FORGOTTEN BOOKS #604: Beyond the Outposts: Essays on SF and Fantasy 1955-1996 by Algis Budrys

Although I’ve never been a fan of Algis Budrys’ Science Fiction, I do admire his critical acumen. Back in 2013 I bought and read Budrys’ Benchmarks and Benchmarks Continued (you can read my review here). Wonderful book reviews from Galaxy and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. But Budrys wrote a lot more than just two books worth of SF criticism.

Beyond the Outposts collects longer essays that Budrys wrote in a variety of magazines and journals. This is clearly a labor of love to gather these wonder works between two covers. Just glance at the Table of Contents to assess the range of these essays. If you’re a Science Fiction fan, you’ll love what you’ll find here. I highly recommend Beyond the Outposts! GRADE: A


Introduction: David Langford — 7

Introduction to Outposts: Algis Budrys — 9
Or Thwim –11
Two Novels of Science –17
About Something Truly Wonderful — 20
On Rogue Moon — 23
On Budrys’ Inferno — 27
“Most Scrutinized SF Writer” — 29
Comment on “Contact Between Equals” — 31
Foreword to “Twilight” (John W. Campbell) — 34
Foundation and Asimov — 36
On Writing: The Locus Columns — 41
On Being a Bit of a Legend –82
Science Fiction in the Marketplace — 87
Short Takes 1979-1981 — 94
Memoir – Galaxy Book Shelf — 105
Memoir – Spilled Milk — 109
Asimov’s Autobiography — 114
Two Sketches: Damon Knight and Robert Silverberg — 117
Paradise Charted — 121
Stephen King in the 1980s — 173
The Empire Talks Back — 179
Tom Reamy: A Rare & Masterful Fantasist — 188
Scanners Writhe in Pain — 195
Obstacles and Ironies in Science-Fiction Criticism — 199
The Ideas of Mary McCarthy — 209
What Did 1980 Mean? –212
Pulp! –223
1981 and Counting — 231
Gene Wolfe — 237
Introducing Lloyd Arthur Eshbach — 239
Non-Literary Influences on Science Fiction — 245
Bridges to Verity — 264
The Revenge of the Empire — 268
Clarifying Clarion — 284
Literatures of Milieux — 290
Reviewing Heinlein — 304
1984, Nineteen Eighty-Four, and Other SF Novels, Signs, and Portents — 308
Pop Lit: Reviews — 317
Memoir – “The Man Who Tasted Ashes” — 325
What Was 1985 That We Were Mindful of It? — 331
1986, Reduced from 2000 — 339
New World in the Morning — 344
Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy — 350
Introducing Theodore R. Cogswell and PITFCS — 359
Beyond Rayguns and Godzilla — 362

Some Notes –371
Acknowledgements — 373
Original Appearances — 374
Index — 377

Original Appearances

  • “1981 and Counting” – Nebula Award Stories Seventeen (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, August 1983) edited by Joe Haldeman.
  • “1984, Nineteen Eighty-Four, and Other SF Novels, Signs, and Portents” – The Science Fiction Yearbook (New York: Baen Books, September 1985) edited by Jim Baen, John F. Carr and Jerry Pournelle.
  • “1986, Reduced from 2000” – Nebula Awards 22 (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, April 1988) edited by George Zebrowski.
  • “About Something Truly Wonderful” – The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, November 1961, edited by Joseph W. Ferman.
  • “Asimov’s Autobiography” – In Memory Yet Green from Des Moines IA Register, 25 March 1979*; In Joy Still Felt from Manhattan KS Mercury, 27 April 1980*.
  • “Beyond Rayguns and Godzilla” – Outposts: Literatures of Milieux (San Bernardino, California: The Borgo Press; dated 1996, published 1997) by Algis Budrys.
  • “Bridges to Verity” – Fantasy Review #64, January 1984, edited by Robert A. Collins.
  • “Clarifying Clarion” – Asimov’s SF, June 1984, edited by Shawna McCarthy.
  • “Comment on ‘Contact Between Equals’” – SF: Authors’ Choice 2 (New York: Berkley Medallion, 1970) edited by Harry Harrison.
  • “The Empire Talks Back” – Asimov’s SF, November 1980, edited by George Scithers.
  • “Foreword to ‘Twilight’ (John W. Campbell)” – The Mirror of Infinity: A Critic’s Anthology of Science Fiction (New York: Harper and Row, May 1970) edited by Robert Silverberg.
  • “Foundation and Asimov” – as “The Reference Library: Foundation and Asimov” in Analog, July 1975, edited by Ben Bova.
  • “Gene Wolfe” – World Fantasy 1983: Sixty Years of Weird Tales, October 1983, edited by Robert Weinberg (1983 World Fantasy Convention souvenir book).
  • “The Ideas of Mary McCarthy” – as “Books” in Omni, October 1981, edited by Dick Teresi.
  • “Introducing Lloyd Arthur Eshbach” – as “Introduction” in Over My Shoulder: Reflections on a Science Fiction Era by Lloyd Arthur Eshbach (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Oswald Train, October 1983).
  • “Introducing Theodore R. Cogswell and PITFCS” – as “Introduction” in PITFCS: Proceedings of the Institute for Twenty-First Century Studies edited by Theodore R. Cogswell (Chicago, Illinois: Advent:Publishers, December 1992).
  • “Introduction to Outposts” – as “Introduction” in Outposts: Literatures of Milieux (San Bernardino, California: The Borgo Press: dated 1996, published 1997) by Algis Budrys.
  • “Literatures of Milieux” – Foundation: The Review of Science Fiction #31, July 1984, edited by David Pringle. A shorter version also appeared in The Missouri Review, Winter 1984, edited by Speer Morgan.
  • “Memoir – Galaxy Book Shelf” – Galaxy: Thirty Years of Innovative Science Fiction (New York: Playboy Press, March 1980) edited by Frederik Pohl, Martin H. Greenberg and Joseph D. Olander; includes edited Galaxy Book Shelf from Galaxy, September 1969, edited by Ejler Jakobsson.
  • “Memoir – Spilled Milk” – Galaxy: Thirty Years of Innovative Science Fiction (New York: Playboy Press, March 1980) edited by Frederik Pohl, Martin H. Greenberg and Joseph D. Olander.
  • “Memoir – ‘The Man Who Tasted Ashes’” – Worlds of If: A Retrospective Anthology (New York: Bluejay Books, September 1986) edited by Frederik Pohl, Martin Harry Greenberg and Joseph D. Olander.
  • “Most Scrutinized SF Writer” – contribution to “Heinlein: After 30 Years” symposium in Speculation #24, September/October 1969, edited by Peter Weston.
  • “New World in the Morning” – Pulphouse: The Hardback Magazine, Winter (December) 1988, edited by Kristine Kathryn Rusch.
  • “Non-Literary Influences on Science Fiction” – Polk City, Iowa: Chris Drumm chapbook, 1983. Original copyright notice: “This essay, appearing here for the first time in its complete form, is copyright © 1983 by Algis Budrys. All rights reserved. An earlier version, in edited form, appeared in Science Fiction Dialogues (Gary K. Wolfe, editor; Academy Chicago), copyright © 1982 by The Science Fiction Research Association.”
  • “Obstacles and Ironies in Science-Fiction Criticism” – The Patchin Review #2, September 1981, edited by Charles Platt.
  • “On Being a Bit of a Legend” – Science Fiction Review #24, February 1978, edited by Richard E. Geis.
  • “On Budrys’ Inferno” – as “Introduction” to Budrys’ Inferno (New York: Berkley Medallion, July 1963) by Algis Budrys, reissued as The Furious Future (London: Panther Books, 1966). Bonus “Comment on ‘Walk to the World’” from First Flight: Maiden Voyages in Space and Time (New York: Lancer Books, August 1963) edited by Damon Knight.
  • “On Rogue Moon” – as “Algis Budrys Replies” [to Gordon Dickson] in Proceedings of the Institute for Twenty-First Century Studies Special Series #141, November 1961, edited by Theodore R. Cogswell.
  • “On Writing” columns – Locus #201, May 1977 [1]; #202, July 1977 [2]; #203, August 1977 [3]; #205, October 1977 [4]; #206, November 1977 [5]; #207, December 1977 [6]; #208, January/February 1978 [7]; #209, March 1978 [8]; #210, April 1978 [9]; #212, July 1978 [10]; #213, August 1978 [11]; #214, September 1978 [12]; #215, October 1978 [13]; #216, November 1978 [14]; #218, January 1979 [15]; #222, June 1979 [16]; and #223, July/August 1979 [17]. All edited by Charles N. Brown.
  • “Or Thwim” – Inside #10, July 1955, edited by Ron Smith.
  • “Paradise Charted” – TriQuarterly #49, Fall 1980, guest-edited by David G. Hartwell.
  • “Pop Lit” – Chicago Sun-Times reviews, usually for the Pop Lit department: Angels of September, 15 January 1986; The Bourne Supremacy, 2 March 1986; Koko and The Silence of the Lambs, 21 August 1988; Wyvern, 9 October 1988; Red Army and The Negotiator, 30 April 1989; The Bourne Ultimatum, 4 March 1990.
  • “Pulp!” – Science Fiction Review #45, Winter (November) 1982, edited by Richard E. Geis.
  • “The Revenge of the Empire” – Amazing Stories, March 1984, edited by George Scithers.
  • “Reviewing Heinlein” – from “Interview: Algis Budrys” by Mark Berry in Science Fiction Review #53, Winter (November) 1984, edited by Richard E. Geis.
  • “Scanners Writhe in Pain” – Asimov’s SF, August 1981, edited by George Scithers.
  • “Science Fiction in the Marketplace” – Nebula Winners Twelve (New York: Harper and Row, February 1978) edited by Gordon Dickson.
  • “Short Takes 1979-1981” – “Stardance” as “Sci fi writers get out of closet” in Madison WI Capital Times, 3 May 1979*; “The Pleasure Tube” from “Science Fiction: A Way To Say Something New” in Cincinnati Enquirer, 27 May 1979*; “Soviet SF” as “SCIENCE FICTION: American ‘screenplays’ and Soviet ‘stage plays’” in San Francisco Examiner(California), 16 July 1979*; “James Blish” as “Late science-fiction writer now seen as top author” in Binghamton NY Press and Sun-Bulletin, 16 September 1979*; “Genre and Mainstream” from “Lessing bombs in sci-fi genre” in The Medicine Hat News (Alberta, Canada), 22 October 1979*; “Working with Students” from Focus on Writing, undated ?1979, edited by David A. Sohn for District 65 Evanston, IL, Elementary Schools; “SF in the 1970s” as “SF was changed by ’70s” in Colorado Springs Gazette, 19 January 1980*; “SF Detective Stories” from “Science Fiction Detective Stories” in Lincoln NE Journal and Star, 3 August 1980*; “The Number of the Beast” from “Science Fiction Offerings” in Huntsville AL Times, 7 September 1980*; “Dream Makers” from “It’s Great Time of Year To Buy Mystery Thrillers” in Huntsville AL Times, 14 December 1980*; “Expanded Universe” from “Some sci-fi to make you angry” in Butte MT Montana Standard, 5 May 1981*; “The Mind Reels” from the differently edited versions “Sci-fi novels make mind reel” in Colorado Springs Gazette, 26 September 1981*, and “New science fiction offerings filled with intrigue, adventure” in Madison WI Capital Times, 15 October 1981*; “The Human Zero” as “Sci fi by E.S. Gardner” in Lincoln NE Journal and Star, 10 October 1981*.
  • “Stephen King in the 1980s” – reviews of Firestarter from Mobile AL Press-Register, 28 September 1980*; Different Seasons from Odessa TX American, 12 August 1982*; Christine from Vancouver BC (Canada) Sun, 15 April 1983; It from Chicago Sun-Times, 24 August 1986; Misery from Chicago Sun-Times, 21 June 1987.
  • “Tom Reamy: A Rare & Masterful Fantasist” – Trumpet #12, Summer 1981, edited by Ken Keller.
  • “Two Novels of Science” – Science-Fiction Five-Yearly #3, November/December 1961, edited by Lee Hoffman.
  • “Two Sketches: Damon Knight and Robert Silverberg” – from “Damon Knight: Two Sketches” (the other being by Robert A.W. Lowndes) and “Robert Silverberg: Two Sketches” (the other being by Terry Carr) in the Noreascon Two Souvenir Book (Cambridge, Massachusetts, August 1980).
  • “What Did 1980 Mean?” – Nebula Award Stories Sixteen (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, August 1982) edited by Jerry Pournelle and John F. Carr.
  • “What Was 1985 That We Were Mindful of It?” – Nebula Awards 21 (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, December 1986) edited by George Zebrowski.
  • “Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy” – New Destinies #7, Spring 1989, edited by Jim Baen (with a 1988 copyright date given for this essay only); Eugene, Oregon: Pulphouse Publishing chapbook reissue, 1990.

* The starred items from various US and Canadian newspapers are all syndicated articles with original publication credits to the Chicago Sun-Times.

32 thoughts on “FORGOTTEN BOOKS #604: Beyond the Outposts: Essays on SF and Fantasy 1955-1996 by Algis Budrys

  1. Jeff Meyerson

    I’ve never read much of Budrys’ fiction, but I am interested in reading the critical work,

    1. george Post author

      Jeff, some of these longer essays on Science Fiction provide unique insights. You would find plenty to like in these pages!

  2. Deb

    I think it’s sometimes the case that you can’t get into the fictional work of a writer, but you enjoy their non-fiction. For me, I have never been able to get much out of fiction written by Joyce Carol Oates or Stephen King—but I very much enjoy their essays and other non-fictional work. It appeals to a different part of the brain, perhaps?

    1. george Post author

      Deb, you’re right. I like Joyce Carl Oates’s essays more than many of her novels. Stephen King always has something interesting to say in his book reviews.

      1. Jeff Meyerson

        I agree, especially on Oates. Too many of her plots are just too dark for me, but I like her non fiction a lot.

        I still read some King – all of the shorter works, for sure – but I agree on his non fiction too.

      2. george Post author

        Jeff, I liked JCO’s early novels, but the later ones went to the Dark Side. But, Oates’s essays always delight me.

      3. Steve Oerkfitz

        I actually like JCO’s short fiction. I haven’t read any of her novels for decades. King I still read. He has gone more into crime fiction than horror in recent years.

      4. george Post author

        Steve, I prefer Stephen King’s “short” fiction more than his mammoth novels (though I’ve read a fair number of those, too). The first time I read Joyce Carol Oates was in a writing workshop at Marquette University when the instructor used her story, “By the River.” After that class, I immediately went out and bought three or four of Oates’s books.

  3. Michael Padgett

    I do remember reading his book reviews back in the day, and this book does look interesting. Haven’t read much of his fiction, but I did read “Rogue Moon”, which seems to be his most famous work.

    1. george Post author

      Michael, you’d like Budrys’s essays in BEYOND THE OUTPOSTS. Budrys gives you plenty to think about. And, fair WARNING!, you might end up buying a lot of the books Budrys recommends (as I did).

  4. Steve Oerkfitz

    I read a lot of his reviews back in the 60’s. They were better than most reviews back then except for Damon Knights. I liked a lot of his short fiction. And his novel Rogue Moon. Too bad he mostly stopped writing fiction when he took over the Writers of the Future series for Scientology.

    1. george Post author

      Steve, Algis Budrys was a prolific reviewer. This is the fourth book of his that I own that’s full of great reviews and essays!

      1. george Post author

        Steve, I don’t know if I mentioned that I give the Librarians at our Public Library chocolate every few months. Whenever BJ’s Warehouse sends us a coupon for chocolate (usually Ghirardelli or DOVE), I pick up a bag and give it to the Librarians. And then, when I made a request for an acquisition, the Librarians order it about 95% of the time.

  5. Todd Mason

    There is a companion to this book, which is a much larger expanded edition of OUTPOSTS: LITERATURES OF MILIEUX, that is online only, and free (donations for fannish travel program the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund accepted)…mostly samples of Budrys’s nonfiction writing that Dave Langford thought might be considered less immediately pertinent to the fantastic fiction readers’ interest, or of a more casual approach (including samples of Budrys’s newspaper-syndicated short book reviews).

    A BUDRYS MISCELLANY: OCCASIONAL WRITING 1956-2000 is certainly worth the look, and it’s hard to beat the price. I’m going through when I can and checking for the typos resulting from bad scanning, at Langford’s request, but that shouldn’t put you off too much…they are not so numerous as to ruin the experience.

    I’m surprised, to some extent, that you don’t like much of Budrys’s fiction, but if you also don’t much care for Oates’s, that does make a certain sense…both have a certain intensity and pessimism to their vision, though Budrys is a bit more open to humor, if often a wry sort. Did you ever try HARD LANDING? Very much underrated.

      1. Todd Mason

        OUTPOSTS is all but completely eclipsed by BEYOND THE OUTPOSTS…but for a completist…there’s no way to order the MISCELLANY, one simply downloads it…I’ll probably print it out for ease of proofing, and to have it on paper…

  6. wolf

    Seing Dave Langford’s name (don’t know if he’s been mentioned here before) – I’ve been a reader/subscriber to his Ansible newsletter for a long time – especially for someone like me who’s interested in the British SF world (made it to a few conventions even …) it has a lot of good info:

    He’s been active so many years now:

  7. Jerry House

    I have enjoyed almost everything I’ve read by Budrys. I remember being very impressed by a column on writing that he used to do for LOCUS — some of the best words about writing that I have read.

  8. Todd Mason

    August ANSIBLE is now out. This tidbit in re: the Retro Hugo nominations:
    The Retro Hugo Statistics reveal that a single Fan Writer nomination for 1944 work (it took three to get on the final ballot and no one had more than six) went to some chap called David Langford. Ho ho, very satirical….

    (Langford was something like six years from conception in 1944)

    The link to the new issue (this time for sure):


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