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The Norton Book of Science Fiction Paperback – December 17, 1997

ISBN-13: 978-0393972412 ISBN-10: 0393972410

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Product Details

  • Series: Norton Book Of...
  • Paperback: 872 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (December 17, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393972410
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393972412
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.2 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #957,154 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

Ursula K. Le Guin has written over fifty books of prose and poetry. Winner of many prizes including a National Book Award, she is perhaps best known for her six Books of Earthsea which have sold millions of copies and been translated into sixteen languages.

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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Tu on February 14, 2007
Format: Paperback
As other reviewers mention this anthology fails as an introduction to science fiction. It somewhat succeeds as an introduction to the different moods, tones and flavors of science fiction, and it could be considered worthy in terms of its difference from other "greatest/most influential" collections, of which there are many.

After reading this very large collection I didn't know what to think. Many of the stories are good enough, but not great. Only a handful are the kind I find myself rereading willingly. In the end I was glad I made my way through because there are some genuinely fine pieces in here, and it was interesting to read a collection that was very obviously put together in defiance of the incredibly male-dominated statistics of sci-fi.

In the end this collection is worth picking up if only for one story: Cordwainer Smith's "Alpha Ralpha Boulevard". I am serious in this. The only other place you can find it, I think, is Smith's collection of shorts "The Rediscovery of Man". I was entertained by a lot of the stories (from memory: "For the Sake of Grace", "Speech Sounds" and "The Women Men Don't See") but this is hardly a representative collection of science fiction. I'd call it a hopeful presentation, showing what Le Guin believes science fiction is capable of.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Merricat Franklin on May 2, 2012
Format: Paperback
As you can see from the various reviews, this is a rather polarizing anthology. I think it's terrific, but it's misleadingly titled (perhaps for sales reasons?) - this is an anthology of North American science fiction from approximately 1960 onward which foregrounds "New Wave" and character driven stories. If that's not what you enjoy, you won't like this book. You probably won't like it if your politics are conservative, either, since although there are several conservative stories in the book the general trend is left.

When I encountered this book in my early twenties, it introduced me to many writers whose work I've enjoyed, from Cordwainer Smith to Zenna Henderson to Joanna Russ. These are writers who are directly concerned with the social, with language and with experiments in content and form. Again, if you are looking for hard science fiction (or for rocket ships, lasers and space babes, for that matter) you won't like this book. If you are looking for a book which traces the change in SF which occurred between the fifties and the eighties, this is an excellent place to start.

Deficiencies? Some of the stories are extremely sentimental ("Lucky Strike", an alternate history of the bombing of Hiroshima, which frankly makes me tear up but is very heavy-handed). Some of the stories are inexplicably orientalizing/racist ("For The Sake of Grace" and the one with the Fanatic!Arab!Assassin!)- which is weird in a book that is obviously intended as progressive/left. There aren't many stories by writers of color (which were being written - check out Dark Matter if you don't believe me).

But honestly, the thing came out sixteen years ago and, I think, consolidated a lot of interest in New Wave and character-driven science fiction.
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I'm torn. Let's set the stage. I took my first scifi lit class while bumming around one summer in college and it was nothing short of orgasmic. Movies? Hell yeah! Check! Feisty geeks ready to throw down? Hells to the double yeah Double check! Bad ass anthology? Well...it's not bad I guess. I mean, that would just leave the ass, and oh...this isn't going g great. I don't know if my affection for the book comes from nostalgia for that class or it's reading choices. But it still plays a major role in my own teaching.
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32 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Yadda 2x on November 4, 2004
Format: Paperback
The problem with this book is that it's a "Norton Book" and will be used as a teaching tool. Due to the prominence of Norton's stuff on college campuses, it's easy to imagine students who don't have much experience with written science fiction taking classes from professors who don't have much experience with written science fiction, using this book as a resource. They're going end up being very confused about the subject of science fiction.

There's an element of political correctness to the story selection, an element of pure feminism, and as element of weirdness and mystery. What can she possibly have been thinking? How can anyone be said to know anything about science fiction without going back a little further, to the so-called "golden age" of science fiction which a lot of these stories are reactions against? How can a study of science fiction not include Asimov, Heinlein, or Clarke? The most likely audience of this book is not well served by the story selection.

If none of the above bothers you, you'll find a mixed collection of stories, of which you're bound to enjoy a few. Do not pass judgement on any of the authors whose work seems crappy after a first reading from this book: some of the selections are not fair representations of the author's work in any way. All, or almost all, of the authors represented in the book have written very good stories, but the stories in this volume were chosen because of a mission of the author's which is articulated in the introduction. A simple, perhaps chronological collection of really good stories isn't on the menu, unfortunately.
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