Friday, January 09, 2015

FFB: The Liberated Future -- Robert Hoskins, Editor

Even after reading Robert Hoskins' introductory essay to this anthology, I'm still not sure what the title means.  The cover and title both just kind of scream '70s, though.

I've put the ToC below, so you can see that there's a varied selection of stories here.   A couple of them are (or were at one time) considered classics: Kornbluth's "Little Black Bag," about a doctor's bad from the future appearing in a "marching morons" society.  People who read the story on its original publication knew what a doctor's bag was.  I'm not sure that anybody did by 1974.  The other classic is "Private Eye," a Lewis Padgett story in its original version and here credited to Kuttner and Moore.  How can you commit a murder in a society where the cops have cameras that can see into the past and track your every movement (a society we seem to be moving closer to all the time)?  It's not easy.

And speaking of societies we're moving toward, Pohl Anderson's "Sam Hall" is a story that could have been written right this week.  There are paragraphs that sound eerily prescient.  It's about a society in which everyone is tracked by computer all the time and about what can happen when someone at the top decides to create a false identity that can act freely.  I liked this story a lot when I was a kid, mainly because it introduced me to the song "Sam Hall."  I never dreamed I'd be living in a society so much like the one Anderson describes.

"Soft Come the Dragons" was Dean Koontz's breakout story, I think.  It's about "dragons" that can kill men by eye contact.  The protagonist figures out a way to avoid the problem and makes a discovery that nobody expected.  Not a great story, but more of a beginning for Koontz's career.

R. A. Lafferty shows in "Encased in Ancient Rind" that pollution might change the world in ways we don't suspect.  Not major Lafferty, but interesting.  I don't think "Conversations at Lothar's" is major Malzberg, either, but maybe I'm wrong.  "The Trouble with You Earth People" by Katherine MacLean is a humorous take on first contact, with aliens who've learned about earth society by watching TV.  They're a bit different from us, of course, and explaining themselves to us isn't at all easy.  I didn't much care for this one, but again, it could be just me.  I haven't read or reread the others yet, but I hope to get around to them.

ToC from the isfdb:
9 • Introduction (The Liberated Future) • essay by Robert Hoskins
13 • Sam Hall • (1953) • novelette by Poul Anderson
53 • Encased in Ancient Rind • (1971) • novelette by R. A. Lafferty
73 • The Little Black Bag • (1950) • novelette by C. M. Kornbluth
109 • The Trouble with You Earth People • (1968) • novelette by Katherine MacLean
139 • Street of Dreams, Feet of Clay • (1967) • novelette by Robert Sheckley
159 • Private Eye • (1949) • novelette by Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore [as by Henry Kuttner ]
197 • Soft Come the Dragons • (1967) • shortstory by Dean R. Koontz
213 • The Run from Home • (1970) • shortstory by Joe L. Hensley
229 • Conversations at Lothar's • (1973) • shortstory by Barry N. Malzberg
235 • A Meeting of Minds • [Tower and the Hive] • (1969) • novelette by Anne McCaffrey
275 • The Liberation of Earth • (1953) • shortstory by William Tenn
297 • A Trip to the Head • (1970) • shortstory by Ursula K. Le Guin


Deb said...

My guess is the title was a play on "the liberated woman"--a phrase common in the 1970s.

George said...

Robert Hoskins edited a number of SF anthologies way back when. I enjoyed them all.

Todd Mason said...

"The Liberation of Earth" one of Klass's best...and Robert Lowndes got it for his magazine SCIENCE FICTION because H.L. Gold was probably not alone in fearing the reaction if it was published in Gold's GALAXY...not the only time Lowndes got a great, "difficult" story for his low-budget magazines...