Phoenix Pick Anthology of Classic Science Fiction Stories
edited by Paul Cook (2013)
Whilst this volume is a little light-on at only 11 stories, they are all well-chosen and constitute a good representation of classic pre-Golden Age sci-fi tales. The selections cover the mid-19th through to the early-20th centuries, long before the term 'science fiction' was in wide literary use. Writers include Jules Verne, Edgar Alan Poe, H.G. Wells and Jack London. Significant historical interest.
21st Century Science Fiction
edited by David G Hartwell & Patrick Nielsen Hayden (2013)
As editor of the 'Year's Best SF' anthology series, David Hartwell knows a thing or two about good sci-fi. Containing 34 outstanding stories published between 2003 and 2011, this volume could stun a bull. As a bonus, it stays away from established pre-21st century writers and concentrates on those who have gained recognition in the period covered. As such, this is a breath of fresh air.
Science Fiction Hall of Fame
eds Silverberg & Bova (1970/73)
Members of the Science Fiction Writers of America were polled on what they thought represented the best sci-fi short fiction written before the first Nebula awards were handed out in 1966, delving all the way back to 1895. Not surprisingly, the result is probably as close as we'll ever get to a definitive collection of early science fiction, as evidenced by the fact they are still in print.
The Wesleyan Anthology of Science Fiction
edited by Arthur B Evans, et al (2010)
A simply staggering collection of 52 sci-fi stories from 1844-2008, all annotated with a brief editorial introduction. While it is nigh-on impossible to produce a comprehensive one-volume historical anthology of sci-fi, this one is as close as it gets. There is some minimal overlap with the Hall of Fame anthologies, but at a budget price it makes a fine companion to those volumes.
Masterpieces: The Best Science Fiction of the Century
edited by Orson Scott Card (2004)
The great advantage here is that editor Orson Scott Card does not set out to produce a historical anthology. Rather, he assembles a strong collection of 27 tales he says he cannot forget. The stories range from 1936 to 1995 and include the biggest names in sci-fi from that period. Card's editorial nous ensures that this set complements other more traditionally chosen volumes quite nicely.
edited by Harlan Ellison (1967 & 1972)
The declining popularity of pulpish genre magazines in the mid-60s gave rise to a wave of 'original anthologies' of first-time published short story collections. DV was an attempt at collecting together a single volume of cutting edge stories that no-one else would publish. The less-famous Again follow-up was closer to the mark, however both are worthwhile.
Modern Classics of Science Fiction
edited by Gardner Dozois (1991)
As the hands-down leading editor in modern science fiction, Gardner Dozois knows a thing or two about choosing good stories. This volume presents 26 stories published from 1955 to 1989 in chronological order. Dozois intentionally avoids the award-winners and oft-anthologised stories in favour of the ones he enjoyed reading. A good addition to any sci-fi short fiction collection.
The Best of the Best
edited by Gardner Dozois (2005 & 2007)
Subtitled '20 Years of the Year's Best Science Fiction', rather than go with popular stories and award-winners, Gardner Dozois opts to include his personal favourite short fiction in these solid anthologies. The first volume from 2005 includes shorter stories, with the 2007 volume tackling short sci-fi novels. For those wanting an overview of the period spanned, these are the best on offer.
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