This sterling collection of stories from around the world was handpicked from the period of modern science fiction’s birth—the 19th century.

From E.T.A. Hoffman’s “The Sandman” (perhaps the first robot story ever written; date: 1817) to Grant Allen’s terrifying tale of a man trying to escape a quickly approaching lava flow (“The Thames Valley Catasrophe,” 1897), the most astounding stories, from famous and widely read authors, are represented.

Also included are: Mary Shelley’s “The Mortal Immortal,” the story of a man who attains immortality only to watch his wife grow old; Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Rappacini’s Daughter,” the strange tale of a beautiful young woman who thrives in a poisoned garden; Guy de Maupassant’s “The Horla,” about a man tormented by an invisible creature; and Edgar Allen Poe’s “A Descent Into the Maelstrom,” a disaster story with a difference.

In all, this unique compilation is an intriguing and totally entertaining anthology of the finest works of the ablest writers of the 19th century.

It goes without saying that there are no stories herein by Asimov. Nor can I say that I really enjoy the (rather Gothic) stories which are here, even the famous ones like Guy de Maupassant’s “The Horla,” Edgar Allen Poe’s “A Descent Into the Maelstrom,” and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Rappaccini’s Daughter.” And where do they get off including “In the Abyss” by H.G. Wells over “The Time Machine”?

And I really, really, really don’t like “The Shapes” by J.-H. Rosny aine.

I suppose that this book and its companions are of interest to the historians of literature—but frankly I don’t like 19th century literature very much (with a few notable exceptions). I’d just as soon be without this one.

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