series of books for anybody who's interested in learning something about the history of SF and its best writers than this one.

In my dark moments I sometimes think that a lot of younger SF readers don't care much about the history of the field and that they don't want to read anything that wasn't published within the last five years.   In my even darker moments, I think it doesn't matter.  When I read the stories from any book in this series, I think what a great past SF has and what fine storytellers the field produced, and I'd like to require everybody to read every story in every volume.  Fat chance.  At any rate, I'm glad I have them all and can open one up and read a great story anytime I feel like it.  

Some of the books in the series can be found on the 'Net for very little (the higher-numbered volumes are usually a bit more).  Check 'em out.


Bill Peschel said...

Take heart, Bill. The youngin' don't have access to the way we absorbed the best products of the past. Growing up in the '60s and '70s, I could watch the Marx Brothers on Saturday afternoon TV, music acts on top 40 radio and Don Kirshner presents, go down to the bookstore and see the entirety of sci-fi and fantasy books on the shelves.

Then, reviewing mysteries in the late '90s, I'd see the Bloodstained Bookshelf, read the list of 200 mysteries being released that month, and despaired that anyone could "cover" a genre anymore.

Now, my children pick up certain books and find themselves enthralled with them, but it takes someone to place it in their hands and say, "read." My daughter's reading Agatha Christie because I'm working on annotating her first book, and when I watched Harold Lloyd's "Freshman" movie, my son sat down for a few minutes and stayed with me for the rest of the movie.

Those who are curious will find the path they want to take. The rest will not, as they always did (or watch Honey Boo Boo).

Rick Robinson said...

You're right, Bill, the younger readers DON'T car about anything that hasn't been published in the last 5 or maybe 10 years. It's sad, but to them it seems that's old tired stuff and so outdated, why bother.

They are very wrong, of course, but nothing to be done about that.

Todd Mason said...

I dunno. FFB is hardly the only exercise of its sort around, and some of them are in magazines that skew reasonably young...and some blogs I know are self-consciously retro, and they Think Young (as well as Being Sociable).

I considered doing the last volume of this one, with the Retro Hugos, I don't always think that the best choices were included, but the books are solid and sometimes surprising, as well as having a good selection from most of the relevant magazines of the years in question...Richard Lupoff's WHAT IF? books are comparable and comparably engaging...

James Reasoner said...

I really enjoyed this series, too. I remember we talked about it on a panel at Armadillocon a few years ago.

Anonymous said...

OK, you sold me. I picked up three of these to add to my growing shelves of older sf stories I've never read.

I hope you're happy now.



Todd Mason said...

Contents (view Concise Listing)

9 • Introduction (The Great SF Stories #25 (1963)) • essay by Martin H. Greenberg
13 • Fortress Ship • [Berserker] • (1963) • shortstory by Fred Saberhagen
25 • Not in the Literature • (1963) • shortstory by Christopher Anvil
40 • The Totally Rich • (1963) • novelette by John Brunner
68 • No Truce With Kings • (1963) • novella by Poul Anderson
133 • New Folks' Home • (1963) • novelette by Clifford D. Simak
160 • The Faces Outside • (1963) • shortstory by Bruce McAllister
170 • Hot Planet • (1963) • shortstory by Hal Clement
195 • The Pain Peddlers • (1963) • shortstory by Robert Silverberg
206 • Turn Off the Sky • (1963) • novelette by Ray Nelson
254 • They Don't Make Life Like They Used To • (1963) • novelette by Alfred Bester
290 • Bernie the Faust • (1963) • novelette by William Tenn
319 • A Rose for Ecclesiastes • (1963) • novelette by Roger Zelazny
358 • If There Were No Benny Cemoli • (1963) • novelette by Philip K. Dick

Bud said...

Thanks for reminding me of these books! Wish I had them all. I'll start revisiting them soon. Bill P. is right about more access to more book types in the 50s-70s. Maybe there was more time to wander around libraries and stores with cheap paperbacks & book club hardbacks rather easily available. Nobody ever pointed out SF, mysteries or westerns to me. I just discovered them for myself.
Well, maybe the kids of today's kids will get hooked if only to read stuff their parents don't know anything about!

Todd Mason said...

that above is's the Contento/LOCUS:

Isaac Asimov Presents the Great SF Stories #25 (1963) ed. Isaac Asimov & Martin H. Greenberg (DAW 0-88677-518-3, Jul ’92 [Jun ’92], $5.50, 381pp, pb, cover by Bob Layzell) Anthology of 13 stories from 1963, with an introduction by the editor. This is the final book in the series.

9 · Introduction · Martin H. Greenberg · in
13 · Fortress Ship [Berserker] · Fred Saberhagen · ss If Jan ’63
25 · Not in the Literature · Christopher Anvil · ss Analog Mar ’63
40 · The Totally Rich · John Brunner · nv Worlds of Tomorrow Jun ’63
68 · No Truce with Kings · Poul Anderson · na F&SF Jun ’63
133 · New Folks’ Home · Clifford D. Simak · nv Analog Jul ’63
160 · The Faces Outside · Bruce McAllister · ss If Jul ’63
170 · Hot Planet · Hal Clement · nv Galaxy Aug ’63
195 · The Pain Peddlers · Robert Silverberg · ss Galaxy Aug ’63
206 · Turn Off the Sky · Ray Nelson · nv F&SF Aug ’63
254 · They Don’t Make Life Like They Used To · Alfred Bester · nv F&SF Oct ’63
290 · Bernie the Faust · William Tenn · nv Playboy Nov ’63
319 · A Rose for Ecclesiastes · Roger Zelazny · nv F&SF Nov ’63
358 · If There Were No Benny Cemoli · Philip K. Dick · nv Galaxy Dec ’63