FRIDAY’S FORGOTTEN BOOKS #520: THE GREAT SF STORIES #7 (1945) Edited by Isaac Asimov & Martin H. Greenberg

Henry Kuttner led the year with three excellent stories. Murray Leinster’s classic “First Contact” still conveys that Sense of Wonder upon rereading. Fredric Brown’s “Pi in the Sky” has been a favorite every since I read it decades ago. Australian author A. Bertram Chandler, who would write a popular series of novels set in the Rim Worlds, makes his first THE GREAT SF STORIES appearance with “Giant Killer.” Leigh Brackett wrote a thrilling story with mystery elements in “The Vanishing Venusians.” Astounding Science Fiction magazine still dominated the SF genre. I really enjoyed this anthology! GRADE: A
INTRODUCTION by Martin H. Greenberg and Isaac Asimov 3
“The Waveries” by Fredric Brown (ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION, January 1945) 13
“The Piper’s Son” by Lewis Padgett (aka, Henry Kuttner & C.L. Moore) (ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION, February 1945) 37
“Wanted—An Enemy” by Fritz Leiber (ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION, February 1945) 65
“Blind Alley” by Isaac Asimov (ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION, March 1945) 80
“Correspondence Course” by Raymond F. Jones (ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION, April 1945) 105
“First Contact” by Murray Leinster (ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION, May 1945) 126
“The Vanishing Venusians” by Leigh Brackett (PLANET STORIES, Spring 1945) 159
“Into Thy Hands” by Lester del Rey (ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION, August 1945) 189
“Camouflage” by Henry Kuttner (ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION, September 1945) 211
“The Power” by Murray Leinster (ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION, September 1945) 246
“Giant Killer” by A. Bertram Chandler (ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION, October 1945) 264
“What You Need” by Henry Kuttner (made into an episode of TV series The Twilight Zone with the same title) (ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION, October 1945) 313
“De Profundis” by Murray Leinster (THRILLING WONDER STORIES, Winter 1945) 329
“Pi in the Sky” by Fredric Brown (THRILLING WONDER STORIES, Winter 1945) 342

21 thoughts on “FRIDAY’S FORGOTTEN BOOKS #520: THE GREAT SF STORIES #7 (1945) Edited by Isaac Asimov & Martin H. Greenberg

  1. Jeff Meyerson

    Nice list of authors. Not a weak one among them. Of course, I haven’t read them all yet. I like this series.

    1. george Post author

      Jeff, the stories in THE GREAT SF STORIES #7 delighted me. I’m impressed that Asimov & Greenberg aren’t afraid of including more than one story by authors like Leinster and Kuttner. I agree with you, this is a great series!

    1. george Post author

      Rick, 1945 was a great year for SF stories. I seem to remember some excellent years in the 1950s in this series, too! But, it’s been decades since I read those. I’ll get to them next year.

  2. Todd Mason

    1945 would be the turning point year for the Thrilling Group sf magazines, as Sam Merwin, Jr. came in as editor, and the end of the WW2 paper restrictions allowed THRILLING WONDER and STARTLING to become more frequent than quarterly (again for TWS). And Leigh Brackett and Ray Bradbury would be increasingly joined by good writers at PLANET STORIES, accelerated when Jerome Bixby joined the editorial staff at the end of the ’40s. A bit of a fallow period for the Futurians’ magazines, though Donald Wollheim did have THE AVON FANTASY READER.

    1. george Post author

      Todd, you’re right about the ending of paper restrictions spurring a burst in magazines of all types. But, the end of the Pulps was just a few years ahead…

      1. Todd Mason

        Almost exactly a decade for the bigger pulps…as THRILLING WONDER, in the last months absorbed by STARTLING, and PLANET would shut down in ’55, and the last Columbia pulps (and an odd choice of enlargement to pulp size for the last issues of FANTASTIC UNIVERSE) would roll out at the end of the decade. ANC’s collapse helped toll the final bell on nearly all the surviving pulps aside from Columbia’s few holdouts and a very few western titles, most durably RANCH ROMANCES, and very little else. (RANCH ROMANCES made it into the ’70s as essentially the last non-revivalist pulp, and unlike AMAZING and ASTOUNDING/ANALOG not a digest nor an 8″X11″ magazine in the later years, as the two sf titles would be at one time or another in their runs past the end of the century, and both currently up and running.) Sam Merwin and Jerome Bixby would both work on GALAXY, as an indication to where editorial talent was gravitating, before going on to other projects, after leaving their pulp careers behind.

      2. george Post author

        Todd, the end of the Pulps coincided with the rise of the Paperback. Many writers switched from churning out Pulp Fiction to churning out paperbacks for the dozens of publishers. Now, of course, we’re down to a few conglomerates.

      3. Todd Mason

        And I see that I nudged James Reasoner into trying one of David Wright O’Brien’s novellas, DWO being one of the best writers writing regularly for Ray Palmer’s magazines, and one of the sad losses in World War 2…he might’ve had a career comparable to his Ziff-Davis-focused colleague William P. McGivern had he lived. James notes that he was pleased with his experience.

        I think a little more adventurousness on the part of Asimov and Greenberg might’ve led them to include a bit more of the better work in the Palmer magazines, though there were a few inclusions…Asimov noting that the only story he thought better than his own in the AMAZING issue with Asimov’s first story was Robert Bloch’s “The Strange Flight of Richard Clayton” (Bloch and McGivern being the two best members of the ZD stable under Palmer, though Bloch was already doing much of his best work for WEIRD TALES), and in to the 1939 volume the Bloch story went.

      4. george Post author

        Todd, Robert Bloch, like Robert Silverberg, began his writing career as a teenager. I always admired his skill and versatility in writing great fantasy, horror, and suspense.

      5. Todd Mason

        Well, the pulp publishers mostly turned into paperback publishers. Street & Smith was a notable exception, as they remained mostly a publisher of slick magazines, till they were bought up and some of their properties sold off by Conde Nast.

        Pulps did seem old-fashioned to many, perhaps, and were even more dependent on mail censors good graces than paperbacks were (and the latter were). But ANC put the kibosh on a whole lot of magazines, pulps, digests, slicks and more…

      6. Todd Mason

        Bloch was young as a writer for ZIff-Davis, but fully an adult by the time Palmer started offering him space. More a teen under Lovecraft’s wing at WEIRD TALES.

      7. Todd Mason

        “n 1952, the government began antitrust litigation against ANC which was destined to drag on until the company’s demise. Around 1955 major magazine publishers began disengaging themselves from ANC and making other arrangements for newsstand distribution. When Collier’s and Woman’s Home Companion, two of their biggest-selling titles, folded in January 1957, it came as a serious blow to ANC at a time when the company was already on financially shaky ground. In April Dell Publishing announced that they were pulling out and making other arrangements for their distribution.”

      8. Todd Mason

        ANC stopped being able to extend credit to the shakier publishers. And started shedding them by 1955, the time of the big die-off. In 1957, everything collapsed, along with most of the hold-outs.

      9. george Post author

        Todd, the end of the Pulp era changed the dynamics of publishing. A lot of markets for fiction vanished overnight. I’m sure writers of that era were forced to adapted to the new publishing environment, or find another profession.

      10. Todd Mason

        Definitely. With the collapse of the pulps and the constriction of the slicks and digests, as someone once said of the collapse of vaudeville, “There was no place to be lousy any more.” No place to get paid while learning the craft…or at least fewer places.

        Digests and mass-market paperbacks were certainly easier to carry around, were usually more durable and wouldn’t dump confetti on one when opened. Kurt Vonnegut noted that was one of the reasons he didn’t like the physical package of pulps, that and how bad the rough paper felt in his fingers.

      11. george Post author

        Todd, I agree with Vonnegut. Pulp paper turned me off. I only owned a few dozen pulp magazines and sold them off at the BOUCHERCON in Toronto.

  3. Michael Padgett

    I guess it was inevitable that we’d eventually get to one of these Golden Age collections in which I hadn’t read a single story, and this may be it. Leinster’s “First Contact” is so famous that I like to think I’d read it, but I’m really not sure. It’s been more than thirty years since I read SF in any systematic way, and these days I can look at the TOC for a new anthology, or best of, or any of the SF magazines and not recognize a single name.

    1. george Post author

      Michael, I know that feeling of not recognizing the current crop of SF writers. But, I can highly recommend “First Contact.” Leinster wrote an iconic story that has been manipulated and adapted by dozens of SF writers since it was first published in 1945.

    1. george Post author

      Jim, I’m just chipping away a volume at a time. I’m trying to reread and review one of THE GREAT SF STORIES volumes each month. I plan to have #8 ready to post to my blog next month.


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