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The World Turned Upside Down Hardcover – January 4, 2005
Emulating You've Got to Read This (1994), this sizable collection consists of stories that influenced famous writers during their upbringings. The difference is that this is a genre anthology and the influenced authors in question are the editors; these are their personal favorites. Given those limitations, the chosen tales are varied and entertaining, and the work of relative unknowns as well as late, great genre veterans. The enduring classics include Arthur C. Clarke's "Rescue Party," featuring aliens who scour Earth for survivors before the sun goes nova; John W. Campbell's "Who Goes There?" which inspired the Hollywood monster flick The Thing; and Isaac Asimov's "The Last Question," which speculatively traces the evolution of computer intelligence into the far future. One surprising entry is an early sf tale on interstellar exploration by Pulitzer Prize-winning historical novelist Michael Shaara. With the emphasis on pulp sf from the 1940s and '50s, fans get to discover some lost gems among the forgotten (and remembered) classics. Carl Hays
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
About the Author
David Drake was attending Duke University Law School when he was drafted. He served the next two years in the Army, spending 1970 as an enlisted interrogator with the 11th armored Cavalry in Viet Nam and Cambodia. Upon return he completed his law degree at Duke and was for eight years Assistant Town Attorney for Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He has been a full-time freelance writer since 1981. Besides the bestselling Hammer's Slammers series, his books for Baen include With the Lightnings and its sequel Lt. Leary, Commanding, Ranks of Bronze, Starliner, All the Way to the Gallows, Redliners, and many more. His most recent novels are Paying the Piper, a new Hammer's Slammers novel, and The Far Side of the Stars, the latest in the popular Lt. Leary series.
Jim Baen has been the editor of Galaxy magazine, of Ace Books, of Tor Books, and has for two decades helmed Baen Books, a powerhouse in science fiction publishing and the world's leading publisher of military science fiction.
Eric Flint's impressive first novel, Mother of Demons (Baen), was selected by SF Chronicle as one of the best novels of 1997. His next solo novel, 1632, sold out its first hardcover printing and went back to press almost immediately, and received enthusiastic critical praise. With David Drake he has written five popular novels in the Belisarius series. Flint has also begun a highly-praised fantasy adventure series, so far comprising The Philosophical Strangler and Forward the Mage. Flint received his masters degree in history from UCLA and was for many years a labor union activist. He lives in East Chicago, IN, with his wife. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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On the gripping hand...riffing on classic sci-fi is a bit pretentious.
Anyway...as with most compilations of early sci-fi, this is a good selection of famous short stories. If you're looking for a book to get someone started on science fiction (or trying to give some culture to someone who buys John Ringo for the covers) then you couldn't go far wrong with "World Turned Upside-Down". Be warned, though, that the content in some of the stories is a rather PG-13 (and some of them involve themes that younger kids simply won't get.)
Here's a list of the stories:
Contents: Rescue party / Arthur C. Clarke -- Menace from earth / Robert A. Heinlein -- Code three / Rick Raphael -- Hunting problem / Robert Sheckley -- Black destroyer / A.E. Van Vogt -- Pail of air / Fritz Leiber -- Thy rocks and rills / Robert Ernest Gilbert -- Gun for dinosaur / L. Sprague de Camp -- Goblin night / James H. Schmitz -- Only thing we learn / C.M. Kornbluth -- Trigger tide / Wyman Guin -- Aliens / Murray Leinster -- All the way back / Michael Shaara -- Last command / Keith Laumer -- Who goes there? / John W. Campbell -- Quietus / Ross Rocklynne -- Answer / Fredric Brown -- Last question / Isaac Asimov -- Cold equations / Tom Godwin -- Shambleau / C.L. Moore -- Turning point / Poul Anderson -- Heavy planet / Lee Gregor -- Omnilingual / H. Beam Piper -- Gentle earth / Christopher Anvil -- Environment / Chester S. Geier -- Liane the Wayfarer / Jack Vance -- Spawn / P. Schuyler Miller -- St. Dragon and the George / Gordon R. Dickson -- Thunder and roses / Theodore Sturgeon
29 Stories, the likes of which I've not seen for over 50 years. These are stories that are so gripping that I do remember the majority of them…if not their authors or titles. Well, "gripping" may be too strong; let's say "memorable". Indeed, I have memories of rethinking the plots of many of these very stories in the past 50 years (and wondering who wrote them and what were they called). These are the types of stories that stick with you and tickle at the back of your mind with "what would I have done?" "is this possible?" "this story was so prescient."
There's one tale the plot line of which, if not the actual story, was possibly the inspiration for an episode of "Star Trek, the Next Generation" where the young hero is condemned to death despite his innocent ignorance of what seems to be an arbitrary law. How would you feel, knowing that you're about to die for doing something you thought was at worst a silly prank? Or, how would you feel being the executioner of someone who truly does not deserve to die?
There's only one story that is monster-scary, "Who Goes There?" and it was made into two movies: "The Thing From Another World," 1951; and the remake, "The Thing" in 1982. (I remember the 1951 movie, with James Arness—Matt Dillon, from "Gunsmoke"—as the monster…okay, I date myself.)
These vignettes, averaging about 24 pages…including prefaces and postscripts by the editors, describe situations that require meditative effort to comprehend. Not that they're complicated or intricate; but that they serve as examples of "thought experiments" conducted by philosophers or psychoanalysts. What would be right action under THESE conditions.
Forgive me, but these are the Sci-Fi tales I grew up on; these are the stories that fed my psychological needs. The short-stories of today just don't "touch" me in the same way. Or captivate me to the same extent. I recommend each story and the whole book of them to anyone who wants to either reawaken lost emotions—or to inspire the emotions of a prior age's childhood.
My recommendation is that you not read this book too quickly. Give each story it's due and let yourself digest it before you move on to the next.