I’ve been buying and reading Mike Ashley’s British Library anthologies the past few years. Ashley has always been a capable editor of Science Fiction anthologies for decades, but these British Library anthologies include more British SF writers than the usual collections. Born of the Sun includes a strong group of stories. Some are classics like Clifford Simak’s “Desertion” and Robert Silverberg’s “Sunrise on Mercury.”

I remember reading Larry Niven’s “Wait It Out” back in 1968 and marveling at Niven’s ingenious solution to a seemingly insolvable problem. Over the decades, I’ve read dozens of Poul Anderson’s stories but “Garden in the Void” was a new one for me. As usual, Anderson creates a unique world with clever plot twists. If you’re looking for a solid SF anthology, I recommend Born of the Sun. GRADE: B


INTRODUCTION: Solar Tour by Mike Ashley — 7

MERCURY: “Sunrise on Mercury” by Robert Silverberg (Science Fiction Stories, May 1957) — 19

VULCAN: “The Hell Planet” by Leslie F. Stone (Wonder Stories, June 1932) — 41

VENUS: “Foundling on Venus” by John and Dorothy De Courcy (Fantastic Universe, March 1954) — 97

MARS: “The Lonely Path” by John Ashcroft (Science Fiction Adventures, January 1961) — 117

ASTEROID BELT: “Garden in the Void” by Poul Anderson (Galaxy, May 1952) — 173

JUPITER: “Desertion” by Clifford D. Simak ( Astounding, November, 1944) — 221

SATURN: “How Beautiful With Banners” by James Blish (Orbit #1, 1966) — 245

URANUS: “Where No Man Walks” by E. R. James (New Worlds, November 1952) — 261

NEPTUNE: “A Baby on Neptune” by Clare Winger Harris & Miles J. Breuer (Amazing Stories, December 1929) — 287

PLUTO: “Wait It Out” by Larry Niven (The Future Unbounded, 1968) — 324

Story Sources — 335

14 thoughts on “WEDNESDAY’S SHORT STORIES #12: BORN OF THE SUN Edited by Mike Ashley

  1. Steve Oerkfitz

    Some pretty creaky stories here. The Vulcan, Venus and Neptune stories I found unreadable. I wonder if they are here because they are in public domain. The Silverberg and Blish are the best here. I haven’t read Niven in years ever since his Lucifer’s Hammer (with Jerry Pournelle). The blatant racism of that book turned me off. Not one of Ashley’s better anthologies.

    1. george Post author

      Steve, I agree with you on some of the “creaky” stories. I suspect you’re right about the public domain factor which reduces the costs for Ashley’s acquisitions.

      1. Todd Mason

        I suspect that Ashley was more interested in digging out forgotten stories that he finds key for one reason or another, being a literary historian as he is, rather than saving a few bucks. The only genuinely famous story in the book is Simak’s “Desertion”, which blew a lot of minds on first encounter, including mine in the ’70s (Algis Budrys noted the basic concept really stuck in human-chauvinist editor John W. Campbell’s craw the more he thought about it). And there are other “SFnal Solar System” anthologies spanning the decades, if only occasionally published and more rarely reprinted, and I suspect Ashley was hoping not to replicate their contents too much, as well…

      2. george Post author

        Todd, you’re probably right about Mike Ashley’s strategy in BORN OF THE SUN. Even then, Ashley had to resort to Silverberg’s frequently anthologized “Sunrise on Mercury” and Simak’s classic “Desertion” to round out the book.

      3. Todd Mason

        Well, Alan Nourse’s “Brightside Crossing” is The Mercury Story in most such anthologies, so that one was out…while it’s difficult to come up with a Jupiter story that is more on-point than “Desertion”…and perhaps the Simak was deemed Too Famous for a lot of earlier Solar System anthologies by their editors.

        I can’t imagine, fwiw, that there are Too many other stories set on the Vulcan of early models of our Solar System…and perhaps we’re glad not to be reminded of “Marooned Off Vesta”…a story set mostly on Ceres might be nice (I haven’t yet read the Anderson story). I’d say that “How Beautiful with Banners” by Blish is my guess for Second Most Famous Story in the volume, even if Greenberg(?) and/or others have been keeping the Silverberg in print over the decades…

      4. george Post author

        Todd, the two most “modern” stories in BORN OF THE SUN are Blish’s “How Beautiful With Banners” from 1966 and Niven’s “Wait It Out” from 1968. No stories from that past 50 years!

  2. Patti Abbott

    I am reading a time travel novel right now. BEFORE THE COFFEE GETS COLD by Kawaguchi. But although I like it, it is really just a device for seeing what various characters would change about their lives rather than exploring the idea of time travel. Although I am not done yet.

    1. Todd Mason

      Well…a Whole Lot of sf stories use exotic settings and devices to deal with how people might live differently rather than exploring the technology or backgrounds themselves in depth. Some of the best stories try to do both, but that can crowd a story, even at long novel length…and certainly sf written by people who don’t usually write sf does tend to default that way.

      1. george Post author

        Todd, I totally agree. Time Travel is a an enticing device to non-SF writers. My wife’s Book Club read Audrey Niffenegger’s THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE and came away with mixed opinions.

  3. Jeff Meyerson

    I’ve read a couple of Ashley’s other anthologies in the last month. Don’t know this one but will look for it. I’ve read the Silverberg but that’s it.

    Big fan of time travel too. I liked (without loving) THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE. It’s no TIME AND AGAIN or REPLAY, but it wasn’t bad.


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