Isaac Asimov pays some frightening out-of-time dues when he challenges a vengeful author.
Judith Merrill writes of the strange legacy left by earthly explorers on a distant planet.
A.E. van Vogt records the havoc wreaked by an extraterrestrial pen pal.
Gordon R. Dickson creates a computer society gone insane and out of control.
Howard Fast traces the bizarre consequences of a bold experiment to create a race of superchildren.
Barry N. Malzberg presents an ominously familiar galaxy of the future after the great space war.
And more space mail…by today’s top science fiction masters.
Some of the “theme” anthologies Asimov started editing with Martin Greenberg in the late 1970’s were based on the literary form of the story and not its subject. This is a case in point—we have here an anthology of stories cast in the form of letters, diaries, or memoranda. (One wonders at how they managed to leave out Asimov’s own excellent use of the form, “Blind Alley”.)
The anthology is, on the whole, very strong. We have Daniel Keyes’ marvelous “Flowers for Algernon” as the highlight of the book, plus stories like Gordon R. Dickson’s ever-funny “Computers Don’t Argue” and Jack Lewis’ equally funny “Who’s Cribbing?” Several of the other stories here are nearly as good as these. Despite, then, the lack of Asimov outside of the introduction, this is a good anthology worth having.
By the way, the statement in the blurb that “Isaac Asimov pays some frightening out-of-time dues when he’s challenged by a vengeful author” is a clever way of pretending there’s a story by Asimov in the book. There isn’t. Rather, it refers to the funny short-short “One Rejection Too Many” by Patricia Nurse, which is about Asimov. It’s a fun story and well worth reading, but since Nurse isn’t a “name” sf writer, one can understand the blurb writer for their misdirection. (Understand, mind you, and not necessarily forgive.)