The ‘new wave’ in science fiction started in Britain in the early 1960s and then spread to America, where it was hugely popular and changed the face of SF for years to come. This volume, following the successful collections of novels from the 30s, 40s and 50s, includes short novels by the 60s’ most talented and famous writers.
KEITH LAUMER Night of the Trolls
ROBERT SILVERBERG How It Was The Past Went Away [sic]
ROGER ZELAZNY The Eve of Rumoko
DEAN McLAUGHLIN Hawk Among the Sparrows
ANNE McCAFFREY Weyr Search
PHILIP JOSE FARMER The Suicide Express
RANDALL GARRETT The Highest Treason
RICK RAPHAEL Code Three
MACK REYNOLDS Mercenary
GORDON R. DICKSON Soldier, Ask Not
This is the fourth anthology of novellas in the series starting with The Mammoth Book of Classic Science Fiction. It’s a pretty mixed bag. There’s nothing by Asimov here; his fiction output was pretty minimal in the decade this book covers, the 1960’s. There are, however, some excellent novellas included: Robert Silverberg’s “How It Was When the Past Went Away,” Anne McCaffrey’s Hugo-winning “Weyr Search,” Gordon R. Dickson’s “Soldier, Ask Not” (another Hugo winner) and Randall Garrett’s “The Highest Treason.” Personally, I don’t find the other six novellas all that compelling, so I’m less a little less than enthusiastic about this particular volume.
The choice of the novella by Silverberg is interesting, by the way, given the fact that his “Nightwings” is a Hugo winner and “How It Was When the Past Went Away” isn’t. Not that I really mind—they‘re both excellent stories.
The same is true for Philip José Farmer, whose “Riders of the Purple Wage” was a joint winner of the Hugo with “Weyr Search” and yet is omitted.
In fact, the really odd thing about this anthology has to do with the New Wave. This was, as the blurb implies, a major literary movement in sf in the 1960’s. You wouldn’t know that, however, from the stories presented here. Certainly “Riders of the Purple Wage” exemplifies the New Wave and “Nightwings” has a New Wave-y feeling about it that “How It Was When the Past Went Away” lacks.
I don’t know Martin H. Greenberg’s attitudes about the New Wave, but I do know Asimov’s, and he rather disliked it almost to the point of hostility. (Not that it affected his friendship with writers associated with the New Wave in the United States, most notably Harlan Ellison.) Although one can argue that stories at the far end of the New Wave spectrum have not really stood the test of time—and I would agree with that—I think in this case it’s simply a matter of our editors’ personal tastes.
By the way, there is one change in the series beginning with this volume—Asimov no longer supplies introductions, which is not entirely surprising as Asimov’s health had started to fail seriously the previous year.