In 2002, the New England Science Fiction Association Press published this wonderful anthology. Maybe it was supposed to be the beginning of a series, but this was the only volume published so far. I remember 1964 as a seminal year in Science Fiction. Plenty of great stories were appearing in SF digests. SF publishers will bringing out dozens of SF novels, so many I couldn’t keep up! In his “Forward” and “Introduction,” Robert Silverberg discusses the state of the Science Fiction world in 1964. Just looking at the Table of Contents you can see the strength of the genre by the great writers presented in this book. If you’re looking for a snapshot of one of the best year’s in SF history, read Robert Silverberg Presents the Great SF Stories. GRADE: A
Foreword — Robert Silverberg
Introduction — Robert Silverberg
Norman Spinrad, “Outward Bound”
Jack Vance, “The Kragen”
Poul Anderson, “The Master Key”
Cordwainer Smith, “The Crime and the Glory of Commander Suzdal”
Roger Zelazny, “The Graveyard Heart”
Leigh Brackett, “Purple Priestess of the Mad Moon”
John Brunner, “The Last Lonely Man”
Gordon R. Dickson, “Soldier, Ask Not”
Wyman Guin, “A Man of the Renaissance”
Ursula K. Le Guin, “The Dowry of Angyar”
Fritz Leiber, “When the Change-Winds Blow”
Frederik Pohl, “The Fiend”
Fred Saberhagen, “The Life Hater”
Robert Silverberg, “Neighbor”
Norman Kagan, “Four Brands of Impossible”


  1. Jerry House

    This was a followup to the Asimov/Greenberg series that had reached Volume 25 (1963) by the time Asimov died.
    Silverberg is a good editor and ’tis a pity the series went no further.

    1. george Post author

      Jerry, thanks for that clarification. Yes, I’m a fan of the Asimov/Greenberg DAW series. This NESFA volume is terrific and I wish the series had continued.

  2. Jeff Meyerson

    Interesting comment, as I’ve been catching up on stuff I missed all those years ago by picking up (and reading) the “Isaac Asimov Presents the Great SF Stories” anthologies that Jerry is referring to. I’ve also picked up a number of other books for the Silverberg introductions as much as the stories.

    1. george Post author

      Jeff, you’re right about Robert Silverberg’s introductions. Silverberg provides details about the publishing industry at that time that are priceless!

  3. wolf

    I had written this, but lost it (and found it again):

    Don’t remember all the stories but just reading the names of the authors is music in my ears!

    In the early 60s I used to go every day to the America House – on the way between the University and the train station and look for new stuff like these authors produced.
    They had those anthologies “Best SF of the year …” which I fondly remember.

    But those were before the Asimov/Greenberg volumes – think george wrote about them before.

      1. Todd Mason

        1967 was the last year for Merril; Harrison and Aldiss began in 1968.

        1973 had seven, as I recall: Wollheim, Carr (doing separate annuals), Harrison & Aldiss, Del Rey, Ackerman, Pohl and perhaps it was only six…

      2. Todd Mason

        Nope, not counting the Nebula annual, there were five best sf volumes in 1973, and in ’72…Pohl did the 1972 Ace annual, Ackerman did the 1973 Ace annual.

        The Best Science Fiction of the Year #2, edited by Terry Carr (Ballantine 03312; $1.25; 370pp.; 1973)

        The 1973 Annual World’s Best SF, edited by Donald A. Wollheim; with Arthur W. Saha (DAW UQ1053; 95¢; 253 pp.; 1973) hardcover: SF Book Club; $1.98

        Best SF: 1972, edited by Harry Harrison and Brian W. Aldiss (Putnam; $5.95; 254pp.; 1973) paper: Berkley 02381; 95¢

        Best Science Fiction Stories of the Year, 2nd Annual Collection, edited by Lester del Rey (E. P. Dutton & Co.; $6.95; 251 pp.; 1973)

        Best Science Fiction for 1973, edited by Forrest J. Ackerman (Ace 91360; $1.25; 268 pp.; 1973)

      3. george Post author

        Todd, I’m getting the urge to collect some of the YEAR’S BEST SF anthologies I ignored back in the 1970s and 1980s.

  4. Rick Robinson

    Indeed. Some very nice stories there. I doubt the NESFA hardcover format, and it’s cost, was conducive to a story collection. It’s too bad a paperback publisher didn’t pick up the anthology series.

    1. george Post author

      Rick, I don’t know what the Market would be for retro “YEAR’S BEST SF” anthologies. DAW did 25 years and ended their series.

  5. Paul Fraser

    Mmm. If I was going to pick one story from the UK it certainly wouldn’t be that load of old nonsense from Brunner (Of course you can come and share my head for a bit!—this to a total stranger.) A better story than Ballard’s ‘Equinox’ or ‘The Terminal Beach’? Or Hilary Bailey’s ‘The Fall of Frenchy Steiner’ or Thom Keyes’ ‘Period of Gestation’? I think not. It’s a good thing we have multiple Best Of anthologies nowadays.

    1. george Post author

      Paul, I agree with you on the multiple “YEAR’S BEST SF” anthologies. Each one has a different critical selection process. I used to enjoy David Hartwell’s yearly anthologies, although now I prefer Neil Clarke’s volumes. Of course, Gardner Dozois provides the most comprehensive YEAR’S BEST SF anthologies.

    1. george Post author

      Scott, ROBERT SILVERBERG PRESENTS THE GREAT SF STORIES (1964) is a terrific anthology. Silverberg’s introductions alone are worth the price of admission!

  6. Denny Lien

    The Wollheim/Carr WORLD’S BEST SCIENCE FICTION series for Ace began with the volume for 1965, so I’ve assumed this 1964 NESFA volume was meant to “fill in” the one year gap between that and the Asimov/Greenberg BEST SF STORIES series, which ended with #25, covering 1963. As a completist sort of collector who feels itchy in his brain at the sight of such gaps, I can relate.

    1. george Post author

      Denny, I think you’re right. I had the ASIMOV/GREENBERG series and now I own this SILVERBERG/GREENBERG volume which fills in the “gap” you refer to.

  7. Todd Mason

    Actually, part of the reason for this book getting no support from DAW Books was the overlap with the first Wolleim/Carr book…which also was devoted to the best of 1964, as dated a 1965 book.

  8. Todd Mason

    The 10th Annual of the Year’s Best S-F ed. Judith Merril (Delacorte, 1965, $4.95, 400pp, hc)
    Automatic Tiger · Kit Reed · ss F&SF Mar 1964
    The Carson Effect · Richard Wilson · ss Worlds of Tomorrow Nov 1964
    The Shining Ones · Arthur C. Clarke · ss Playboy Aug 1964
    Pacifist · Mack Reynolds · ss F&SF Jan 1964
    The New Encyclopaedist · Stephen Becker · vi F&SF May 1964
    The Legend of Joe Lee · John D. MacDonald · ss Cosmopolitan Oct 1964
    Gas Mask · James D. Houston · ss Nugget 1964
    A Sinister Metamorphosis · Russell Baker · ss The New York Times 1965
    Sonny · Rick Raphael · ss Analog Apr 1963
    The Last Secret Weapon of the Third Reich · Josef Nesvadba · ss Vampires Ltd., New York: A. Vanous 1964
    Descending · Thomas M. Disch · ss Fantastic Jul 1964
    Decadence · Romain Gary; trans. by Richard Howard · ss Saga 1964
    Be of Good Cheer · Fritz Leiber · ss Galaxy Oct 1964
    It Could Be You · Frank Roberts · ss Coast to Coast, Sydney, Australia 1964
    A Benefactor of Humanity · James T. Farrell · ss The Socialist Call 1958
    Synchromocracy · Hap Cawood · ss Motive 1964
    The Search · Bruce Simonds · pm F&SF Jun 1964
    The Pirokin Effect · Larry Eisenberg · ss Amazing Jun 1964
    The Twerlik · Jack Sharkey · ss Worlds of Tomorrow Jun 1964
    A Rose for Ecclesiastes · Roger Zelazny · nv F&SF Nov 1963
    The Terminal Beach · J. G. Ballard · nv New Worlds Mar 1964
    Problem Child · Arthur Porges · ss Analog Apr 1964
    The Wonderful Dog Suit · Donald Hall · ss The Carleton Miscellany 1964
    The Mathenauts · Norman Kagan · ss If Jul 1964
    Family Portrait · Morgan Kent · ss Fantastic Aug 1964
    A Red Egg · José Maria Gironella; trans. by Terry Broch Fontseré · ss 1964
    The Power of Positive Thinking · M. E. White · ss New Directions #18 1964
    A Living Doll · Robert Wallace · ss Harper’s Jan 1964
    Training Talk · David R. Bunch · ss Fantastic Mar 1964
    A Miracle Too Many · Philip H. Smith & Alan E. Nourse · ss F&SF Sep 1964
    The Last Lonely Man · John Brunner · ss New Worlds May/Jun 1964
    The Man Who Found Proteus · Robert H. Rohrer, Jr. · ss Fantastic Nov 1964
    Yachid and Yechida · Isaac Bashevis Singer · ss 1964
    Summation · Judith Merril · ms
    Honorable Mentions · [Misc.] · bi

    The World’s Best Science Fiction: 1965 ed. Donald A. Wollheim & Terry Carr (Ace G-551, 1965, 50¢, 288pp, pb)
    7 · Introduction · Donald A. Wollheim & Terry Carr · in
    12 · Greenplace · Tom Purdom · ss F&SF Nov 1964
    26 · Men of Good Will · Ben Bova & Myron R. Lewis · ss Galaxy Jun 1964
    32 · Bill for Delivery [Al & Sam] · Christopher Anvil · ss Analog Nov 1964
    53 · Four Brands of Impossible · Norman Kagan · nv F&SF Sep 1964
    86 · A Niche in Time · William F. Temple · ss Analog May 1964
    103 · Sea Wrack · Edward Jesby · nv F&SF May 1964
    123 · For Every Action · C. C. MacApp · ss Amazing May 1964
    131 · Vampires Ltd. · Josef Nesvadba; trans. by Iris Urwin · ss Vampires Ltd., New York: A. Vanous 1964
    142 · The Last Lonely Man · John Brunner · ss New Worlds May/Jun 1964
    160 · The Star Party · Robert Lory · ss F&SF Sep 1964
    169 · The Weather in the Underworld · Colin Free · ss Squire Jun 1965
    178 · Oh, to Be a Blobel! · Philip K. Dick · ss Galaxy Feb 1964
    199 · The Unremembered · Edward Mackin · ss New Worlds Mar 1964
    211 · What Happened to Sergeant Masuro? · Harry Mulisch; trans. by Roy Edwards · nv The Busy Bee Review: New Writing from the Netherlands 1964
    235 · Now Is Forever · Thomas M. Disch · ss Amazing Mar 1964
    252 · The Competitors · Jack B. Lawson · nv If Jan 1964
    279 · When the Change-Winds Blow [Change War] · Fritz Leiber · ss F&SF Aug 1964

    The Great SF Stories: 1964 ed. Robert Silverberg & Martin H. Greenberg (NESFA Press 1-886778-21-3, Jan 2002, $25.00, 395pp, hc, cover by Eddie Jones) Anthology of 15 stories first published in 1964, a continuation of the series originally edited by Isaac Asimov and Greenberg. Authors include Norman Spinrad, Poul Anderson, and John Brunner. Foreword and introduction by Silverberg, who discusses why he decided to do the anthology, and the state of the US and science fiction in 1964. Order from NESFA Press, PO Box 809, Framingham MA 01701; [].

    · Foreword · Robert Silverberg · fw
    · Introduction · Robert Silverberg · in
    · Outward Bound · Norman Spinrad · nv Analog Mar ’64
    · The Kragen · Jack Vance · na Fantastic Jul ’64
    · The Master Key [Nicholas van Rijn] · Poul Anderson · nv Analog Jul ’64
    · The Crime and the Glory of Commander Suzdal · Cordwainer Smith · ss Amazing May ’64
    · The Graveyard Heart · Roger Zelazny · na Fantastic Mar ’64
    · Purple Priestess of the Mad Moon · Leigh Brackett · ss F&SF Oct ’64
    · The Last Lonely Man · John Brunner · ss New Worlds May/Jun ’64
    · Soldier, Ask Not [Childe Cycle] · Gordon R. Dickson · na Galaxy Oct ’64
    · A Man of the Renaissance · Wyman Guin · nv Galaxy Dec ’64
    · The Dowry of Angyar · Ursula K. Le Guin · ss Amazing Sep ’64
    · When the Change-Winds Blow [Change War] · Fritz Leiber · ss F&SF Aug ’64
    · The Fiend · Frederik Pohl · ss Playboy Apr ’64
    · The Life Hater [Berserker] · Fred Saberhagen · ss If Aug ’64
    · Neighbor · Robert Silverberg · ss Galaxy Aug ’64
    · Four Brands of Impossible · Norman Kagan · nv F&SF Sep ’64

      1. Todd Mason

        I threaten to, in one of my more ridiculously ambitious blog-post projects that probably would take a graduate dissertation-length document to do the job more correctly.

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