Detailed view for the Book: Omnibus of Science Fiction, The (Anthology)

Everything has its heydey, the period of time when it blossoms forth, unstoppable and incomparable. For science fiction, this book is the heydey collection, a new American phenomenon finding out just how important it's going to be, and enjoying every minute of a new freedom. So many breakthroughs had come about so quickly during the war that radical change became a way of life.

This was the time of a new science fiction magazine a month, fan clubs and conventions. Escapism became an industry, and a vital force in people's imaginations. The world of tomorrow was at hand, and it fascinated and terrified us. Science fiction gave shape to the dreams, and the dreamers are here in this book, reigning supreme.

The most striking fact about these little stories is their relevance to today. Theodore Sturgeon's "Never Underestimate...." is about a sexist scientist's attempt to muzzle women's controlling sexual powers over men, through a nuclear bomb test. Asimov's "Homo Sol" contains ethnic jokes ... about humanoids. ("What of Kraut's Law ... which says you can't panic more than five humanoids at a time?") John MacDonald makes it impossible for the reader to ever again indulge lightly in the twenty-fourth century's substitute for life and freedom: a future as the television hero fo one's choice. However, Arthur C. Clarke, in 1949, couldn't predict how early we'd be parking on the moon! In his short masterpiece, "History Lesson," a piece of metal on a mahogany stand bears a silver plate with the inscription: "Auxiliary Igniter from Starboard Jet Spaceship 'Moving Star' Earth-Moon, A.D. 1985."

Then there are the wonderfully orchestrated sci-fi surprises:

"The scientists lay half in the water, their beautiful reptilian bodies gleaming in the sunlight." Now imagine those same scientific visitors to an ice-bound earth watching the only indication of what humans looked like ... from a Mickey Mouse movie!

In "The Scarlet Plague," written in 1913, Jack London seems to predict the onslaught of polio, with amazing accuracy. What, then, of the other predictions of these masterful minds? Will we be reduced, finally, to stone-age rubble? Will some of us be lost in space, able only to rehash old arguments over radios that transmit over ten thousand miles?

This book fascinates and compels as few others do. As R. Scott Latham says in his forward: "No concept was taboo, no style too experimental, no notion too perilous to explore. It was a heady, exhilarating time." With this book in hand, it still is. So sit back and open it, perhaps with a story such as "Homo Sol" with its classic sci-fi beginning: "The seven thousand and fifty-fourth session of the Galactic Congress sat in solemn conclave in the vast semi-circular hall on Eron, second planet of Arcturus."

Part I: Wonders of Earth and of Man

John Thomas's Cube (1945) by John Leimert
Hyperpilosity (1938) by L. Sprague de Camp
The Thing in the Woods (1935) by Fletcher Pratt & B. F. Ruby
And Be Merry... (1950) by Katherine MacLean
The Bees from Borneo (1931) by Will H. Gray
The Rag Thing (1951) by David Grinnell
The Conqueror (1952) by Mark Clifton

Part II: Inventions, Dangerous and Otherwise

Never Underestimate... (1952) by Theodore Sturgeon
The Doorbell (1934) by David H. Keller
A Subway Named Mobius (1950) by A. J. Deutsch
Backfire (1943) by Ross Rocklynne
The Box (1949) by James Blish
Zeritsky's Law (1951) by Ann Griffith
The Fourth Dynasty (1936) by R. R. Winterbotham

Part III: From Outer Space

The Colour Out of Space (1927) by H. P. Lovecraft
The Head Hunters (1951) by Ralph Williams
The Star Dummy (1952) by Anthony Boucher
Catch That Martian (1952) by Damon Knight
Shipshape Home (1952) by Richard Matheson
Homo Sol (1940) by Isaac Asimov

Part IV: Far Traveling

Alexander the Bait (1946) by William Tenn
Kaleidoscope (1949) by Ray Bradbury
"Nothing Happens on the Moon" (1939) by Paul Ernst
Trigger Tide (1950) by Wyman Guin
Plague (1944) by Murray Leinster
Winner Lose All (1951) by Jack Vance
Test Piece (1951) by Eric Frank Russell
Environment (1944) by Chester S. Geier

Part V: Adventures in Dimension

High Threshold (1951) by Alan E. Nourse
Spectator Sport (1950) by John D. MacDonald
Recruiting Station (1942) by A. E. van Vogt
A Stone and a Spear (1950) by Raymond F. Jones
What You Need (1945) by Lewis Padgett
The Choice (1952) by W. Hilton-Young

Part VI: Worlds of Tomorrow

The War Against the Moon (1950) by Andr?? Maurois
Pleasant Dreams (1951) by Ralph Robin
Manners of the Age (1952) by H. B. Fyfe
The Weapon (1951) by Fredric Brown
The Scarlet Plague (1912) by Jack London
Heritage (1942) by Robert Abernathy
History Lesson (1949) by Arthur C. Clarke
Instinct (1952) by Lester del Rey
Counter Charm (1951) by Peter Phillips

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