Friday, June 20, 2014

FFB: World's Best Science Fiction: 1966 -- Donald A. Wollheim & Terry Carr, Editors

For a while in the middle 1960s, I was unfaithful to SF.  I was reading crime fiction almost exclusively when I wasn't reading the zillions of books required in my grad school classes.  I was sharing an office with three other grad students, all women, and the boyfriend of one of them was an SF reader.  He left a copy of this book in the office one day, and I picked it up.  I immediately recognized every name of the cover, so I opened it up and checked out the table of contents, which I've put down below.  I recognized even more names, but a few of them were unfamiliar. 

 The boy friend wasn't around, and neither was anyone else at the moment.  So I took the book home with me and started reading the stories.  It didn't take me long to realize that I'd been missing some entertaining stuff, so when I took the book back, I asked the guy if he had any others in the series.  He had two, the 1965 and 1967 volumes, which he brought to the office for me.  I found some more unfamiliar names, and by this time I was hitting the used bookstores picking up novels by both the familiar and unfamiliar folks.  Since then, while I've read mostly crime fiction, I've never turned my back on SF again.

The biggest surprise in the book was the Ellison story.  I started reading his work with the appearance of his first story in, I believe, Infinity, and I really liked it.  This one, however, wasn't like anything of his I'd read before.  Something had changed, and it wasn't just Ellison, though I didn't know that until later.

I picked up all the rest of the Year's Best in this series as they appeared, and others, as well.  I'm sure that no anthology manages to be filled with only the best, and there are a couple of clunkers in this one, but I owe it a big debt since it got me back into SF in a big way.

ToC:

"Introduction" (Donald A. Wollheim and Terry Carr)
"Sunjammer" (Arthur C. Clarke)
"Calling Dr. Clockwork" (Ron Goulart)
"Becalmed in Hell" (Larry Niven)
"Apartness" (Vernor Vinge)
"Over the River and Through the Woods" (Clifford D. Simak)
"Planet of Forgetting" (James H. Schmitz)
"'Repent, Harlequin!' Said the Ticktockman" (Harlan Ellison)
"The Decision Makers" (Joseph L. Green)
"Traveler's Rest" (David I. Masson)
"Uncollected Works" (Lin Carter)
"Vanishing Point" (Jonathan Brand)
"In Our Block" (R. A. Lafferty)
"Masque of the Red Shift" (Fred Saberhagen)
"The Captive Djinn" (Christopher Anvil)
"The Good New Days" (Fritz Leiber)

12 comments:

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Bill, annual anthologies of the world's best would add up to a lot of stories, both read and unread. Anthologies give me a good idea of the books and stories that have been around and which I've missed. I've written about "99 Novels: The Best in English since 1939," an anthology by Anthony Burgess that I found online but haven't read. Have you read it?

Bill Crider said...

Haven't read that one. Sounds like something George Kelley would want, though.

George said...

I own 99 NOVELS and I urge Parshant to keep on looking for it. I looked forward to the annual SF BEST OF anthologies. Today, I rarely buy them. They've become bloated tomes.

Bill Crider said...

I knew it was your kind of book, George. And I agree about the recent BEST OF anthologies. I buy them used for a buck, sometimes, but I rarely read them.

Anonymous said...

I read 99 NOVELS in 1988, probably after George's recommendation. Definitely worth reading, Prashant.

As for this one, isn't it amazing how you can forget where you left your house keys but remember exactly where you discovered a book nearly 50 years ago?

And stay off my lawn!


Jeff

Bill Crider said...

It's odd that I can remember where I picked up certain books, but not thousands of others.

Todd Mason said...

Some book purchases mean more to one than others. This reminds me again of the times I ran into a high-schoolmate of mine I'd always liked, after our graduation, and on both occasions gave her the book I had with me, coincidentally...a Carr and Greenberg on the one occasion (A TREASURY OF FANTASY) and Judith Merril's best of the year V. 12 on the other (and, of course, the model of Judith Merril's anthology, and the PUSHCART PRIZE volumes, has set the tread for the current annual megabookery...which I don't mind at all, as it does at least give a larger sense of what's going on in the relevant fields...slimmer volumes can be charming, but can be no less off-point or reflective of the editor's eccentric tastes).

The "text" I got first for verification is yet another of Google World's street/house numbers, only this one, presumably at request, was blurred out...making it remarkably unfit for the purposes here!

Bill Crider said...

The larger volumes are cumbersome and make reading in my favorite place (bed) tough. I don't mind the inclusion of a lot of stories, but I prefer smaller books.

The house numbers are generally better than those wacky letter salads they were using.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Bill, George, and Jeff, thank you for the feedback.

Richard said...

I've read all but one of those stories (the Masson) and most are darn good. I didn't usually pick up the "Best of" paperbacks, it always seemed I'd already read just enough to keep me from spending the money.

Todd Mason said...

The Masson might be worth the money to pick up a copy of this one by itself, Rick.

So...which ones are the clunkers, Bill?

Bill Crider said...

Well, this is just me, but I've never been a fan of Vinge's work. I forget which other one I didn't care for. I must have liked all of them pretty well, since the book got me cranked up to read SF again.