From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. F&SF
editor Van Gelder has assessed, culled and organized the magazine's best stories to produce this definitive volume of work from speculative fiction's top authors, from Alfred Bester's Of Time and Third Avenue (1951) to Ted Chiang's The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate (2007). Hauntingly sad tales are laid alongside hopeful tales of the far future and heroic tales of honor and duty, but all have an intensity of emotion and draw the reader in with vibrant characters, fully realized settings and ingenious writing. Van Gelder's introductory disclaimer that this contains two dozen of our best stories rather than the best two dozen stories may explain the lack of inclusions from the 1980s. For sheer reading pleasure, this anthology is unparalleled. (Oct.)
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The long-lived magazine Fantasy & Science Fiction has issued many retrospective anthologies but none more vaunting than this one marking its sixtieth anniversary. As editor Van Gelder admits in the introduction, promising the very best is perhaps overreaching somewhat, given the hundreds of outstanding choices F&SF’s archives afford. Yet the results here are more than just satisfying, and the lineup of contributors amounts to a who’s who of speculative-fiction masters: sf geniuses such as Alfred Bester, Theodore Sturgeon, and Harlan Ellison and fantasy legends like Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, and Peter S. Beagle. A few particulars: William Tenn’s Eastward Ho! wryly depicts a future in which Native American warriors finally take their lands back from the white man. Daniel Keyes’ heartbreaking Flowers for Algernon watches as a mentally handicapped janitor is granted superintelligence during a scientific experiment, only to find it slipping away when the experiment fails. Every story is a priceless gem showcasing its author’s superlative craftsmanship and ability to engage the emotions while captivating the imagination. --Carl Hays