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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: #762,314 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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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14 of 16 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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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By C. Vossler on July 27, 2012
Format: Paperback
I took an Introduction to Science Fiction class in college and we used this as a textbook nearly 15 years ago. I still enjoy it today. There are many short stories in this book that I treasure and look forward to reading them again every year. I'd highly recommend this book to anyone interested in quality Sci-fi, becoming familiar with a new author, or simply loves the genre.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By John L Murphy TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 7, 2012
Format: Paperback
Having taught at a technical college from this assigned anthology a course in SF, I found a wide range of reactions. When I used it in the late '90s and early '00s, my students--all majoring in non-liberal arts--did not note as much its inclusion of "soft" SF aimed, as co-editor Ursula LeGuin champions in her spirited, quirky introduction, to challenge the canon of "hard" SF with its spacecraft, battles, gadgets, and stoic or sexist men. I was able to balance its editorial tilt with another collection featuring older stories, and an international array of tales. This time, I had no option but to use this text; a decade later, I noticed a far more polarized reaction to its intentions

Six-sevenths of my class were male, and a couple of my female students told me that it was suited for those who didn't like, or didn't think they'd like, science fiction. One liked it more for precisely that reason, and others may have too. But many students vociferously reacted to the thick book's relative dearth of machines, concepts, and inventions. Too much fiction, not enough science?

The strongest of the dozen stories I used seemed those able to enchant or challenge expectations. Octavia Butler's "Speech Sounds" worked well for a class filled with those who knew inner-city Los Angeles well. John Kessel's "Invaders" perplexed with three storylines, but those with Latin American roots welcomed its reversal of New World conquest. Bruce Sterling's "We See Things Differently" for a story from 1989 anticipates post-9/11 attitudes and a sort of Tea Party-meets-Occupy grassroots movement eerily well. These, full of conflict in a weakened America, met with most enthusiasm.

James Tiptree Jr.
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