Friday, December 05, 2014

FFB: 13 Above the Night -- Groff Conklin, Editor

I don't know how Groff Conklin came up with the title for this anthology.  It does have 13 stories in it, but as far as the "above the night" part, your guess is as good as mine.  It must have impressed somebody, however, because a group called My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult used it as the title of an album.  You can listen to it here.

As for the collection (you can see the ToC below), it's a pretty good one, with some authors I like and a good many stories that I remember from the old days.  "Prone" by Mack Reynolds is one of those.  It's just sort of a joke, but it's still amusing.  In fact, several of these stories are humorous.  "The Education of Tigress McCardle" is, but in a dark way.  In it, C. M. Kornbluth presents an answer to the overpopulation problem that would likely work very well.  "Now Inhale" is one of Eric Frank Russell's "one man against a planet" stories in a way.  A Terran is captured and accused of being a spy.  The sentence is death.  He can prolong his life by playing a game of his own choosing, but whether he wins or loses, he'll still be executed.  So he has to choose very carefully.  "The Kappa Nu Nexus" by Avram Davidson and Morton Klass is another humorous story, but I have a feeling it would have been considered a lot more humorous in 1961 than it will in 2014.  Sexism runs rampant.  Gordon R. Dickson's "Idiot Solvant" is a kind of "superman" story, also humorous, and in this one the humor still works very well.  Not that some of the humor in the Davidson/Klass story doesn't work.  Just not all of it.

Overall this is a solid anthology, and I plan to read, or in most cases reread, some more of the stories.  They're the "old-fashioned" kind of SF that nobody writes anymore and is only read by geezers like me.  If you like that kind of thing, cheap copies of the book abound on the Internet.  

Table of Contents:
9 · Introduction · Groff Conklin · in
11 · Founding Father · J. F. Bone · na Galaxy Apr ’62
65 · Mating Call · Frank Herbert · ss Galaxy Oct ’61
82 · Nice Girl with Five Husbands · Fritz Leiber · ss Galaxy Apr ’51
96 · Prone · Mack Reynolds · ss F&SF Sep ’54
104 · The Education of Tigress McCardle · C. M. Kornbluth · ss Venture Jul ’57
116 · Now Inhale · Eric Frank Russell · nv Astounding Apr ’59
145 · The Back of Our Heads · Stephen Barr · nv Galaxy Jul ’58
189 · Button, Button · Isaac Asimov · ss Startling Stories Jan ’53
205 · The Deep Down Dragon · Judith Merril · ss Galaxy Aug ’61
218 · The Kappa Nu Nexus · Avram Davidson & Morton Klass · ss F&SF Aug ’61
236 · Idiot Solvant · Gordon R. Dickson · ss Analog Jan ’62
256 · Counter Security · James White · nv F&SF Feb ’63
282 · The Dreistein Case · J. Lincoln Paine · ss Washington Star; F&SF Jun ’58
Source: Glactic Central.


George said...

I love these Groff Conklin anthologies! Until Martin Greenberg got into the game, Conklin was the King of SF Anthologies.

Rick Robinson said...

George is right about that. I recognize almost all of these and have no doubt read them all, though not this anthology. Good choice for FFB.