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AN ABC OF SCIENCE FICTION Edited by Tom Boardman Jnr. 1967 New English Library. 

 

An odd format for a science fiction short story collection, in that it has twenty six authors listed alphabetically by their surnames. Inevitably to fit such a quirky format, the collection is eclectic in the extreme. B T H Xerres gets three limericks and is clearly there only for a shortage of authors who have a name starting with the letter X. and some writers get to present longer stories than others. The quality also varies enormously, but there are many classic tales here. Many however, are major authors, Aldiss, Vonnegut, Wyndham, Zelaney, etc. John Wyndham’s contribution is strictly speaking, a ghost story rather than SF, but it is a terrifically atmospheric piece. Two hapless burglars kill the occultist they try to rob. Spectral hare/rabbit footprints then slowly hound them to insanity and death. Walter M Miller shows an astronaut faking an invasion of the Moon in order to be able to go back into space again in order to save us, after America has discontinued its lunar landing programme. Vonnegut presents a world of enforced equality in which inhibiters force the intelligent to average intelligence so as not to stand out as in any way above average.  In Zelaney’s closing tale, the best in the book, aliens who communicate painfully slothfully over millennia plan an invasion of earth, only to find that the life forms there have evolved and destroyed themselves before they get started on the scheme. There is much that is worthy here, from theories that men evolved from pigs rather than apes, to a future in which pedestrians and motorists wage total war against one another. A fun, if rather dated collection from some of the best names in the genre.  http://www-users.cs.york.ac.uk/~susan/sf/books/b/tmbrdmnj.htm

 

      

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