Friday, June 10, 2016

FFB: Before They Were Giants -- James L. Sutter, editor

The illustrious George Kelley reviewed this one years ago, but I'm always behind the curve.  I did, however, review Wondrous Beginnings, Magical Beginnings, and Horrible Beginnings, all of which are based on the same idea: publishing the first stories of famous authors.  In those books, each story was in most cases accompanied by the author's commentary on it.  James L. Sutter takes a slightly different approach.  Each story is accompanied by an interview with the author, and while the interviews do touch on the stories, they range a little farther afield.  Sutter wanted to include in his book writers who weren't in the volumes I mentioned above and who would be available for an interview. 

I've commented on at least one of these stories before, Cory Doctorow's "Craphound," a very good first story.  China Miéville cheats a little by offering a story that no one knew was his first story.  It was published when he was 14 and had heard about but not read Ridley Walker.  Considering those two things, it's an amazing piece, and it's pretty amazing on its own, even aside from that.  Charles Stross says he didn't want his story to be reprinted and didn't even want to re-read it, but he allowed it, anyway.  Several of the writers have amusing anecdotes about how their first stories came about.  R. A. Salvatore's comes to mind.

This is another of those books in which the supplementary material is as entertaining as the works it collects.  If you enjoy SF or just reading interviews with writers, you'll get a kick out of this one.

Introduction: where it all began /​ by James L. Sutter
The Guy with the eyes /​ by Spider Robinson
Fragments of a hologram rose /​ by William Gibson
A Long way back /​ by Ben Bova
Possible to rue /​ by Piers Anthony
Craphound /​ by Cory Doctorow
Highway 61 revisited /​ by China Miéville
In Pierson's orchestra /​ by Kim Stanley Robinson
Destroyers /​ by Greg Bear
Out of phase /​ by Joe Haldeman
The Coldest place /​ by Larry Niven
Mirrors and burnstone /​ by Nicola Griffith
Just a hint /​ by David Brin
A Sparkle for Homer /​ by R.A. Salvatore
The Boys /​ by Charles Stross
Ginungagap /​ by Michael Swanwick.


Jeff Meyerson said...

Darn. Yet another anthology I'll have to look for. I like collections like that. I know there have been mystery collections with a similar theme as well. For instance, Bob Randisi edited a series of FIRST CASES anthologies.

George said...

I remember really liking BEFORE THEY WERE GIANTS. I'm a sucker for anthologies like this where we learn something about the authors and the stories they wrote.

Rick Robinson said...

Another of the many books I bought, put on the shelf, have yet to read. ** sigh **. One of these days.

Howard said...

This sounds pretty good, considering the number of those authors that I list among my favorites. I guess I'll petition the library to get the book.