Wednesday, April 23, 2008

[2A] Ben Bova (Ed)'s "The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume Two A": Annotated table of contents

This is actually the first part of the Volume 2 - split into A & B because it's too big, according to editor's note. I recently got it - so "annotated" part of title is rather sparse yet. But it will be filled up - eventually!

Table of contents (11 stories, best first, unread at end).

  1. [novella] Eric Frank Russell's "... And Then There Were None" (A); download; Astounding, June 1951; science fiction, humor; later expanded into the novel "The Great Explosion": A gang of imperialists is frustrated by a planetful of Gandhian natives.
  2. [novel] H G Wells' "The Time Machine" (A); download text, audiobook; 1895; science fiction: Speculations on the twilight of humanity & of earth. Two things about the novel really touched me: first 2 chapters of preparations is among the best time travel stories I've seen; & when looking at humanity's twilight, he uses as model the current social divisions of society - haves & have nots, taken to their extreme conclusion. I've also collected some quotes from this novel.
  3. [novella] Henry Kuttner & C L Moore's "Vintage Season" (as by Lawrence O'Donnell) (A); Astounding, September 1946; science fiction: Uncaring future time travelers visit our time on vacation to enjoy a major disaster!
  4. [novelette] Poul Anderson's "Call Me Joe" (A); Astounding, April 1957; cyberpunk: Help for those with sound minds but with withered bodies - whether withered by an accident, violence, old age or disease.
  5. [novella] John W Campbell, Jr's "Who Goes There?" (as by Don A Stuart) (A); download; Astounding, August 1938; science fiction, thriller: Curious figuratively & inadvertently open the bottle to let the djinn out, & all hell breaks loose.
  6. [novella] Theodore Sturgeon's "Baby Is Three"; Galaxy, October 1952: While I've not read this stand alone version, I have read the fix up novel based on it - "More Than Human". Novelization is really 3 related but independent stories, second of them titled "Baby Is Three". I don't know how closely the version included in novel corresponds to this stand alone version, but novel includes a much better story - "The Fabulous Idiot". My ranking of this story here is based on the assumption that it's close enough to this story in novel version.
  7. [novella] Robert A Heinlein's "Universe" (A); Astounding, May 1941; science fiction: A very well written variation of a technology civilization falling on primitive times, & eventually a hero who sees the possibility of a different future. Story is set on a huge slower-than-light spaceship - originally headed for Centauri on a 60 year journey but now adrift in space for unknown reasons for hundreds of years; descendants of crew form this primitive society & a religion around the ship's documents they've inherited.
  8. [novelette] C M Kornbluth's "The Marching Morons" (A); Galaxy, April 1951; satire: A variation on "selling ice to Eskimos" theme. A no-morals man from our time ends up in a future where average IQ is 45, & there is an exclusive breed of smarter people confined to Antarctica. In a deal that promises to make him the ultimate dictator, this man helps the smart ones kill off rest of humanity by selling them a story that makes them want to march off to their death.
  9. [novelette] Jack Williamson's "With Folded Hands" (A); download MP3; Astounding, July 1947: Benign robots have turned humans into worthless beings with no hope. I actually don't like it's negativity much, but rating it B would have moved it below many stories far less well written!
  10. [novella] Lester del Rey's "Nerves" (A); Astounding, September 1942; science fiction: Description of a serious accident at a facility manufacturing nuclear products - relief & containing the damage. There is a super hero too. My only gripe is - it's much too long.
  11. [novelette] Cordwainer Smith's "The Ballad of Lost C'Mell" (B) Galaxy, October 1962; science fiction: A political story - probably modeled after the slavery years in the US, but told symbolically. A society where some have normal citizen rights; others are treated as disposable animals. A man from privileged group helps the underprivileged fight for their civil liberties.
First published: 1973
Book is subtitled "The Greatest Science Fiction Novellas of All Time Chosen by the Members of The Science Fiction Writers of America".
Note: Terminology seems to have changed since publication of this book. It seems to call everything above 15,000 words "novella".
Related: SFWA's entire Science Fiction Hall of Fame series.