A sequel to the acclaimed Isaac Asimov Presents the Best Science Fiction of the 19th Century, this new anthology offers the best and most unusual stories of fantasy. From Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” to H.G. Wells’s “The Man Who Could Work Miracles,” a unique selection is offered.
Also included are: Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment,” a story of lost youth regained; Leo Tolstoi’s “How Much Land Does a Man Need?” in which a man realizes that his real estate needs only measure six feet deep.; Oscar Wilde’s “The Canterville Ghost,” the delightful tale of a ghost with squatter’s right; and Hans Christian Andersen’s classic “The Snow Queen,” among other notable selections.
In all, this international compilation is an intriguing and entertaining anthology of the finest writers of any century.
Fantasy is a rather older genre of literature than science fiction, and even though Asimov argues in the introduction to this volume that it doesn’t go back much beyond 1800, it is still rather less of a stretch to create an anthology of 19th century fantasy than 19th century science fiction. (Even when one is willing to stretch the point of the genre classification, too, the fact is that 19th century science is badly outdated by modern standards, which tends to make the stories less enjoyable.)
The result here is a rather better anthology than Isaac Asimov Presents the Best Science Fiction of the 19th Century, even though Asimov himself isn’t represented. A number of top-notch authors are included, however, with some justifiably famous stories: Irving’s “Headless Horseman,” for example, or Andersen’s “Snow Queen.”
The result is an anthology which is perhaps of more interest to the student of the history of fantastic literature than to the student of the writings of Isaac Asimov—but still something quite worthwhile.