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Comprising: Profession by Isaac Asimov Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell, Jr. For I am a Jealous People! by Lester Del Rey The Mortal and the Monster by Gordon R. Dickson Time Safari by David Drake In the Western Tradition by Phyllis Eistenstein The Alley Man by Philip José Farmer The Sellers of the Dream by John Jakes The Moon Goddess and the Son by Donald Kingsbury Enemy Mine by Comprising: Profession by Isaac Asimov Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell, Jr. For I am a Jealous People! by Lester Del Rey The Mortal and the Monster by Gordon R. Dickson Time Safari by David Drake In the Western Tradition by Phyllis Eistenstein The Alley Man by Philip José Farmer The Sellers of the Dream by John Jakes The Moon Goddess and the Son by Donald Kingsbury Enemy Mine by Barry Longyear Flash Crowd by Larry Niven In the Problem Pit by Frederik Pohl The Desert of Stolen Dreams by Robert Silverberg


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Comprising: Profession by Isaac Asimov Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell, Jr. For I am a Jealous People! by Lester Del Rey The Mortal and the Monster by Gordon R. Dickson Time Safari by David Drake In the Western Tradition by Phyllis Eistenstein The Alley Man by Philip José Farmer The Sellers of the Dream by John Jakes The Moon Goddess and the Son by Donald Kingsbury Enemy Mine by Comprising: Profession by Isaac Asimov Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell, Jr. For I am a Jealous People! by Lester Del Rey The Mortal and the Monster by Gordon R. Dickson Time Safari by David Drake In the Western Tradition by Phyllis Eistenstein The Alley Man by Philip José Farmer The Sellers of the Dream by John Jakes The Moon Goddess and the Son by Donald Kingsbury Enemy Mine by Barry Longyear Flash Crowd by Larry Niven In the Problem Pit by Frederik Pohl The Desert of Stolen Dreams by Robert Silverberg

30 review for Mammoth Book Of Short Science Fiction Novels

  1. 4 out of 5

    Simon

    I picked up this collection by chance, when browsing the few books on the shelf of a railway station waiting room. I didn't think I'd read any of the stories included before so why not? I'll comment on each of the novellas as I read them. Profession Isaac Asimov An interesting meditation on what might happen if, in the future, we develop a way of just imprinting all the knowledge people need for their particular career straight into their brains so that they don't need to spend years of arduous lea I picked up this collection by chance, when browsing the few books on the shelf of a railway station waiting room. I didn't think I'd read any of the stories included before so why not? I'll comment on each of the novellas as I read them. Profession Isaac Asimov An interesting meditation on what might happen if, in the future, we develop a way of just imprinting all the knowledge people need for their particular career straight into their brains so that they don't need to spend years of arduous learning and study. Furthermore, what if we could ascertain from the structure of your brain what profession you were best suited for? When you come of age, you will find out what your occupation was going to be and the knowledge you need to do it delivered straight to your brain. But where is the scope for inquisitiveness and curiosity in such a world? And what about creating thinking? Where are the new ideas going to come from? A good story but ended a little abruptly for my tastes. And, while I haven't counted the words, it seems a little short to be considered a short novel. Even by Asimov's own standards (which he elucidated in the introduction). Who Goes There? John W. Campbell Jr. Familiar ideas here; an alien being is found preserved in the frozen wastes of Antarctica by a scientific expedition. Despite being very fearsome looking and against some of the crew's protests, they decide to thaw it out for further study. Unfortunately for them it is not quite as dead as it seems and all hell breaks loose... I didn't realise before I read this that this was the story that the 1982 John Carpenter film "The Thing" was based on. But I sense the story must also have been inspired to some degree on Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness. Unfortunately though I found the characters quite wooden, largely interchangeable and hard to relate to. And something about his writing style jars a little that served to disengage me from the story. Worth reading, perhaps, as a historical curiosity but doesn't have much to offer the modern reader outside of that. For I am a Jealous People Lester Del Ray The Earth is under attack from a combined alien force intent on eliminating life on earth. The story follows a priest in this difficult time as all around him things are happening that are shaking his faith to the core. Can his faith, and humanity for that matter, survive? I quite enjoyed this story and it was nicely done. The Mortal and the Monster Gordon R. Dickson A story about the Loch Ness monster(s) and from their perspective. An intelligent remnants of a ancient mammalian species that got trapped in the loch thousands of years ago when the sea levels fell. In this story we follow event from the perspective of a young "monster" and how they deal with the encroachments of humans. into their environment. But who are the monsters exactly...? Time Safari David Drake What if you could travel back in time to hunt dinosaurs? I just lost interest in this one and couldn't bring myself to finish it. In the Western Tradition Phyllis Eisenstein A wonderful story by an author I have not heard of before. A great story about the disintegration of the relationship of a couple as one of them develops an obsession for a person who lived in the past that the other can never live up to. Definitely leaves me curious to see what else she wrote. The Alley Man Philip Jose Farmer Probably my least favourite story so far. I just didn't see the point in this story about an anthropology student studying what she thinks might be a living Neanderthal man, possibly the last purebred of his kind. The Sellers of the Dream John Jakes An almost cyber punk story of corporate espionage. I did not enjoy this one at all and found the plot almost incomprehensible. I forced myself to finish it but wish I hadn't bothered. The Moon Goddess and the Son Donald Kingsbury A story of a girl who desperately wants to go to the moon, and what she has to do to get there. This one felt well written and engaging although it was definitely of its time with light racism and sexism prevalent throughout. Forward thinking in many ways but rooted in the time it was written in ways that probably weren't obvious at the time. Enemy Mine I've never heard of this author before but I really enjoyed this story of two sworn enemies fighting on opposite sides of a war they don't understand are forced to work together when they crash land on an alien planet and it is all they can do to survive. They hope and pray for rescue but will they become more estranged from their own species' the longer they are stranded and learn more about each other? Definitely one of the high points in this collection so far.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kara Babcock

    I picked this up while nosing around an antique shop. My copy is battered: its front cover is torn and disfigured; its spine is bent into a sadistic and perilous curve; its pages are bloated and distorted from what I can only guess is water damage. If it weren’t such a thick book, I’d have scoffed at the £2 I paid for it. As it is, there is something familiar about The Mammoth Book of Short Science Fiction Novels. I feel like I’ve read some of these stories before—and maybe I have, since their in I picked this up while nosing around an antique shop. My copy is battered: its front cover is torn and disfigured; its spine is bent into a sadistic and perilous curve; its pages are bloated and distorted from what I can only guess is water damage. If it weren’t such a thick book, I’d have scoffed at the £2 I paid for it. As it is, there is something familiar about The Mammoth Book of Short Science Fiction Novels. I feel like I’ve read some of these stories before—and maybe I have, since their inclusion in this anthology is doubtless because Isaac Asimov and the other editors felt the stories are good examples of the genre. So, I plucked my way through them, one or two at a time, reading other books as I went. Some have their own entries on Goodreads, and so I’ve posted separate reviews (they are novellas, for the most part, so I feel like they count as individual books read): * Profession , by Isaac Asimov * Who Goes There? , by John W. Campbell, Jr. * Time Safari , by David Drake * Enemy Mine , by Barry B. Longyear * The Moon Goddess and the Son , by Donald Kingsbury * Flash Crowd , by Larry Niven * The Desert of Stolen Dreams , by Robert Silverberg Individally, few of these stories stand out as being of high quality, in my opinion. Yet many of their authors are regarded as visionaries in the genre. Many of these stories—Who Goes There?, Enemy Mine (which, to be fair, actually was that good)—have served as inspiration for later works and adaptations. It’s part of the paradox of speculative fiction that a lot of its “greatest” or more influential works are also, in some subjective senses, just not that good. Indeed, as its panel of editors and all-but-one male selection of authors might indicate, this anthology is a snapshot of only a corner of the science fiction community—a large, vocal corner, perhaps, but certainly not a corner representative of the wider community. The stories are actually more interesting in this format, presented together rather than read separately, for how their similarities in style and tone reflect the tastes and tendencies of an industry that was, by and large, quite male-dominated. Asimov explains in his introduction: They differ in subject matter, in style, in everything you can think of but quality. They are all skillfully written, cleverly constructed stories, with ingenious ideas, as you will have to admit, even if one or two of them should happen, for one reason or another, not to be entirely to your liking. I’m not as convinced as he is about the uniformity of quality, but I will have to admit that they are all cleverly constructed and full of interesting ideas. Science fiction is the genre for Big Ideas, and this book definitely showcases how the novella form can put such ideas to good use. In this respect, Asimov is completely accurate in his assertion. His introduction is actually one of the best parts of this collection and rather deserves a review of its own. It is one of the reasons I feel like I’ve seen this collection or something similar in the past, because Asimov begins, in typical Asimovian fashion, with an itemized, categorical list of the different types of fiction by word length, from short-short story to novel. (Interestingly, he pegs a novella as being “30,000 to 50,000 words” and then a novel as “70,000 words and up”. I can only assume that, back in the 1980s, nobody ever wrote fiction between 50,001 and 69,999 words. That would just be silly.) Asimov provides a brief insight into the way the science-fiction publishing industry evolved out of the pulp magazine, which naturally preferred short stories—novels were serialized. Novellas existed in a state of fragile equilibrium, for they were usually small enough to publish in one instalment, but they would take up the space of several short stories, which was a big risk for the publisher. I belong to a generation that does not have these problems. We live in an age of plenty. Thanks to the Web and digital media, it is literally possible to publishe every single story one would like to publish, regardless of space constraints. (It’s not possible to read all such stories, of course, and so there is a curation factor involved in selecting and bundling them into things like ezines—but that’s another topic.) And it is ridiculously easy for me to get a hold of all but the most obscure books: I have libraries, bookstores, online retailers, all of whom are happy to find me the books I want. So it’s hard for me to imagine the excitement that, as a youth, Asimov must have felt when he paid over his 25 cents (or however much such things cost back in the day) for a copy of the latest magazine. It’s hard for me to imagine the feeling of camaraderie that existed among science-fiction readers of the early and middle twentieth-century. (These days, we live double lives, treading the fine line where science fiction has become mainstream, but only in specific, commercializable ways.) The Mammoth Book of Short Science Fiction Novels seems very much a celebration of the ingenuity brought to bear by people who feel like they were casting words out into the world that might not be picked up and read at all, such was the tenuous nature of writing and of science fiction as a genre…. For all this sense of underground romance, though, I don’t regret missing out on the Golden Age or New Wave eras of science fiction. In fact, I feel very lucky to be alive right now. This is an exciting time for science fiction and fantasy. There is a diversity of voices and ideas in the field like we have never seen before. And I’m not just talking about the presence of women writers, writers of colour, queer or trans writers … I’m talking about the existence of a wider, more fluid and dynamic conversation happening within the public sphere. While a back-and-forth among authors has always existed, its public nature only extended as far as letters and interviews and convention conversations. Now, thanks to the Web, to blogs and Twitter and Facebook, these conversations increasingly default to “public”. For a reader and fan like me, it’s very interesting to see the author engage in conversation about their works, and other works, with other authors and with fans. Sometimes the conversations get too personal, devolve into attacks on character that become far too heated for civilized discussion. We’re still far from perfect. The recent controversy surrounding the Hugo nominations is a case in point. Yet even these public disagreements are telling. Each time someone says, “No, I will not be silenced,” science fiction becomes stronger for it. The types of conversations we are having about books—about postgender representation in SF, the relevance of biopunk stories to our current global warming crisis, the ups and downs of the Singularity subgenre—are changing. I’m just very interested to see how they shape the next decades of science fiction storytelling. In contrast, The Mammoth Book of Short Science Fiction Novels is an artifact from a bygone era. Its stories are “Big Idea”, yes, but they are also steeped in the tropes and prejudices of their time. With a few exceptions—as noted in my review—they tend to concentrate on the “gee wow” confluence of technology and social change, but their explorations of such problems isn’t always as deft or as sensitive to questions of diversity and personhood as we might like. For hardcore science fiction fans who like reading historical science fiction and examining how it relates to the context of the genre, there is every reason to read this book. For the casual fan, there is less of interest. Although the stories remain thought-provoking, they are also very dated. There is much better science fiction, from all sorts of authors, that has since hit the shelves, and your time is probably better spent elsewhere. I hear that there is a Mammoth Book of SF Stories by Women anthology coming out this year…. My full length review exceeds the character limit for Goodreads reviews. You can continue reading it on my website, where you will find a review of the stories I have not reviewed separately.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    The "Mammoth book of.." series during the late 90s were a treasure trove of material for me. I was still exploring science fiction and fantasy and with little guidance or suggestions of what to look for these books were a window in to a world I was just starting to hesitantly explore. This book is a perfect example, it contains some truly classic stories such as "Who goes there" by John W Campbell. This story went on to be the inspiration of John Carpenters "The THING". I guess to some who have The "Mammoth book of.." series during the late 90s were a treasure trove of material for me. I was still exploring science fiction and fantasy and with little guidance or suggestions of what to look for these books were a window in to a world I was just starting to hesitantly explore. This book is a perfect example, it contains some truly classic stories such as "Who goes there" by John W Campbell. This story went on to be the inspiration of John Carpenters "The THING". I guess to some who have read (or at the time at least) more extensively than I - the book seems like a re-hash of previous material which I guess it would have been, but at the time for me it was amazing. And for that reasons - sitting down and leafing through it all over again it seems just as exciting and inspirational was it was then. I have no issue re-reading books new or old although I guess I should concentrate on the stacks I need to read through .

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jon

    Not a very good collection, especially compared with other books in the series. The stories were obviously well-written, but mostly boring, so I skipped more than usual.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Raj

    This book does exactly what it says on the tin, except these days we'd call the stories novellas rather than short novels. There's a lot to like in this collection, although some that I didn't enjoy as well. The collection starts with Isaac Asimov's 'Profession', which is a solid Golden Age story of a future where knowledge is injected directly into the brains of people at the appropriate age, and about what happens to those few for whom the process doesn't work. John W. Campbell's 'Who Goes Ther This book does exactly what it says on the tin, except these days we'd call the stories novellas rather than short novels. There's a lot to like in this collection, although some that I didn't enjoy as well. The collection starts with Isaac Asimov's 'Profession', which is a solid Golden Age story of a future where knowledge is injected directly into the brains of people at the appropriate age, and about what happens to those few for whom the process doesn't work. John W. Campbell's 'Who Goes There' is the basis of The Thing From Another World (and its remakes), and remains a remarkably tense story. I enjoyed Lester Del Ray's 'For I am a Jealous People', which postulates that God has broken his covenant with Man and the implications for a small town priest. It was a nice piece of human drama and theological thinking which tickled me the right way. Gordon R. Dickson's 'The Mortal and the Monster' was a fairly light and fluffy piece about the Loch Ness Monster(s), that didn't leave a huge impression. David Drake's 'Time Safari' has its premise in the title. Incidentally, the whole dinosaur-safari thing is practically a sub-genre in its own right, and this one has all the tropes, although nothing particularly to distinguish it for me. Phyllis Eisenstein's 'In the Western Tradition' is another time-related story. This time about a couple who are operators of machines that can look into any period into the past, and what happens when one of them becomes obsessed with her current subject. This is a somewhat heartbreaking story of a relationship falling apart in front of us, knowing that there's nothing we can do about it. I skipped Philip José Farmer's 'The Alley Man' as it's one that I've read before and don't hugely like. I have a mixed relationship with Farmer, as I loved the first couple of Riverworld books, but found some of his other work a bit unpleasant. This one just doesn't do it for me. John Jakes' 'The Sellers of the Dream' is a bit like Pohl and Kornbluth's The Space Merchants, but nastier, and distinctly misogynist. In this future, the two worldwide corporations advertise entirely new personalities for women, and our 'hero' has no problem with this in general, just not for his woman. This was a problem I had with Donald Kingsbury's 'The Moon Goddess and the Son'. I still can't figure out if this was just nasty, exploitative and misogynist or nasty, exploitative but a good portrait of a very damaged young woman (abused by her father, her burning ambition is to get to the moon, no matter what (or who) she has to do to get there). After this, it was marvellous to get into Barry B. Longyear's marvellous 'Enemy Mine', which I've read before in his collection Manifest Destiny but which is a marvellous story (and now common trope) of enemies coming together in the name of survival. This is a deserved Hugo and Nebula award winner in my opinion. I skipped Larry Niven's 'Flash Crowd' as I'd read it fairly recently. I enjoyed it, but not enough to read again. Unlike Fred Pohl's 'In the Problem Pit', although it's been some time since I've read that, and it's a good, fun story. The final story is Robert Silverberg's 'The Desert of Stolen Dreams'. This is set of Silverberg's 'Majipoor' universe, although it's one that I'm unfamiliar with. The story was enjoyable and the borderline fantasy style of it made for an interesting change. All in all, there were definitely more hits than misses. This is a good collection of silver age SF, that are longer than the usual short, so have more room to breathe.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Manu

    The book consists of 13 science fiction novellas all written between 1950 and 1980. At the outset, I am a bit disappointed that I didn't like the book as much as I thought I would. The start was fantastic, with Isaac Asimov's "Profession", where he manages to narrate a story that's universal and timeless. I wasn't particularly impressed with John Campbell's, though it was made into comics and movies. Lester Del Ray's "For I am Jealous People" has an intriguing plot in which God abandons the huma The book consists of 13 science fiction novellas all written between 1950 and 1980. At the outset, I am a bit disappointed that I didn't like the book as much as I thought I would. The start was fantastic, with Isaac Asimov's "Profession", where he manages to narrate a story that's universal and timeless. I wasn't particularly impressed with John Campbell's, though it was made into comics and movies. Lester Del Ray's "For I am Jealous People" has an intriguing plot in which God abandons the human race and sides with aliens. "The Mortal and the Monster" by Gordon Dickson also proved too slow for my liking, and though well paced David Drake's "Time Safari" seems jaded now that we are inundated with Jurassic monsters regularly on the screen. Phyllis Eisenstein's "In the Western Tradition" is an interesting plot but from just a human angle. "The Alley Man" by Philip Jose Farmer was too convoluted and slow for me, but I found the concept of John Jakes' The sellers of the dream" very intriguing. Donald Kingsbury's "The Moon Goddess and the Son" was another extended work and I gave up on Barry Longyear's "Enemy Mine" after a few pages. Larry Niven's "Flash Crowd" had teleportation which I have always found interesting and it helped that it was a fast moving plot. Frederik Pohl's "In the Problem Pit" was also just barely there but the book ended reasonably well with Robert Silverberg's "The Desert of Stolen Dreams". There were indeed many stories which I would rate as good science fiction, but there were too many universal human condition stories which were science fiction only because of a setting which then faded into insignificance. There were also a couple of fantasy works which seemed to be masquerading as science fiction. I would say that the "Science Fiction Treasury" edited by Isaac Asimov is a much better read. But it's still amazing to see many of the concepts spread between what is now reality, or aspirational or still science fiction.

  7. 5 out of 5

    MG Mason

    A collection of short novels here from some of the biggest names in science fiction. Some will be familiar. “Who Goes There?” for example is the original story on which The Thing horror film is based. Similarly, Enemy Mine will be familiar to almost all science fiction fans. Even if you’ve never read this or seen the film, there is barely a science fiction series that has not used its basic premise in an episode. Those two aside, this collection is very much a mixed affair. My favourites are: For A collection of short novels here from some of the biggest names in science fiction. Some will be familiar. “Who Goes There?” for example is the original story on which The Thing horror film is based. Similarly, Enemy Mine will be familiar to almost all science fiction fans. Even if you’ve never read this or seen the film, there is barely a science fiction series that has not used its basic premise in an episode. Those two aside, this collection is very much a mixed affair. My favourites are: For I am a Jealous People is about a preacher experiencing spiritual anguish at an alien invasion who becomes convinced that they have been sent by God. Flash Crowd is an exploration of the problems that come with new technology. In the Problem Pit is an interesting social experiment about confining a group of people together and cut off from society. My least favourites are The Alley Man, an overly sentimental piece about a Neanderthal who has survived into the 21st century, The Moon Goddess and the Son a directionless piece about a girl who desperately wants to go to the moon and hooks up with the son of a lunar engineer who wants to avoid returning there at all costs. Finally The Sellers of the Dream about a world in which people can download new personalities, mostly targeted as a product for women. Aside from the chauvinism (which wasn’t my problem with this piece) there were consistency and clarity problems. Also, to be frank there are better examples of the dangers of consumerism in fiction. The others I could take or leave. This collection is recommended as an introduction to the work of some of the big names of sci fi. See more book reviews at my blog

  8. 4 out of 5

    Odhran

    There's quite a lot of good work in here. Every story in the book is solid - nothing overly amazing, but nothing better than very good. It's been a while since I actually read it (due to a month without internet access, I'm only entering my September/October reading at the start of November), so I can't say too much about the individual sotries. I found "Flash Crowd", in particular, to be thought-provoking - some of the best sci-fi is just taking an idea to its logical conclusions.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Andy

    ORIGINAL US TITLE: BAKER'S DOZEN - 13 SHORT SCIENCE FICTION STORIES.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Valis Umbra

  11. 4 out of 5

    Bob Cat

  12. 5 out of 5

    Richard

  13. 4 out of 5

    Trisha Kirkendoll

  14. 4 out of 5

    René Beaulieu

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jason

  16. 5 out of 5

    Simon Sherriff

  17. 4 out of 5

    jennet wheatstonelllsl Proc

  18. 5 out of 5

    Running Press

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ca53buckeye

  20. 5 out of 5

    Vince Foo

  21. 4 out of 5

    Pavan Dharanipragada

  22. 5 out of 5

    Andy Turton

  23. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Theaker

  24. 4 out of 5

    Bill Lockhart

  25. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Hargreaves

  26. 4 out of 5

    Selby

  27. 4 out of 5

    Mark Healey

  28. 4 out of 5

    Edward

  29. 5 out of 5

    Alan Clark

  30. 4 out of 5

    Roddy Williams

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