the big book of science fiction vandermeer
The Big Book of Science Fiction edited by Ann & Jeff VanderMeer weighs in at 1,178 pages. Yes, this is a Big Fat Book. Like the 1950 Groff Conklin anthology similarly titled The Big Book of Science Fiction, this 2016 version attempts to embrace the whole spectrum of SF with 99 stories. Despite the large number of stories, many readers will wonder why some of their favorite SF stories are missing. Like Ann & Jeff VanderMeer’s previous massive anthologies like The Weird and The Time-Traveler’s Almanac, you get a huge tome of stories to work your way through. The Vanderveers include more “international” SF stories than you’ll find in most SF anthologies. The list price of this volume is $25, but I was able to buy it on AMAZON for $15.94. A bargain! If you’re looking for a hefty anthology that maps out Science Fiction of the 20th Century, this book delivers. How many of these stories have you read? GRADE: A-
INTRODUCTION, Ann & Jeff Vanderveer
Yoshio Aramaki, “Soft Clocks” 1968 (Japan) – translated by Kazuko Behrens and stylized by Lewis Shiner
Juan José Arreola, “Baby H.P.” 1952 (Mexico) – new translation by Larry Nolen
Isaac Asimov, “The Last Question” 1956
J.G. Ballard, “The Voices of Time” 1960
Iain M. Banks, “A Gift from the Culture” 1987
Jacques Barbéri, “Mondo Cane” 1983 (France) – first translation by Brian Evenson
John Baxter, “The Hands” 1965
Barrington J. Bayley, “Sporting with the Chid” 1979
Greg Bear, “Blood Music” 1983
Dmitri Bilenkin, “Crossing of the Paths” 1984 – new translation by James Womack
Jon Bing, “The Owl of Bear Island” 1986 (Norway) – translation
Adolfo Bioy Casares, “The Squid Chooses Its Own Ink” 1962 (Argentina) – new translation by Marian Womack
Michael Bishop, “The House of Compassionate Sharers” 1977
James Blish, “Surface Tension” 1952
Michael Blumlein, “The Brains of Rats” 1990
Jorge Luis Borges, “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius” 1940 (Argentina) – translation by Andrew Hurley
Ray Bradbury, “September 2005: The Martian” 1949
David R. Bunch, “Three From Moderan” 1959, 1970
Octavia Butler, “Bloodchild” 1984
Pat Cadigan, “Variations on a Man” 1984
André Carneiro, “Darkness” 1965 (Brazil) – translation by Leo L. Barrow
Stepan Chapman, “How Alex Became a Machine” 1996
C.J. Cherryh, “Pots” 1985
Ted Chiang, “The Story of Your Life” 1998
Arthur C. Clarke, “The Star” 1955
John Crowley, “Snow” 1985
Samuel R. Delany, “Aye, and Gomorrah” 1967
Philip K. Dick, “Beyond Lies the Wub” 1952
Cory Doctorow, “Craphound” 1998
W.E.B. Du Bois, “The Comet” 1920
Jean-Claude Dunyach, “Paranamanco” 1987 (France) – translation by Sheryl Curtis
S. N. Dyer, “Passing as a Flower in the City of the Dead” 1984
Harlan Ellison, “‘Repent Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktock Man” 1965
Carol Emshwiller, “Pelt” 1958
Paul Ernst, “The Microscopic Giants” 1936
Karen Joy Fowler, “The Lake Was Full of Artificial Things” 1985
Sever Gansovsky, “Day of Wrath” 1964 (Ukraine) – new translation by James Womack
William Gibson, “New Rose Hotel” 1984
Angélica Gorodischer, “The Unmistakable Smell of Wood Violets” 1973 (Argentina) – first translation by Marian Womack
Edmond Hamilton, “The Star Stealers” 1929
Han Song, “Two Small Birds” 1988 (China) – first translation by John Chu
Alfred Jarry, “The Elements of Pataphysics” 1911 (re-translation by Gio Clairval; France)
Gwyneth Jones, “The Universe of Things” 1993
Langdon Jones, “The Hall of Machines” 1968
Kaijo Shinji, “Reiko’s Universe Box” 1981 (Japan) – translation by Toyoda
Takashi and Gene van Troyer
Gérard Klein, “The Monster” 1958 (France) – translation by Damon Knight
Damon Knight, “Stranger Station” 1956
Leena Krohn, “The Gorgonoids” 1992 (Finland) – translation by Hildi Hawkins
R.A. Lafferty, “Nine Hundred Grandmothers” 1966
Kojo Laing, “Vacancy for the Post of Jesus Christ” 1992 (Ghana)
Geoffrey A. Landis, “Vacuum States” 1988
Tanith Lee, “Crying in the Rain” 1987
Ursula K. Le Guin, “Vaster Than Empires and More Slow” 1971
Stanisław Lem, “Let Us Save the Universe” 1981 (Poland) – translation by Joel Stern and Maria Swiecicka-Ziemianek
Cixin Liu, “The Poetry Cloud” 1997 (China) – translation by Chi-yin Ip and Cheuk Wong
Katherine MacLean, “The Snowball Effect” 1952
Geoffrey Maloney, “Remnants of the Virago Crypto-System” 1995
George R.R. Martin, “Sandkings” 1979
Michael Moorcock, “The Frozen Cardinal” 1987
Pat Murphy, “Rachel in Love” 1987
Misha Nogha, “Death is Static Death is Movement” 1990
Silvina Ocampo, “The Waves” 1959 (Argentina) – first translation by Marian Womack
Chad Oliver, “Let Me Live in a House” 1954
Manjula Padmanabhan, “Sharing Air” 1984 (India)
Frederick Pohl, “Day Million” 1966
Rachel Pollack, “Burning Sky” 1989
Robert Reed, “The Remoras” 1994
Kim Stanley Robinson, “Before I Wake”1989
Joanna Russ, “When It Changed” 1972
Josephine Saxton, “The Snake Who Had Read Chomsky” 1981
Paul Scheerbart, “The New Abyss” 1911 (Germany) – first translation by Daniel Ableev and Sarah Kaseem
James H. Schmitz, “Grandpa” 1955
Vadim Shefner, “A Modest Genius” 1965 (Russia) –translation by Matthew J. O’Connell
Robert Silverberg, “Good News from the Vatican” 1971
Clifford D. Simak, “Desertion” 1944
Johanna Sinisalo, “Baby Doll” 2002 (Finland) – translation by David Hackston
Cordwainer Smith, “The Game of Rat and Dragon” 1955
Margaret St. Clair, “Prott” 1985
Bruce Sterling, “Swarm” 1982
Karl Hans Strobl, “The Triumph of Mechanics” 1907 (Germany) – first translation by Gio Clairval
Arkady & Boris Strugatsky, “The Visitors” 1958 (Russia) – new translation by James Womack
Theodore Sturgeon, “The Man Who Lost the Sea” 1959
William Tenn, “The Liberation of Earth” 1953
William Tenn, “Ghost Standard” 1994
James Tiptree, Jr., “And I Awoke and Found Me Here on the Cold Hill’s Side” 1972
Tatyana Tolstoya, “The Slynx” 2000 (Russia) – translation byJamey Gambrell
Yasutaka Tsutsui, “Standing Woman” 1974 (Japan) – translation by Dana Lewis
Lisa Tuttle, “Wives” 1979
Miguel de Unamuno, “Mechanopolis” 1913 (Spain) – new translation by Marian Womack
Élisabeth Vonarburg, “Readers of Lost Art” 1987 (Canada/Quebec) – translation by Howard Scott
Kurt Vonnegut, “2BRO2B” 1962
H.G. Wells, “The Star,” 1897
James White, “Sector General” 1957
Connie Willis, “Schwarzschild Radius” 1987
Gene Wolfe, “All the Hues of Hell” 1987
Alicia Yánez Cossío, “The IWM 1000” 1975 (Chile) – translation by Susana Castillo and Elsie Adams
Valentina Zhuravlyova, “The Astronaut” 1960 (Russia) – new translation by James Womack
Yefim Zozulya, “The Doom of Principal City” 1918 (Russian) – first translation by Vlad Zhenevsky

21 thoughts on “FORGOTTEN BOOKS #381: THE BIG BOOK OF SCIENCE FICTION Edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer

    1. george Post author

      Prashant, THE BIG BOOK OF SCIENCE FICTION is like the United Nations of Science Fiction stories. The variety of this anthology surprised me!

  1. Deb

    I wish I could say I’ve read more, but I think I’ve read about 15. This list does give me some good authors and titles to add to my tbr list. And, a few weeks ago I did finish Greg Bear’s novel, BLOOD MUSIC, which he developed from the short story of the same name in this anthology.

    1. george Post author

      Deb, I’ve read the Greg Bear “Blood Music” short story but not the longer version. There are some writers new to me in this anthology. I like the “International” inclusion.

  2. Jeff Meyerson

    Wow, now that is a big book! I’ve read a number of the authors – off the top of my head, Silverberg, Dick, Asimov, Clarke, Willis, Ellison, Bradbury, Ballard, Borges, Sturgeon, Lafferty, Fowler, Vonnegut, James White – but this looks pretty inclusive. I went from having one library book on the “to be read” shelf to close to 10, and I have THREE library books downloaded to the Kindle at the moment (one short story collection, one mystery, and one book of essays) but I may need to check this out too.

    1. george Post author

      Jeff, our local public library is offering a “workshop” on how to download library books. I know I don’t need more books to read–I have stacks everywhere!–but knowing the process could come in handy during Retirement.

      1. Jeff Meyerson

        Definitely! It’s really easy. I have to do it for Jackie all the time.

        The way it works here is, you check the catalog to see if there is an ebook version. If so, you click on that and then see if it is available on Kindle or what other format. (If not Kindle, I generally skip it.) If a copy is available you sign in and click the Kindle box and then click the download button. This will take you to Amazon, where you have to sign in to your account and click the “download library book” button. That’s it.

      2. george Post author

        Jeff, sounds simple and straight-forward. However, I have over a 100 ebooks on my iPad now. Do I need more? Reluctantly, I think…YES!

  3. Jerry House

    There are big, thick books, George, and the there is the category beyond — one I call “Dear Jesus, don’t let me drop this on my toe!”

    1. george Post author

      Jerry, you are so right! THE BIG BOOK OF SCIENCE FICTION is a really BIG book. I have to rest it on a table when I read it. It’s too big for my lap!

  4. Richard R.

    I looked at this when it was published, but decided it had too many stories I’d already read, was too big and the remainder of the stories weren’t of interest, so I gave it a pass.

  5. Wolf Böhrendt

    So many fantastic stories – the ones by Blish and Dick in 1952 are among my earliest “best” – a long time ago, the Blish story I read around 1960 in German translation first in the bookstore of a relative of mine, couldn’t afford to buy books as a pupil

    And the Martin story “Sandkings” – Extraoridinary!

    I’ll never forgive GRRM that he essentially gave up SF for better paying fantasy …

    On the other hand he earned every cent he made from his books – and he’s a liberal too! I really enjoy his “not a blog” on wordpress.

  6. steve oerkfitz

    Pretty good selection. A few writers missing I would have included such as Avram Davidson, Thomas Disch, Fritz Leiber, Roger Zelazny and Alfred Bester. I would have included different stories by a few writers such as Cordwainer Smith. I realize you can’t include everybody even at this length.

    1. george Post author

      Steve, I agree that Davidson, Disch, Leiber, Zelazny, and Bester should have been included. But then the page count might have soared to 2000 pages!

  7. Todd Mason

    I’ve read almost all the English-language stories (definitely intrigued by the title of the Saxton), and a few of the translated items (Hurley essentially the worst Borges translator I’ve read, as tone-deaf as WHD Rouse).


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