Cover of Encounters
Book 380 Anthology 1988
Prelude to Foundation The Asteroids
2 spaceships-and-suns
Asimov fan
2 spaceships-and-suns
Target reader

What mysterious beings await us out in the vast uncharted reaches of space?

Since time immemorial Mankind has been searching the skies for evidence of alien intelligence. Now science fiction’s brightest stars have contributed to this spectacular collection, exploring to the outer limits of the imagination—and beyond...

Collected together for the first time are startling stories of alien encounters, where life, love, even the universe are at stake.

Included are works by award-winning authors like Bob Shaw, Clifford Simak, Robert Sheckley, Poul Anderson, and the Grand Master itself, Isaac Asimov, who also provides a special introduction for this interstellar collection.

This is one of Asimov’s few books to have been published in the United Kingdom but not the United States (Through a Glass, Clearly is the only other one I can think of). It was published in 1988 by Headline Book Publishing, Headline House, 79 Great Titchfield Street, London W1P 7FN, ISBN 0-7472-3091-9. Co-edited with Greenberg and Waugh, and themed around first contact with alien intelligences, it consists of the following stories (plus an introduction by the Good Doctor):

  • “Contact!” by David Drake
  • “Capsule” by Elizabeth Morton
  • “Cabin Boy” by Damon Knight
  • “First Love” by Lloyd Biggle, Jr.
  • “All the Way Back” by Michael Shaara
  • “A Death in the House” by Clifford D. Simak
  • “Firewater” by William Tenn
  • “Hiding Place” by Poul Anderson
  • “Final Contact” by J.A. Pollard
  • “Proof” by Hal Clement
  • “Scientific Method” by Chad Oliver
  • “First Contact” by Murray Leinster
  • Not Final!” by Isaac Asimov
  • “Angel’s Egg” by Edgar Pangborn
  • “The Victim from Space” by Robert Sheckley
  • “Invasion of Privacy” by Bob Shaw

As I say, this book has never been published in the United States, and even in Great Britain, it is exceedingly rare. One is available for interested parties to examine, however, in the Asimov archive at Boston University, and it was there I first made acquaintance with it. I have since then managed to locate and purchase a copy.

On the whole, it’s a pity it wasn’t published on this side of the Atlantic. As a theme anthology goes, this is a reasonably strong one. “Not Final!” isn’t Asimov’s best story by a long shot, but it isn’t his worst by a long shot either. “First Contact” has a reputation somewhat better than it might deserve. The other stories found in other anthologies edited by the Good Doctor are all solid (and having anything by Clifford D. Simak in an anthology is a Good Thing), and the remainder are all good enough.

There is one rather odd feature, however, about the order of the stories. There is a strong pro-capitalist thread in much of science fiction, and two of the stories here feature heroes who are unregenerate plutocrats: “Firewater” and “Hiding Place.” Both are good enough, but it’s a little jarring to have them right next to each other because of this thematic similarity.

Nonetheless, this is a worthwhile anthology, if you can get a copy.


2 spaceships-and-suns “Not Final!”
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