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My pick for Forgotten Fridays this week is one of the earliest SF anthologies. adventures-in-time-and-space4Adventures In Time and Space was edited by Raymond J. Healy and J. Francis McComas and published in 1946. It had the best magazine science fiction selections at the time and has been voted the third best anthology of all time.

An abbreviated version with Selected From over the title was one of the first books I ever bought with money earned on a paper route. It was definitely the first anthology I ever bought. I still have it, bought in 1965 at a cover price of fifty cents. There were eight stories in that Bantam edition.

For anyone who loves short science fiction, It should be a must for your shelves. All of the important writers of the time are represented, most still remembered today, others long faded away.

Heinlein has several stories, the best being BY HIS BOOTSTRAPS, originally published under his pseudonym Anson Williams. It concerns time travels and paradoxes inherent therein.

Bob Wilson is hard at work on his doctoral thesis on time travel when he hears a voice behind him say, “Don’t bother, it’s hogwash anyway!” When he turns, a familiar looking man is behind, standing in front of a big circle. It’s a timegate and he urges Bob to step through into the future. Before that happens, a second man, equally familiar, comes through and says not to. In the ensuing fight, Bob is knocked through, meeting an older man that looks familiar. it’s not giving anything away to say all these familiar men are him at different points in his life.

And that’s not even Heinlein’s oddest time travel story.

Other notable stories are Harry Bates’ FAREWELL TO THE MASTER which was the basis for the classic SF film The Day The Earth Stood Still and the horrid remake(think Keanu Reeves).

Lester del Rey’s NERVES(later expanded into a novel), the first story to show problems at a nuclear plant.

Isaac Asimov’s NIGHTFALL, a world of always daylight with six suns. Something causes the civilization to collapse every 2000 years or so, a rogue body causing a solar eclipse, showing the inhabitants the billions of other stars in the universe. They are not alone and it messes with their psyche. It was voted the best SF story written before the formation of the Nebula Awards in 1965 and has been anthologized four dozen times.

John W. Campbell’s WHO GOES THERE? was originally published under the name Don A. Stuart(in those long ago magazine days, editors didn’t like two stories in the same issue with the same author name) and was made into two pretty good, though much different, movies. 1951’s The Thing From Another World scared this young kid when I first saw it on television, what with James Arness as the giant “carrot” man, an alien frozen in the Arctic. John Carpenter’s The Thing was much truer to the original story, what with the alien’s ability to absorb and become whatever being he wanted.

BLACK DESTROYER was A.E Van Vogt’s first published story in 1939. It concerned an Earth ship picking up an alien being that, though looking like a large predator cat with tentacles, seems tame. On the flight home, the alien stalks and kills the crew one-by-one for an element in their bodies it needs to survive. Told from the alien’s viewpoint, it’s plan is to make it to Earth for fresh hunting grounds.

An alien picking off the crew of a spaceship one-by-one. Sound familiar?

Most of those mentioned have more than one story and others featured include Anthony Boucher, Fredric Brown, Alfred Bester, Henry Kuttner and C.L.Moore, L. Sprague de Camp, and Eric Frank Russell.

One thousand pages of stories and a few essays, not a dog in the bunch. Well worth looking up if one is interested in the early days of SF when people like Heinlein and Asimov were cutting their teeth, learning their craft, and getting better each time out.

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