Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,

September Books 12) Visions of Wonder, edited by David G. Hartwell and Milton T. Wolf

This is an anthology of classic sf stories - and classic pieces of sf criticism - assembled in the mid- 1990s on behalf of the Science Fiction Research Association. I found it somewhat frustrating and slightly incomprehensible. There is very little editorial apparatus to help the reader appreciate whatever point the editors are trying to make; some groupings of stories do have a clear linking theme, others less so. While the editors declare their intention to skip the classics of the 1940s-1960s, the collection does include five pieces from that era, which seems a bit inconsistent. The non-fiction pieces of sf criticism interspersed through the stories are of varying degrees of accessibility, and here I really felt the lack of an editorial voice explaining why another 30 pages of this vast tome had been dedicated to a particular commentator's meanderings. I found Algis Budrys' piece, "Paradise Charted", incomprehensible. On the other hand I very much appreciated Sam Delany's "Science Fiction and 'Literature' - or, the Conscience of the King'. On the fiction side, most of the stories that I liked were pieces I already knew - I bought the book in the first place because it had three joint Hugo/Nebula winners, "Blood Music", "Ender's Game" and "Bears Discover Fire", none of which is a particular favourite of mine, and that should perhaps have warned me that few of the other stories would really blow me away. The one story that did grab the soppy romantic in me was Kate Wilhelm's "Forever Yours, Anna". But I was left rather wondering what the point of the anthology was.

Tags: bookblog 2010, writer: kate wilhelm, writer: samuel r delany

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