FRIDAY’S FORGOTTEN BOOKS #517: THE GREAT SF STORIES #6 (1944) Edited by Isaac Asimov & Martin H. Greenberg

The year 1944 will always resonate with me for that was the year Clifford D. Simak published the series of stories that would make up his classic SF novel, City. In 1944, A. E. van Vogt continued producing mind-blowing stories like “Far Centaurus.” Fredric Brown’s “Arena”–the basis for one of Star Trek’s favorite episodes–showed what could happen when two conflicting space fleets are on the edge of war. And Theodore Sturgeon’s wild “Killdozer!” achieve legendary status. I enjoyed “The Veil of Astellar” by Leigh Brackett and “No Woman Born” by C.L. Moore.

Asimov and Greenberg include the famous Cleve Cartmill story about atom bombs that brought the FBI to the offices of John W. Campbell to investigate if there was a leak from the Manhattan Project. You can also see how dominant ASTOUNDING was in 1944. The Great SF Stories #6 collects another strong lineup of entertaining Science Fiction tales. GRADE: A
INTRODUCTION by Martin H. Greenberg & Isaac Asimov 9
“Far Centaurus” by A. E. van Vogt (ASTOUNDING, January 1944) 13
“Deadline” by Cleve Cartmill (ASTOUNDING, March 1944) 35
“The Veil of Astellar” by Leigh Brackett (THRILLING WONDER STORIES, Spring 1944) 64
“Sanity” by Fritz Leiber (ASTOUNDING, April 1944) 93
“Invariant” by John R. Pierce (ASTOUNDING, April 1944) 110
“City” by Clifford D. Simak (ASTOUNDING, May 1944) 116
“Arena” by Fredric Brown (ASTOUNDING, June 1944) 144
“Huddling Place” by Clifford D. Simak (ASTOUNDING, July 1944) 173
“Kindness” by Lester del Rey (ASTOUNDING, October 1944) 192
“Desertion” by Clifford D. Simak (ASTOUNDING, November 1944) 208
“When the Bough Breaks” by Lewis Padgett (aka, Henry Kuttner & C. L. Moore) (ASTOUNDING, November 1944) 221
“Killdozer!” by Theodore Sturgeon (ASTOUNDING, November 1944) 248
“No Woman Born” by C. L. Moore (ASTOUNDING, November 1944) 319

23 thoughts on “FRIDAY’S FORGOTTEN BOOKS #517: THE GREAT SF STORIES #6 (1944) Edited by Isaac Asimov & Martin H. Greenberg

  1. wolf

    Just looking at the authors’ names and the titles brings back fond memories. I’m having difficulties to tell which woud be my favourite, maybe City?
    Funny that Asimov and Silverberg are not represented …
    OK, Asimov as editor – but why not?

    1. Todd Mason

      Asimov noted that he let Greenberg decide which Asimov stories were included…but Asimov wasn’t Too fond of most of his early work, and was, for almost the only time in his adult life, so wrapped up in his wartime Philadelphia Navy Yard chemistry work and happy with his domestic situation till Gertrude Asimov became restless and homesick that he barely wrote anything for some months.

  2. James W. Harris

    I loved the City stories too, which highlight this volume. Also, “No Woman Born” by C. L. Moore is a stunner. But the rest of the stories didn’t really stick with me. I think I liked “Kindness” but I no longer remember what it was about.

    You’re catching up George. I’ve got to get back to reading old stories.

    1. george Post author

      Jim, I’m already reading THE GREAT SF STORIES #7 (1945) for review in March. You’re right about the fall-off in quality between the “classic” SF stories and the mere “good” SF stories in this volume.

  3. Jeff Meyerson

    Now this one I have. I’ve read some of them – the Brown, of course, and CITY. Time to catch up with the rest.

  4. Michael Padgett

    All the authors except Pierce are familiar, but it’s hit or miss on the individual titles. I also liked the CITY stories but don’t recall reading them individually. There was a book by Simak with that title that I probably read in the late fifties. I assume it was just a collection of stories, but it looked like a novel. Other than the CITY stories I wasn’t a big fan of Simak.

    1. george Post author

      Michael, the “novel” of CITY is a “fix-up” of several stories stitched together with some connecting material. Van Vogt did the same thing by turning a series of stories into a “novel.”

    2. Todd Mason

      “Desertion” is one of the best, perhaps the best, story in Simak’s career, at least in some ways (and it, like T. L. Sherred’s “E for Effort”, apparently annoyed the hell out of Campbell when he let their messages sink in).

      Bradbury’s early “novels” were likewise patchworks, or “fix-ups”, of shorter works. Bradbury was just starting to get stories into WEIRD TALES, PLANET STORIES and to some extent the Thrilling Group magazines.

      “No Woman Born” is here to take names and…it’s already got all the names. I never have understood the love, among Sturgeon’s far more brilliant stories, for “Killdozer!” (or “Microcosmic God”).

      “Arena” is a much better reading experience than ST script…the wheezing Baby Godzilla didn’t help matters at all.

      But, still a good book to read.

      1. Todd Mason

        And guess which episode of STAR TREK ran on the small broadcast network H&I on Friday night? (They run all the older ST series save the cartoon, which they used to run, six nights a week.) You got it in one, and didn’t even wheeze once…

      2. george Post author

        Todd, thanks for all the background information! I know it’s silly, but I have a certain fondness for the Star Trek version of “Arena.”

    3. Todd Mason

      John R. Pierce was mostly publishing sf as “J. J. Coupling” in those years (perhaps over the objections of JWC’s assistant Kay Tarrant). He was to become a Very big deal in engineering, having the kind of career in the field that Campbell probably envied.

    1. Todd Mason

      And consider that Asimov and Greenberg were both fond of the ASTOUNDING kind of story…but this was a pretty fallow period for almost all the magazines (noted by George in his citation of some Merely Good stories), as a whole lot of the best writers were in military work, GI or otherwise (such as Asimov, or Fritz Leiber as a conscientious objector in factory work…or SCIENCE FICTION magazine former editor and pacifist Charles Hornig in jail). Such writers as Donald Wilcox and David Wright O’Brien (killed in action) and Willam McGivern, some of the best at AMAZING and FANTASTIC ADVENTURES, not able to contribute the better stories Ray Palmer would usually have.. PLANET like THRILLING WONDER and STARTLING mostly coasting on Leigh Brackett and a few others for their good work.

      1. Todd Mason

        Also, we should note that in the post-war, even such Campbell fans as Asimov and Greenberg start to see more intelligent editing at other magazines, and the effects of the war’s end on who was available to all the magazines…including those outside the sf field:

        Isaac Asimov Presents the Great SF Stories: 10 (1948) ed. Isaac Asimov & Martin H. Greenberg (DAW 0-87997-854-6, Aug ’83, $3.50, 287pp, pb)
        9 · Introduction · Isaac Asimov · in
        13 · Don’t Look Now · Henry Kuttner · ss Startling Stories Mar 1948
        27 · He Walked Around the Horses [Paratime Police] · H. Beam Piper · nv Astounding Apr 1948
        49 · The Strange Case of John Kingman · Murray Leinster · ss Astounding May 1948
        66 · That Only a Mother · Judith Merril · ss Astounding Jun 1948
        77 · The Monster · A. E. van Vogt · ss Astounding Aug 1948
        94 · Dreams Are Sacred · Peter Phillips · nv Astounding Sep 1948
        117 · Mars Is Heaven! · Ray Bradbury · ss Planet Stories Fll 1948
        135 · Thang · Martin Gardner · vi Comment Fll 1948
        138 · Brooklyn Project · William Tenn · ss Planet Stories Fll 1948
        149 · Ring Around the Redhead · John D. MacDonald · ss Startling Stories Nov 1948
        169 · Period Piece · J. J. Coupling · ss Astounding Nov 1948
        178 · Dormant · A. E. van Vogt · ss Startling Stories Nov 1948
        195 · In Hiding [Timothy Paul] · Wilmar H. Shiras · nv Astounding Nov 1948
        229 · Knock · Fredric Brown · ss Thrilling Wonder Stories Dec 1948
        240 · A Child Is Crying · John D. MacDonald · ss Thrilling Wonder Stories Dec 1948
        253 · Late Night Final · Eric Frank Russell · nv Astounding Dec 1948

        saac Asimov Presents the Great SF Stories: 11 (1949) ed. Isaac Asimov & Martin H. Greenberg (DAW 0-87997-918-6, Mar ’84 [Feb ’84], $3.50, 317pp, pb) Anthology of 15 stories from 1949 with notes Asimov. This series offers an excellent historical survey of the sf field. Recommended. (CNB)
        9 · 1949 Introduction · Martin H. Greenberg · in
        12 · The Red Queen’s Race · Isaac Asimov · nv Astounding Jan ’49
        36 · Flaw · John D. MacDonald · ss Startling Stories Jan ’49
        45 · Private Eye · Lewis Padgett · nv Astounding Jan ’49
        73 · Manna · Peter Phillips · nv Astounding Feb ’49
        98 · The Prisoner in the Skull · Lewis Padgett · nv Astounding Feb ’49
        135 · Alien Earth · Edmond Hamilton · nv Thrilling Wonder Stories Apr ’49
        160 · History Lesson · Arthur C. Clarke · ss Startling Stories May ’49
        169 · Eternity Lost · Clifford D. Simak · nv Astounding Jul ’49
        196 · The Only Thing We Learn · C. M. Kornbluth · ss Startling Stories Jul ’49
        207 · Private—Keep Out! · Philip MacDonald · ss F&SF Fll ’49
        223 · The Hurkle Is a Happy Beast · Theodore Sturgeon · ss F&SF Fll ’49
        232 · Kaleidoscope · Ray Bradbury · ss Thrilling Wonder Stories Oct ’49
        242 · Defense Mechanism · Katherine MacLean · ss Astounding Oct ’49
        251 · Cold War [Hogben] · Henry Kuttner · nv Thrilling Wonder Stories Oct ’49
        276 · The Witches of Karres [Witches of Karres] · James H. Schmitz · nv Astounding Dec ’49

        Isaac Asimov Presents the Great SF Stories: 12 (1950) ed. Isaac Asimov & Martin H. Greenberg (DAW 0-87997-953-4, Sep ’84 [Aug ’84], $3.50, 319pp, pb) Anthology of 18 classic stories.
        9 · 1950 Introduction · Martin H. Greenberg · in
        13 · Not with a Bang · Damon Knight · ss F&SF Win/Spr ’50
        19 · Spectator Sport · John D. MacDonald · ss Thrilling Wonder Stories Feb ’50
        26 · There Will Come Soft Rains · Ray Bradbury · ss Colliers May 6 ’50
        34 · Dear Devil · Eric Frank Russell · nv Other Worlds Science Stories May ’50
        70 · Scanners Live in Vain · Cordwainer Smith · nv Fantasy Book #6 ’50
        105 · Born of Man and Woman · Richard Matheson · vi F&SF Sum ’50
        109 · The Little Black Bag · C. M. Kornbluth · nv Astounding Jul ’50
        138 · Enchanted Village · A. E. van Vogt · ss Other Worlds Science Stories Jul ’50
        154 · Oddy and Id [“The Devil’s Invention”] · Alfred Bester · ss Astounding Aug ’50
        170 · The Sack · William Morrison · ss Astounding Sep ’50
        190 · The Silly Season · C. M. Kornbluth · ss F&SF Fll ’50
        205 · Misbegotten Missionary · Isaac Asimov · ss Galaxy Nov ’50
        221 · To Serve Man · Damon Knight · ss Galaxy Nov ’50
        230 · Coming Attraction · Fritz Leiber · ss Galaxy Nov ’50
        244 · A Subway Named Mobius · A. J. Deutsch · ss Astounding Dec ’50
        260 · Process · A. E. van Vogt · ss F&SF Dec ’50
        267 · The Mindworm · C. M. Kornbluth · ss Worlds Beyond Dec ’50
        281 · The New Reality · Charles L. Harness · nv Thrilling Wonder Stories Dec ’50

        ASF won’t dominate a volume again after these.

      2. Todd Mason

        1959 was the worst year for the soon to be ANALOG…the editors deemed no stories worthy of inclusion:

        Isaac Asimov Presents the Great SF Stories: 21 (1959) ed. Isaac Asimov & Martin H. Greenberg (DAW 0-88677-428-4, Jun ’90 [May ’90], $4.95, 347pp, pb, cover by Robin Hidden) Anthology of 14 stories from 1959.
        9 · Introduction · Martin H. Greenberg · in
        15 · Make a Prison · Lawrence Block · ss Science Fiction Stories Jan ’59
        21 · The Wind People · Marion Zimmer Bradley · ss If Feb ’59
        45 · No, No, Not Rogov! · Cordwainer Smith · ss If Feb ’59
        69 · What Rough Beast? · Damon Knight · nv F&SF Feb ’59
        101 · The Alley Man · Philip José Farmer · na F&SF Jun ’59
        159 · Day at the Beach · Carol Emshwiller · ss F&SF Aug ’59
        173 · The Malted Milk Monster · William Tenn · nv Galaxy Aug ’59
        199 · The World of Heart’s Desire · Robert Sheckley · ss Playboy Sep ’59
        209 · The Man Who Lost the Sea · Theodore Sturgeon · ss F&SF Oct ’59
        225 · A Death in the House · Clifford D. Simak · ss Galaxy Oct ’59
        251 · The Pi Man · Alfred Bester · ss F&SF Oct ’59
        273 · Multum in Parvo · Jack Sharkey · gp Gent Dec ’59
        279 · What Now, Little Man? · Mark Clifton · nv F&SF Dec ’59
        323 · Adrift on the Policy Level · Chandler Davis · ss Star Science Fiction Stories #5, ed. Frederik Pohl, Ballantine, 1959

    1. george Post author

      Wolf, I bought many Ballantine paperback in the late 1950s and early 1970s. The published Frederik Pohl, C. M. Kornbluth, and many other great SF writers.

    2. Todd Mason

      The Ballantines, when they left Bantam and set up shop for themselves, were paying initially about five times as much as anyone else in advances on the books they published as primarily a paperback house (though they also published small hardcovers from the layout of the paperbacks). Unfortunately, they couldn’t keep that up, but still continued to do interesting things, including starting one of the first horror lines in paperbacks in the late ’50s.


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