Saturday, December 3, 2011

"The Best of L Sprague de Camp" (collection): Annotated table of contents & review

Cover of the short story collection The Best of L Sprague de Camp. Image shows a scene from short story Emperors Fan.
Book collects short stories, poems, & some non-fiction of de Camp. This post is only about short stories; I've dropped poems & non-fiction from ToC below.

Table of contents (only fiction, best first, unread last).

Link on title goes to my post on the story, if there is one. Where I'm aware of an online copy, I provide a separate download link. Links on publisher, editor or year fetch more matching fiction. My rating for individual stories is in brackets.

While there are not many really exceptional stories here, most are quite decent. Only a couple of stories near the end of this list didn't work for me as well.

Most stories are light hearted fun read, often with a cool idea. There are only two dark stories - "The Gnarly Man" & "Judgement Day".
  1. [novelette] "Two Yards of Dragon" (A); Lin Carter (ed)'s "Flashing Swords! #3:Warriors & Wizards" (1976): Adventures dragon hunting.
  2. [novelette] "A Gun for Dinosaur" (A); download; Galaxy, March 1956: Description of flora & fauna of Cretaceous period.
  3.  [ss] "Hyperpilocity" (A); Astounding, April 1938; humor: What if humans started growing hairy pelts?
  4. [novelette] "Employment" (B); Astounding, May 1939: Recreating prehistoric animals from their fossils... 
  5. [ss] "The Command" (B); Astounding, October 1938: An aspiring world dictator is infecting the world with his free will killing mold spores. It's now up to the intelligent laboratory bear to locate the antidote & give it to someone in his lab so the world can be saved... 
  6. [ss] "The Merman" (B); Astounding, December 1938; humor When a man became a fish... 
  7. [novelette] "The Hardwood Pile" (B); Unknown, September 1940: Never pick a fight with a "Norway maple" sprite!
  8. [novelette] "Nothing in the Rules" (B); Unknown, July 1939: What if mermaids were allowed in women's swimming competitions? 
  9. [novelette] "The Guided Man" (B); Startling Stories, October 1952; humor: Call center to help the socially awkward. 
  10. [ss] "The Inspector's Teeth" (B); Astounding, April 1950; humor: Life of a baby-dinosaur like alien as a student at a US university.
  11. [novelette] "The Emperor's Fan" (B); Harry Harrison (ed)'s "Astounding: John W Campbell Memorial Anthology" (1973); humor: Emperor's ultimate defense against potential assassins!
  12. [ss] "The Reluctant Shaman" (B); Thrilling Wonder Stories, April 1947; humor: Some "stone throwing" sprites normally found near some native American tribes are "helping" a businessman & his neighbors. Chaos reins.
  13. [novelette] "The Gnarly Man" (B); Unknown, June 1939: A very long lived pre-human (Neanderthal?) has survived to our times & is living among us!
  14. [ss] "Judgement Day" (B); Astounding, August 1955: A man's ultimate revenge against school bullies.

Fact sheet.

First published: 1978.
Related: Stories of L Sprague de Camp.