During the 1940s, the great names emerged in an eruption of talent. They formed the mould for the next three decades of science fiction and their writing is as fresh today as it was then.
ROSS ROCKLYNNE Time Wants a Skeleton
A.E. VAN VOGT The Weapons Shop
LESTER DEL REY Nerves
FREDRIC BROWN Daymare
THEODORE STURGEON Killdozer!
C.L. MOORE No Woman Born
ISAAC ASIMOV The Big and the Little
A. BERTRAM CHANDLER Giant Killer
T.L. SHERRED E for Effort
JACK WILLIAMSON With Folded Hands
This is the second anthology of novellas in the series starting with The Mammoth Book of Classic Science Fiction, and it represents a vast improvement.
For one thing, it includes Asimov’s own “The Merchant Princes.” This is one of the very few times that any of the original Foundation stories is anthologized outside of Foundation , Foundation and Empire, and Second Foundation. One wonders why “The Mule” wasn’t chosen, or “The Search by the Foundation,” but it’s nice to see one of these stories properly recognized. (Unfortunately, I rather suspect that it’s the version of the story that eventually appeared in Foundation, and not the version that originally appeared in Astounding, but I’m not sure.)
The other nine stories are all almost just as good, from Ross Rocklynne’s “Time Wants a Skeleton” through Jack Williamson’s brilliant “With Folded Hands.” A. Bertram Chandler’s “Giant Killer” isn’t a story that I particularly like, mind you—but it is very well done indeed, as is true for Theodore Sturgeon’s “Killdozer!” Plus we have A.E. van Vogt’s “The Weapons Shop” and Lester del Rey’s “Nerves.” This is a marvelous anthology which I’d highly recommend to all comers.
This book does have one peculiarity. Asimov lists The Mammoth Book of Classic Science Fiction in the bibliography found in I. Asimov: A Memoir. Ed Seiler’s correspondence with Asimov indicates that he also counted The Mammoth Book of Vintage Science Fiction as an Asimov book. For some reason, however, this book is not on the Seiler/Asimov list. I don’t know why, but based on the presence of the other two, I’m leaving it in.