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The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction: A 30-Year Retrospective Hardcover – April 1, 1980
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Hardcover reprint of the October 1979 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, including: Introduction by Edward K. Ferman; F&SF at 30, essay by Isaac Asimov; Fondly Fahrenheit, by Alfred Bester (SF Hall of Fame story); And Now the News . . . by Theodore Sturgeon; Not With a Bang, by Damon Knight; Flowers for Algernon, by Daniel Keyes (winner, 1960 Hugo Award); A Canticle for Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller, Jr.; One Ordinary Day, with Peanuts, by Shirley Jackson; The Women Men Don't See, by James Tiptree, Jr.; Born of Man and Woman, by Richard Matheson (nominated, 2001 Retro Hugo); Jeffty Is Five, by Harlan Ellison (winner, 1977 Nebula Award, 1978 Hugo Award, 1978 Locus Poll Award); Ararat, by Zenna Henderson; Sundance, by Robert Silverberg; Dreaming Is a Private Thing, by Isaac Asimov; Poor Little Warrior!, by Brian W. Aldiss; We Can Remember It for You Wholesale, by Philip K. Dick; Selectra Six-Ten, by Avram Davidson; Problems of Creativeness, by Thomas M. Disch; The Quest for Saint Aquin, by Anthony Boucher (SF Hall of Fame story); The Gnurrs Come from the Voodvork Out, by Reginald Bretnor; plus cartoons and poems.
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Among the contents were listed three short stories I'd heard of:
1. Daniel Keyes' FLOWERS FOR ALGERNON. In this story, we read the journal of a mentally challenged man named Charley, as he takes part in a monumental scientific experiment that will not only make his brain function normally, but advance him far into the realms of super-intelligence. But perhaps this gift is not as glamorous as it sounds... I'd read the full novel-version of this story in high school, and it didn't really leave an impression on me back then. So I didn't really care that the shorter version was here. Thankfully I read it- for it was easily the best contribution in the book, and the only one I would rate 5 stars. I even want to reread the full novel sometime soon.
2. Walter M. Miller's A CANTICLE FOR LEIBOWITZ is revered as a classic in the genre. I own the novel on my "to be read" shelf, and figured it would be nice to read this, the original short story version, first. It is our future after a nuclear holocaust. The world has been plunged into ignorance, but religion still exists and tries to make understanding of life and what was "before". This story was not to my taste at all, due mostly to the heavy religion I suppose. I fear I won't enjoy the full novel any better. 2 Stars.
3. WE CAN REMEMBER IT FOR YOU WHOLESALE, by Phillip K. Dick, is of course, the short story that became TOTAL RECALL- One of my favorite movies when I was younger! It was interesting to compare it to the film, since they are quite different, and I think others would enjoy doing the same thing. I'll leave the details for your own discovery, but I will say that you probably wouldn't picture Arnold as the protagonist in THIS story! 4 Stars.
There were four other notable tales in this collection:
1. NOT WITH A BANG, by Damon Knight, tells a short post-apocalyptic tale of the last man and woman on Earth. He realizes that they are humankind's last hope, but she is a Catholic woman who refuses to have premarital sex with him, and there is no one alive who can perform the ceremony. -This was a clever idea, which I would have preferred as the basis for a longer story instead of an abrupt, short one. 4 Stars, none-the-less.
2. Shirley Jackson gives us ONE ORDINARY DAY, WITH PEANUTS. Here is a day in the life, of an odd man, in an over-crowded city. What makes him odd? He is unbelievably nice! There has to be a catch right? -This was an enjoyable little story, with a nice ending. 4 Stars.
3. Richard Matheson contributes the three-page story, BORN OF MAN AND WOMAN, which is told by a child... whose parents keep him locked up in the basement for some reason. -Very short, but very powerful. 4 Stars.
4. My final pick is PROBLEMS OF CREATIVENESS, by Thomas M. Disch. This story tells of a future where the government controls the population by only letting it's most gifted citizens marry or have children. Birdie Ludd didn't make the cut, and now he is willing to try anything to change that verdict. -This story was rather fascinating, and really made this future seem possible and frightening. 4 Stars.
Otherwise, I was fairly let down by the other "big name" authors in this book. One particular problem I had with this "retrospective" was in the editor's intro to some of the stories. He would tell us that the author wrote this and that, and was famous for short story `X,' which, appeared in our magazine in 19XX... but here's story `Y' instead. Maybe they had printed the `famous' stories in other collections or something, but I would have preferred to read them instead of the alternate selections. In all of these cases (5 or 6, I believe) the story they gave was rather unimpressive, and served little purpose, except to make me wonder what I could have been reading instead.
Anyway... This collection is out-of-print, but I would certainly recommend the six decent stories I mentioned above, if you are able to find them in a copy of this book or in another collection, which is probably your best bet.