ROGER ZELAZNY • HARLAN ELLISON • GORDON R. DICKSON • DAMON KNIGHT • LARRY NIVEN • POUL ANDERSON • DEAN R. KOONTZ • A.E. van VOGT • PHILLIP E. HIGH • ROBERT SILVERBERG • HENRY SLESAR • PERRY A. CHAPDELAINE
From a man who can kill a thousand worlds if the price is right to a man who can be killed a thousand times and sitll survive, to a mutant with a talent for having too much on his mind and a barbarian gladiator with the strength to topple interstellar empires—here are stories of those who dare to take that one giant leap beyond the worlds of men and into the realms of Supermen!
I can’t say that this was the most thrilling anthology in the world. The title notwithstanding, there are no stories here about our friend Mr. S., which is possibly a shame—certainly it’s too bad to miss out on Larry Niven’s hilarious dissection of Superman’s sex life, “Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex,” found in All the Myriad Ways and mentioned by Asimov himself in The Hugo Winners, Volume Two. There is a Larry Niven story, here, a Gil Hamilton tale (”Death by Ecstasy”), and it’s definitely the best in the volume, so one can’t complain too loudly.
The idea here is to gather stories illustrating the concept of humans who are superior in some fashion, because they have special skills or special talents that make them better than the rest of us.
There are no stories here by Asimov himself, and I really can’t say that they‘re representative of the best sf has to offer. Gordon R. Dickson’s “In the Bone,” for example, is kind of interesting in a Robinson Crusoe sort of way but not his best; nor is Poul Anderson’s very long “Un-man” anywhere near as good as he can do. Van Vogt’s “Resurrection” is included (as perhaps the prototypical Campbell human vs. alien story), which is of historical interest but not Van Vogt’s best, and so on. And so on.
The theme of beings greater than normal men is, of course, an old an honorable staple of sf (satisfying all the dreams, I think, of the nerdy teenage kids who want to think of themselves as superior to the jocks who surround them), but this anthology really doesn’t do a very good job of illustrating it.