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133 of 135 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must have for your permanent collection
The stories in this book were voted by the Science Fiction Writers of America as the best short science fiction written between 1929 and 1964 and every one is a gem. Some of these stories are reasonably well known and often reprinted, but most of them are difficult to find anywhere else, making this an essential collection for a true fan of the genre. In response to an...
Published on August 26, 2006 by Ken

3.0 out of 5 stars Good read...odd sellers "condition"
Said book was in very good condition...not so much. good news is no pages were missing
Published 1 month ago by Christine

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133 of 135 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must have for your permanent collection, August 26, 2006
Ken "Say something about yourself!" (Millbrook, New York, United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Vol. 1: 1929-1964 (Paperback)
The stories in this book were voted by the Science Fiction Writers of America as the best short science fiction written between 1929 and 1964 and every one is a gem. Some of these stories are reasonably well known and often reprinted, but most of them are difficult to find anywhere else, making this an essential collection for a true fan of the genre. In response to an earlier request for a list of its contents, here are the story titles and authors. I was going to indulge myself by placing an asterisk next to my personal favorites, but I found myself marking almost all of them. The collection is that good.

A Martian Odyssey -- Stanley G. Weinbaum

Twilight -- John W. Campbell

Helen O'Loy -- Lester del Rey

The Roads Must Roll -- Robert A. Heinlein

Microcosmic God -- Theodore Sturgeon

Nightfall -- Isaac Asimov

The Weapon Shop -- A. E. van Vogt

Mimsy Were the Borogoves -- Lewis Padgett

Huddling Place -- Clifford D. Simak

Arena -- Fredric Brown

First Contact -- Murray Leinster

That Only a Mother -- Judith Merril

Scanners Live in Vain -- Cordwainer Smith

Mars is Heaven -- Ray Bradbury

The Little Black Bag -- C. M. Kornbluth

Born of Man and Woman -- Richard Matheson

Coming Attraction -- Fritz Leiber

The Quest for Saint Aquin -- Anthony Boucher

Surface Tension -- James Blish

The Nine Billion Names of God -- Arthur C. Clarke

It's a Good Life -- Jerome Bixby

The Cold Equations -- Tom Godwin

Fondly Fahrenheit -- Alfred Bester

The Country of the Kind -- Damon Knight

Flowers for Algernon -- Daniel Keyes

A Rose for Ecclesiastes -- Roger Zelazny
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62 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Many fine stories from Grandmasters of Science Fiction., April 7, 2005
D. Knouse (vancouver, washington United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Vol. 1: 1929-1964 (Paperback)
I picked this collection up on a whim at my local used book store, mostly to get an idea of which other Sci-fi writers I might be interested in collecting from. This collection turned out to be a goldmine of Science Fiction. In fact, this is one of the only books I will not lend out to friends; and I own an old, ratty-looking paperback Copyright 1970! There are many great stories here, but there are a few I must mention as bona-fide masterpieces. "Microcosmic God" by Theodore Sturgeon is fantastic; the plotting for this story reminded me of the 1995 cable pilot episode for the film "The Outer Limits: Sandkings." Even the creators of South Park use similar ideas in one of their episodes. This collection also contains the sparkling jewel "Nightfall" from Issac Asimov. "Surface Tension" from James Blish is superb in every way. "The Nine Billion Names of God" finds Arthur C. Clarke is fine form. "The Cold Equations" from Tom Godwin is arguably the most intense and sad of all the stories here, packing an emotional wallop not ordinarily seen in Sci-fi. And of course, "Flowers for Algernon" by Daniel Keyes. I believe that last one is my favorite here, showing a retarded man's ascension to genius, 'childhood' to a wise and intellectual human being. This story was later expanded into a novel which, in fact, I am reading right now. However, I prefer the original short story version, if only slightly. There are so many stories here ranging from good to marvellous that I simply had to write a review praising this incredible collection. This book is easy to recommend.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The single must-have science fiction anthology., September 7, 2004
T. Simons (United States) - See all my reviews
I first picked up the original printing of this anthology when I was a small child, around ten years old, and the first story in it ("A Martian Oddyssey") was so good that I put the book back down and didn't read the rest of it for another year because I was afraid none of the other stories in there could possibly be as good.

Almost all of them were. That's not the only reason you should read this collection, though. Beyond the stunning quality of the stories in this collection, many of these stories have, by now, what amounts to historical importance within the sci-fi field; these are the best of the best first stories, the bones that the modern great SF writers gnawed on in their childhoods, the building-block stories of the genre. You really haven't read science fiction if you haven't read Asimov's "Nightfall," if you haven't read "The Cold Equations" or "Arena" or "Twilight" or "Flowers for Algernon." Understanding modern sci-fi without a knowledge of these stories would be like trying to understand modern fantasy without having read Tolkien.

I am unaware of a better or even a comparable science fiction anthology (apart, perhaps, from the subsequent volumes in this same series). There couldn't be. These are the stories that built the genre. Any collection that was comparable would have to collect all the same tales.

Edit: I figured it would be good to add a list of all the stories in this anthology.

Stanley G. Weinbaum "A Martian Odyssey" 1934
John W. Campbell "Twilight" 1934
Lester del Rey "Helen O'Loy" 1938
Robert A. Heinlein "The Roads Must Roll" 1940
Theodore Sturgeon "Microcosmic God" 1941
Isaac Asimov "Nightfall" 1941
A. E. van Vogt "The Weapon Shop" 1942
Lewis Padgett "Mimsy Were the Borogoves" 1943
Clifford D. Simak "Huddling Place" 1944
Fredric Brown "Arena" 1944
Murray Leinster "First Contact" 1945
Judith Merril "That Only a Mother" 1948
Cordwainer Smith "Scanners Live in Vain" 1948
Ray Bradbury "Mars is Heaven!" 1948
Cyril M. Kornbluth "The Little Black Bag" 1950
Richard Matheson "Born of Man and Woman" 1950
Fritz Leiber "Coming Attraction" 1950
Anthony Boucher "The Quest for Saint Aquin" 1951
James Blish "Surface Tension" 1952
Arthur C. Clarke "The Nine Billion Names of God" 1953
Jerome Bixby "It's a Good Life" 1953
Tom Godwin "The Cold Equations" 1954
Alfred Bester "Fondly Fahrenheit" 1954
Damon Knight "The Country of the Kind" 1955
Daniel Keyes "Flowers for Algernon" 1959
Roger Zelazny "A Rose for Ecclesiastes" 1963
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Some great memories, February 14, 2007
Jonathan Tu (College football, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Vol. 1: 1929-1964 (Paperback)
The old purple and blue version of this book - the purple was on the edge of the pages, the way some older books have velvety green sides - was my first introduction to the Golden Age of science fiction. The inventiveness and the creative audacity of these stories was always enough to overcome what I felt would have been a cripplingly antiquated "Gee golly" 1950s vernacular... except that the writing almost never has that black and white Leave it to Beaver sitcomish feel that, for some reason, was always attached to the Golden Age in my mind. Stylistically the collection is all over the place. The Connecticut Yankee anachronism of Roger Zelazny in "Lord of Light" is nowhere to be found in "A Rose for Ecclesiastices". Clarke's famous "The Nine Billion Names of God" isn't even a science fiction story until, basically, the last sentence. And describing anything written by Cordwainer Smith with "genre", "usual" or even "describable" is not applicable. I love this collection and, impossibly, every story in it - though some more than others.

I won't dwell on the weakest. Instead I'll highlight what I consider to be the best:

Sturgeon's "Microcosmic God" has the creepy, jealousy tinged atmosphere of nerds watching another nerd who is better at being a nerd than anyone else. This is what I would've been doing with my adolescent years if only mind and matter would've allowed, so reading it brings the distinct pleasure of reliving childhood fantasies. I'm also pretty sure it's the inspiration for a Simpsons Halloween episode involving Lisa and her tooth, which became a South Park nod to both the story and the Simpsons.

Asimov's "Nightfall" is rightly considered one of the best science fiction short stories ever. I've read the longer form and this is superior in pretty much every way: it's already one of the longer stories in this collection but it still benefits from the shorter form with its building stress and, yes, horror during the final pages. Many would disagree but I think "Nightfall" is one of the least creative stories in the collection in terms of sheer inventiveness. Despite that it's still incredible.

Cordwainer Smith is just amazing. As prosaic as that sounds it's about all I can say. "Scanners Live in Vain" is one of the weirdest stories in the collection and it might arguably be one of Smith's most "mundane". Reading a Smith story is like opening the pages of the Book of Revelations as interpreted by the grandson of cartoonist Gary Larson, the painter Francis Bacon, a very wise female clown and Joan of Arc - and you're on acid. This is all an endorsement, by the way.

James Blish's "Surface Tension" is as good an "adventure" story as you'll find here. It's got a fairly linear plot and isn't hard to follow. It isn't simplistic, per se, but it hasn't got the style of some of the other pieces in this collection. It's one of my sentimental favorites, though, for its ability to impart - at least somewhat - a finer sense of proportion than pretty much any description of the vastness of the universe, including Doug Adams'.

And, finally, my absolutely favorite: "Mimsy Were the Borogroves". I'm not doing to describe it. I'm going to simply agree with another commentator that purchasing this book is worth it if only for this one story.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Ultimate Introduction to Science Fiction, November 24, 2004
This book collects short story masterpieces from the genre's first four decades. All of the major sci-fi writers are represented, and quite of few of the stories are simply unforgetable. Never has one volume collected more thoughtful meditations on humanity's relationship to technology. Devotees of more modern science fiction (i.e., cyberpunk, etc...) may not be impressed, but for fans of Old School sci-fi, it doesn't get any better than this.

Of course many devoted fans will already have many of these stories in their collections - how could it be otherwise? The cream always rises to the top. So some might wish to forgo purchasing this volume, and use the table of contents as a reading list instead.

As is typical of the genre during this period, there's little here that will shock the youngsters, and the reading is pretty easy overall. So this is an excellent book for those just discovering the genre, or trying to understand what all the excitement is about. Be forewarned, however, that the volume begins with some of the older and consequently weaker entries, so those for whom this book represents an exploration into unknown territory might be better served by skipping the first 3 to 5 stories and starting with either Heinlein's exciting "The Roads Must Roll" which features next week's travel technology, or Theodore Sturgeon's amazing "Microcosmic God" which looks at creating life, or if you're very picky about what you read, going straight for Isaac Asimov's famed "Nightfall". Another alternative is to start at the back and read forward. There are some very powerful pieces loaded into the back end, including a couple of tear-jerkers, Tom Godwin's "The Cold Equations" and Daniel Knight's "Flowers for Algernon".

Regardless of how you read it, these stories, more than any other work, represent what science fiction is really about: the human condition remains the same, even as the world around us changes. Watch and learn. And enjoy!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the best of early SF stories, in one must-read package, January 11, 1998
C. J. Silverio (Menlo Park, CA USA) - See all my reviews
This is the book that started me reading science fiction. I remember my father reaching up way over my head to a library shelf and pulling down an orange and yellow book that I needed both hands to hold. "I think you'll like these," he said to me. And indeed I did. These stories stayed with me, laying a great foundation for a typically nerdy adolescence spent reading SF. If you want to see the where the genre came from, in the short form where it's best, you must read this collection.
Consider these titles:
Stanley G. Weinbaum, "A Martian odyssey." Frederic Brown, "Arena." Asimov, "Nightfall." John W. Campbell, "Who goes there?" Alfred Bester, "Fondly Fahrenheit." Murray Leinster, "First Contact." Lewis Padgett, "Mimsy were the borogoves." Jerome Bixby, "It's a *good* life." James Blish, "Surface tension." And (unfortunately) Tom Godwin's "The cold equations," but there's no such thing as perfection.
I am overjoyed to learn this book has been reissued. Buy it, read it yourself, give it to your kids the way my father gave it to me. Help a new generation of readers learn to love SF.
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25 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars There will be spoilers, August 12, 2009
This review is from: The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Vol. 1: 1929-1964 (Paperback)
In mid-seventies, I joined the Science Fiction Book Club and this was one of the first books that I received, and I thought that this was a great book then. And Silverberg was always one of the best anthologists that sf ever had. After thirty years I decided to re-read the book, but after thirty years, things change, people change, and times change, and some of the stories here have dated badly.

I haven't seen much in the way of any reviews of most of the stories themselves, so here goes, arranged by loosely by some of the themes to be found here. One of the most prominent themes is the quest story. There are three stories here that clearly fall into the quest theme.

--The first is "The Quest For Saint Aquin" by Anthony Boucher, the original editor of "Fantasy & Science Fiction". Like most quests, this story starts out as a quest for something external (St. Aquin) and ends up a quest for something internal (faith). Set in the near future where the religious is persecuted, a neophyte priest secretly looks for the legendary St. Aquin in an effort re-start Christianity. This story was written during McCarthyism's beginning, and as a quest through ideological territories, it has not lost its relevancy. Five stars.

--Another quest for faith is the gimmick story "The Nine Million Names Of God" by Arthur C. Clarke, a story that won out over his "The Star" (?). "Nine Million" is a hokey, forgettable, by-the-numbers gag story with a telegraphed ending. Some monks are making a religious quest to find and note all of the nine million names of God, then the world will end. Guess what? Once read, there is no desire to ever re-read the story. One star.

--The last quest story is James Blish's classic sf adventure "Surface Tension" in which some genetically engineered micro-humans must learn to co-operate amongst themselves, and learn to refine and reinvent basic technology so that they can make a quest beyond their own small pond, it is a quest story, an adventure, a metaphor, and a coming of age story with an exotic local. Five stars.

There are two stories here that are gimmick stories that actually give their twists out in their beginnings.

--Never being a fan, the "bad seed" story often makes the child smarter than they really could be. While Jerome Bixby's "The Good Life" may superficially be a bad seed horror story, or a metaphor about society's fear of its youth, it is also so much more. It transcends its pulp origins by also being a morality tale about how absolute power corrupts absolutely. Five stars.

--Tom Godwin's "The Cold Equations" is a sfnal treatment of Jack London's "To Build A Fire", and has always been a source of much discussion. Having been raised by, and having been a factory rat, my take on this story is different than most. Godwin's story is a scathing indictment on the type of the interminable corporate greed and utter cheapness that pervades most industries. Godwin states that physics rule space travel, but, as we have recently seen, bottom-line economics rule more than anything else. The story is about a stowaway that finds that a life saving mission will fail if she is left alive, and the struggle to save her and the mission. There is no doubt that the girl could have been saved if a nickel's worth of pre-planning had taken place, but the corporate idea of placing money over life is clearly what's being portrayed here. I originally liked this story, then hated it, and not because of the story's politics, but, because the story is so shamelessly manipulative. But, in the end, I guess I like it after all. Four stars.

--Richard Matheson's "Born Of Man And Woman" was not only his first published story, but is still one of his best. It also deals with family betrayal; a child is born horribly deformed during the conformitist fifties, and like his later stories "Mute" and "The Faces", it's about child abuse. While shallowly a mere horror story, and only a half a dozen pages long, Matheson's story deals with the pain, and confusion of abuse from the child's point of view. While the sfnal content is tangential, this story still deserves its fame, has not dated since 1950, and shows why Matheson would go on to influence people like Stephens King and Spielberg, and be an influence in the horror, science fiction, and fantasy genres, and be an influence in both prose and film. Five+ stars.

--The third story is Judith Merrill's "That Only A Mother", and while this could have been a story about a mother's blind love, the father's shock at being kept in ignorance, and how the family as a whole has to pull together and rise above adversity, it's not. Maybe it's because we get a saccharine build-up, then the child's disability is revealed in the same manner as a Lovecraftian monster, EVEN with italics. While I don't have any children, and I don't know how I would react in the same situation; being handicapped, I found the story offensive. While the story comes from the conformatist fifties, it dates horribly. Zero stars.

America was at war during the early forties and its influence comes through in four war stories reprinted here:

--Merrill's story also falls into this category and is dealt with above, leaving three others, the first being A. E. van Vogt's "The Weapon Shop". Again, it is a story whose theme hasn't dated. A clandestine organization is fighting the good fight against a corrupt dictatorship, by selling weapons, and while a thinly veiled bit of fifth columnist war propaganda, the story ends up still being a good relevant cautionary story. Four stars.

--Fred Brown earned his reputation, by being a writer of the gag story. Still, when he got down to business, like in "Arena", he took a back seat to nobody, and "Arena" is a superior war-adventure story about a man against an alien. It has been filmed (movies and episodic tv), and while "Arena" may be predictable, it has the power of good heroic storytelling. The lead character is an everyman, the alien is really alien, the landscape is truly hostile, and the stakes are high, as this everyman must fight for the destiny of human race. Five stars.

--Murray Leinster really was one of the great ones, but, unfortunately, "First Contact" wasn't one of his best. It's pure war paranoia about two space ships of two civilizations who meet, and have to decide how to, and whether to trust or kill each other. An impossible situation, Leinster gives us two solutions, one barely believable, and the other truly lame and having to do with telling dirty jokes. This story does Leinster no service, and the plot has been done better on tv. Two stars.

Science fiction wouldn't be science fiction with some serious social commentary, and the first two deal with unions.

--Robert Heinlein's "The Roads Must Roll" is about the work stoppage of a future highway by a union. This story is an anti-union tirade, and deserves a tirade in response. Here all the unionists are greedy, self-serving, cold-blooded, sociopathic, whining murderers, while the man that represents the "establishment" is a good, family oriented, empathic, organized, natural leader. Bah! Zero stars.

--Cordwainer Smith's "Scanners Live In Vain" is the story that made Smith's reputation, and is also anti-union. Here scanners are cyborgs who ferry humanity around space, but, unfortunately, somebody has come up with a refined method of space travel. The possibility is that scanners might become obsolete, so the scanners then do what all "subversive" union groups do, they become assassins. However, one scanner "comes to his senses", realizes that his brother scanners are wrong, turns them in to the establishment, they see the light, become "good" citizens, and start devoting themselves to the betterment of society. Propaganda. Zero stars.

These two stories where written back in, ah, who the Hell cares. Both stories are horribly dated, conservative, anti-union propaganda in that the "establishment" is portrayed as always good, and good for you, but unionists are bad, subversive, greedy malcontents, and are only in it for their own self-serving purposes. Both authors have done much better work that should have been recognized.

--Another story that uses sf for the purpose of social commentary is Fritz Leiber's dark "Coming Attractions", and Leiber's story is more relevant today than it was back when it was first published. This is because, I think, that the situations described are more acknowledged today than they were then. This was one of sf's first experiments with decadence. It broke new ground by mentioning a nasty form of joyriding, nude dancing, underground knife fights, unmarried sex, techno musik of some kind, and how this all seems to exist in a type of puritanical society that exists in many religiously conservative nations. Leiber also nastily rips apart the whole "boy-meets-girl" theme, in what was perhaps sf's first story to seriously examine the symbiotic/parasitic relationship that exists between one abusive person and their submissive partner. Truly a "dangerous vision" in its time. Five stars.

--"Nightfall" by Isaac Asimov was voted the best sf story of all time, and is about the death of a civilization due to a 2500 yearly nightfall. The story seems to date because of too many scientific implausibilities to list here, and that the civilization is too much like ours. I kept wondering just what WOULD a society in which there has been no darkness REALLY be like, and what WOULD their physiology be like if they had evolved in total sunlight. Asimov has done so much better. Three stars.

Three stories deal with time travel:

--"Twilight" by John Campbell, Jr., is about a man from the future who finds himself in the past, our present, telling about the eventual eclipse of mankind. "Twilight" doesn't quite work for me, it's too talky; some of this may just be my fault. Three stars.

--Despite it being a scathing satiric tirade, "The Little Black Bag" by C. M. Kornbluth unfortunately seems to be better known for its O. Henry ending than for the story itself. Kornbluth had little use for humanity, and it shows here as a medical bag from the future is accidentally transported into the hands of an unlicensed drunken doctor, who transforms his life, and helps others. While this could have been a story about the salvation, and, rebirth of a man into a better human being, while saying a few things, good and bad, about medicine, the story sadly ends up as being nothing more than yet another vehicle for one of Kornbluth's rants of superiority and intellectual nazism. The story fails, because in the end, the characters are all cliché, and the supersmart end up being no smarter than the superstupid. That may be the point, but, the story could have been better. Three stars.

--"Mimsey Were The Borogroves" by Henry Kuttner & C. L. Moore is easily the best of the three, and while promoting nurture over nature, Kuttner & Moore speculate on what is the basis of intelligence. This story deals with the same theme as Kornbluth's, this time some disposable toys are transported back into the past, are picked up by some "modern" children, the toys then transform the children's way of thinking. The story also focuses on the relationship between the children and their parents, who are fairly clueless as to the toys eventual impact. Right or wrong, the story contains some serious speculation on the origins of, and the formation of intelligence, with a truly heartbreaking ending. Five+ stars.

There are two just plain people stories with an sfnal bent:

--"Helen O'Loy" is a marriage of the romance and robot genres to good effect by Lester Del Rey, and it proves that the sf romance genre is nothing new. Just an old-fashioned sf story about love, it is reminiscent of some of Theodore Sturgeon's later stories, while interesting for its time, the story's plot is fairly commonplace now. Four stars.

--"Huddling Place" by Clifford Simak is one of his inter-related "City" stories, makes a point that seems more and more valid, in dealing with how mental illness, in this case agoraphobia, slowly develops. A surgeon is required to save his best friends life in an emergency, but, he can't leave his "Huddling Place". The ending is predictable, but still has power, and like in Fred Pohl's story "The Man Who Ate The World" we see how the effects of mental illness can make even the powerful and intelligent helpless. Five stars.

Mental illness also figures in the next two stories, which are also classic sf crime stories.

--The first is dazzling, "Fondly Fahrenheit" by Alfred Bester will be a real surprise to anyone who thinks of Bester as merely a humorist. This is because it is a mean, vicious, chilling psychological horror story in which a man is cursed with owning a psychotic android that keeps committing sadistic murders. The story constantly blurs the line between the android's and the master's identity, from the first person to the third person, all sometimes in the same paragraph, so in the end we are never sure as who the killer really is, or who is really the master, or the slave. The story also seems to feature an almost sexual symbiotic/parasitic to the relationship of the man and android. Five+ stars.

--Bester's story is immediately followed by "The Country Of The Kind", in which Damon Knight writes of a future where sociopath criminals are set free into society. They are however, altered so that they cannot commit interpersonal violence, and their bodies are altered so that their body odors force them to be ostracized by the other members of society. These criminals may commit whatever property crimes they wish, but this is an empty act, as nobody will acknowledge either their offenses or their presence. Five stars.

There are two stories here dealing with research and science:

--The first being Theodore Sturgeon's "Microcosmic God", and is about a man's pure unadulterated love of research and what happens when the man meets and underestimates another man with an equal amount of passion, this time for power and money. Sturgeon is in excellent form here as he examines the amorality of both sides, and the self-divorcing of their own humanity, and of two men who, in the end, were more alike than they were different. Still, I didn't care for this story as much as I do for much of Sturgeon's other works, but this is my fault. Four stars.

--Daniel Keys knocked about sf for a fair amount of time as an editor and writer, but before finding mainstream fame, he published "Flowers For Algernon" an emotional gem about Charlie Gordon, a retarded man whose ambition is merely to be smart, and to be normal. Charlie's brain is operated on, and we see his rise and fall in the form of a personal diary. Rarely has such a stylistic device been used so effectively, and we are torn apart by the ending, which is one of sf's true emotional highpoints. Five+ stars.

What about that good ol' fashioned sense of wonder? The romance of adventure, the exotic, the very thing that made most of us want to read sf in the first place? COINCIDENTLY, the book is bracketed by two of these, one published about thirty years after the other, and showing it, but with neither showing the worse for the wear as far as imagination goes.

--The first, and the anthology's opener, is Stanley Weinbaum's "A Martian Odyssey", and with its non-exploitive, non-sensationalistic title, it set itself apart from the typical sf of its day. While the characters are cliché Hollywood stock characters, and the telling is dated, with peripheral characters constantly interrupting the protagonist to "to keep the story moving", the story itself is still grand early world building. Told in a semi-documentary mode, it's the story of an astronaut who crashes on Mars, treks across an alien landscape, and makes first contact with three very different types of alien creatures, none of which were much like anything else in the adventure pulps of its day. Sadly, Weinbaum died of cancer before he could see this printed. What a writer he could have been. Three stars, only because of the dated storytelling style.

-- The anthology's ender is Roger Zelazny's " A Rose For Ecclesiastes" shows not only a more mature writing style than Weinbaum's, but shows us a much more mature, although just as impossible, Martian civilization. This may also have been the first serious sf story to seriously use linguistics as a science, as a scholar must learn the Martian language so that our civilization are the Martian's can interact. This story is notable in that it is one of the very few stories that I have read over the last forty years to accurately portray the sheer JOY that one can experience while doing research.

The lead character is a snotty, self-superior, linguistic genius, but despite his age, he has yet to reach maturity. Eventually though, we sympathize with him as he gradually realizes that the others on the expedition to Mars nearly aren't as DUMB as HE thinks they are, and HE isn't nearly as smart as HE thinks he is.

This is a pure classic about love, growing up, and the love of a chosen scientific endeavor. It took me thirty years to re-read this story, to understand what I originally missed. For this I should be flogged, but, thankfully I have lived long enough to rectify my ignorance, and for this I am grateful. "A Rose For Ecclesiastes" is a story that should be mandatory reading for everybody in sf. Five+ stars.

In the end however, looking back at these stories, very few would fit into just one pre-fab niche, or even genre, as all good fiction is more than just the marketing genre they are published as. Are these really the best sf stories published from the years 1934-1963? Probably not, I know I would have picked some, and not some others, but then, I wasn't asked. All-in-all though, this truly is one of those "essential" volumes that we keep hearing about.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great introduction to science fiction, March 21, 2007
This review is from: The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Vol. 1: 1929-1964 (Paperback)
A lot has been said of this volume, and most of it excellent, but I would like to add some new thoughts to this list of reviews, if I may:

The truest beauty of this book is the casual way it allows the "non sci-fi fan" to lose themselves quickly and easily in any of the wonderful stories contained herein. You can (if you so desire) simply open a page at random and start reading that story. This makes this text an excellent bridge into the fantastic realms of futuristic stories that have been shunned by many a fiction reader as being "too nerdy." each of these stories is engrossing, but all of them are quick, and to the point. They capture your imagination and then send you on your way forever touched by their visions of the world around you.

Great fiction is just that: a great story, whether it is about a North-Going Zax meeting his nemesis, an orphan boy in an abusive home learning of his secret magical powers, or a genius who invents a machine to travel time only to find the hideous fate of humanity that looms in our future. We need more books like this, books that bridge the gap between reading cultures, to allow more avid readers to expand their awareness of great tales.

I strongly recommend this book as a gift to any reader of fiction, as it provides easy access to a variety of new authors (albeit giants in the industry) without much time commitment on the part of the reader. This book is most definitely one that will be passed on several times, from one reader to the next - and that is the very best compliment any author could ever receive.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm Glad This Is On My Bookshelf, June 7, 2001
Art Turner (Rockford, IL USA) - See all my reviews
First of all, my memories of some of the stories in this book are not entirely clear, as I have read it off & on over the course of the last 6 or 7 years.
Basically, this is a collection of the greatest SF stories of all time, as chosen by the Science Fiction Writers of America in 1968. Their cut-off date was December 31, 1964, so you're not going to read anything in here that's less than 35 years old.
The problem with this is obvious: science fiction, more than any other genre, does not always age well. What is gloriously new & exciting in 1930 or 1940 is old news in 2001. Some of the early stories (they're arranged chronologically), while probably great fun to read when they were first published, now have a kitschy, dated quality that's hard to get past.
Having said that, the best stories in this book (my nominees include Isaac Asimov's "Nightfall", Jerome Bixby's "It's A GOOD Life", and Daniel Keyes' heartbreaking "Flowers For Algernon") have a resonance & a timelessness that mark the best stories, SF or otherwise.
If you're looking for a good capsule history of the SF of this era, warts & all, you could do a lot worse than to pick this up. I'm certainly glad it's on my bookshelf.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It Just Doesn�t Get Any Better Than This, March 21, 2003
A. Wolverton (Crofton, MD United States) - See all my reviews
Any newcomer to sf looking for a place to start could do no better than `The Science Fiction Hall of Fame Volume I.' The collection includes some of the very best sf stories from 1929 to 1964, as nominated by members of SFWA (Science Fiction Writers of America) and chosen by editor Robert Silverberg. They include such classics as:
"Nightfall" Isaac Asimov (perhaps the most famous sf story ever)
"Scanners Live in Vain" Cordwainer Smith
"The Nine Billion Names of God" Arthur C. Clarke
"Flowers for Algernon" Daniel Keyes
"A Rose for Ecclesiastes" Roger Zelazny
just to name a handful
So many other powerhouse writers are also represented: Ray Bradbury, John W. Campbell, Robert A. Heinlein, Clifford Simak, Theodore Sturgeon, James Blish, Alfred Bester, Damon Knight...the list goes on and on and on.
If I could only have one book of sf stories, this would be the one. A classic.
672 pages
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The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Vol. 1: 1929-1964
The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Vol. 1: 1929-1964 by Ben Bova (Paperback - February 1, 2005)
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