Imagine a story that’s based on Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. That’s exactly what Charles L. Harness’s “The New Reality” does in its exploration of what Reality really is. Wonderful story! And then there’s a very different story from A. E. van Vogt titled “Process.” Told from the perspective of an intelligent forest on an alien planet, van Vogt manages to capture a “Sense of Wonder.” The most famous story in this volume is Damon Knight’s classic “To Serve Man.” I remember watching The Twilight Zone in 1962 and being shocked by the episode!

The quality of the stories in THE YEAR’S BEST SCIENCE FICTION STORIES: 1951 is better than the 1949 and 1950 volumes. Fritz Leiber’s “Coming Attraction” set new trends in SF. Alfred Bester’s “Oddy and Id” and “Born of Man and Woman” by Richard Matheson are first-rate stories of “unusual” children. If you find a copy of The Year’s Best Science Fiction Stories: 1951 grab it! GRADE: A
• Introduction, by Everett F. Bleiler & T. E. Dikty
• “The Santa Claus Planet”, by Frank M. Robinson (Bleiler & Dikty, 1951)
• “The Gnurrs Come from the Voodvork Out”, by Reginald Bretnor ( The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Winter/Spring 1950),
• “The Mindworm”, by Cyril Kornbluth (Worlds Beyond December 1950)
• “The Star Ducks”, by Bill Brown ( The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, 1950)
• “Not to Be Opened—”, by Roger Flint Young (Astounding Science Fiction, May 1949)
• “Process”, by A. E. van Vogt (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, December 1950)
• “Forget-Me-Not”, by William F. Temple (Other Worlds Science Fiction Stories, September 1950)
• “Contagion”, by Katherine MacLean (Galaxy Science Fiction, October 1950)
• “Trespass!”, by Poul Anderson & Gordon Dickson (Fantastic Story Quarterly, Spring 1950)
• “Oddy and Id”, by Alfred Bester (Astounding Science Fiction, August 1950)
• “To Serve Man”, by Damon Knight (Galaxy Science Fiction, November 1950)
• “Summer Wear”, by L. Sprague de Camp (Startling Stories, May 1950)
• “Born of Man and Woman”, by Richard Matheson (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, July 1950)
• “The Fox in the Forest”, by Ray Bradbury (Collier’s, May 1950)
• “The Last Martian”, by Fredric Brown (Galaxy Science Fiction, October 1950)
• “The New Reality”, by Charles L. Harness (Thrilling Wonder Stories, December 1950)
• “Two Face”, by Frank Belknap Long (Weird Tales, March 1950)
• “Coming Attraction”, by Fritz Leiber (Galaxy Science Fiction, November 1950)

13 thoughts on “FRIDAY’S FORGOTTEN BOOKS #476: THE YEAR’S BEST SCIENCE FICTION STORIES: 1951 Edited By E. F. Bleiler and T. E. Dikty

  1. Steve Oerkfitz

    Never read this one but I have read a lot of the stories elsewhere such as the Leiber, Kornbluth, Matheson,Knight and Bester. Born of Man and Woman was Mathesons first story.

  2. Jeff Meyerson

    (WARNING – SPOILER ALERT) Who could ever forget, “It’s a cookbook!” ? (END WARNING)

    The older anthologies like this one are definitely worth reading. I like them better than a lot of more modern ones.

    And keep off my lawn!

  3. Todd Mason

    While there are later Knights, less heralded, that are much more impressive, it was a fine joke story, and the circumstantial detail he introduces is hinting at what he’s about to be able to do. You do cite most of the best stories, and the Harness really is one the most impressive, and it’s a pity that he isn’t better-remembered, though this story is one he is remembered for. That, and the Leiber, are the almost inarguable classics here…and I want to read that MacLean story, as well as a few others…certainly the Bretnor is charming, far less rancid than the later Schimmelhorn stories will be…

    1. george Post author

      Jim, the interest in the GREAT SF series and now these early YEAR’S BEST SF STORIES seems to be growing…along with the prices!

      1. Jim Harris

        I’ve been able to snag 4 of the 9 books in the series somewhat cheaply. If I would accept the Grayson editions, I could snag several more reasonably cheap, but those British editions don’t have all the stories the U.S. editions had. Although they had better dust covers.

        The thing is, I have most of the stories in the 1951 collection above in other sources, so there’s no real need to buy a copy, other than the desire to collect it. Which isn’t very practical. But that desire does exist.

        I wonder if there are a lot of folks like us going back to collect and read the old anthologies.

      2. george Post author

        Jim, I kick myself for not buying the Bleiler & Dikty anthologies when they were widely available and cheap! I’ve lucked out finding most of them, but a couple don’t have dust jackets.

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