Visions of Paradise

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Science Fiction Book Club

I first joined the Science Fiction Book Club in 1967 when I was young and starry-eyed about science fiction, having just discovered it a few years earlier in the pages of Galaxy and Worlds of IF. My first “main selections” were Harlan Ellison’s new anthology Dangerous Visions and Roger Zelazny’s novel Lord of Light. Talk about a great way to win over a new member!

Although my membership in the SFBC has lapsed occasionally, I have pretty much remained a member for the past 40 years. Their prices have remained very good relative to hardcover prices, and even better than most trade paperback prices as well. What I have always liked best about the club though has been their exclusive club multi-volume editions containing two or three books in a series in one volume, which brings the cost down even more. Such recent volumes have included collections of Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and Gray Mouser stories, A. Bertram Chandler’s John Grimes space adventures, and Robert A. Heinlein’s juveniles.

Recently the SFBC has spread its tentacles even farther and begun publishing anthologies of original novellas. It started a few years ago with The Dragon Quintet, a collection of fantasy novellas about dragons, edited by Marvin Kaye. I had no particular interest in dragons, but two years ago they started a series of anthologies of science fiction novellas, six in each, edited by leading names in the field and containing stories by some of the best writers as well. First was Robert Silverberg’s Between Worlds in 2004 which contained stories by Stephen Baxter, James Patrick Kelly, Nancy Kress, Mike Resnick, Walter Jon Williams and Silverberg himself. Two of the stories were reprinted in Gardner Dozois’ Best Science Fiction of the Year, which naturally made me sit up and notice.

2005 saw the publication of Mike Resnick’s Down These Noir Spaceways, a collection of future sf mysteries. The authors were Jack McDevitt, Robert Sawyer, Robert Reed, Catherine Asaro, David Gerrold and Resnick. 2006 has already seen the publication of Gardner Dozois’ One Million A.D. featuring Robert Reed, Robert Silverberg, Nancy Kress, Alastair Reynolds, Charles Stross and Greg Egan.

Recently I finished reading the two latter collections, and they were every bit as good as the list of contributors would lead you to believe. All three anthologies have the added advantage of featuring stories set in traditional future settings, which is my favorite type of sf (as my blog of 1/3/06 indicated). I hope the SFBC continues to publish such anthologies, and you can look forward to reviews of all three of the books in this blog in the near future.

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