The classic story in this anthology is Tom Godwin’s “The Cold Equations,” a story of Life and Death. Walter M. Miller’s “The Will” shows how a young boy, dying of cancer, finds a way to deal with his fate. Andre Norton makes her first appearance in this series with a clever little story, “Mousetrap.” Frank Herbert’s first SF story, “Nightmare Blues,” launches his career. My favorite story is Clifford D. Simak’s version of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, “How-2.” More science fiction magazines find representation in this volume. You can see the changes in the mid-1950s taking hold. GRADE: A-
The Science-Fiction Year, by T. E. Dikty
The Cold Equations, by Tom Godwin (ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION, August 1954)
“Of Course”, by Chad Oliver (ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION, May 1954)
“Dominions Beyond”, by Ward Moore (The Saturday Evening Post, August 28, 1954)
“Guilty as Charged”, by Arthur Porges (The New York Post, Sunday November 27th, 1955)
“Careless Love”, by Albert C. Friborg (aka, “Push Button Passion,” THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION, July 1954)
“Memento Homo”, by Walter M. Miller, Jr. (aka, “Death of a Spaceman,” AMAZING STORIES, March 1954)
“Mousetrap”, by Andre Norton (THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION, June 1954)
“Christmas Trombone”, by Raymond E. Banks (THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION, January 1954)
“One Thousand Miles Up”, by Frank M. Robinson (SCIENCE STORIES, April 1954; by “Robert Courtney”)
“How-2”, by Clifford D. Simak (GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION, November 1954)
“Heirs Apparent”, by Robert Abernathy (THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION, June 1954)
“John’s Other Practice”, by Winston K. Marks (IMAGINATION, July 1954)
“The Inner Worlds”, by William Morrison (THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION, April 1954)
“The Will”, by Walter M. Miller, Jr. (FANTASTIC, January-February 1954)
“Felony”, by James Causey (GALAXY SCIENCE FICTION, July 1954)
“The Littlest People”, by Raymond E. Banks (IF, March 1954)
“One Way Street”, by Jerome Bixby (Amazing Stories, December 1953-January 1954)
“Axolotl”, by Robert Abernathy (aka, “Deep Space,” THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION, January 1954)
“Exile”, by Everett B. Cole (ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION, January 1954)
“Nightmare Blues”, by Frank Herbert (aka, “Operation Syndrome,” ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION, June 1954)
The Science-Fiction Book Index, by Earl Kemp


  1. Steve Oerkfitz

    At first I thought that was a picture of Raymond Burr. I’m sure I’ve read a lot of these over the years but only am sure of the Godwin, the Simak and the Millers.

  2. wolf

    Those were the days, some brillant stories for a young guy like me! 🙂
    Of course I remember “The Cold Equations” (which I read first in German translation) and some others too – I found most of the magazines from the 50s much later in the SF stores in London like the Fantasy Centre where I traveled several times a year …
    Don’t know if they write this kind of story anymore …

    1. george Post author

      Wolf, I doubt if this style of story-telling would sell in today’s book and magazine markets. I remember reading “The Cold Equations” when I was a teenager and being stunned by its pragmatism.

    1. george Post author

      Jeff, Robert Silverberg wrote a ton of SF stories in the 1950s but Silverberg’s stories didn’t make the YEAR’S BEST anthologies until the 1960s. Then, they were in those anthologies EVERY YEAR!

  3. Michael Padgett

    I’d assumed that as we moved forward in time with these Dikty collections that the contents would become increasingly familiar, but that’s not the case here. Like nearly everyone with even a passing familiarity with 50s SF, I’ve read the deservedly famous “Cold Equations”, but that’s about it. I’m aware of some, but not all, of the remaining contributors, but there’s not a single one of the stories I can remember reading.

    1. george Post author

      Michael, I felt the same way reading THE BEST SCIENCE FICTION STORIES AND NOVELS: 1955. It was a delight to rediscover some of these stories from long ago!

  4. Rick Robinson

    I’m with Michael. I read the stories in ASTOUNDING because I was a subscriber starting in 1958 and went back and bought all the issues starting with January 1950. I have read some of the others, which have been anthologized elsewhere, the Oliver, Norton, Robinson, Herbert. I’m not sure if I’ve ever read “The Cold Equations” . Wouldn’t it be great if these were available as ebooks? Yes, yes it would!

  5. Matt Paust

    I’m surprised this anthology has nothing by Murray Leinster, George. His granddaughter says new editions of some of his work is coming out. He’s buried in my community (Gloucester, Va) under his real name, Will Jenkins.

    1. george Post author

      Matt, thanks for the heads up on the new editions of “Murray Leinster.” I have a Will Jenkins Western I should find and read. Previous Bleiler & Dikty BEST OF anthologies contained works by Murray Leinster.

  6. Jim Harris

    This volume seems larger than the other ones? Was it?

    I looked at ABEBooks. The cheapest Best Science Fiction Stories and Novel 1955 is $150.

    I did snag a cheap 1956 edition.

    1. george Post author

      Jim, THE BEST SCIENCE FICTION STORIES AND NOVELS: 1955 has 544 pages. Bleiler and Dikty put out TWO volumes of THE YEAR’S BEST SCIENCE FICTION for a couple years: one volume of “STORIES” and a second volume of “NOVELS” (which we would call novellas today). When Dikty took over with this volume, he combined both the stories and the novels which resulted in this longish volume. Great buy on that 1956 edition!

      1. george Post author

        Jim, I kick myself for not picking these YEAR’S BEST volumes up when they were cheap and available! Now, they’re very pricey!

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