This anthology is introduced as being all about space opera and grand dramatic romances of the future however, very few of the stories in the anthology actually fit into that concept, in my opinion. It comes across as more of a random selection of stories, mostly from the pulp magazines of the 50s. The book was worth reading the story Brightness Falls From the Air alone made it worthwhile but it also contained some of the most offensive content that Ive seen published. (The virulently homophobic The Crime and the Glory of Commander Suzdal).
· 6 Been a Long, Long Time R. A. Lafferty ss Fantastic Dec 70
Short, humorous piece involving the amount of time it would take monkey with typrewriters to re-create the works of Shakespeare. (A very long time). Mediocre.
· 14 The Possessed Arthur C. Clarke ss Dynamic Science Fiction Mar 53
Well, written, effective story - unfortunately quite spoiled by the common misconception about lemmings. (They don't really commit mass suicide.)
· 20 Protected Species H. B. Fyfe ss Astounding Mar 51
Nice, classic-style sci-fi yarn. Gung-ho industrialist explorers (who shoot aliens for no good reason) vs. conservationist scientist (who wants to protect an interesting species) - and a nice end twist.
· 23 All the Way Back Michael Shaara ss Astounding Jul 52
Good story by this Pulitzer-Prize-winning author. Mankind has finally reached the stars - and found a beautiful, earth-type planet, seemingly void of higher life forms. It's too good to be true - there has to be a catch. And of course, there is.
· 60 The Star Plunderer Poul Anderson nv Planet Stories Sep 52
A bunch of human slaves on an alien spaceship stage a rebellion and take over. The story suffers from the fact that there's no real reason for it to be a sci-fi story. It could just as easily have been historical fiction or something, moved into space to sell to an SF market. It also features annoyingly fifties-style assumptions about gender roles.
· 90 Foundation [Foundation] Isaac Asimov nv Astounding May 42
An excerpt from the books - it's sadly been long enough since I read these that I don't recally exactly where the excerpt was from (the very beginning?). Works OK as a short piece. Under the pretext of a grand Encyclopedia project, a group of brilliant men (of course) have been gathered on a backwater planet. They have no idea that their real work will be to create a legacy that will help civilization back to its feet after an inevitable collapse...
· 127 Were Civilized Mark Clifton & Alex Apostolides ss Galaxy Aug 53
Heh heh. A fun (but not too strikingly original) take on the old idea that as other forms of life may seem insignificant to us, humanity may seem equally insignifigant to more advanced aliens.
· 146 The Crime and the Glory of Commander Suzdal Cordwainer Smith ss Amazing May 64
As I said before, this is a really offensive story, in ways that really can't be excused by the time period. Radiation on a colony planet causes all the women to die off. Men learn how to reproduce with implanted artificial wombs. But the single-sex society is made up of homosexual "monsters" with both violent and effeminate traits. They are "crazy," hate even the legend of women, and aspire to seek out the rest of humanity and kill all women.
It's up to Commander Sudzal, a monogaous, heterosexual Earthman, to foil this plot and defeat these perverts.
· 165 The Rebel of Valkyr Alfred Coppel nv Planet Stories Fll 50
OK, this story also has really old-fashioned gender roles, and some statements that would rankle with even the mildest feminist... but it's also rather charming, in a Flash Gordon-meets-Conan the Barbarian kind of way. Sexy wenches, bold warriors, spaceships, warlocks, and royal intrigue.
· 215 Brightness Falls from the Air [contest story] Idris Seabright ss F&SF Apr 51
OK, you can make excuses for stories based on the year they were written in - and then you come across something like this which blows all those excuses to hell. This is just an amazing story. Idris Seabright was a pseudonym of the author Margaret St. Clair. The story is a wrenchingly emotional look at the exploitation of an alien species for entertainment, and an indictment of humanity's tendency to devalue and use up things of true value and beauty... repeatedly. It's one of the best short stories I've read. I'm definitely going to look for more of her work.
I'm not sure if Tiptree's novel of the same name was intentionally named after this story. It does also deal with aliens who have been exploited by humans, but is not related in any other definite way.
· 223 Immigrant Clifford D. Simak na Astounding Mar 54
Only the best and the brightest are allowed by the alien inhabitants to immigrate to the legendary planet of Kimon - and no one ever chooses to return, although they send fabulous wealth and frequent letters back home. But when he arrives, after hard and long study, Selden Bishop discovers that the aliens seem to regard the humans as nothing more than amusing pets... Is this the whole story?
· 289 Resident Physician [Sector General] James White nv New Worlds Sep 61
A space doctor picks up a stranded alien with a mysterious ailment. Can he figure out what's wrong with his patient? Pretty basic.
· 318 Age of Retirement Mal Lynch ss Astounding Apr 54
In the future, the Space Patrol is 'manned' by children, who, after enforced 'retirement, ' go on to school.
· 325 Planting Time Pete Adams & Charles Nightingale ss Antigrav: Cosmic Comedies.
On an alien planet, a lonely spaceman encounters strange, hallucinogenic flowers that resemble beautiful women. This makes for a potentially extremely embarassing situation - but the guy is resourceful, and finds a way to turn this to his advantage. Pretty funny story.