Isaac Asimov was born in the year 1920. Nine years later he first discovered Science Fiction, in its then current guise as AMAZING STORIES. During the next ten years he became a more than occasional contributor to the letter columns of the SF magazines.
During this period, Asimov made the aquaintance [sic] of other SF fans. Such people as Frederik Pohl, Robert A.W. Lowndes, Donald A. Wolheim and Cyril Kornbluth (along with the Asimov) first formalized their writing as THE FUTURIAN SCIENCE LITERARY SOCIETY OF NEW YORK in September of 1938.
Asimov’s first story sale was made, appropriately, to AMAZING STORIES a few weeks later.
For the next eleven years (with the incisive encouragement of John W. Campbell, Jr. then editor of ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION) Asimov wrote many of his most memorable SF stories.
In 1949 Asimov sold his first book publication novel. Remarkably, it was only at this time that he considered the possibility that he might be able to make his way as a writer. Several years later this considered possibility became a fact. It happened when Asimov moved on from being exclusively an author of Science Fiction to become a writer of an encyclopedic range of subjects. To date he has 150 books to his credit.
HAVE YOU SEEN THESE? is Isaac Asimov’s 150th book. It’s a collection of short stories, all of which were first published in the Science Fiction magazines of the 1950’s. Each story is bracketed with new expository material by Asimov, providing a brief inside view of the SF writer’s field of that time.
HAVE YOU SEEN THESE? is being published, at this time, by the New England Science Fiction Association, Inc. in recognition of Isaac Asimov’s status as Guest of Honor at Boskone XI. Boskone XI is the current edition of the annual New England Regional Science Fiction Convention.
The answer to the title’s question is, “Yes, I have, and no, I’m not terribly happy about it.”
As explained in the introduction to Buy Jupiter and Other Stories, Asimov put together this collection to be sold at Boskone XI in honor of his being Guest of Honor there. Doubleday later had him take all the stories in the collection, add a bunch more, and put it out for Doubleday, the result being Buy Jupiter and Other Stories.
The eight stories in this collection are all stories Asimov hadn’t put in any of his other anthologies for the very good and sufficient reason that they’re all lousy—well, sub-par, at least. Certainly, anybody who owns the more accessible Buy Jupiter and Other Stories has no real reason to spend the $200 I’ve seen asked for this one on occasion. My own copy cost $65, which is rather more than it probably deserves—but I’m a completist and so spent the money.
One other note. The typesetting in this book is unusually bad. Italics are never used (capitals are used instead), paragraphs contain entire conversations full of direct quotes, there are some interesting typos with punctuation, and the typesetter didn’t know the difference between a dash and a hyphen and always insists on using two dashes instead of one. One will note one glaring typo even in the blurb on the dust jacket flaps, not to mention some rather, um, idiosyncratic prose.
The front cover, as one might expect, shows a generic spaceship on a flying past a generic planetary surface and has nothing to do with the book. The picture on the back cover is a bit of a kick, however: it’s stolen from The Early Asimov, where Asimov is shown on a New York street, holding a “Doubleday” bag and hailing a taxi— except that the word “Doubleday” on the bag has been mysteriously covered by “NESFA PRESS.” Hmm…
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