ROBERT SILVERBERG • LLOYD BIGGLE, JR. • ALEXEI PANSHIN • H. BEAM PIPER • ISAAC ASIMOV • CORDWAINER SMITH • ERIC FRANK RUSSELL • E.B. COLE • POUL ANDERSON
From a time out of legend when Earth rules the starways, to an isolated planet where men and women become something more—or less–than human, to a challenging game of interstellar diplomacy where the fate of empires hangs in the balance, here are visions of the distant future, of conquerors and conquered, of politicians, scientists, warriors, and adventurers, dwellers all in—
WONDERFUL WORLDS OF SCIENCE FICTION
After the success of several “theme” anthologies, Greenberg, Asimov, and Charles G. Waugh got Signet to agree two two series of theme anthologies—“Isaac Asimov’s Wonderful Worlds of Science Fiction” which ran through eleven volumes and “Isaac Asimov’s Magical Worlds of Fantasy” which ran through twelve. (One of the books in the former is not co-edited by Asimov, however. I don’t know why.) These books have all the strengths and weaknesses of theme anthologies— the overexposure of stories which fit into more than one theme, and the inclusion of subpar stories which also fit the theme—and add to them the strengths and weaknesses of series—the continuity and the willingness to slack off because you have a built-in core audience.
This book is the first in the series “Isaac Asimov’s Wonderful Worlds of Science Fiction” as Wizards is of “Isaac Asimov’s Magical Worlds of Fantasy,” and it gets the series off to strong start. It includes Asimov’s own “Blind Alley,” one of his best stories from the 1940’s which isn’t in either the Foundation or robot series. It has a number of other strong stories in addition, most notably Alexei Panshin’s “Down to the Worlds of Men” and Cordwainer Smith’s “A Planet Named Shayol,” two of the most moving and disturbing stories in all of science fiction.
This is definitely an anthology worth getting one’s hands on. Too bad the rest of the series wasn’t this good.