FRIDAY’S FORGOTTEN BOOKS #539: THE GREAT SF STORIES #11 (1949) Edited by Isaac Asimov & Martin H. Greenberg

I was born in 1949 so this volume of The Great SF Stories #11 was always special to me. “Private Eye” is one of my favorite Henry Kuttner & C. L. Moore stories. I’m also a fan of Edmond Hamilton’s “Alien Earth.” Arthur C. Clarke’s “History Lesson” ends with one of the most iconic lines in Science Fiction. James H. Schmitz’s famous “The Witches of Karres” wraps up a volume of very good SF stories.

I’ve mentioned this before in previous reviews in this series, but I really enjoy the introductions to each story by Martin H. Greenberg and Isaac Asimov. They share details about the writers–even obscure ones like Peter Phillips–and the context of the stories. Great, entertaining information! GRADE: A
The Red Queen’s Race” by Isaac Asimov (ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION, January 1949) 12
“Flaw” by John D. MacDonald (STARTLING STORIES, January 1949) 36
“Private Eye” by Lewis Padgett (Henry Kuttner & C. L. Moore) (ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION, January 1949) 45
“Manna” by Peter Phillips (ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION, February 1949) 73
“The Prisoner in the Skull” by Lewis Padgett (Henry Kuttner & C. L. Moore) (ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION, February 1949) 98
“Alien Earth” by Edmond Hamilton (THRILLING WONDER STOREIS, April 1949) 135
“History Lesson” by Arthur C. Clarke (STARLING STORIES, May 1949) 160
“Eternity Lost” by Clifford D. Simak (ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION, July 1949) 169
“The Only Thing We Learn” by C. M. Kornbluth (STARTLING STORIES, July 1949) 196
“Private—Keep Out!” by Philip MacDonald (MAGAZINE OF FANTASY, Fall 1949) 202
“The Hurkle is a Happy Beast” by Theodore Sturgeon (THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION, Fall 1949) 223
“Kaleidoscope” by Ray Bradbury (THRILLING WONDER STORIES, October 1949) 232
“Defense Mechanism” by Katherine MacLean (ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION, October 1949) 242
“Cold War” by Henry Kuttner (THRILLING WONDER STORIES, October 1949) 251
“The Witches of Karres” by James H. Schmitz (ASTOUNDING SCIENCE FICTION, December 1949) 275

18 thoughts on “FRIDAY’S FORGOTTEN BOOKS #539: THE GREAT SF STORIES #11 (1949) Edited by Isaac Asimov & Martin H. Greenberg

  1. wolf

    I have to repeat myself:
    I’m so proud that over the years I got all the 25 volumes in this series. 🙂
    Of course I read them much later than they were written/published but I still found them fascinating – authors like Schmitz were just marvelous.
    Though the other magazines are also represented it’s still obvious that Astounding was the leader then.

    1. george Post author

      Wolf, by the 1950s, ASTOUNDING had plenty of competition for good SF stories: GALAXY and THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION among others.

    2. Todd Mason

      And, Wolf, you have to take into consideration how much Greenberg and particularly Asimov were prone to the ASTOUNDING sort of story. Asimov being one of the stars of the magazine till JWC drove him away…as Gold would…and as he was able to command similar rates to what Campbell and Gold would pay even from less wealthy magazines, he was just as happy to sell to the relatively minor magazines in the field, such as the 1950s SUPER-SCIENCE or the impoverished but intelligently edited FUTURE FICTION (where Asimov’s old Futurian friend Robert Lowndes was editor).

  2. Jerry House

    This was the year that science fiction began to change (again). ASTOUNDING was strong but was soon to go off the deep edge with Hubbard’s Dianetics; the following decade still had a lot of great tales but the overall quality of the magazine seemed to slip just a little. F&SF came on board, soon to be followed by GALAXY, and readers now had more choice in their reading material — literate stories from F&SF and a social science twist from GALAXY. STARTLING and THRILLING WONDER remained the place to be for action and exotic reading. Soon even AMAZING would begin its slow, herky-jerky path away from the most juvenile of SF/fantasy with its one step forward-three steps back approach. And book publishers were beginning to take note of the field, spurred on by small, fan-operated publishing houses.

    Another great addition to the Asimov/Greenberg series, chockful of wonderful authors and and superb tales.

      1. Todd Mason

        To some extent, BUT…Campbell started asking for A Lot of “psi” stories beginning in the early 1950s, and generally was moving in the direction of The Establishment Is Suppressing Most Exciting Sorts of Science drumbeating…

    1. george Post author

      Jeff, the introductions that both Isaac Asimov and Marty Greenberg provide for each story are pure SF gold! I’m not familiar with many of these older SF writers from the 1940s and now the 1950s. But Asimov and Greenberg provide plenty of information on the stories they chose and the writers that wrote them.

    1. george Post author

      Rick, the overall quality of THE GREAT SF STORIES #11 surpasses the previous 10 volumes in my estimation. New markets were opening up for SF stories and new writers were emerging.

  3. Pingback: The Great SF Stories #11, 1949 | SF MAGAZINES

  4. Patti Abbott

    This would be a good place to start for those of us who never have really read science fiction. You would get a taste of all of the masters.

    1. george Post author

      Patti, you’re right. The SF field was changing in 1949 and about to burst into the American social consciousness Big Time in the 1950s.

    2. Todd Mason

      Well, you’d get a taste of some of the masters that Asimov and Greenberg were particularly happy with who were contributing to the magazines at the time except for Robert Heinlein…but these are pretty accessible stories, to be sure. And it is a good anthology, and probably the best up till this point, as writers who weren’t able to write good popular fiction prose were starting to shake out of the field to some degree…

  5. James W. Harris

    With each volume of these series, the stories seem to get better. I have to assume that science fiction was evolving and improving. “Alien Earth” by Edmond Hamilton was my favorite this time around.

    1. george Post author

      James, I’m so glad you inspired me to reread THE GREAT SF STORIES series! I had forgotten how many wonderful stories made it into all those pages! I’m a fan of Edmond Hamilton and “Alien Earth” is one of his best stories ever!


Leave a Reply to Rick Robinson Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *