Okay, this is not really a meme, but I was thinking about this last night as I was dozing off to sleep. Suppose a major science fiction publisher asked you to come up with the ultimate science fiction “short fiction” anthology. You were given the following guidelines for your selections:
- You may include up to 10 stories
- You may not include novels
- You may not have more than one item by any single author
What would the table of contents of your anthology look like?
(And if you are feeling verbose, you might choose to briefly indicate why you chose your stories, although this is by know means a requirement.)
Here is my anthology selections, listed in alphabetical order by author with a brief comment that follows each:
“The Bicentennial Man” by Isaac Asimov (Stellar 2, 1976)
The story simply moved me to tears. As a piece of fiction, it harks back to the Golden Age, and yet is beautifully executed.
“They Don’t Make Life Like They Used To” by Alfred Bester (1963)
I loved the characters in this “Adam and Eve” story, I loved their pluck and perseverance and I love how the story ends (no spoilers! Go read it for yourself).
“The Rocket Man” by Ray Bradbury (1951)
Just as in baseball there is the “perfect game”, so in short fiction there is the “perfect story”. I loved this tale for it’s story, but I loved it even more for it’s form. It epitomizes everything there is to a short story, science fiction or otherwise.
“The Star” by Arthur C. Clarke (Infinite Science Fiction, 1955)
Jarring! I loved this story for the idea. I can read it again and again and get chills each time that I do.
“The Day Is Done” by Lester Del Rey (ASF, 1939)
Very atypical for the stories of it’s era. This tale of the last of the neanderthals is another one that nearly moved me to tears.
“The Man Who Rowed Christopher Columbus Ashore” by Harlan Ellison (Omni, 1992)
Harlan Ellison has many terrific, classic stories, but classics aside, this is my all-time-favorite Ellison story. So much is captured here that reflects the author and the world in which we live.
“The Cold Equations” by Tom Godwin (ASF, 1954)
Some people think this story is over-rated, too melodramatic, but I think it is an excellent melding of science and the human spirit. They should teach this story in high school physics classes; they should also teach it in high school ethics classes.
“Requiem” by Robert Heinlein (ASF, 1940)
I love this story for it’s ending. (The story itself is actually a sequel to “The Man Who Sold the Moon”). It’s poetic.
“The Marching Morons” by C. M. Kornbluth (Galaxy, 1951)
You’ve got to love Cyril Kornbluth! His and Fred Pohl’s The Space Merchants was terrific, but I think that this solo effort is brilliant and is Kornbluth at his best.
I only chose 9 stories for my anthology and I think they offer a good representation of what the genre is all about, and what it has to offer.
So, what would you choose for your anthology?