Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Short Story Wednesday: The Vintage Anthology of Science Fantasy, 1966

In the last few days, I have read six stories from The Vintage Anthology of Science Fantasy, edited by Christopher Cerf. The last of those was a novelette, and those six stories covered 108 pages.

Rick Robinson at Tip the Wink read some stories from this book in July, see his post here. Once he finished reading the anthology, he sent me his copy to read, for which I am very grateful. 

I enjoyed all of the stories, some more than others.

Here are brief notes about the stories:

"The Great Automatic Grammatisator" by Roald Dahl

First published in Someone Like You, Knopf 1953.

Adolph Knipe is a genius computer programmer who figures out how to create a giant computer to generate short stories, and then later full novels. He really wants to write short stories but cannot get them published. He figures out an algorithm to include all the elements publishers are looking for, and even molds short stories specific to magazine publishers' preferred types of stories. I assume this is poking fun at book publishing. I liked this story and found the ending interesting.

"An Egg a Month from All Over" by Idris Seabright 

First appeared in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Oct 1952.

This one I liked most for the title. It seemed to be a horror story. I liked the writing and the atmosphere but it did not seem to go anywhere.

However, Rich Horton at Blackgate liked it much more than I did and tells why in this post about three stories written by Idris Seabright. “Idris Seabright” was a pseudonym used by Margaret St. Clair, and the post tell more about her also.

"There Will Come Soft Rains" by Ray Bradbury 

From The Martian Chronicles, 1950.

A sad story of a dead city after a nuclear holocaust, focusing on the one house left standing. Clearly an antiwar story, which cites a poem by Sara Teasdale that starts with the title of this story.

"And Now the News..." by Theodore Sturgeon 

First published in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Dec 1956.

Another depressing story, about a man who is addicted to the news. He has a job and a family but when he is reading or hearing the news he ignores everything else that is going on. Over time he recedes from normal life and his wife tries to break the cycle. Very well written.

"No-Sided Professor" by Martin Gardner 

First appeared in Esquire, Jan 1947.

A fantastical story using mathematical theory as a basis. A lot of fun to read.

"Random Quest" novelette by John Wyndham

From Consider Her Ways and Others, 1961.

TV Tropes calls this an Alternate History Romance Novelette. Clifford Trafford has been trying to find a woman named Ottilie Harshorn, whom he meets in an alternate reality which he finds himself in after an accident. When he returns to his reality, he meets Dr. Harshorn, who has relatives with that name but both are dead. This is a very complex story, my favorite in the book so far. The differences between the two realities he was in are interesting.

So the first six stories were interesting and a pleasure to read. I read some authors that were new to me and some that I had read before. Based on these stories, I will enjoy the rest also.


George said...

I read the VINTAGE ANTHOLOGY OF SCIENCE FICTION back in the Sixties and remember liking it. I'm sure you'll enjoy the rest of the stories!

pattinase (abbott) said...

It is definitely a challenge to write a happy story that isn't sappy, thus so may sad stories.

Margot Kinberg said...

That's the thing about short stories, Tracy, at least as far as my experience goes. They're a mixed bag, with some being excellent and others...not so much. I'm glad you found several to like here, and I do like the mix of authors.

Rick Robinson said...

I liked the same ones you did, and think you’ll enjoy the rest when you get to them.

col2910 said...

Pretty sure I read The Martian Chronicles years ago when I was on a bit of a Bradbury jag. Suffice to say I remember very little about his books. I have acquired some of his mystery fiction which I ought to give a spin.

TracyK said...

Col, I am the same way with Bradbury. I know I read his books when I was younger but I don't remember much. I plan to read The Martian Chronicles and Fahrenheit 451 (again?) for sure. I have read one of his mystery fiction novels and liked it a lot.

TracyK said...

George, I am looking forward to trying more of the short stories, especially ones by authors I never heard of.

TracyK said...

You are probably right, Patti, I see many more depressing and sad stories than the opposite. But I often appreciate and enjoy the depressing ones for the message or the writing.

TracyK said...

It is a very good anthology, Rick, and I think you are right, I will find many more stories to like in there.

TracyK said...

Margot, there are a good number of authors in this anthology that are new to me. And then some older ones that I read long ago but not recently.

Sam said...

These sound like fun, Tracy. I'm such a sucker for short story compilations that I'll never read all the ones I already have...but it's going on the list.

TracyK said...

I have the same problem, Sam. For a long time I did not read short stories, but I bought a good number of anthologies anyway. So now I am constantly finding anthologies that I haven't started reading yet. And I keep buying more.

Cath said...

I'm getting better at reading the collections of short stories I own, I used to buy them and let them languish for years. Just finished a volume of weird stories in fact. This sounds like a good collection, the story by John Wyndham sounding the most interesting. I have a collection by him I wonder if it's in it? Answer after checking: No. LOL!

Todd Mason said...

Some of my once-favorite writers in my youth (Roald Dahl, Bradbury) and some continuing favorites--Sturgeon, who was the young Bradbury's primary model for writing, Margaret St. Clair, whose work I tend to return to on my own blog, as I've been reading her work nearly all my literate life (https://socialistjazz.blogspot.com/search?q=margaret+st.+clair), Martin Gardner, whose columns in SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN and ASIMOV'S SCIENCE FICTION I enjoyed, along with his infrequent fiction, and his books of his skeptical essays, such as THE NEW AGE, and then John Wyndham (John Benyon Harris), whose work was still hugely popular in the '60s, but for no compelling reason I've barely read...just not too often picking up too many of his collections or novels, or anthologies with his fiction in it. Seen some of the films from them! Then young Cerf (when your father runs Random House, publication might not be too tough) did a creditable job with the anthology...down to using the term "science fantasy" to allow for wide-ranging through speculative fiction...a term in 1966 just coming into wide usage.