Friday, March 14, 2014

FFB: THE SCIENCE FICTION HALL OF FAME, Volumes 1, edited by Robert Silverberg (Doubleday 1970)

The Science Fiction Writers of America came together in the mid 1960s (formally in 1965), following the examples of the elder Mystery Writers of America and Western Writers of America, and while it didn't become the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America till much later on, it always was open to those who wrote mostly fantasy as well. Among the activities emulated by the new group (quite aside from internecine strife and logrolling) were the establishment of awards and the putting together of fundraising anthologies, some of which became touchstones in the field. The Nebula Awards, and their related irregularly-assembled anthologies, were among the most obvious examples, but of more sustained popularity has been The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume 1, and edited by then SFWA president Robert Silverberg, drawing on a members' poll of their choices for the best sf short stories and novelets published before the first Nebula awards, given in 1965.

the Contento Index:

The Science Fiction Hall of Fame Volume 1 ed. Robert Silverberg (Doubleday, 1970, hc)
This volume particularly has been commonly used as a textbook in sf courses, particularly in the 1970s, and has been (usually) in print in either the Avon mass-market or Tor "quality" paperback editions since publication, along with the Science Fiction Book Club edition.  It's an interesting cross-section of magazine sf and near-sf (some of the stories are sf if you Want them to be, but not by much, notably the Bixby, the Clarke and the Matheson, which are at least as much horror stories, and the Clarke is essentially a cosmic joke-story), and at least two of them are early stories by writers who went on to do much better the degree that they rather resented being consistently told how wonderful their early attention-getters were (with the implication they hadn't topped them): the Sturgeon and (particularly commonly) the Asimov, which also topped the SFWA-member poll as the story most widely suggested for inclusion (the Weinbaum came in second).  Among the stories which had the most impact on me as a young reader, digging into my father's battered secondhand copy of the SFBC edition, was "A Martian Odyssey" (wherein Weinbaum names one of his characters "Putz" straightfacedly, enjoying getting that past the presumably all-goy editorial staff at Wonder Stories in 1934), where the comic touches were less important than the reasonably deft hand at exploring a fanciful Martian ecology, and the rather more grounded (than Edgar Rice Burroughs's work and similar John Carteresque adventures) yet still mind-blowing suggestions of what and how might arise on Mars as it was understood in the 1930s...while it was hardly alone among stories that would help set the template for what John W. Campbell would be seeking to offer as editor of Astounding Stories beginning in 1937, it was the best-remembered example, and one of the most fully-formed.  Even Campbell's own writing, whether the kind of super-science fiction he'd publish under his own name or the more mood-driven and existential pieces he'd publish as by "Don A. Stuart" (such as, obviously, "Twilight") didn't quite show the way as clearly, though they provided other aspects of what JWC hoped to encourage...and succeeded in doing. And while other editors at other magazines (and even such folk as Stephen Vincent Benet and Philip Wylie, writing for other markets altogether...and not represented in this book more out of parochialism than anything else) often would emphasize other aspects, such as wild adventure or even paranoid fantasy of a less salubrious sort, there were also those who reacted to what Campbell was fostering and added their own elements to it...including the Futurians, who would edit their own set of underbudgeted magazines and sometimes better-funded book lines beginning in the earliest 1940s, and such other colleagues of Campbell as writers and eventually editors as Anthony Boucher, co-founder and more visible partner in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and H. L. Gold, founding editor of Galaxy...their innovations, as (ex-Futurians) C. M. Kornbluth's "The Little Black Bag" and Judith Merril's "That Only a Mother" demonstrate here, would feed back into Campbell's Astounding as well as going forward to influence the work that would follow in other did the work of such writers never too much in the Astounding mode as Sturgeon-student Ray Bradbury (whose contribution is from the most devoted of the adventure magazines, Planet Stories, which nonetheless was also open to the kind of almost satirical psychodrama Bradbury touches on here) and Paul "Cordwainer Smith" Linebarger, whose first story under that name was sufficiently bizarre in the late 1940s to be eagerly or reluctantly rejected by the established magazines, and appeared in the semi-professional magazine Fantasy Book...where it probably caught the eye of "Smith"'s eventual editorial champion, (ex-Futurian) Frederik Pohl, mostly because Pohl and (ex-Futurian) Isaac Asimov had a collaborated fantasy story in the same issue. That (ex-Futurian) Damon Knight was the main sparkplug of founding SFWA, with notable early assistance from such old Milford Writers' Workshop partners as (ex-Futurians) James Blish and Merril probably didn't hurt their chances of appearance in this volume, not that the stories might not've gotten them entry anyway...Knight's story is certainly one of the best in the book, and a complex study of the role of the outsider (very much including the outsider artist, and perhaps all artists) in human society...much as Fritz Leiber's is a study of how taking on face value the Official Story of how people should and do interact in society can leave one woefully unprepared for real life...these stories had a major influence on me.

Others have noted that such rather better stories as "The Star" by Arthur C. Clarke probably should've taken the place of the poll-winners included for the writers in question (the better Clarke story lost to the joke story by only a relative handful of votes), but I'd meant to make only a few quick comments on a very busy day (and about at least Volumes 2-4, as well), and found myself going on this long and not being nearly finished, so will end matters right here for now...

Please see Patti Abbott's blog for the rest of today's books and other work...

And here are the subsequent volumes I hope to usefully comment upon:

Science Fiction Hall of Fame Volume 2A ed. Ben Bova (Doubleday, 1973, hc)

Science Fiction Hall of Fame Volume 2B ed. Ben Bova (Doubleday, 1973, hc)
 The Science Fiction Hall of Fame Volume III (with George W. Proctor) (Avon 0-380-79335-0, Mar ’82, $3.95, 672pp, pb) First American edition (Gollancz 1981 as Science Fiction Hall of Fame Volume Four).
  • ix · Introduction · Arthur C. Clarke · in
  • 2 · “Repent, Harlequin!” Said the Ticktockman · Harlan Ellison · ss Galaxy Dec ’65
  • 15 · The Doors of His Face, the Lamps of His Mouth · Roger Zelazny · nv F&SF Mar ’65
  • 49 · The Saliva Tree · Brian W. Aldiss · na F&SF Sep ’65
  • 122 · He Who Shapes · Roger Zelazny · na Amazing Jan ’65 (+1); ; expanded to The Dream Master, New York: Ace, 1966
  • 216 · The Secret Place · Richard M. McKenna · ss Orbit 1, ed. Damon Knight, Berkley Medallion, 1966
  • 232 · Call Him Lord · Gordon R. Dickson · ss Analog May ’66
  • 254 · The Last Castle · Jack Vance · na Galaxy Apr ’66
  • 318 · Aye, and Gomorrah... · Samuel R. Delany · ss Dangerous Visions, ed. Harlan Ellison, Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1967
  • 329 · Gonna Roll the Bones · Fritz Leiber · nv Dangerous Visions, ed. Harlan Ellison, Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1967
  • 352 · Behold the Man [Karl Glogauer] · Michael Moorcock · na New Worlds #166 ’66
  • 406 · The Planners · Kate Wilhelm · ss Orbit 3, ed. Damon Knight, G.P. Putnam’s, 1968
  • 422 · Mother to the World · Richard Wilson · nv Orbit 3, ed. Damon Knight, G.P. Putnam’s, 1968
  • 461 · Dragonrider [Pern] · Anne McCaffrey · na Analog Dec ’67 (+1)
  • 580 · Passengers · Robert Silverberg · ss Orbit 4, ed. Damon Knight, G.P. Putnam’s, 1968
  • 593 · Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones · Samuel R. Delany · nv New Worlds Dec ’68
  • 632 · A Boy and His Dog [Vic & Blood] · Harlan Ellison · nv New Worlds Apr ’68

The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Vol. IV ed. Terry Carr (Avon 0-380-89710-5, Jul ’86 [Jun ’86], $4.95, 434pp, pb) Anthology of Nebula Award winning stories from 1970-1974.
  • ix · Introduction · Terry Carr · in
  • 2 · Ill Met in Lankhmar [Fafhrd & Gray Mouser] · Fritz Leiber · na F&SF Apr ’70
  • 44 · Slow Sculpture · Theodore Sturgeon · nv Galaxy Feb ’70
  • 64 · The Missing Man [Rescue Squad] · Katherine MacLean · na Analog Mar ’71
  • 107 · The Queen of Air and Darkness · Poul Anderson · na F&SF Apr ’71
  • 149 · Good News from the Vatican · Robert Silverberg · ss Universe 1, ed. Terry Carr, Ace, 1971
  • 158 · A Meeting with Medusa · Arthur C. Clarke · nv Playboy Dec ’71
  • 196 · Goat Song · Poul Anderson · nv F&SF Feb ’72
  • 226 · When It Changed · Joanna Russ · ss Again, Dangerous Visions, ed. Harlan Ellison, Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1972
  • 236 · The Death of Dr. Island · Gene Wolfe · na Universe 3, ed. Terry Carr, Random House, 1973
  • 287 · Of Mist, and Grass, and Sand [Snake] · Vonda N. McIntyre · nv Analog Oct ’73
  • 306 · Love Is the Plan the Plan Is Death · James Tiptree, Jr. · ss The Alien Condition, ed. Stephen Goldin, Ballantine, 1973
  • 324 · Born with the Dead · Robert Silverberg · na F&SF Apr ’74
  • 385 · If the Stars Are Gods · Gordon Eklund & Gregory Benford · nv Universe 4, ed. Terry Carr, Random House, 1974
  • 421 · The Day Before the Revolution · Ursula K. Le Guin · ss Galaxy Aug ’74


Unknown said...

Yep, I used this one as a text, myself for a few years. The paperback, that is.

Todd Mason said...

I'd failed to ever ask you if you'd taught sf, Bill...I'm more surprised at my failure than in the fact that you've done so. Did you teach crime fiction or western/historical fiction courses at all?

Unknown said...

Back in the olden days when I was at Howard Payne University, I could set up a "special studies" course and teach pretty much whatever I wanted to. And what I wanted to teach was SF. (I sneaked the crime fiction into the regular course on American novels.) I used the SF Hall of Fame, supplemented by novels, in the SF class for a while and later used The Road to Science Fiction volumes from James Gunn. All that ended back in 1983 when I moved here.

George said...

I'm a fan of the SCIENCE FICTION HALL OF FAME series, too. You and Bill Crider are motivating me to reread some of those classic SF anthologies I grew up reading!

Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

Marvellous post, thanks Todd - this is one volume (in paperback too) I've been the proud owner of for at least a couple of decades (maybe three) but never got the subsequent volumes - hmm, thanks chum.

Todd Mason said...

Well, the third and fourth volumes are recapitulations, to some limited extent, of the NEBULA AWARDS volumes, with less nonfiction content...but it is interesting to have both side by side...