The great Golden Age days of science fiction continue in this, the sixth volume, of Isaac Asimov’s selections from the wonders of the past. For the year, 1944, introduced authors and stories which constitute stars which still shine brightly in the world of speculative fantasy today.
Consider a single year in which such as the following appeared for the very first time:
CITY by Clifford D. Simak
FAR CENTAURUS by A. E. van Vogt
KILLDOZER! by Theodore Sturgeon
NO WOMAN BORN by C. L. Moore
WHEN THE BOUGH BREAKS by Lewis Padgett
THE VEIL OF ASTELLAR by Leigh Brackett
What a time for science fiction!
And what a treat for readers!
For general comments on this series, see Isaac Asimov Presents the Great SF Stories 1, 1939.
There’s still no Asimov in this volume, as was the case with Isaac Asimov Presents the Great SF Stories 5, 1943, but that’s OK. Instead, we get three (count them, three!) “city” stories by Clifford D. Simak, A.E. Van Vogt’s “Far Centaurus,” Frederic Brown’s “Arena” (which was later, nominally, turned into a Star Trek episode), and Lewis Padgett’s “When the Bough Breaks.”
More to the point—and somewhat of relevance to Asimov fans— we also get Cleve Cartmill’s “Deadline,” a story which Asimov talks about repeatedly in his essays. It’s actually not a very terrific story, but Cartmill did such a good job of discussing the possibility of nuclear power that (the legend goes) G-men paid John Campbell a visit to tell him to lay off of the atomic power stories. Campbell pointed out that atomic power was such an old chestnut in sf that to suddenly stop writing about it would be a red flag to thousands of sf fans across the country that research into atomic power was actually being done, and they left with that.
I don’t know if the story is really true or not, but Asimov tells it over and over and it’s nice to get a chance to actually read the story in question.