Archive for SF’58

Review: SF’58: The Year’s Greatest Science Fiction and Fantasy

Posted in 1958, 3:Lunar, Review with tags , on November 5, 2009 by Aaron

Judith Merril, editor
1958

I’ve been reading a little slow lately – it’s taken me about a month to work my way through this anthology. My reactions to it are a bit mixed, though before looking a bit more closely at it, first a very brief history.  The SF(‘xx) series edited by Judith Merril was a long-running annual series in which Ms Merril attempted to collect the outstanding SF&F for a particular year.  To put things in their proper order, I’ll talk more about this and her when I review the very first tome in this series.

As I said, my reactions were mixed.  I normally read anthologies cover to cover, as I imagine the editor always has some sort of structure or theme development in mind when putting the thing together.  While I did read the first story first, I thereafter hopped all over the shop in reading.  I’m not sure if this affected my reading experience or not.

I felt it was quite an odd bunch of stories – a couple I thought were fantastic, but others were a little strange to my way of thinking.  I just want to mention a couple of my favorites before taking a general overview.

The Wonder Horse by George Byram is a fantasy tale about a mutant racehorse that goes on to be unbeatable, the controversy the horse generates and how it’s owners cope with the sudden fame and fortune.  A very straightforward story, no real surprises or twists, no startling conclusion, and one that perhaps seemed a little misplaced in an anthology of this nature.  To my surprise though, I enjoyed it a lot.  A thoroughly engaging and satisfying read.

The other (and perhaps the) stand-out tale for me was Zenna Henderson’s Wilderness.  Told with extreme skill and wonderfully paced, it relates the experiences of one young woman – a teacher in a very small and remote South-West town – and the discovery of who she really is.  Confused and frightened by her heightened senses, she thinks her sanity to be slowly deteriorating until she meets someone like her and reluctantly accepts her true identity.  I’ve since discovered that those of you familiar with the ‘People’ series from Zenna Henderson will no doubt more-or-less know what they are in for here, but for me it was new and unfamiliar.  Ms Henderson was a very talented writer and I’m certainly looking forward to reading more of her work; she also appears in both Judith Merril’s first Gnome Press anthology and in SF’57.

The Fly by George Langelaan deserves a mention of course.  A tale with which everyone is very familiar now, but nevertheless it was an education to read in it’s original form.  This is (I think) it’s first publication in hardcover, although it was earlier published in Playboy magazine in July, 1957.

Another notable inclusion is Near Miss.  The last Henry Kuttner story to be published; a tribute to the prolific and very popular author who died that year.

Prefacing each tale is a small introduction by Ms Merril and at the back of the book is a Summary and a section called ‘The Year’s S-F, Summation and Honorable Mentions’ – a kind of an appendix or perhaps a reading list for you.  The short introductions add an extra dimension to each tale –  Ms Merril gives us the occasional bit of insight into her choices, a little background or info on the author and/or story.  They make for interesting reading so here they are reproduced for your appreciation.

View this document on Scribd

Complementing the stories are 6 non-fiction articles that comment on various aspects of science fiction and ‘space science’ in general.  The most interesting of which is Sputnik: One Reason Why We Lost written by G. Harry Stine.

In all honesty, I struggle to see how this could be collectively considered ‘The Year’s Best’, but Judith Merril is far more experienced than I when it comes to this kind of thing so I take her at her word.  Having said that though, the inclusion of that non-fiction really adds an extra dimension to this book and this combined with those two or three exceptional tales make the effort worthwhile.

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Close Up: SF 58: The Year’s Greatest Science Fiction and Fantasy

Posted in 1958, Close Up with tags , , on October 6, 2009 by Aaron

closeupJudith Merril, editor
1958

Very nice condition. There isn’t really much to talk about with this, just a couple of things to point out – all on the dust jacket.

Nice, bright and clean. The only blemish on the cover is down on the lower right corner – you can see a small strange circular stain. The spine of the jacket looks like it might be faded as well. It’s hard to tell. I mean it’s definitely a lighter color, but I don’t really know if that’s by design or not.
The bare cloth boards look fantastic.

They are unblemished, bright and there is only one very small bump on the bottom front corner. The head and tail of the spine are
in superb condition. The view from the top looks just as good.

Just a bit of dust spotting to the top of the block. The bottom looks great.

Nice and white as the text block is within. Quite exceptional for a Gnome Press book of the later years. At least some noticeable discoloration is usually evident. Not so here.
The head and tail of the spine look great too.


Just a couple of very minute closed tears.
On to the rear of the cover and we can see the major defect.

It looks like a sticker has been removed at some point from the upper left hand corner. A disappointing end to a book in otherwise fantastic condition. Still, for 8 bucks… I’m not complaining!!

Year: 1958
Paid: $8
Art: W.I. Van der Poel
Quantity: 4000 copies, 1263 copies remaindered.
Binding: Currey priority ‘B’. Red cloth with black lettering on the spine.
GP Edition Notes: 1st edition so stated.
Comments: Excellent condition and a super buy at $8. Possible slight sunning to the spine.
Expand Upon: wikipedia.com, Internet Speculative Fiction Database

condition

I was very lucky…

Posted in Book Care, New Arrivals with tags , , , , , , , , on June 19, 2009 by Aaron

As I mentioned in this post a couple of days ago, I would be very lucky if I received those books by Friday.  Well I was, and I did.  They are all in good condition as I expected.  Even a little better, in fact.  All except one in dust jacket protectors, but I’ll rectify that later and replace the others – I want bright, shiny new ones on.  I must thank Joe (otherwise known as ‘nycatlady’ on eBay) very much.  He was patient with me, packaged the books superbly and gave me an excellent deal on top.  I highly recommend him as a seller.

Renaissance, by Raymond F. Jones, signed by the Gnome Press co-founder, book designer and cover artist David Kyle.
Space Lawyer, by Nat Schachner.
Address: Centauri, by F.L. Wallace.
SF ’58: The Year’s Greatest Science Fiction and Fantasy, edited by Judith Merril.

Total price $78 + postage.

Good things…

Posted in Audio Books with tags , , , , , on June 13, 2009 by Aaron

A couple of good things have happened over the past couple of days…

First, I have four more books on their way to me, Address: Centauri, Space Lawyer, SF ’58: The Year’s Greatest Science Fiction and Fantasy and Renaissance.  I’m expecting them late next week or early the week after.

Second, the audio book version of Starman’s Quest is completed and available online at Librivox.org.  I’m looking forward to listening to that.  I’ve been listening to a few early SF books from them lately, they have been all very good.

Last, This Fortress World is very good!!  I’m about half way through so far, expect the Close Up to be avaiable sometime soon.

New Arrival…

Posted in New Arrivals with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 22, 2009 by Aaron

The Shrouded Planet arrived today.  Cool.  A book I’ve been looking forward to for a while, I finally have.  It wasn’t in quite a good a condition as I’d hoped, but it’s not too bad.

In other news, Joe agreed on the deal and I can expect a package of  four books from him sometime in the near future.  I’m very excited about it.  SF’58 edited by Judith Merril, Nat Schachner‘s Space Lawyer, Address: Centauri by F.L. Wallace and Raymond F. JonesRenaissance.  Renaissance is signed by cover artist and Gnome Press co-founder David A. Kyle.  Nice.  Thank you very much Joe, I appreciate your patience and effort a lot!!