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A Science Fiction Omnibus

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This new edition of Brian Aldiss' classic anthology brings together a diverse selection of science fiction spanning over sixty years, from Isaac Asimov's "Nightfall", first published in 1941, to the 2006 story "Friends in Need" by Eliza Blair. Including authors such as Clifford Simak, Harry Harrison, Bruce Sterling, A. E. Van Vogt and Brian Aldiss himself, these stories po This new edition of Brian Aldiss' classic anthology brings together a diverse selection of science fiction spanning over sixty years, from Isaac Asimov's "Nightfall", first published in 1941, to the 2006 story "Friends in Need" by Eliza Blair. Including authors such as Clifford Simak, Harry Harrison, Bruce Sterling, A. E. Van Vogt and Brian Aldiss himself, these stories portray struggles against machines, epic journeys, genetic experiments, time travellers and alien races. From stories set on Earth, to uncanny far distant worlds and ancient burnt-out suns, the one constant is humanity itself, compelled by an often fatal curiosity to explore the boundless frontiers of time, space and probability. Thirty short stories and a novella, first published in Penguin Modern Classics November 2007 with a cover illustration by Jim Burns. The new stories are: • James Tiptree, Jr : And I Awoke and Found Me Here on the Cold Hill's Side • Bruce Sterling : Swarm • Greg Bear : Blood Music • Fredric Brown : Answer • Kim Stanley Robinson : Sexual Dimorphism • Eliza Blair : Friends in Need • James Inglis : Night Watch • Ted Chiang : Story of Your Life • Garry Kilworth : Alien Embassy • John Crowley : Great Work of Time


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This new edition of Brian Aldiss' classic anthology brings together a diverse selection of science fiction spanning over sixty years, from Isaac Asimov's "Nightfall", first published in 1941, to the 2006 story "Friends in Need" by Eliza Blair. Including authors such as Clifford Simak, Harry Harrison, Bruce Sterling, A. E. Van Vogt and Brian Aldiss himself, these stories po This new edition of Brian Aldiss' classic anthology brings together a diverse selection of science fiction spanning over sixty years, from Isaac Asimov's "Nightfall", first published in 1941, to the 2006 story "Friends in Need" by Eliza Blair. Including authors such as Clifford Simak, Harry Harrison, Bruce Sterling, A. E. Van Vogt and Brian Aldiss himself, these stories portray struggles against machines, epic journeys, genetic experiments, time travellers and alien races. From stories set on Earth, to uncanny far distant worlds and ancient burnt-out suns, the one constant is humanity itself, compelled by an often fatal curiosity to explore the boundless frontiers of time, space and probability. Thirty short stories and a novella, first published in Penguin Modern Classics November 2007 with a cover illustration by Jim Burns. The new stories are: • James Tiptree, Jr : And I Awoke and Found Me Here on the Cold Hill's Side • Bruce Sterling : Swarm • Greg Bear : Blood Music • Fredric Brown : Answer • Kim Stanley Robinson : Sexual Dimorphism • Eliza Blair : Friends in Need • James Inglis : Night Watch • Ted Chiang : Story of Your Life • Garry Kilworth : Alien Embassy • John Crowley : Great Work of Time

30 review for A Science Fiction Omnibus

  1. 5 out of 5

    Cecily

    For now, this is just a review of Build Up Logically by Howard Schoenfeld. A story I rate 4*. It's a very short story that cleverly twists fact, fiction, and time travel (maybe). Twisted in a good way and slightly reminiscent of Jorge Luis Borges, though Borges is the superior writer, imo. The underlying concept quite good. Not entirely original, but an original take on ideas of art imitating life and vice versa, of fictional figures coming to life, or people literally entering fictional worlds. For now, this is just a review of Build Up Logically by Howard Schoenfeld. A story I rate 4*. It's a very short story that cleverly twists fact, fiction, and time travel (maybe). Twisted in a good way and slightly reminiscent of Jorge Luis Borges, though Borges is the superior writer, imo. The underlying concept quite good. Not entirely original, but an original take on ideas of art imitating life and vice versa, of fictional figures coming to life, or people literally entering fictional worlds. I was reminded of Jane's Adventures In and Out of the Book, which I loved as a child, and the delightful comical picture book I recently saw at a friend's, Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Book?. The title is plain from the start: Frank's ability to "invent the rabbit... he built it up logically from the feel." Later, he builds the piano logically, but from the sound. That's the easy, straightforward stuff. After that, things get more complicated, exploring reality, authorship, and the power (or not) to determine our fate. Watch the pronouns. I was amused by the conceit of the time machine that allegedly (view spoiler)[ moved absolutely everything, so that there was no discernible change (hide spoiler)] , and the guy (view spoiler)[ trapped for 5,000 years in front of an audience with a trumpet he couldn't play (hide spoiler)] reminded me of poor paranoid android, Marvin, stranded at the car park at The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. The convolutions at the end reminded me of Ronald Opus, a legal conundrum everyone should be familiar with: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ronald_.... There was a small logical flaw on the first page: (view spoiler)[How did the narrator recognise the rabbit before "the consciousness of rabbits" was "impinged" in his mind? Even though he's telling the story in retrospect, I think it's a bit of an unnecessary cheat (hide spoiler)] . This was a very quick buddy read with Apatt (though not his choice of story). You can read Build Up Logically HERE, though it's given the title The Universal Panacea.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Simon

    An outstanding collection of stories showing just how diverse the genre can be. Herein really is contained some of the best short stories SF has to offer. My highlights include: "Lot" by Ward Moore - An incredibly chilling and poignant account of a man trying to get his family out of the city as nuclear war breaks out and society begins to collapse. He is well prepared but perhaps a little to cool and calculating... "Nightfall" by Isaac Asimov - A planet with five suns rarely experiences night time An outstanding collection of stories showing just how diverse the genre can be. Herein really is contained some of the best short stories SF has to offer. My highlights include: "Lot" by Ward Moore - An incredibly chilling and poignant account of a man trying to get his family out of the city as nuclear war breaks out and society begins to collapse. He is well prepared but perhaps a little to cool and calculating... "Nightfall" by Isaac Asimov - A planet with five suns rarely experiences night time but now its coming and the people don't know what to expect. Perhaps their civilisation will collapse... "Swarm" by Bruce Sterling - Humanity encounters a space faring non intelligent race. Perhaps it can be exploited... "Blood Music" by Greg Bear - A man injects his body with self replicating, self learning nano bots with the only instruction to keep on improving everything... "Story of your life" by Ted Chiang - A linguist is employed to attempt to desipher an alien language but in doing so it radically changes her perception. These are just some of the great stories you'll find in here. A great overview of the genre.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Chris Kelly

    Great collection of classic stories. Ratings for individual stories are listed below on a 5-star scale. Note the inclusion of a John Steinbeck tale, and a good one at that! • Sole Solution (1956) • Eric Frank Russell - 4 • Lot (1953) • Ward Moore 4.5 • The Short-Short Story of Mankind (1958) • John Steinbeck 4 • Skirmish (1950) • Clifford D. Simak 4 • Poor Little Warrior! (1958) • Brian W. Aldiss 3.5 • Grandpa (1955) • James H. Schmitz 4 • The Half Pair (1957) • A. Bertram Chandler 3 • Command Performan Great collection of classic stories. Ratings for individual stories are listed below on a 5-star scale. Note the inclusion of a John Steinbeck tale, and a good one at that! • Sole Solution (1956) • Eric Frank Russell - 4 • Lot (1953) • Ward Moore 4.5 • The Short-Short Story of Mankind (1958) • John Steinbeck 4 • Skirmish (1950) • Clifford D. Simak 4 • Poor Little Warrior! (1958) • Brian W. Aldiss 3.5 • Grandpa (1955) • James H. Schmitz 4 • The Half Pair (1957) • A. Bertram Chandler 3 • Command Performance (1952) • Walter M. Miller, Jr. 3.5 • Nightfall (1941) • Isaac Asimov 4.5 • The Snowball Effect (1952) • Katherine MacLean 3 • The End of Summer (1954) • Algis Budrys 3 • Track 12 (1958) • J.G. Ballard 4.5 • The Monkey Wrench (1951) • Gordon R. Dickson 2.5 • The First Men (1960) • Howard Fast 4 • Counterfeit (1952) • Alan E. Nourse 3 • The Greater Thing (1954) • Tom Godwin 3.5 • Built Up Logically (1949) • Howard Schoenfeld 4 • The Liberation of Earth (1953) • William Tenn 4 • An Alien Agony/The Streets of Ashkelon (1962) • Harry Harrison 3 • The Tunnel Under the World (1955) • Frederik Pohl 4 • The Store of the Worlds (1959) • Robert Sheckley 4 • Jokester (1956) • Isaac Asimov 3.5 • Pyramid (1954) • Robert Abernathy 3 • The Forgotten Enemy (1948) • Arthur C. Clarke 3.5 • The Wall Around the World (1953) • Theodore R. Cogswell 4 • Protected Species (1951) • H.B. Fyfe 3 • Before Eden (1961) • Arthur C. Clarke 3.5 • The Rescuer (1967) • Arthur Porges 3 • I Made You (1954) • Walter M. Miller, Jr. 3.5 • The Country of the Kind (1956) • Damon Knight 2 • MS. Found in a Chinese Fortune Cookie (1957) • C.M. Kornbluth 2 • The Cage (1957) • A. Bertram Chandler 3.5 • Eastward Ho! (1958) • William Tenn 3.5 • The Windows of Heaven (1956) • John Brunner 4 • Common Time (1953) • James Blish 2.5 • Fulfillment (1951) • A.E. van Vogt 2.5

  4. 5 out of 5

    Manuel Alfonseca

    ENGLISH: In 1975 I read the first edition of this book, published in 1973. It contained 36 SciFi short stories by well-known authors. Now I have read the 2007 edition, where the number of stories has been reduced to 31, 21 of which were in the previous edition (which means that 15 of the old stories are missing), while 10 are new (7 short stories, two novellas and a full novel). Fortunately, my best-beloved five stories of the first edition are also included in the new one. These stories are: 1. ENGLISH: In 1975 I read the first edition of this book, published in 1973. It contained 36 SciFi short stories by well-known authors. Now I have read the 2007 edition, where the number of stories has been reduced to 31, 21 of which were in the previous edition (which means that 15 of the old stories are missing), while 10 are new (7 short stories, two novellas and a full novel). Fortunately, my best-beloved five stories of the first edition are also included in the new one. These stories are: 1. "Grandpa," by James H. Schmitz (1955), also included in The Hub: Dangerous Territory. 2. "Nightfall," by Isaac Asimov (1941), frequently antologized. 3. "The Snowball Effect," by Katherine MacLean (1952). 4. "The Store of the Worlds," by Robert Sheckley (1959), an excellent post-apocalyptic story. 5. "The Rescuer," by Arthur Porges (1967), see this post in my blog: https://populscience.blogspot.com/201... To this five I must add one of the new ones: Story of Your Life, by Ted Chiang, which is also excellent, even though I don't agree with its interpretation of time. ESPAÑOL: En 1975 leí la primera edición de este libro, que se había publicado en 1973. Contenía 36 cuentos de ciencia ficción de autores conocidos. Ahora he leído la edición de 2007, en la que el número de cuentos se ha reducido a 31, de los que 21 estaban también en la edición anterior (lo que significa que faltan 15 de los cuentos antiguos), mientras que 10 son nuevos (7 cuentos, dos novelas cortas y una novela larga). Afortunadamente, mis cinco cuentos preferidos de la primera edición también están incluidos en la nueva. Esos cuentos están enumerados en la versión inglesa de esta crítica (unas líneas más arriba). A estos cinco debo agregar uno de los nuevos: Story of Your Life, de Ted Chiang, que también es excelente, aunque yo no esté de acuerdo con su interpretación del tiempo.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kam Yung Soh

    A good collection of stories, some of which are old favourites, while others haven't been read before but turn out to be interesting stories of speculation. Those I have read before and still like include those by Isaac Asimov, Greg Bear and Ted Chiang, while others encountered in the collection that are fascinating are those by James H. Schmitz, Katherine MacLean, Bruce Sterling, Harry Harrison, Eliza Blair, Robert Sheckley and John Crowley. - "Sole Solution" by Eric Frank Russell: a short short A good collection of stories, some of which are old favourites, while others haven't been read before but turn out to be interesting stories of speculation. Those I have read before and still like include those by Isaac Asimov, Greg Bear and Ted Chiang, while others encountered in the collection that are fascinating are those by James H. Schmitz, Katherine MacLean, Bruce Sterling, Harry Harrison, Eliza Blair, Robert Sheckley and John Crowley. - "Sole Solution" by Eric Frank Russell: a short short story about a person becoming aware in a dark place. The person starts a process to 'escape' from the dark place, in a rather obvious way. - "Lot" by Ward Moore: as civilization breaks down due to the start of a conflict, a man moves his family to the countryside to begin a new life. But the journey is full of family conflict that leads the man to make a decision about his family members at the end. - "Skirmish" by Clifford D. Simak: a disquieting story about a newspaper reporter who goes to his office early one day to discover all is not right with the machines he sees. He eventually deduces he was chosen for a reason and humanity's fate may lie in the choices he may make. - "And I Awoke and Found Me Here on the Cold Hill's Side" by James Tiptree, Jr.: a reporter attempts to interview a human who had travelled to the stars, only to learn that to the aliens, humans are primitive. - "Poor Little Warrior!" by Brian W. Aldiss: a monologue on the poor life of a time travelling timid man from the future who goes back in time to shoot a dinosaur, only to be disappointed by the act. - "Grandpa" by James H. Schmitz: on an alien world, a trip on an organic raft world turn dangerous, unless one person can figure out how the raft really works based on his observation of other organisms on the alien planet. - "Nightfall" by Isaac Asimov: on a world surrounded by six suns and forever in sunlight, sunsets has left only one sun in the sky. But now the light from the remaining sun is being blocked and for the first time in thousands of years, man must face the darkness and the horrors it may hold. - "The Snowball Effect" by Katherine MacLean: an entertaining story about a sociology department head being asked to justify its existence to the Dean. When it does, through a social experiment on exponential growth, the results are inevitably world changing. - "Swarm" by Bruce Sterling: a human researcher enters the home of an alien swarm with a social structure similar to social inserts like ants. The purpose of the research is to enslave the swarm to do the bidding of humans. But the swarm has other ideas. - "Blood Music" by Greg Bear: a researcher developing miniature sensors that can enter the body goes too far and develops biological computers. Then, he injects them into himself, and starts a process that would lead to a higher intelligence on Earth. - "Answer" by Fredric Brown: a short short about linking all the computers in the known universe to ask a question that should not be asked. - "The Liberation of Earth" by William Tenn: a tale passed down from generation to generation about the time the Earth came to the attention of alien beings who fought battle after battle on it to liberate it from each other, and the end results of the multiple liberations. - "An Alien Agony" by Harry Harrison: a priest arrives at a world where aliens want literal proof of the truth, and pays the price. And so do the aliens. - "Track 12" by J. G. Ballard: two men, who are also rivals, spend some time listening to recordings of sounds produced by microscopic objects, vastly amplified. But the last recording would be specially produced by one of the man for the other. - "Sexual Dimorphism" by Kim Stanley Robinson: on another world, the relationship between two people turn sour, leading to a genetic difference between man and women bring interpreted in an unusual fashion. - "The Tunnel Under the World" by Frederik Pohl: a man wakes up and goes about his day: again and again. When he wakes up to that fact one day, it leads him and a companion he meets to dig for the truth which would turn out to be stranger than they imagine, but hinted at throughout the story. - "Friends in Need" by Eliza Blair: a young girl is excited as she is going to choose her pet. But in this future where pets are sentient, the choice of which pet to decide on may have more repercussions. - "The Store of the Worlds" by Robert Sheckley: a man goes to a shack whose occupant says he can send a person to another world for some time. Is it for real, or is it a hoax? The man has to think about it as he goes on with his life. - "Jokester" by Isaac Asimov: a man who likes to tell jokes wonders about where jokes come from. The answer given by a large computer named Multivac may not please him or mankind. - "The Short-Short Story of Mankind" by John Steinbeck: a parody take is the rise of civilization from the cave man days. - "Night Watch" by James Inglis: the story of an autonomous spaceship on a voyage through the universe on a mission of discovery and, ultimately, survival. - "Story of Your Life" by Ted Chiang: a language specialist is working on understanding the language of aliens visiting the earth, while at the same time telling the story of the life of her daughter. It is only towards the end of the story that a change in how to perceive events and actions caused by understanding the aliens' language makes the connection between the two parts of the story explicit. - "Protected Species" by H. B. Fyfe: an inspector on a newly colonized planet visits some ruins believed to have being built by ancestors of the natives on the planet. But the truth will turn out to be the opposite is what was expected. - "The Rescuer" by Arthur Porges: two scientist blow up important equipment to stop it being used in a possibly world changing experiment, as they admit in the subsequent trial. - "I Made You" by Walter M. Miller, Jr.: a military robot on the moon is tasked to keep watch over an important area and destroy intruders. But it is still satisfied to do is job even when failures render it unable to tell friend from foe. - "The Country of the Kind" by Damon Knight: if you live in a world where everybody is kind, a man of violence might be considered its king. Or maybe not - "The Cage" by A. Bertram Chandler: when human survivors from a spaceship that crashed on an uncharted planet get picked up and put in a cage by aliens, it would take skill and some luck to conduct to convince their captors that they are intelligent beings too. - "Fulfilment" by A. E. van Vogt: in the future, a solitary machine contemplates its fate when it is contacted by another machine from the past. In following the other machine back in time, it makes plans to conquer the past while discovering its own future, which it has forgotten about. - "Common Time" by James Blish: a traveller on a faster than light ship suddenly discovers himself unable to move. It is only by thinking about the situation that he discovers the truth which involves the flow of time; and maybe the flow of love? - "Alien Embassy" by Garry Kilworth: a woman goes for a holiday on an island given to visiting aliens. But it all seems to go wrong then she develops a relationship and an appetite for the alien she meets there: or does it? - "Great Work of Time" by John Crowley: a long tale about a man who works out how to travel through time only for his invention to be taken over by a society that intends to keep the British Empire alive and the world at relative peace: but only if one event at the start of it all were to take place.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Raj

    This volume collects two earlier Penguin SF collections from the 50s and 60s and is a pretty mammoth affair, coming to over 600 pages and containing 36 stories. Given the time period that the stories were written in (mostly the 1950s, with some outliers in the decade either side), some inevitable themes arise. These are primarily concerned with nuclear apocalypse and 'Reds under the bed' type allegories. There are some great stories here and very few misses. Isaac Asimov's Nightfall is welcome a This volume collects two earlier Penguin SF collections from the 50s and 60s and is a pretty mammoth affair, coming to over 600 pages and containing 36 stories. Given the time period that the stories were written in (mostly the 1950s, with some outliers in the decade either side), some inevitable themes arise. These are primarily concerned with nuclear apocalypse and 'Reds under the bed' type allegories. There are some great stories here and very few misses. Isaac Asimov's Nightfall is welcome at any time and William Tell's Eastward Ho! is a nice reversal of the conquest of America. I'm not necessarily a fan of John Steinbeck, but his The Short-Short Story of Mankind is excellent while Howard Fast's The First Men is a nice übermensch story in the vein of Olaf Stapledon. That's just a brief skim through the selection. As I say, there are very few misses, so this is worth a read if you're a fan of Golden and Silver Age SF, or even if you're just curious about the history of the genre.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Odhran

    So, this isn't quite up to the standard of something like Dangerous Visions, but there are some pretty good stories in here. Some variations upon the them of "Astronaut as Creator" that aren't hackneyed and unoriginal, for example. A couple of good "Future Jesus"-style things, too. "Lot", the story of a family fleeing The Event (more or less) has stuck with me since I first read this. In fact, the whole book has. I imagine this is one of the biggest drivers in my love of short form scifi. So, this isn't quite up to the standard of something like Dangerous Visions, but there are some pretty good stories in here. Some variations upon the them of "Astronaut as Creator" that aren't hackneyed and unoriginal, for example. A couple of good "Future Jesus"-style things, too. "Lot", the story of a family fleeing The Event (more or less) has stuck with me since I first read this. In fact, the whole book has. I imagine this is one of the biggest drivers in my love of short form scifi.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I received this book as a present for Christmas 2007, the year it was published as an update to an original published in 1963. Brian Aldiss, the complier, is an author I’ve never heard of, and he appears to have taken very little trouble to refresh this anthology in the fifty years’ span. It’s overwhelmingly white, male, mid-century authors, of which Aldiss is unapologetically one; in his introduction, he says, ‘Lowering the technocratic threshold appears to account for SF’s widening readership I received this book as a present for Christmas 2007, the year it was published as an update to an original published in 1963. Brian Aldiss, the complier, is an author I’ve never heard of, and he appears to have taken very little trouble to refresh this anthology in the fifty years’ span. It’s overwhelmingly white, male, mid-century authors, of which Aldiss is unapologetically one; in his introduction, he says, ‘Lowering the technocratic threshold appears to account for SF’s widening readership among women nowadays, together with a weakening in faith in technological progress’. I highly resent the assertion that women are a hive-mind who all hate ‘high technocratic thresholds’, whatever the fuck that means in practice. However, on a personal level, I am one of these haters. The vast majority of this books’ stories rate one-star for me, being so boring and cold and uninterested in people. My touchstones for ‘good’ scifi are Lois McMaster Bujold, Anne Leckie, Mary Doria Russell, and Martha Wells, who all have a key trait in common! It doesn’t help that many of these stories don’t even qualify as scifi as far as I’m concerned – unsurprising, given that Aldiss categorises Pratchett and Rowling as scifi. Like. Hello. Sole Solution by Eric Frank Russell, 1956: boring. Next. Lot by Ward Moore, 1953. A compelling, if gaspingly grim, account of an impending dystopia in the wake of an alien invasion. Very typical mindset of the white mid-cench male, who always considers that the neighbour will come with a gun not a casserole, and that humans never help each other, and that aliens will only be interested in invasion and violence. You do you, Ward, but excuse me from considering this a vein worth pursuing. Skirmish by Clifford Simak, 1950. Yet another for Team Gun Not Pie, which has been flatly contradicted by humanity’s relationship with actual robots – from singing Happy Birthday to the Mars Rover to apologising to the Roomba if you accidentally step on it. And I Awoke and Found Me Here on the Cold Hill’s Side by James Tiptree Jr, 1971. An interesting – if predictably depressing – take on the evolution of human sexuality once alien races are brought into the mix. About the only story to have anything in the way of sex, let alone emotion. Surprise! Written by a woman. Poor Little Warrior! by Brian Aldiss, 1958. Hands down the worst story in the book; the writing is practically unreadable. I certainly won’t be searching out more from this dude. Grandpa by James H. Schmitz, 1955. Semi-interesting story about dangerous aliens, fluffs the finale. Nightfall by Isaac Asimov, 1941. Five stars. A classic for a reason, and one of four stories bringing up the average on this collection from one star. The Snowball Effect by Katherine Maclean, 1952. A solid story about unintended consequences, but how the fuck does it qualify as scifi? Does Aldiss really think that ‘sociology experiment’ is akin to wormhole travel and the Prime Directive? You know what, don’t answer that. Swarm by Bruce Sterling, 1982. Man, men are obsessed with not having the biggest dick in the room, aren’t they? Have none of these people ever heard of the word ‘cooperation’? Blood Music by Greg Bear, 1983. Grim, as per. Answer by Fredric Brown, 1964. A metaphor for that (I think) American Dad scene where the two powerful white guys go, ‘We no longer have 100% of the power! We only have 99%! What shall we dooooo?’ The Liberation of Earth by William Tenn, 1953. Yeah, cool, very grimdark, much sarcasm, wow. An Alien Agony by Harry Harrison, 1962. I know Orson Scott Card is problematic AF, but he did this so much better in Speaker for the Dead. Sorry not sorry. Track Twelve by JG Ballard, 1958. This isn’t science fiction, it’s bad science. Sexual Dimorphism by Kim Stanley Robinson, 1999. I appreciated the proselytising Robinson performed in Ministry for the Future, so I was disappointed at how thin the veneer over his default sexism proved. Hard no thanks on the ‘violence is innate’ concept. The Tunnel under the World by Frederik Pohl, 1954. Highly predictive of the pernicious influence of advertising. I don’t think Fred would be surprised by social media. Marks for trying; I still hated the way the people were written. Friends in Need by Eliza Blair, 2006. Sentient socialist cats! We love to see it. The Clockwork Orange style neologisms were trying, however. Being original doesn’t mean copying originality, Liz. PS I would die for Maximus. The Store of the Worlds by Robert Sheckley, 1959. This is good. Well done Bob. Jokester by Isaac Asimov, 1956. I’ll take it. I recall from I, Robot that Asmiov is a fan of the aul Singularity, and he leans in. The Short-Short Story of Mankind by John Steinbeck, 1958. I wonder did Steinbeck do an Atwood on this and sniffily delineate it ‘speculative fiction’? Either way, this is one of the stories that isn’t scifi, wtf, and is very Steinbeckian into the bargain. Which, if you like that kind of thing… Night Watch by James Inglis, 1964. This was apparently the only thing Inglis ever wrote. Thank god. Story of Your life by Ted Chiang, 1998. Absolutely fantastic. I wept tears of joyful relief at finally seeing a piece of character-driven scifi. This story formed the basis of the excellent film Arrival, which changes aspects of it to better suit the scope of the production but is very true to the central message. I love them both. Protected Species by HB Fyfe, 1951. What? What was that ending?! The Rescuer by Arthur Porges, 1962. Kind of cool, but this obsession with killing God is so teenage boy, I cannot even. I Made You by Walter M Miller Jr, 1954. Whatever. I haven’t even energy to hate this, so it’ll have to make do with my disdain. The Country of the Kind by Damon Knight, 1956. LMAO why are these men always on the side of the psychopaths? The Cage by Bertram Chandler, 1957. Better edit that to ‘only rational men’ – who knows what a race governed by women would have done with other beings? Fulfilment by AE Van Vogt, 1952. Bad robot take, again. Common Time by James Blish, 1960. Very much the scifi short story equivalent of a boring person recounting their bad acid trip. Which, in fairness, this probably was. Alien Embassy by Garry Kilworth, 2006. Ah yes, because no matter what the setting is, no matter how far in the future we are, the womens are only ever motivated by babyeeeeeees. Great Work of Time by John Crowley, 1989. I mean. Props for scope, I guess? This would work much better as a novel. In fact, David Mitchell’s written it. Read that instead. At first I thought it was merely lazy that the date of publication was left off the stories within the book and relegated to the backend references. Now I think it’s intentional, to better disguise how lazy the whole project is. Look at this shit! 21 out of 31 stories were published between 1950 and the end of the 1960s – 67% of the contents! THREE are by women, and that’s only if you include Tiptree, and it’s debatable whether you could or should do so. I appreciate that the burst of scifi quality in the twenty-first century may have mainly occurred post-2007, and I’m not going to research this, but I fucking doubt it. This is the kind of scifi that forms the foundation of current scifi, but it’s so well buried at this point that you never need to look at it. Thank GOD.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Tom

    Mentally I'm ascribing this to the other, older 'Penguin SF Omnibus', which I had as a kid. All of the stories in that one were better, even when they were actually the exact same stories that were in this one. Mentally I'm ascribing this to the other, older 'Penguin SF Omnibus', which I had as a kid. All of the stories in that one were better, even when they were actually the exact same stories that were in this one.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mitchell

    As near as I can tell Brian Aldiss published and revised a number of these collections, this being the most recent edition, put out in 2007. Apart from half a dozen more contemporary pieces injected into the mix, it’s mostly the same collection of early sci-fi stories from the 1950s and ‘60s that I remember reading as a battered old paperback when I was a young teenager – possibly, I think, the first short stories I’d ever read. Many of these don’t hold up, coming as they do from the golly-gee-wh As near as I can tell Brian Aldiss published and revised a number of these collections, this being the most recent edition, put out in 2007. Apart from half a dozen more contemporary pieces injected into the mix, it’s mostly the same collection of early sci-fi stories from the 1950s and ‘60s that I remember reading as a battered old paperback when I was a young teenager – possibly, I think, the first short stories I’d ever read. Many of these don’t hold up, coming as they do from the golly-gee-whiz era of science fiction. (And some of the modern insertions, like Kim Stanley Robinson’s thoughtful Notes on Sexual Dimorphism, stand out against them like a sore thumb.) But highlights include: Lot by Ward Moore, about a father packing his family into the car and onto a jam-packed highway to try to escape what’s implied to be a nuclear attack on Los Angeles; I must have remembered the tone and urgency of this story, since it’s subconsciously reflected in my own short story West Gate, but as a teenager I missed Moore’s subtle use of the father as an unreliable narrator, a bitter and hen-pecked man who secretly resents his family and fantasises that the collapse of society will finally usher in his time to shine; The Liberation of Earth by William Tenn, a satirical story about Earth finding itself a battlefield between two opposing alien militaries, constantly taken and retaken and declared “liberated” each time while billions die and entire continents are vapourised; An Alien Agony by Harry Harrison, about a human missionary arriving on a planet populated by peaceful and very literal-minded aliens; The Store of the Worlds by Robert Sheckley, in which a man approaches a trader who has developed a drug that allows one to see their heart’s truest desire; Night Watch by James Inglis, following the journey of a space probe launched off into the galaxy; Great Work of Time by John Crowley, an 80-page novella capping off the anthology, which is one of the most thoughtful and literary time travel stories I’ve ever read, about a secret society which attempts to alter history to preserve the British Empire and the complications which arise from that. Crowley’s fantasy novel Little, Big is one of the few books I’ve ever given up on shortly after starting it, finding it not to be to my taste, but on the strength of this novella alone I’ll definitely be taking another look at Crowley’s work.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Tammy Winter

    A good concept spoiled by its editor. Aldiss in the introduction to this collection comes across as pretentious and sexist and unfortunately that pretentious feeling follows into his choices of stories and in his own writing, this book is packed with filler stories (the last story being 80 pages felt like a panic decision to make the book larger) but its not all bad push through the filler and boring stories and there are some gems in here but im sure you could find them in much more enjoyable co A good concept spoiled by its editor. Aldiss in the introduction to this collection comes across as pretentious and sexist and unfortunately that pretentious feeling follows into his choices of stories and in his own writing, this book is packed with filler stories (the last story being 80 pages felt like a panic decision to make the book larger) but its not all bad push through the filler and boring stories and there are some gems in here but im sure you could find them in much more enjoyable collections, these good stories are the reason its two stars because i dont want to downplay their positives, however i cannot recommend this book. Individual ratings: sole solution- 5 Lot - 3 skirmish - 5 And I awoke and found me here on the cold hills side- 4 poor litte warrior - 1 grandpa - 4 Nightfall- 5 The snowball effect- 4 swarm- 4 blood music- 4 answer - 1 the liberation of earth - 3 an alien agony- 5 track 12- 4 sexual dimorphism- 4 the tunnel under the world - 5 friends in need- 1 the store of the worlds- 5 jokester - 4 the short short story of mankind- 4 night watch -5 story of your life-5 protected species- 5 the rescuer - 2 i made you- 3 the country of the kind - 3 the cage -5 fulfilment- 1 common time - 2 alien embassy- 4 great work of time - 1

  12. 4 out of 5

    Tiny

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Fulfilment / A. E. Van Vogt 4/5 Thinking machines, a purpose, people and time travel. Poor little warrior/ Brian Aldiss 3/5 Mocks the writer and the reader, but despite this (or because), rather enjoyed it. I’ll remember it, at least. Swarm/ Bruce Sterling 3.5/5 The perfect SF story, futuristic with space travel and new species mixed in with human arrogance (of course). A major downside, which wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t so common, is the body horror relating to the human female. Friends in Need/E Fulfilment / A. E. Van Vogt 4/5 Thinking machines, a purpose, people and time travel. Poor little warrior/ Brian Aldiss 3/5 Mocks the writer and the reader, but despite this (or because), rather enjoyed it. I’ll remember it, at least. Swarm/ Bruce Sterling 3.5/5 The perfect SF story, futuristic with space travel and new species mixed in with human arrogance (of course). A major downside, which wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t so common, is the body horror relating to the human female. Friends in Need/Eliza Blair 3.5/5 Finally! A unique and uplifting story that appreciates the innocent wisdom of the young and the small. I didn’t manage to parse all the kid speak though! The short-short history of Mankind/John Steinbeck 3/5 I am biased as this is a favourite author. Hilarious, true, tragic and cynical. Night watch/James Inglis 5/5 Utterly beautiful and it makes a change to read about the machines we make being without the worst of humanity. Also, I identified very strongly with Asov, of The Curious Mind. Story of your life /Ted Chiang 4/5 Linguistics, time, physics and philosophy. These are a few of my favourite things. I appreciate a story that respects the readers intelligence. I certainly understand why the movie made the changes it did, better suiting it to the medium, but the original ambiguity is more philosophically thought-provoking. Protected Species/H.B.Fyfe 3/5 A story that you can see in your minds eye, characters you can identify with, twists and a history lesson. Loses a point because only male characters (unnecessary) and ‘females’ are of course just objects. In the future, in space. The Rescuer/Arthur Porges/ 1/5 If you know anything about Christianity and it’s history, then this story makes no sense. It would be forgivable if it was done well, but alas, I found it disappointing. I made you/ Walter M. Miller Jr. /3/5 Action, poignancy and emotions from a machine. Done well. Common time/ James Blish 3/5 I like this even more knowing that author writes Star Trek. Not sure what to say about this, except it is done well. It is an experience that is, and must be, experienced. Alien Embassy/Gary Kilworth 3/5 A story of a step towards personal growth and fulfilment. Of healing . Of love and sacrifice, and the circle of life. Of good differences. The Cage/ Bertram Chandler 4/5 Strangely hilarious, birds eye view of what a gaggle of intelligent (and nerdy, and old-fashioned) humans might do in such a situation. Slightly cynical and thought provoking, but feels like it tells the truth. Named men AND women are characters! Sexual dimorphism / Kim Stanley Robinson / 3.5/5 This calls to mind Selkie mythology, and blends in science to lead to the true focus of this man’s character. Are men from the forest and women from the sea? This would benefit from being a novel. An Alien Agony/ Harry Harrison 4/5 What happens when you hand over contradictions to a literal species? Track 12 /J. G. Ballard 1/5 Predictable revenge of the nerd on the arrogance of the jock.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Randompete

    A very well curated collection. Stories that ponder how people would behave in extraordinary, speculative circumstances. Loved this collection of stories.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Simon

    Stand out stories: Blood Music by Greg Bear, The Cage by Bertram Chandler, The Tunnel Under the World by Fred Pohl, and the John Crowley one.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Vanya

    "Science fiction is no more written for scientists than ghost stories are written for ghosts." - Brian Aldiss This, like all anthologies published, struggles with struggles with a collection of stories ranging from the ones exceptionally good to insanely boring ones. That being said, I wouldn't deny that it is among the best science fiction collection out there. My copy (published in 2007) had 31 stories in it majorly consisting of classics published in 1950s and 1960s and is edited by Brian Aldi "Science fiction is no more written for scientists than ghost stories are written for ghosts." - Brian Aldiss This, like all anthologies published, struggles with struggles with a collection of stories ranging from the ones exceptionally good to insanely boring ones. That being said, I wouldn't deny that it is among the best science fiction collection out there. My copy (published in 2007) had 31 stories in it majorly consisting of classics published in 1950s and 1960s and is edited by Brian Aldiss. There were a few outliers, published in 80s & 90s. I used to love short stories as a kid, but as I grew up I started struggling with those and preferred full length novels over anthologies. In all honesty, it took me three years to complete this book, just because I was putting it off and it has nothing to do with the quality of stories in it. Over the course of three years, I have forgotten some stories but a few stuck with me. These are the stories which make this collection worth buying - The Tunnel Under The World by Frederik Pohl (1954) - Guy Burckhardt wakes up screaming from dream which seems more real than any dream he jas ever had. This story is too advanced for its time and has a very Black Mirror-ish feel to it. Nightfall by Issac Assimov (1941) - What happens when the planet illuminated by it's six suns falls into darkness. Slight verbose but really good nonetheless. Sexual Dimorphism by Kim Stanley Robinson (1999) - The perfect blend of science fiction, fantasy and legends. Story of Your Life by Ted Chiang (1998) - the short story on which the movie Arrival is based. Alien Embassy by Garry Kilworth (2006) - This being a much recent story had a very cool vibe. A tropical island has been given to aliens and it has become a much loved tourist destination. These were a few 5/5 rated stories I found. I'd recommend the collection as a whole. Overall rating: ⭐⭐⭐ (3 out of 5 stars)

  16. 4 out of 5

    Garry Abbott

    A good collection that wavers in places as certain themes and styles are followed in sequence that I wasn't as interested in, but there's lots of gems to be found in here so read it from cover to cover with glee! A good collection that wavers in places as certain themes and styles are followed in sequence that I wasn't as interested in, but there's lots of gems to be found in here so read it from cover to cover with glee!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Riju Ganguly

    Editing is a much more difficult job than writing, especially when it comes to authors. Almost all the famous authors are notorious for choosing inferior to bad stories, whenever they are given an opportunity to make a "best of" selection from their works. It proves, that making a selection requires an altogether different perspective, and a connect with the hoi-polloi readers, which most of our authors lack. A classic example would be this book, as well. This selection, widely respected by criti Editing is a much more difficult job than writing, especially when it comes to authors. Almost all the famous authors are notorious for choosing inferior to bad stories, whenever they are given an opportunity to make a "best of" selection from their works. It proves, that making a selection requires an altogether different perspective, and a connect with the hoi-polloi readers, which most of our authors lack. A classic example would be this book, as well. This selection, widely respected by critics, turned out to be a disappointingly depressing one, where the author has selected stories that might be elevating, from a philosophical point of view, but are dashed poor reads. Also, his selections seem to be influenced by a Biblical worldview, which is NOT shared by readers like me. I had read a majority of these stories in different collections, and while several of them have had a lasting impact, the others were soporific and simply boring. To such pile, Aldiss had added several more dark, drab, dull stories, which the critics would lap-up. As far as I'm concerned, they only succeeded in souring the day. There are MUCH MUCH better anthologies available. The modern selections made by Paula Guran, while the older classic anthologies edited by Asimov et.al. are books that you might actually enjoy, and treasure.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    It's taken me the best part of a year to read this book, which makes it a bit of an oddity. Normally I would plough through a collection of short stories relatively quickly but, in this case, the selection on offer is so diverse and so consistently strong that the book as a whole is one to dip into whenever you want a reminder of just what the genre is capable of. The range of stories - spanning several decades - reflect a variety of themes and concens, all of which are well explored by a selecti It's taken me the best part of a year to read this book, which makes it a bit of an oddity. Normally I would plough through a collection of short stories relatively quickly but, in this case, the selection on offer is so diverse and so consistently strong that the book as a whole is one to dip into whenever you want a reminder of just what the genre is capable of. The range of stories - spanning several decades - reflect a variety of themes and concens, all of which are well explored by a selection of writers at the top of their game. While some stories are (not surprisingly) more memorable than others - Ted Chiang's Story of Your Life and Fredric Brown's Answer both spring to mind - there isn't a single dud in the book, all of which makes it a collection that should appeal to anyone.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    New rule: multi-author collections lose a star if the author list is not at least 33% female. ESPECIALLY if they purport to be some sort of comprehensive survey. I suppose that's all you can expect from an editor who reads James Tiptree, Jr.'s remark that 'those eight years in SF [while her pseudonym held] were the first time I could be really real' not as an expression of relief at temporarily escaping the toxic soup of gender expectations but as a description of how much fun it is to write abo New rule: multi-author collections lose a star if the author list is not at least 33% female. ESPECIALLY if they purport to be some sort of comprehensive survey. I suppose that's all you can expect from an editor who reads James Tiptree, Jr.'s remark that 'those eight years in SF [while her pseudonym held] were the first time I could be really real' not as an expression of relief at temporarily escaping the toxic soup of gender expectations but as a description of how much fun it is to write about rockets.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Nora

    I hadn't read a lot of science fiction before starting this book, so it was all new to me. The collection is excellent and the length of the stories keeps the tempo up. Each time you're plunged into a unique situation, though there is a bit of a common thread that "life as we know it will never be the same". I also greatly enjoyed the feel of the book in my hand, how well it was bound, the thickness of the paper. In my eyes books still trump digital media devices: they don't need batteries and I hadn't read a lot of science fiction before starting this book, so it was all new to me. The collection is excellent and the length of the stories keeps the tempo up. Each time you're plunged into a unique situation, though there is a bit of a common thread that "life as we know it will never be the same". I also greatly enjoyed the feel of the book in my hand, how well it was bound, the thickness of the paper. In my eyes books still trump digital media devices: they don't need batteries and they don't need internet. So I recommend the book highly, both in content and in form.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Taylor

    Brilliant science fiction collection. With names like Issac Asimov, Robert Abernathy, Arthur C Clarke, Theodore Cogswell, James Blish, AE Van Vogt and — unexpectedly — John Steinbeck filling its pages, it promises to be stellar and it is. My favorite story in this collection and one of my top two favorite science fiction stories of all time is Eric Frank Russell's short-short story, "Sole Solution". Brilliant science fiction collection. With names like Issac Asimov, Robert Abernathy, Arthur C Clarke, Theodore Cogswell, James Blish, AE Van Vogt and — unexpectedly — John Steinbeck filling its pages, it promises to be stellar and it is. My favorite story in this collection and one of my top two favorite science fiction stories of all time is Eric Frank Russell's short-short story, "Sole Solution".

  22. 5 out of 5

    Peter

    An outstanding anthology packed with the best of SF over the course of 60 years. Some I didn't like; most I did. Answer is one of the stand-out stories and is probably the best piece of flash fiction I've ever come across. This is an ideal anthology for an SF newcomer, although a veteran will find plenty to enjoy. An outstanding anthology packed with the best of SF over the course of 60 years. Some I didn't like; most I did. Answer is one of the stand-out stories and is probably the best piece of flash fiction I've ever come across. This is an ideal anthology for an SF newcomer, although a veteran will find plenty to enjoy.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Fred Voon

    Quite a number of the 31 stories were either difficult to plough through (including the editor's) or hard to decipher. My favourites were 'Grandpa' (1955) by James H. Schmitz, 'Swarm' (1982) by Bruce Sterling, 'An Alien Agony' (aka 'The Streets of Ashkelon', 1962) by Harry Harrison, 'Story of Your Life' (1998) by Ted Chiang, and 'I Made You' (1954) by Walter M. Miller, Jr. Quite a number of the 31 stories were either difficult to plough through (including the editor's) or hard to decipher. My favourites were 'Grandpa' (1955) by James H. Schmitz, 'Swarm' (1982) by Bruce Sterling, 'An Alien Agony' (aka 'The Streets of Ashkelon', 1962) by Harry Harrison, 'Story of Your Life' (1998) by Ted Chiang, and 'I Made You' (1954) by Walter M. Miller, Jr.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jon

    There weren't any stand out stories that I hadn't read elsewhere, and a lot of what was there was unengaging. This is an anthology of stories from 50s onwards, excluding the 70s, and mostly 50s and 60s. More of a holiday read than one to buy specially. There weren't any stand out stories that I hadn't read elsewhere, and a lot of what was there was unengaging. This is an anthology of stories from 50s onwards, excluding the 70s, and mostly 50s and 60s. More of a holiday read than one to buy specially.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Bob Mccow

    This is one of the best sci fi anthologies I've ever read. Lots of great stories and only one or two I didn't really like. Really shows the depth of imagination and variety you can get in the genre. Brilliant. This is one of the best sci fi anthologies I've ever read. Lots of great stories and only one or two I didn't really like. Really shows the depth of imagination and variety you can get in the genre. Brilliant.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Nikhil

    Some stories are really great, some are not even worth reading. Overall collection is OK.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Charles

    I have the original of this. It doesn't have any stories later than 1973 in it. It's a good collection and a huge one. 616 pages. I have the original of this. It doesn't have any stories later than 1973 in it. It's a good collection and a huge one. 616 pages.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Fiona

    A bit hit and miss. Asimov is amazing as always, the final story was well worth making it through to the end, but some of the others not so much.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jenna B.

    Really interesting group of stories

  30. 4 out of 5

    John Rafferty

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