Best Sci-Fi anthology?
December 11, 2005 11:58 AM   Subscribe

Best Sci-Fi short story anthology?

I'm trying to find a good anthology of science fiction short stories to give as a gift to someone who likes science fiction, but professes not to like short stories. I'd like to find one that has at least a few of my favorites - "Sandkings" by George R.R. Martin, either "The Nine Billion Names of God" or "The Star" by Arthur C. Clarke, "Flowers for Algernon" by Daniel Keys, "I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream" by Harlan Ellison. I'm not looking for a yearly anthology, just a general "best of".
posted by skwm to Media & Arts (20 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
It's this one.
posted by interrobang at 12:01 PM on December 11, 2005


Or, you could try this one.
posted by interrobang at 12:10 PM on December 11, 2005


Well, I don't think it has any of the stories you've mentioned, but I have yet to find a better collection than Gardner Dozois's Modern Classics of Science Fiction.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 12:42 PM on December 11, 2005


For an historical anthology containing the stories you asked for Science Fiction: A Historical Anthology is pretty much ideal. It has the Clarke, Keyes and Ellison stories as well as stuff going back to Cyrano de Bergerac. Highly recommended.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 12:50 PM on December 11, 2005


You're looking for The Science Fiction Hall of Fame. My father has a boxed set of Volume 1, 2A, 2B, and we have the third as well. I don't know about Sandkings, but am nearly sure all of those are in the general collection.

If by Sandkings, you refer to the Outer Limit's episode about the little colony people, I believe it was inspired by Microcosmic God by Sturgeon. I very well could be wrong. Microcosmic God is in this collection.

In general, I make sure to read Gardner Dozois' Year's Best Science Fiction as well.
posted by adamwolf at 12:52 PM on December 11, 2005


The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume I: The Greatest Science Fiction Stories of All Time, Chosen by the Members of the Science Fiction Writers of America

"There are many great stories here, but there are a few I must mention as bona-fide masterpieces. "Microcosmic God" by Theodore Sturgeon is fantastic /.../. This collection also contains the sparkling jewel "Nightfall" from Issac Asimov. "Surface Tension" from James Blish is superb in every way. "The Nine Billion Names of God" finds Arthur C. Clarke is fine form. "The Cold Equations" from Tom Godwin is arguably the most intense and sad of all the stories here, packing an emotional wallop not ordinarily seen in Sci-fi. And of course, "Flowers for Algernon" by Daniel Keyes.
posted by martinrebas at 12:55 PM on December 11, 2005


Except that not all Science Fiction is American of course...

For classics, I recommmend Kingsley Amis and Robert Conquest's edited collections "Spectrum"
posted by A189Nut at 1:03 PM on December 11, 2005


"If by Sandkings, you refer to the Outer Limit's episode about the little colony people, I believe it was inspired by Microcosmic God by Sturgeon."

Nope. Like skwm said, it's based on the George RR Martin story. Although the Sturgeon story is similar.
posted by slipperywhenwet at 1:10 PM on December 11, 2005


I was also going to recommend Dangerous Visions, but interrobang beat me to it, so I'll suggest The Mirror of Infinity (1973), which has got classics by H.G. Wells, Campbell, Asimov, Clarke, Blish, Ellison, Cordwainer Smith, Heinlein, Ballard, and Borges.
posted by steef at 1:31 PM on December 11, 2005


I want to second The ScienceFiction Hall of Fame Volume 1. My copy is completely trashed - i've re-read it so many times.
posted by vacapinta at 1:49 PM on December 11, 2005


The first is still one of the best: Adventures in Time and Space (1946), edited by Raymond J. Healy & J. Francis McComas; you can see the T of C here (scroll down, it's the third entry). But I heartily endorse the Hugo and Hall of Fame anthologies as well.
posted by languagehat at 2:08 PM on December 11, 2005


Anthologies are fine, but I often find that the dischordant styles of different authors make them hard to read in one go. I prefer volumes of short stories by the same author.

Some sci-fi authors are better at the short story form than others. In my opinion, the best was James Tiptree Jr. Her (yes her) work is a bit dark, but beautiful in mood and tone. My favourite story was "The Screwfly Solution".
posted by Dag Maggot at 3:09 PM on December 11, 2005


Others have covered the anthology question adequately, so I'll go along with Dag Maggot and recommend a single author collection.

The best single-author collection published in the last 20 years is, without question, Axiomatic by Greg Egan.
posted by Justinian at 4:15 PM on December 11, 2005


The best single-author collection published in the last 20 years is, without question, Axiomatic by Greg Egan.

Although his other collection Luminous is also quite good. In fact I can't quite decide which one I like better.
posted by kindall at 6:12 PM on December 11, 2005



Single author:

Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang

Anthologies:

Starlight, volumes 1-3
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 6:38 PM on December 11, 2005


I second Dangerous Visions and the Starlight series and add Again, Dangerous Visions as well as the Damon Knight edited Orbit series and the Terry Carr edited Universe series. Also George Zebrowski's Synergy, any of Judith Merril's Year's Best anthologies, the Dann and Dozois series of themed anthologies and, of course the Dozois Year's Best. All of those should give you a good handle on SF past and present. Try Locus magazine's index of anthologies for more ideas, also.
posted by cdadog at 7:26 PM on December 11, 2005


Yeah, the Hall of Fame book is what you want. Like vacapinta, mine has no cover left and the pages are falling out. I may go get another copy now based on this thread.
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:49 PM on December 11, 2005


You might also have some luck with this thread from a while back titled: Recommendation for an Epic Adventure/Fantasy novel or series to read.
posted by jmd82 at 8:39 PM on December 11, 2005


The Science Fiction Hall of Fame anthology looks good, but it only goes up to 1964.

An anthology I came across while browsing in my local bookstore: Masterpieces: The Best Science Fiction of the Century, edited by Orson Scott Card. Amazon has the table of contents. It includes "Sandkings", "The Nine Billion Names of God", and Ellison's "'Repent, Harlequin!' Said the Ticktockman", but not "Flowers for Algernon" or "I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream." A review.
posted by russilwvong at 10:02 PM on December 11, 2005


The best single-author collection published in the last 20 years is, without question, Axiomatic by Greg Egan.

Maybe it's just me, but I'm always put off by such over-the-top statements. You can't possibly believe that's true "without question"; in fact, "without question," like "really, truly," is one of those additions that actually weakens the statement it's intended to strengthen. And since I question your judgment in making a statement like that, I wind up questioning your literary judgment as well. Unfair, perhaps, but there it is. You might want to practice the art of restraint.
posted by languagehat at 9:08 AM on December 12, 2005


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