The definitive collection of the best in science fiction stories between 1929-1964.
This book contains twenty-six of the greatest science fiction stories ever written. They represent the considered verdict of the Science Fiction Writers of America, those who have shaped the genre and who know, more intimately than anyone else, what the criteria for excellence in the field should be. The authors chosen for The Science Fiction Hall of Fame are the men and women who have shaped the body and heart of modern science fiction; their brilliantly imaginative creations continue to inspire and astound new generations of writers and fans.
Robert Heinlein in "The Roads Must Roll" describes an industrial civilization of the future caught up in the deadly flaws of its own complexity. "Country of the Kind," by Damon Knight, is a frightening portrayal of biological mutation. "Nightfall," by Isaac Asimov, one of the greatest stories in the science fiction field, is the story of a planet where the sun sets only once every millennium and is a chilling study in mass psychology.
Originally published in 1970 to honor those writers and their stories that had come before the institution of the Nebula Awards, The Science Fiction Hall Of Fame, Volume One, was the book that introduced tens of thousands of young readers to the wonders of science fiction. Too long unavailable, this new edition will treasured by all science fiction fans everywhere.
The Science Fiction Hall Of Fame, Volume One, includes the following stories:
Introduction by Robert Silverberg
"A Martian Odyssey" by Stanley G. Weinbaum
"Twilight" by John W. Campbell
"Helen O'Loy" by Lester del Rey
"The Roads Must Roll" by Robert A. Heinlein
"Microcosmic God" by Theodore Sturgeon
"Nightfall" by Isaac Asimov
"The Weapon Shop" by A. E. van Vogt
"Mimsy Were the Borogoves" by Lewis Padgett
"Huddling Place" by Clifford D. Simak
"Arena" by Frederic Brown
"First Contact" by Murray Leinster
"That Only a Mother" by Judith Merril
"Scanners Live in Vain" by Cordwainer Smith
"Mars is Heaven!" by Ray Bradbury
"The Little Black Bag" by C. M. Kornbluth
"Born of Man and Woman" by Richard Matheson
"Coming Attraction" by Fritz Leiber
"The Quest for Saint Aquin" by Anthony Boucher
"Surface Tension" by James Blish
"The Nine Billion Names of God" by Arthur C. Clarke
"It's a Good Life" by Jerome Bixby
"The Cold Equations" by Tom Godwin
"Fondly Fahrenheit" by Alfred Bester
"The Country of the Kind," Damon Knight
"Flowers for Algernon" by Daniel Keyes
"A Rose for Ecclesiastes" by Roger Zelazny
At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.
About the Author
Robert Silverberg is a past president of the Science Fiction Writers of America, has published stories in all of the major science fiction magazines, written numerous science fiction novels, and is considered one of the greatest authors in the field. He is an award-winning author and has edited the New York Times bestselling anthology Legends.
Robert Silverberg has written more than 160 science fiction novels and nonfiction books. In his spare time he has edited over 60 anthologies. He began submitting stories to science fiction magazines when he was just 13. His first published story, entitled "Gorgon Planet," appeared in 1954 when he was a sophomore at Columbia University. In 1956 he won his first Hugo Award, for Most Promising New Author, and he hasn't stopped writing since. Among his standouts: the bestselling Lord Valentine trilogy, set on the planet of Majipoor, and the timeless classics Dying Inside and A Time of Changes. Silverberg has won the prestigious Nebula Award an astonishing five times, and Hugo Awards on four separate occasions; he has been nominated for both awards more times that any other writer. In 2004, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America gave him their Grand Master award for career achievement, making him the only SF writer to win a major award in each of six consecutive decades.
Read an Excerpt
A MARTIAN ODYSSEY
by Stanley G. Weinbaum
First published in 1934
Jarvis stretched himself as luxuriously as he could in the cramped general quarters of the Ares.
"Air you can breathe!" he exulted. "It feels as thick as soup after the thin stuff out there!" He nodded at the Martian landscape stretching flat and desolate in the light of the nearer moon, beyond the glass of the port.
The other three stared at him sympathetically — Putz, the engineer, Leroy, the biologist, and Harrison, the astronomer and captain of the expedition. Dick Jarvis was chemist of the famous crew, the Ares expedition, first human beings to set foot on the mysterious neighbor of the earth, the planet Mars. This, of course, was in the old days, less than twenty years after the mad American Doheny perfected the atomic blast at the cost of his life, and only a decade after the equally mad Cardoza rode on it to the moon. They were true pioneers, these four of the Ares. Except for a half-dozen moon expeditions and the ill-fated de Lancey flight aimed at the seductive orb of Venus, they were the first men to feel other gravity than earth's, and certainly the first successful crew to leave the earth-moon system. And they deserved that success when one considers the difficulties and discomforts — the months spent in acclimatization chambers back on earth, learning to breathe the air as tenuous as that of Mars, the challenging of the void in the tiny rocket driven by the cranky reaction motors of the twenty-first century, and mostly the facing of an absolutely unknown world.
Jarvis stretched and fingered the raw and peeling tip of his frost-bitten nose. He sighed again contentedly.
"Well," exploded Harrison abruptly, "are we going to hear what happened? You set out all shipshape in an auxiliary rocket, we don't get a peep for ten days, and finally Putz here picks you out of a lunatic ant-heap with a freak ostrich as your pal! Spill it, man!"
"Speel?" queried Leroy perplexedly. "Speel what?"
"He means 'spiel'," explained Putz soberly. "It iss to tell."
Jarvis met Harrison's amused glance without the shadow of a smile. "That's right, Karl," he said in grave agreement with Putz. "Ich spiel es!" He grunted comfortably and began.
"According to orders," he said, "I watched Karl here take off toward the North, and then I got into my flying sweat-box and headed South. You'll remember, Cap — we had orders not to land, but just scout about for points of interest. I set the two cameras clicking and buzzed along, riding pretty high — about two thousand feet — for a couple of reasons. First, it gave the cameras a greater field, and second, the under-jets travel so far in this half-vacuum they call air here that they stir up dust if you move low."
"We know all that from Putz," grunted Harrison. "I wish you'd saved the films, though. They'd have paid the cost of this junket; remember how the public mobbed the first moon pictures?"
"The films are safe," retorted Jarvis. "Well," he resumed, "as I said, I buzzed along at a pretty good clip; just as we figured, the wings haven't much lift in this air at less than a hundred miles per hour, and even then I had to use the under-jets.
"So, with the speed and the altitude and the blurring caused by the under-jets, the seeing wasn't any too good. I could see enough, though, to distinguish that what I sailed over was just more of this grey plain that we'd been examining the whole week since our landing — same blobby growths and the same eternal carpet of crawling little plant-animals, or biopods, as Leroy calls them. So I sailed along, calling back my position every hour as instructed, and not knowing whether you heard me."
"I did!" snapped Harrison.
"A hundred and fifty miles south," continued Jarvis imperturbably, "the surface changed to a sort of low plateau, nothing but desert and orange-tinted sand. I figured that we were right in our guess, then, and this grey plain we dropped on was really the Mare Cimmerium which would make my orange desert the region called Xanthus. If I were right, I ought to hit another grey plain, the Mare Chronium in another couple of hundred miles, and then another orange desert, Thyle I or II. And so I did."
"Putz verified our position a week and a half ago!" grumbled the captain. "Let's get to the point."
"Coming!" remarked Jarvis. "Twenty miles into Thyle — believe it or not — I crossed a canal!"
"Putz photographed a hundred! Let's hear something new!"
"And did he also see a city?"
"Twenty of 'em, if you call those heaps of mud cities!"
"Well," observed Jarvis, "from here on I'll be telling a few things Putz didn't see!" He rubbed his tingling nose, and continued. "I knew that I had sixteen hours of daylight at this season, so eight hours — eight hundred miles — from here, I decided to turn back. I was still over Thyle, whether I or II I'm not sure, not more than twenty-five miles into it. And right there, Putz's pet motor quit!"
"Quit? How?" Putz was solicitous.
"The atomic blast got weak. I started losing altitude right away, and suddenly there I was with a thump right in the middle of Thyle! Smashed my nose on the window, too!" He rubbed the injured member ruefully.
"Did you maybe try vashing der combustion chamber mit acid sulphuric?" inquired Putz. "Sometimes der lead giffs a secondary radiation —"
"Naw!" said Jarvis disgustedly. "I wouldn't try that, of course — not more than ten times! Besides, the bump flattened the landing gear and busted off the under-jets. Suppose I got the thing working — what then? Ten miles with the blast coming right out of the bottom and I'd have melted the floor from under me!" He rubbed his nose again. "Lucky for me a pound only weighs seven ounces here, or I'd have been mashed flat!"
"I could have fixed!" ejaculated the engineer. "I bet it vas not serious."
"Probably not," agreed Jarvis sarcastically. "Only it wouldn't fly. Nothing serious, but I had my choice of waiting to be picked up or trying to walk back — eight hundred miles, and perhaps twenty days before we had to leave! Forty miles a day! Well," he concluded, "I chose to walk. Just as much chance of being picked up, and it kept me busy."
"We'd have found you," said Harrison.
"No doubt. Anyway, I rigged up a harness from some seat straps, and put the water tank on my back, took a cartridge belt and revolver, and some iron rations, and started out."
"Water tank!" exclaimed the little biologist, Leroy. "She weigh one-quarter ton!"
"Wasn't full. Weighed about two hundred and fifty pounds earth-weight, which is eighty-five here. Then, besides, my own personal two hundred and ten pounds is only seventy on Mars, so, tank and all, I grossed a hundred and fifty-five, or fifty-five pounds less than my everyday earth-weight. I figured on that when I undertook the forty-mile daily stroll. Oh — of course I took a thermo-skin sleeping bag for these wintry Martian nights.
"Off I went, bouncing along pretty quickly. Eight hours of daylight meant twenty miles or more. It got tiresome, of course — plugging along over a soft sand desert with nothing to see, not even Leroy's crawling biopods. But an hour or so brought me to the canal — just a dry ditch about four hundred feet wide, and straight as a railroad on its own company map.
"There'd been water in it sometime, though. The ditch was covered with what looked like a nice green lawn. Only, as I approached, the lawn moved out of my way!"
"Eh?" said Leroy.
"Yeah, it was a relative of your biopods. I caught one — a little grass-like blade about as long as my finger, with two thin, stemmy legs."
"He is where?" Leroy was eager.
"He is let go! I had to move, so I plowed along with the walking grass opening in front and closing behind. And then I was out on the orange desert of Thyle again.
"I plugged steadily along, cussing the sand that made going so tiresome, and, incidentally, cussing that cranky motor of yours, Karl. It was just before twilight that I reached the edge of Thyle, and looked down over the grey Mare Chronium. And I knew there was seventy-five miles of that to be walked over, and then a couple of hundred miles of that Xanthus desert, and about as much more Mare Cimmerium. Was I pleased? I started cussing you fellows for not picking me up!"
"We were trying, you sap!" said Harrison.
"That didn't help. Well, I figured I might as well use what was left of daylight in getting down the cliff that bounded Thyle. I found an easy place, and down I went. Mare Chronium was just the same sort of place as this — crazy leafless plants and a bunch of crawlers; I gave it a glance and hauled out my sleeping bag. Up to that time, you know, I hadn't seen anything worth worrying about on this half-dead world — nothing dangerous, that is."
"Did you?" queried Harrison.
"Did I! You'll hear about it when I come to it. Well, I was just about to turn in when suddenly I heard the wildest sort of shenanigans!"
"Vot iss shenanigans?" inquired Putz.
"He says, 'Je ne sais quoi,'" explained Leroy. "It is to say, 'I don't know what.'"
"That's right," agreed Jarvis. "I didn't know what, so I sneaked over to find out. There was a racket like a flock of crows eating a bunch of canaries — whistles, cackles, caws, trills, and what have you. I rounded a clump of stumps, and there was Tweel!"
"Tweel?" said Harrison, and "Tveel?" said Leroy and Putz.
"That freak ostrich," explained the narrator. "At least, Tweel is as near as I can pronounce it without sputtering. He called it something like 'Trrrweerrlll.'"
"What was he doing?" asked the captain.
"He was being eaten! And squealing, of course, as any one would."
"Eaten! By what?"
"I found out later. All I could see then was a bunch of black ropy arms tangled around what looked like, as Putz described it to you, an ostrich. I wasn't going to interfere, naturally; if both creatures were dangerous, I'd have one less to worry about.
"But the bird-like thing was putting up a good battle, dealing vicious blows with an eighteen-inch beak, between screeches. And besides, I caught a glimpse or two of what was on the end of those arms!" Jarvis shuddered. "But the clincher was when I noticed a little black bag or case hung about the neck of the bird-thing! It was intelligent! That or tame, I assumed. Anyway, it clinched my decision. I pulled out my automatic and fired into what I could see of its antagonist.
"There was a flurry of tentacles and a spurt of black corruption, and then the thing, with a disgusting sucking noise, pulled itself and its arms into a hole in the ground. The other let out a series of clacks, staggered around on legs about as thick as golf sticks, and turned suddenly to face me. I held my weapon ready, and the two of us stared at each other.
"The Martian wasn't a bird, really. It wasn't even bird-like, except just at first glance. It had a beak all right, and a few feathery appendages, but the beak wasn't really a beak. It was somewhat flexible; I could see the tip bend slowly from side to side; it was almost like a cross between a beak and a trunk. It had four-toed feet, and four-fingered things — hands, you'd have to call them, and a little roundish body, and a long neck ending in a tiny head — and that beak. It stood an inch or so taller than I, and — well, Putz saw it!"
The engineer nodded. "Ja! I saw!"
Jarvis continued. "So — we stared at each other. Finally the creature went into a series of clackings and twitterings and held out its hands toward me, empty. I took that as a gesture of friendship."
"Perhaps," suggested Harrison, "it looked at that nose of yours and thought you were its brother!"
"Huh! You can be funny without talking! Anyway, I put up my gun and said 'Aw, don't mention it,' or something of the sort, and the thing came over and we were pals.
"By that time, the sun was pretty low and I knew that I'd better build a fire or get into my thermo-skin. I decided on the fire. I picked a spot at the base of the Thyle cliff, where the rock could reflect a little heat on my back. I started breaking off chunks of this desiccated Martian vegetation, and my companion caught the idea and brought in an armful. I reached for a match, but the Martian fished into his pouch and brought out something that looked like a glowing coal; one touch of it, and the fire was blazing — and you all know what a job we have starting a fire in this atmosphere!
"And that bag of his!" continued the narrator. "That was a manufactured article, my friends; press an end and she popped open — press the middle and she sealed so perfectly you couldn't see the line. Better than zippers.
"Well, we stared at the fire a while and I decided to attempt some sort of communication with the Martian. I pointed at myself and said 'Dick'; he caught the drift immediately, stretched a bony claw at me and repeated 'Tick.' Then I pointed at him, and he gave that whistle I called Tweel; I can't imitate his accent. Things were going smoothly; to emphasize the names, I repeated 'Dick,' and then, pointing at him, 'Tweel.'
"There we stuck! He gave some clacks that sounded negative, and said something like 'P-p-p-root.' And that was just the beginning; I was always 'Tick,' but as for him — part of the time he was 'Tweel,' and part of the time he was 'P-p-p-proot,' and part of the time he was sixteen other noises!
"We just couldn't connect. I tried 'rock,' and I tried 'star,' and 'tree,' and 'fire,' and Lord knows what else, and try as I would, I couldn't get a single word! Nothing was the same for two successive minutes, and if that's a language, I'm an alchemist! Finally I gave it up and called him Tweel, and that seemed to do.
"But Tweel hung on to some of my words. He remembered a couple of them, which I suppose is a great achievement if you're used to a language you have to make up as you go along. But I couldn't get the hang of his talk; either I missed some subtle point or we just didn't think alike — and I rather believe the latter view.
"I've other reasons for believing that. After a while I gave up the language business, and tried mathematics. I scratched two plus two equals four on the ground, and demonstrated it with pebbles. Again Tweel caught the idea, and informed me that three plus three equals six. Once more we seemed to be getting somewhere.
"So, knowing that Tweel had at least a grammar school education, I drew a circle for the sun, pointing first at it, and then at the last glow of the sun. Then I sketched in Mercury, and Venus, and Mother Earth, and Mars, and finally, pointing to Mars, I swept my hand around in a sort of inclusive gesture to indicate that Mars was our current environment. I was working up to putting over the idea that my home was on the earth.
"Tweel understood my diagram all right. He poked his beak at it, and with a great deal of trilling and clucking, he added Deimos and Phobos to Mars, and then sketched in the earth's moon!
"Do you see what that proves? It proves that Tweel's race uses telescopes — that they're civilized!"
"Does not!" snapped Harrison. "The moon is visible from here as a fifth magnitude star. They could see its revolution with the naked eye."
"The moon, yes!" said Jarvis. "You've missed my point. Mercury isn't visible!
And Tweel knew of Mercury because he placed the Moon at the third planet, not the second. If he didn't know Mercury, he'd put the earth second, and Mars third, instead of fourth! See?"
"Humph!" said Harrison.
"Anyway," proceeded Jarvis, "I went on with my lesson. Things were going smoothly, and it looked as if I could put the idea over. I pointed at the earth on my diagram, and then at myself, and then, to clinch it, I pointed to myself and then to the earth itself shining bright green almost at the zenith.
"Tweel set up such an excited clacking that I was certain he understood. He jumped up and down, and suddenly he pointed at himself and then at the sky, and then at himself and at the sky again. He pointed at his middle and then at Arcturus, at his head and then at Spica, at his feet and then at half a dozen stars, while I just gaped at him. Then, all of a sudden, he gave a tremendous leap. Man, what a hop! He shot straight up into the starlight, seventy-five feet if an inch! I saw him silhouetted against the sky, saw him turn and come down at me head first, and land smack on his beak like a javelin! There he stuck square in the center of my sun-circle in the sand — a bull's eye!"
"Nuts!" observed the captain. "Plain nuts!"
"That's what I thought, too! I just stared at him open-mouthed while he pulled his head out of the sand and stood up. Then I figured he'd missed my point, and I went through the whole blamed rigamarole again, and it ended the same way, with Tweel on his nose in the middle of my picture!"
"Maybe it's a religious rite," suggested Harrison.
Excerpted from "The Science Fiction Hall Of Fame Volume One, 1929–1964"
Copyright © 1998 Science Fiction Writers of America.
Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Introduction by Robert Silverberg
"A Martian Odyssey," Stanley G. Weinbaum
"Twilight," John W. Campbell
"Helen O'Loy," Lester del Rey
"The Roads Must Roll," Robert A. Heinlein
"Microcosmic God," Theodore Sturgeon
"Nightfall," Isaac Asimov
"The Weapon Shop," A. E. van Vogt
"Mimsy Were the Borogoves," Lewis Padgett
"Huddling Place," Clifford D. Simak
"Arena," Frederic Brown
"First Contact," Murray Leinster
"That Only a Mother," Judith Merril
"Scanners Live in Vain," Cordwainer Smith
"Mars is Heaven!," Ray Bradbury
"The Little Black Bag," C. M. Kornbluth
"Born of Man and Woman," Richard Matheson
"Coming Attraction," Fritz Leiber
"The Quest for Saint Aquin," Anthony Boucher
"Surface Tension," James Blish
"The Nine Billion Names of God," Arthur C. Clarke
"It's a Good Life," Jerome Bixby
"The Cold Equations," Tom Godwin
"Fondly Fahrenheit," Alfred Bester
"The Country of the Kind," Damon Knight
"Flowers for Algernon," Daniel Keyes
"A Rose for Ecclesiastes," Roger Zelazny
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
From Heinlein to Sturgeon to Asimov, this collection of short stories includes fiction that is far more applicable to contemporary issues than one might first suspect. Including twenty-six tales in all, the topics include religion, politics, technology's effect on the human race, aliens, time travel, and the lot. The book starts with stories written at the beginning of the Great Depression and span, in publication, all the way until around the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis. The stories all provoke thought in morality, so-called 'progress,' and the nature of humanity in general. My favorite was the slightly altered(from the Martian Chronicles), standalone version of Bradbury's classic, 'Mars is Heaven!' where spacemen journey to Mars only to find all their dead relatives living in a town together. The intelligent Martians have a few tricks up their sleeves and this collection of stories does not disappoint. Whether you'd like an introduction to science fiction or you want to have all your favorites together in one book, I highly recommend this volume.
I first read this anthology as a twelve year-old Junior High student. The school library had it in hardback, and I was already a fan of Heinlein. This book absolutely rocked my world. Story after story after story each better, different, mind-expanding, mind-BENDING. And age has not affected the impact of the overwhelming majority of these pieces, either. 'Microcosmic God' - what happens when man creates a new species? 'The Cold Equations' - when is it morally correct to murder an innocent young woman? 'Flowers for Algernon' - what might happen if we keep tinkering with our own intellects? 'First Contact' - if there IS another intelligent species out there, I hope our first meeting goes like this. 'The Weapons Shop' - standing up for yourself will still have meaning in the future, I hope. 'For Love of Mother Not' - not Lovecraft, but still quite frightening. I strongly recommend this anthology. Don't pass up this reissue.
This is a great book for those who want to sample the "golden age" of science fiction. Guarantee upon completion you will be seeking more works by the authors within.
I've been reading quite a few science fiction books lately, particularly anthologies, and this one stands out as special. It's comprised of the 26 stories voted into the "Science Fiction Hall of Fame" as the best in the genre under 15,000 words by the Science Fiction Writers of America. Spanning from 1934 to 1963, these are all stories from before the group established their yearly Nebula Awards and are from the "Golden Age of Science Fiction." I think that gave the voters some perspective, a little distance from politics and personalities, because this is about as strong a group of science fiction stories as you can get in one volume. Nine of the twenty-six were also nominated for or won Hugo Awards, the other major award in the field. One sci-fi anthology I read recently I found disappointing was Dangerous Visions, a 1967 anthology of what were supposed to be innovative, daring stories by the "New Wave" writers in contrast to the staid old timers. But I found more stories truly innovative here in style (Matheson's "Born of Man and Woman," Smith's "Scanners Live in Vain," Bester's "Fondly Fahrenheit") and daring and iconoclastic (Boucher's "Quest for Saint Aquin," Clarke's "Nine Billion Names of God," even in its way Vogt's "The Weapon Shop" and Knight's "Country of the Kind") without ever being...well crude. There was only one story I considered rather weak, and that was Judith Merril's "That Only a Mother." Along with C.L. Moore who co-wrote one story, Merril was the only female writer represented--and I had to wonder if that was part of why Silverberg chose the story, especially since it didn't come in on the "mandatory" first fifteen in the balloting listed in the introduction. (Female science fiction writers were thin on the ground then. Anne McCaffrey was the first to win a Nebula or Hugo in 1968.) On the other hand, that story by Merril--and others given the chronological order--did give an interesting picture of the fears of the post-nuclear age. If I counted stories I loved--truly loved, that would be 21 out of the 26. If I was forced to name a top five...1) "Nightfall" by Isaac Asimov - One of those stories that made me fall in love with science fiction--this story I had read long before--and absolutely deserves listing as among the best. It came in first in the vote tally. You'll never look at the night sky in the same way again. Trust me.2) "Flowers for Algernon" by Daniel Keyes - This isn't simply one of the best science fiction stories I've read, but one of the best short stories period. Later expanded into a novel and made into the film Charly, I love how this tells its story through diary entries--showing the changes in its protagonist directly in the way he writes. A heart-breaking story.3) "A Rose for Ecclesiastes" by Roger Zelazny - Written in a pitch perfect first person, this is the most lyrical story in the book--fitting given the poet protagonist. And yes, as the title promises, the story is poignant and haunting. (Campbell's time-travel story "Twilight" had a similar quality.)4) "Mimsy Were the Borogoves" by Lewis Padgett - Padgett is the pseudonym of the husband and wife writing team of C.L. Moore and Henry Kuttner. Moore is a favorite author of mine--I own a collection of her short stories. This one wasn't in there, and I began it skeptical it could possibly top "Vintage Season" in quality. Well, it didn't top it--but it did match it. And that's quite a feat. One of the rare stories with convincing child characters, it would have made a great Twilight Zone episode--which could be said of quite a few stories in this book. (See, for instance "Mars is Heaven!," "The Little Black Bag" or "It's a Good Life.")5) "Surface Tension" by James Blish - I just loved the way this created a completely unique world--one where humanity spans a world the size of a puddle with protozoa allies and rotifer enemies and the challenge of...surface tension. "Microcosmic Gods" was ano
Nice short story collection, I purchased it for a writing group I joined.
I recently read the first five stories collected in The Science Fiction Hall of Fame: Volume One, 1929-1964. While I enjoyed "A Martian Odyssey" by Stanley Weinbaum the most, all of the stories were excellent and many of them demonstrated interesting features. In our class discussion the connections with classical literature was noted for several of the stories starting with the Weinbaum story, for as the title suggests it has aspects that appear to be variations on Homer's Odyssey. The main character, Jarvis, goes on a journey outward bound and when he attempts to return his journey is derailed or lengthened by encounters with an amazing variety of aliens, each of whom are unique. The third story, "Helen O'Loy" by Lester del Rey, presents a robot that appears to be comparable to Helen of Troy as the story opens with this description of her:"I am an old man now, but I can still see Helen as Dave unpacked her, and still hear him gasp as he looked her over."Man, isn't she a beauty?"She was beautiful, a dream spun in plastics and metals, something Keats might have seen dimly when he wrote his sonnet. If Helen of Troy had looked like that the Greeks must have been pikers when they launched only a thousand ships; at least that's what I told Dave." (p 42)And in Robert Heinlein's "The Roads Must Roll" the militaristic depiction of the Road support organization reminded me of the concept of the "Guardians" in Plato's Republic. The dedicated class of cadets who man the roads seemed similar to Plato's idea for his ideal society. Who would have expected allusions like these in tales of the future? I concluded my traversal of The Science Fiction Hall of Fame: Volume One, 1929-1964 and found myself reflecting on some of the themes. I have previously commented on the intersection of the SF and Horror genres but there are other themes that we noted in our discussion of the stories. One theme is that of extreme situations exemplified in "The Cold Equations" by Tom Godwin where a shuttle space ship (Emergency Dispatch Ship) is unprepared for even and ounce of excess weight when a stowaway is found on board with disastrous consequences. Not unexpectedly many of the stories emphasize the theme of the "other", whether aliens from outer space -- Mars is a popular choice from this era -- or aliens from the future, or aliens among us who, but for the vagaries of biology or psychology, would otherwise be human.In the famous story by Daniel Keyes, "Flowers for Algernon", Charlie Gordon experiences the feeling of being the "other" both due to his low intelligence and subsequent extreme high intelligence level that he reaches before returning to his original mental state. Through it all his emotional state develops so that there is some hope for whatever future he may have after the story ends.The theme of monsters who are beyond human control is also prominent. Both "It's a GOOD Life' by Jerome Bixby and "The Country of the Kind" by Damon Knight present monsters that are unsettling in their ability to change the world around them and the humans who survive are challenged beyond what one would expect they could manage.I found paradoxical the hubris of the scientists in "The Nine Billion Names of God" by Arthur C. Clarke when they attempted to create a computing machine for Tibetan Monks that would catalog all of the names of god. They did not believe they could succeed and the result when they did was astonishing. I challenge the reader of this story to consider the possibility of an infinite number of universes in god's creation (if that is what this is).The beauty of the prose style of the writers was never more evident than in Roger Zelazny's award-winning story "A Rose for Ecclesiates". In it a scientist on Mars falls in love with a dying civilization and one representative of it whose response is not what he expects. The result of all the stories is and engaging medley that does justice to the "Golden Age" of Science Ficti
This anthology of stories is the Bible of science fiction. If you´re a science fiction fan you might not lose the oportunity to read this marvelous book. All its stories leaves you thinking about how can be the future: A MARTIAN ODSSEY, are there other life forms on Mars? ARENA, will the race fate be decided by a war that will finish in a 1-1 fight? THE LITTLE BLACK BAG, how much medicine will evolve to treat diseases and accidents? MIMSY WERE THE BOROGOVES, can we modify the future sending objects to the past? COMMING ATTRACTION, will a nuclear war devast our planet transforming it in a radioactive hell?