Friday, March 14, 2014

FFB: The Astounding Science Fiction Anthology -- John W. Campbell, Editor

A few weeks ago I wrote about one of the books I got in my first order from the Science Fiction Book Club.  This was another, and it had just as big an impact on me as Conklin's Omnibus of Science Fiction.  All you have to to is look at the stories that are included to see why.  Here they are: "Blowups Happen" by Robert A. Heinlein, "Hindsight" by Jack Williamson, "Vault Of The Beast" by A. E. van Vogt, "The Exalted" by L. Sprague De Camp, "Nightfall" by Isaac Asimov, "When The Bough Breaks" by Lewis Padgett, "Clash By Night" by Lawrence O'Donnell, "Invariant" by John R. Pierce, "First Contact" by Murray Leinster, "Meihem In Ce Klasrum" by Dolton Edwards, "Hobbyist" by Eric Frank Russell, "E For Effort" by T. L. Sherred, "Child's Play" by William Tenn, "Thunder And Roses" by Theodore Sturgeon, "Late Night Final" by Eric Frank Russell", "Cold War" by Kris Neville, "Eternity Lost" by Clifford D. Simak, "The Witches Of Karres" by James H. Schmitz, "Over The Top" by Lester del Rey, "Meteor" by William T. Powers, "Last Enemy" by H. Beam Piper, "Historical Note" by Murray Leinster, and "Protected Species" by H. B. Fyfe.

It's a book full of classics.  My favorite might or might not surprise you.  It's the Sherred story, one I've read again and again, and always with pleasure.  One of my very favorite time-travel stories.  "Blowups Happen" was one of the first (maybe the first) stories about a nuclear reactor, written before such things existed.  "Vault of the Beast" is one of those Van Vogt stories that's hard to describe but fun to read, totally implausible, but who cares?  Asimov's "Nightfall" is the one about the stars coming out.  Tenn's "Child's Play" is about the build-a-man kit.  Simak's "Eternity Lost" is about immortality and the serum that provides it -- for a few.  You might see the twist ending coming, but I didn't when I first read it.  Hey, I was just a kid.   

And there's so much more, but there's really no need for me to go on.  You probably remember some of these as well or better than I do.  Was "Thunder and Roses" the first story to predict the CD?  I remember something in there that sure seemed like it, but it's been so long since I read the story that I need to read it again.  I might be recalling a different story entirely, or I might have made the whole thing up.  Anyway, this is a great anthology, and every story is highly readable and worth reading.  It's a classic anthology in the SF field.

7 comments:

George said...

Sherred is an very underrated writer! I read this anthology as a kid a loved it!

Anonymous said...

Nice. By strange coincidence I am reading Greenberg & Asimov's THE GREAT SF Stories 2 (1940) and just started "Vault of the Beast" by Van Vogt. I must admit the first 150 pages of the book did not include any "wow" stories for me but I am enjoying catching up at this late date.


Jeff

Unknown said...

I did an FFB post on that whole series a good while back. It would make a good collection of texts for a history of SF course.

Rick Robinson said...

A wonderful collection I still have somewhere here but haven't reread in decades. Great ffb, Bill.

Todd Mason said...

Notable that apparently "E for Effort" might be the story that most stuck in Campbell's craw among these, in its stated attitude toward the way of the world...but JWC (usually) knew a good story when he saw one.

Kelly Robinson said...

I have the full novel version of NIGHTFALL, but I've been wanting to read the story first. I need to find a collection that has it

Unknown said...

It's in a million of 'em.