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The Best of John W. Campbell Mass Market Paperback – May 12, 1976

4.4 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Here are the finest stories by the man who almost single-handedly created modern science fiction--the writer who taught a generation to dream...and to write of all possible futures.
He was a mere hitchhiker now, but he had once seen the far, far future...and had returned to mourn what he had seen!
The machine was ultimately benevolent...so benevolent that it gave mankind the ultimate but most unwanted gift!
They were like children in the museum of Earth's glorious past...children who had forgotten so much, but whose powers were those of gods!
And the classic that was to become the movie THE THING: WHO GOES THERE?
The Thing was the most dreadful threat men had ever faced...a creature that could be any one--or all--of them!
And many more!

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 307 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (May 12, 1976)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345249607
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345249609
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4.2 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,859,896 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Best of John W. Campbell (1976) is a collection of short SF works and an editorial. In his introduction, Lester Del Rey states that Campbell had three successful careers in Science Fiction: the first as Campbell the author, the second as the author Don A. Stuart, and the third as editor of Astounding/Analog. The first two careers are amply illustrated by the contents of this volume, but the last career is best shown by the works of dozens of authors who learned from, or were influenced by, Campbell the editor.

The Last Evolution (1932) was originally published in Amazing Stories under the John W. Campbell byline. It tells of an invasion of the Earth by aliens from outside the Solar system and the rapid invention of machine/immaterial minds to defend humanity.

The following stories were written as Don A. Stuart. All were originally published in Astounding Stories:

Twilight (1934) involves the accidental transport of a scientist from 3059 into the remote future where the remnants of humanity still survive but without curiosity. Before he attempts to return to his own time, the timetraveler takes some steps to resume progress.

The Machine (1935) tells of the departure of the ubiquitous Machine that first came to Earth to help humanity, but finds that almost all mankind has since settled comfortably into dependency and indolence.

The Invaders (1935) depicts the invasion of Earth by aliens several millennia after the Machine leaves. The aliens find humanity dwelling in a paradise of plenty among the fallen ruins of great works. They put mankind to work and start a breeding program.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Legendary science fiction editor John W. Campbell first worked as a writer, under his own name and as Don A. Stuart. This volume collects eleven stories published under both names, a non-fiction piece supporting the development of space industry, and a chapter of recollections about his life by Campbell's wife.

My favorite three stories from among the eleven are described below.

"The Last Evolution" traces the future history of mankind as they invent increasingly complex intelligent machines. When Earth must fight invading Outsiders, these machines invent increasingly complex versions of themselves to meet the challenge.

"Twilight" presents a hard-to-disbelieve story from a hitchhiker who has traveled into the far future and overshot by a few years on the way back home. He paints a somber picture of future humanity. This story is much like H.G. Wells's [The Time Machine], but pruned to an appropriate length.

"Who Goes There?" shows us how a group of Antarctic researchers deal with an alien visitor awakened from the ice. A creature that insinuates itself into their group in an unexpected way. This last story is a must-read for fans of The Thing.

I recommend buying and reading this book. It's worth the effort to know John Campbell's work and understand his influence on Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, and other great authors of science fiction's Golden Age. Some of the stories show their age and may seem clichés to modern readers. They aren't--Campbell was there first.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
When John W. Campbell, Jr. became editor of _Astounding_, there was a clause written into his contract. As long as he was editor, Campbell would write no more fiction. Articles, yes. Reviews, yes. Editorials, yes. (Campbell would prove to be a brilliant editorial writer.) But fiction, no. There was a reason for this. The publishers knew of many cases in which "writing editors" spent more time tending to their writing than they did to their editing. But it cut Campbell's career as a writer of fiction short. It began in the late twenties, flourished through the thirties-- and stopped. One wonders what sort of stories Campbell would have written had he written fiction over a longer span of time.

_The Best of John W. Campbell_ (1976), edited by Lester del Rey is a selection of eleven of Campbell's best stories from the thirties-- one from _Amazing_, the rest from _Astounding_-- and one _Analog_ editorial from 1960. There is an introduction by del Rey on Campbell's literary contributions to science fiction and an afterward by Peg Campbell giving a personal portrait of JWC. I would have liked to see "The Brain Stealers of Mars" included. But given limitations of space, it is hard to see how this collection could be bettered as an introduction to Campbell.

"The Last Evolution" (the tale from _Amazing_) is an old fashioned space opera, rough in style and characterization but lively in imagination. There are descriptive touches that foreshadow some of his later stories.

The next seven stories were all written under the "Don A. Stuart" byline. They were stories in which Campbell set out to write a different type of science fiction story from his super-science space operas. These stories had two main characteristics.
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