This outstanding volume contains 10 short novels by the first stars of science fiction many of whom rose to fame through the legendary pulp magazines Amazing Stories and Astounding Stories.
H.R. LOVECRAFT The Shadow out of Time
HARRY BATES Alas, All Thinking
ERIC FRANK RUSSELL & LESLIE T. JOHNSON Seeker of Tomorrow
L. SPRAGUE de CAMP Divide and Rule
STANLEY G. WEINBAUM Dawn of Flame
HORACE L. GOLD A Matter of Form
CORNELL WOOLRICH Jane Brown’s Body
JOHN W. CAMPBELL, JR. Who Goes There?
MURRAY LEINSTER Sidewise in Time
JACK WILLIAMSON Wolves of Darkness
Before the series of “best of the year” anthologies which started with Isaac Asimov Presents the Great SF Stories 1, 1939 had fully run its course, Asimov and Greenberg started a second series of “historical” anthologies with a different publisher (Carroll and Gray). The titles follow a common theme: The Mammoth Book of Classic Science Fiction, The Mammoth Book of Golden Age Science Fiction, The Mammoth Book of Vintage Science Fiction, The Mammoth Book of New World Science Fiction, The Mammoth Book of Fantastic Science Fiction, and The Mammoth Book of Modern Science Fiction.
Each of these hefty volumes has ten “short novels” from a single decade: the 1930’s, 40’s, and so on through the 1980’s. There are no headnotes to the stories and only an introduction by Asimov giving an overview of them.
On the whole, the series is a very good one. On the whole.
This first volume is not the best, you see. It contains stories mostly from before the time Campbell took over Astounding in 1938, and so it has some very pre-Golden Age stuff indeed: “The Shadow Out of Time” by H.P. Lovecraft, for example, or Jack Williamson’s “Wolves of Darkness.” Stanley G. Weinbaum is here, too, with one of his decidedly lesser stories, “Dawn of Flame”. Most of the others are OK at best.
Fortunately, there are three stories here every bit as good now as at the time of their publication some eighty years ago: Campbell’s own “Who Goes There?,” Murray Leinster’s seminal “Sideways in Time,” and L. Sprague de Camp’s “Divide and Rule.” Were it not for these, one could go very easily without this volume unless one were an Asimov completest or somebody very dedicated to the history of science fiction.