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A Science Fiction Omnibus

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This new edition of Brian Aldiss' classic anthology brings together a diverse selection of science fiction spanning over sixty years, from Isaac Asimov's "Nightfall", first published in 1941, to the 2006 story "Friends in Need" by Eliza Blair. Including authors such as Clifford Simak, Harry Harrison, Bruce Sterling, A. E. Van Vogt and Brian Aldiss himself, these stories po This new edition of Brian Aldiss' classic anthology brings together a diverse selection of science fiction spanning over sixty years, from Isaac Asimov's "Nightfall", first published in 1941, to the 2006 story "Friends in Need" by Eliza Blair. Including authors such as Clifford Simak, Harry Harrison, Bruce Sterling, A. E. Van Vogt and Brian Aldiss himself, these stories portray struggles against machines, epic journeys, genetic experiments, time travellers and alien races. From stories set on Earth, to uncanny far distant worlds and ancient burnt-out suns, the one constant is humanity itself, compelled by an often fatal curiosity to explore the boundless frontiers of time, space and probability. Thirty short stories and a novella, first published in Penguin Modern Classics November 2007 with a cover illustration by Jim Burns. The new stories are: • James Tiptree, Jr : And I Awoke and Found Me Here on the Cold Hill's Side • Bruce Sterling : Swarm • Greg Bear : Blood Music • Fredric Brown : Answer • Kim Stanley Robinson : Sexual Dimorphism • Eliza Blair : Friends in Need • James Inglis : Night Watch • Ted Chiang : Story of Your Life • Garry Kilworth : Alien Embassy • John Crowley : Great Work of Time


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This new edition of Brian Aldiss' classic anthology brings together a diverse selection of science fiction spanning over sixty years, from Isaac Asimov's "Nightfall", first published in 1941, to the 2006 story "Friends in Need" by Eliza Blair. Including authors such as Clifford Simak, Harry Harrison, Bruce Sterling, A. E. Van Vogt and Brian Aldiss himself, these stories po This new edition of Brian Aldiss' classic anthology brings together a diverse selection of science fiction spanning over sixty years, from Isaac Asimov's "Nightfall", first published in 1941, to the 2006 story "Friends in Need" by Eliza Blair. Including authors such as Clifford Simak, Harry Harrison, Bruce Sterling, A. E. Van Vogt and Brian Aldiss himself, these stories portray struggles against machines, epic journeys, genetic experiments, time travellers and alien races. From stories set on Earth, to uncanny far distant worlds and ancient burnt-out suns, the one constant is humanity itself, compelled by an often fatal curiosity to explore the boundless frontiers of time, space and probability. Thirty short stories and a novella, first published in Penguin Modern Classics November 2007 with a cover illustration by Jim Burns. The new stories are: • James Tiptree, Jr : And I Awoke and Found Me Here on the Cold Hill's Side • Bruce Sterling : Swarm • Greg Bear : Blood Music • Fredric Brown : Answer • Kim Stanley Robinson : Sexual Dimorphism • Eliza Blair : Friends in Need • James Inglis : Night Watch • Ted Chiang : Story of Your Life • Garry Kilworth : Alien Embassy • John Crowley : Great Work of Time

30 review for A Science Fiction Omnibus

  1. 5 out of 5

    Cecily

    For now, this is just a review of Build Up Logically by Howard Schoenfeld. A story I rate 4*. It's a very short story that cleverly twists fact, fiction, and time travel (maybe). Twisted in a good way and slightly reminiscent of Jorge Luis Borges, though Borges is the superior writer, imo. The underlying concept quite good. Not entirely original, but an original take on ideas of art imitating life and vice versa, of fictional figures coming to life, or people literally entering fictional worlds. For now, this is just a review of Build Up Logically by Howard Schoenfeld. A story I rate 4*. It's a very short story that cleverly twists fact, fiction, and time travel (maybe). Twisted in a good way and slightly reminiscent of Jorge Luis Borges, though Borges is the superior writer, imo. The underlying concept quite good. Not entirely original, but an original take on ideas of art imitating life and vice versa, of fictional figures coming to life, or people literally entering fictional worlds. I was reminded of Jane's Adventures In and Out of the Book, which I loved as a child, and the delightful comical picture book I recently saw at a friend's, Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Book?. The title is plain from the start: Frank's ability to "invent the rabbit... he built it up logically from the feel." Later, he builds the piano logically, but from the sound. That's the easy, straightforward stuff. After that, things get more complicated, exploring reality, authorship, and the power (or not) to determine our fate. Watch the pronouns. I was amused by the conceit of the time machine that allegedly (view spoiler)[ moved absolutely everything, so that there was no discernible change (hide spoiler)] , and the guy (view spoiler)[ trapped for 5,000 years in front of an audience with a trumpet he couldn't play (hide spoiler)] reminded me of poor paranoid android, Marvin, stranded at the car park at The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. The convolutions at the end reminded me of Ronald Opus, a legal conundrum everyone should be familiar with: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ronald_.... There was a small logical flaw on the first page: (view spoiler)[How did the narrator recognise the rabbit before "the consciousness of rabbits" was "impinged" in his mind? Even though he's telling the story in retrospect, I think it's a bit of an unnecessary cheat (hide spoiler)] . This was a very quick buddy read with Apatt (though not his choice of story). You can read Build Up Logically HERE, though it's given the title The Universal Panacea.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Simon

    An outstanding collection of stories showing just how diverse the genre can be. Herein really is contained some of the best short stories SF has to offer. My highlights include: "Lot" by Ward Moore - An incredibly chilling and poignant account of a man trying to get his family out of the city as nuclear war breaks out and society begins to collapse. He is well prepared but perhaps a little to cool and calculating... "Nightfall" by Isaac Asimov - A planet with five suns rarely experiences night time An outstanding collection of stories showing just how diverse the genre can be. Herein really is contained some of the best short stories SF has to offer. My highlights include: "Lot" by Ward Moore - An incredibly chilling and poignant account of a man trying to get his family out of the city as nuclear war breaks out and society begins to collapse. He is well prepared but perhaps a little to cool and calculating... "Nightfall" by Isaac Asimov - A planet with five suns rarely experiences night time but now its coming and the people don't know what to expect. Perhaps their civilisation will collapse... "Swarm" by Bruce Sterling - Humanity encounters a space faring non intelligent race. Perhaps it can be exploited... "Blood Music" by Greg Bear - A man injects his body with self replicating, self learning nano bots with the only instruction to keep on improving everything... "Story of your life" by Ted Chiang - A linguist is employed to attempt to desipher an alien language but in doing so it radically changes her perception. These are just some of the great stories you'll find in here. A great overview of the genre.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Chris Kelly

    Great collection of classic stories. Ratings for individual stories are listed below on a 5-star scale. Note the inclusion of a John Steinbeck tale, and a good one at that! • Sole Solution (1956) • Eric Frank Russell - 4 • Lot (1953) • Ward Moore 4.5 • The Short-Short Story of Mankind (1958) • John Steinbeck 4 • Skirmish (1950) • Clifford D. Simak 4 • Poor Little Warrior! (1958) • Brian W. Aldiss 3.5 • Grandpa (1955) • James H. Schmitz 4 • The Half Pair (1957) • A. Bertram Chandler 3 • Command Performan Great collection of classic stories. Ratings for individual stories are listed below on a 5-star scale. Note the inclusion of a John Steinbeck tale, and a good one at that! • Sole Solution (1956) • Eric Frank Russell - 4 • Lot (1953) • Ward Moore 4.5 • The Short-Short Story of Mankind (1958) • John Steinbeck 4 • Skirmish (1950) • Clifford D. Simak 4 • Poor Little Warrior! (1958) • Brian W. Aldiss 3.5 • Grandpa (1955) • James H. Schmitz 4 • The Half Pair (1957) • A. Bertram Chandler 3 • Command Performance (1952) • Walter M. Miller, Jr. 3.5 • Nightfall (1941) • Isaac Asimov 4.5 • The Snowball Effect (1952) • Katherine MacLean 3 • The End of Summer (1954) • Algis Budrys 3 • Track 12 (1958) • J.G. Ballard 4.5 • The Monkey Wrench (1951) • Gordon R. Dickson 2.5 • The First Men (1960) • Howard Fast 4 • Counterfeit (1952) • Alan E. Nourse 3 • The Greater Thing (1954) • Tom Godwin 3.5 • Built Up Logically (1949) • Howard Schoenfeld 4 • The Liberation of Earth (1953) • William Tenn 4 • An Alien Agony/The Streets of Ashkelon (1962) • Harry Harrison 3 • The Tunnel Under the World (1955) • Frederik Pohl 4 • The Store of the Worlds (1959) • Robert Sheckley 4 • Jokester (1956) • Isaac Asimov 3.5 • Pyramid (1954) • Robert Abernathy 3 • The Forgotten Enemy (1948) • Arthur C. Clarke 3.5 • The Wall Around the World (1953) • Theodore R. Cogswell 4 • Protected Species (1951) • H.B. Fyfe 3 • Before Eden (1961) • Arthur C. Clarke 3.5 • The Rescuer (1967) • Arthur Porges 3 • I Made You (1954) • Walter M. Miller, Jr. 3.5 • The Country of the Kind (1956) • Damon Knight 2 • MS. Found in a Chinese Fortune Cookie (1957) • C.M. Kornbluth 2 • The Cage (1957) • A. Bertram Chandler 3.5 • Eastward Ho! (1958) • William Tenn 3.5 • The Windows of Heaven (1956) • John Brunner 4 • Common Time (1953) • James Blish 2.5 • Fulfillment (1951) • A.E. van Vogt 2.5

  4. 4 out of 5

    Raj

    This volume collects two earlier Penguin SF collections from the 50s and 60s and is a pretty mammoth affair, coming to over 600 pages and containing 36 stories. Given the time period that the stories were written in (mostly the 1950s, with some outliers in the decade either side), some inevitable themes arise. These are primarily concerned with nuclear apocalypse and 'Reds under the bed' type allegories. There are some great stories here and very few misses. Isaac Asimov's Nightfall is welcome a This volume collects two earlier Penguin SF collections from the 50s and 60s and is a pretty mammoth affair, coming to over 600 pages and containing 36 stories. Given the time period that the stories were written in (mostly the 1950s, with some outliers in the decade either side), some inevitable themes arise. These are primarily concerned with nuclear apocalypse and 'Reds under the bed' type allegories. There are some great stories here and very few misses. Isaac Asimov's Nightfall is welcome at any time and William Tell's Eastward Ho! is a nice reversal of the conquest of America. I'm not necessarily a fan of John Steinbeck, but his The Short-Short Story of Mankind is excellent while Howard Fast's The First Men is a nice übermensch story in the vein of Olaf Stapledon. That's just a brief skim through the selection. As I say, there are very few misses, so this is worth a read if you're a fan of Golden and Silver Age SF, or even if you're just curious about the history of the genre.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Odhran

    So, this isn't quite up to the standard of something like Dangerous Visions, but there are some pretty good stories in here. Some variations upon the them of "Astronaut as Creator" that aren't hackneyed and unoriginal, for example. A couple of good "Future Jesus"-style things, too. "Lot", the story of a family fleeing The Event (more or less) has stuck with me since I first read this. In fact, the whole book has. I imagine this is one of the biggest drivers in my love of short form scifi.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Tom

    Mentally I'm ascribing this to the other, older 'Penguin SF Omnibus', which I had as a kid. All of the stories in that one were better, even when they were actually the exact same stories that were in this one.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Tammy Winter

    A good concept spoiled by its editor. Aldiss in the introduction to this collection comes across as pretentious and sexist and unfortunately that pretentious feeling follows into his choices of stories and in his own writing, this book is packed with filler stories (the last story being 80 pages felt like a panic decision to make the book larger) but its not all bad push through the filler and boring stories and there are some gems in here but im sure you could find them in much more enjoyable co A good concept spoiled by its editor. Aldiss in the introduction to this collection comes across as pretentious and sexist and unfortunately that pretentious feeling follows into his choices of stories and in his own writing, this book is packed with filler stories (the last story being 80 pages felt like a panic decision to make the book larger) but its not all bad push through the filler and boring stories and there are some gems in here but im sure you could find them in much more enjoyable collections, these good stories are the reason its two stars because i dont want to downplay their positives, however i cannot recommend this book. Individual ratings: sole solution- 5 Lot - 3 skirmish - 5 And I awoke and found me here on the cold hills side- 4 poor litte warrior - 1 grandpa - 4 Nightfall- 5 The snowball effect- 4 swarm- 4 blood music- 4 answer - 1 the liberation of earth - 3 an alien agony- 5 track 12- 4 sexual dimorphism- 4 the tunnel under the world - 5 friends in need- 1 the store of the worlds- 5 jokester - 4 the short short story of mankind- 4 night watch -5 story of your life-5 protected species- 5 the rescuer - 2 i made you- 3 the country of the kind - 3 the cage -5 fulfilment- 1 common time - 2 alien embassy- 4 great work of time - 1

  8. 4 out of 5

    Tiny

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Fulfilment / A. E. Van Vogt 4/5 Thinking machines, a purpose, people and time travel. Poor little warrior/ Brian Aldiss 3/5 Mocks the writer and the reader, but despite this (or because), rather enjoyed it. I’ll remember it, at least. Swarm/ Bruce Sterling 3.5/5 The perfect SF story, futuristic with space travel and new species mixed in with human arrogance (of course). A major downside, which wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t so common, is the body horror relating to the human female. Friends in Need/E Fulfilment / A. E. Van Vogt 4/5 Thinking machines, a purpose, people and time travel. Poor little warrior/ Brian Aldiss 3/5 Mocks the writer and the reader, but despite this (or because), rather enjoyed it. I’ll remember it, at least. Swarm/ Bruce Sterling 3.5/5 The perfect SF story, futuristic with space travel and new species mixed in with human arrogance (of course). A major downside, which wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t so common, is the body horror relating to the human female. Friends in Need/Eliza Blair 3.5/5 Finally! A unique and uplifting story that appreciates the innocent wisdom of the young and the small. I didn’t manage to parse all the kid speak though! The short-short history of Mankind/John Steinbeck 3/5 I am biased as this is a favourite author. Hilarious, true, tragic and cynical. Night watch/James Inglis 5/5 Utterly beautiful and it makes a change to read about the machines we make being without the worst of humanity. Also, I identified very strongly with Asov, of The Curious Mind. Story of your life /Ted Chiang 4/5 Linguistics, time, physics and philosophy. These are a few of my favourite things. I appreciate a story that respects the readers intelligence. I certainly understand why the movie made the changes it did, better suiting it to the medium, but the original ambiguity is more philosophically thought-provoking. Protected Species/H.B.Fyfe 3/5 A story that you can see in your minds eye, characters you can identify with, twists and a history lesson. Loses a point because only male characters (unnecessary) and ‘females’ are of course just objects. In the future, in space. The Rescuer/Arthur Porges/ 1/5 If you know anything about Christianity and it’s history, then this story makes no sense. It would be forgivable if it was done well, but alas, I found it disappointing. I made you/ Walter M. Miller Jr. /3/5 Action, poignancy and emotions from a machine. Done well. Common time/ James Blish 3/5 I like this even more knowing that author writes Star Trek. Not sure what to say about this, except it is done well. It is an experience that is, and must be, experienced. Alien Embassy/Gary Kilworth 3/5 A story of a step towards personal growth and fulfilment. Of healing . Of love and sacrifice, and the circle of life. Of good differences. The Cage/ Bertram Chandler 4/5 Strangely hilarious, birds eye view of what a gaggle of intelligent (and nerdy, and old-fashioned) humans might do in such a situation. Slightly cynical and thought provoking, but feels like it tells the truth. Named men AND women are characters! Sexual dimorphism / Kim Stanley Robinson / 3.5/5 This calls to mind Selkie mythology, and blends in science to lead to the true focus of this man’s character. Are men from the forest and women from the sea? This would benefit from being a novel. An Alien Agony/ Harry Harrison 4/5 What happens when you hand over contradictions to a literal species? Track 12 /J. G. Ballard 1/5 Predictable revenge of the nerd on the arrogance of the jock.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Randompete

    A very well curated collection. Stories that ponder how people would behave in extraordinary, speculative circumstances. Loved this collection of stories.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Simon

    Stand out stories: Blood Music by Greg Bear, The Cage by Bertram Chandler, The Tunnel Under the World by Fred Pohl, and the John Crowley one.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Garry Abbott

    A good collection that wavers in places as certain themes and styles are followed in sequence that I wasn't as interested in, but there's lots of gems to be found in here so read it from cover to cover with glee!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Riju Ganguly

    Editing is a much more difficult job than writing, especially when it comes to authors. Almost all the famous authors are notorious for choosing inferior to bad stories, whenever they are given an opportunity to make a "best of" selection from their works. It proves, that making a selection requires an altogether different perspective, and a connect with the hoi-polloi readers, which most of our authors lack. A classic example would be this book, as well. This selection, widely respected by criti Editing is a much more difficult job than writing, especially when it comes to authors. Almost all the famous authors are notorious for choosing inferior to bad stories, whenever they are given an opportunity to make a "best of" selection from their works. It proves, that making a selection requires an altogether different perspective, and a connect with the hoi-polloi readers, which most of our authors lack. A classic example would be this book, as well. This selection, widely respected by critics, turned out to be a disappointingly depressing one, where the author has selected stories that might be elevating, from a philosophical point of view, but are dashed poor reads. Also, his selections seem to be influenced by a Biblical worldview, which is NOT shared by readers like me. I had read a majority of these stories in different collections, and while several of them have had a lasting impact, the others were soporific and simply boring. To such pile, Aldiss had added several more dark, drab, dull stories, which the critics would lap-up. As far as I'm concerned, they only succeeded in souring the day. There are MUCH MUCH better anthologies available. The modern selections made by Paula Guran, while the older classic anthologies edited by Asimov et.al. are books that you might actually enjoy, and treasure.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    It's taken me the best part of a year to read this book, which makes it a bit of an oddity. Normally I would plough through a collection of short stories relatively quickly but, in this case, the selection on offer is so diverse and so consistently strong that the book as a whole is one to dip into whenever you want a reminder of just what the genre is capable of. The range of stories - spanning several decades - reflect a variety of themes and concens, all of which are well explored by a selecti It's taken me the best part of a year to read this book, which makes it a bit of an oddity. Normally I would plough through a collection of short stories relatively quickly but, in this case, the selection on offer is so diverse and so consistently strong that the book as a whole is one to dip into whenever you want a reminder of just what the genre is capable of. The range of stories - spanning several decades - reflect a variety of themes and concens, all of which are well explored by a selection of writers at the top of their game. While some stories are (not surprisingly) more memorable than others - Ted Chiang's Story of Your Life and Fredric Brown's Answer both spring to mind - there isn't a single dud in the book, all of which makes it a collection that should appeal to anyone.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    New rule: multi-author collections lose a star if the author list is not at least 33% female. ESPECIALLY if they purport to be some sort of comprehensive survey. I suppose that's all you can expect from an editor who reads James Tiptree, Jr.'s remark that 'those eight years in SF [while her pseudonym held] were the first time I could be really real' not as an expression of relief at temporarily escaping the toxic soup of gender expectations but as a description of how much fun it is to write abo New rule: multi-author collections lose a star if the author list is not at least 33% female. ESPECIALLY if they purport to be some sort of comprehensive survey. I suppose that's all you can expect from an editor who reads James Tiptree, Jr.'s remark that 'those eight years in SF [while her pseudonym held] were the first time I could be really real' not as an expression of relief at temporarily escaping the toxic soup of gender expectations but as a description of how much fun it is to write about rockets.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Nora

    I hadn't read a lot of science fiction before starting this book, so it was all new to me. The collection is excellent and the length of the stories keeps the tempo up. Each time you're plunged into a unique situation, though there is a bit of a common thread that "life as we know it will never be the same". I also greatly enjoyed the feel of the book in my hand, how well it was bound, the thickness of the paper. In my eyes books still trump digital media devices: they don't need batteries and I hadn't read a lot of science fiction before starting this book, so it was all new to me. The collection is excellent and the length of the stories keeps the tempo up. Each time you're plunged into a unique situation, though there is a bit of a common thread that "life as we know it will never be the same". I also greatly enjoyed the feel of the book in my hand, how well it was bound, the thickness of the paper. In my eyes books still trump digital media devices: they don't need batteries and they don't need internet. So I recommend the book highly, both in content and in form.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Taylor

    Brilliant science fiction collection. With names like Issac Asimov, Robert Abernathy, Arthur C Clarke, Theodore Cogswell, James Blish, AE Van Vogt and — unexpectedly — John Steinbeck filling its pages, it promises to be stellar and it is. My favorite story in this collection and one of my top two favorite science fiction stories of all time is Eric Frank Russell's short-short story, "Sole Solution".

  17. 4 out of 5

    Peter

    An outstanding anthology packed with the best of SF over the course of 60 years. Some I didn't like; most I did. Answer is one of the stand-out stories and is probably the best piece of flash fiction I've ever come across. This is an ideal anthology for an SF newcomer, although a veteran will find plenty to enjoy.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Fred Voon

    Quite a number of the 31 stories were either difficult to plough through (including the editor's) or hard to decipher. My favourites were 'Grandpa' (1955) by James H. Schmitz, 'Swarm' (1982) by Bruce Sterling, 'An Alien Agony' (aka 'The Streets of Ashkelon', 1962) by Harry Harrison, 'Story of Your Life' (1998) by Ted Chiang, and 'I Made You' (1954) by Walter M. Miller, Jr.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jon

    There weren't any stand out stories that I hadn't read elsewhere, and a lot of what was there was unengaging. This is an anthology of stories from 50s onwards, excluding the 70s, and mostly 50s and 60s. More of a holiday read than one to buy specially.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Bob Mccow

    This is one of the best sci fi anthologies I've ever read. Lots of great stories and only one or two I didn't really like. Really shows the depth of imagination and variety you can get in the genre. Brilliant.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Nikhil

    Some stories are really great, some are not even worth reading. Overall collection is OK.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Charles

    I have the original of this. It doesn't have any stories later than 1973 in it. It's a good collection and a huge one. 616 pages.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Fiona

    A bit hit and miss. Asimov is amazing as always, the final story was well worth making it through to the end, but some of the others not so much.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jenna Bower

    Really interesting group of stories

  25. 4 out of 5

    Daantjie Snyman

  26. 4 out of 5

    Cherie

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sally Pearson

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mark Power

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ignatius

  30. 4 out of 5

    W-jan

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