It s a rare occasion when I enjoy every story in an anthology almost equally This is one of those times All 13 tales in this collection are, as the title informs us, great I suppose this shouldn t be a surprise given the talent involved including Arthur C Clarke, Ted Sturgeon, Poul Anderson, Damon Knight, and others However, were I forced to choose favorites, those would be The War is Over by Algis Budrys Years after an Earth ship carrying an urgent message crash lands on an alien world, the inhabitants construct a vessel to return the message to Earth, though they re not entirely certain why or even how they learned to build such a craft In Allegory, William T Powers offers an entertaining yet frightening glimpse into a humanity controlled by computers and where independent thinking is considered a mental aberration In John Wyndham s Compassion Circuit, Janet Shand, a fragile and fretful housewife, is forced to come to terms with Hester, an android servant programmed with emotions It isn t long before Janet begins to rely on Hester for her daily care until she becomes convinced that there is a better way to live through robotics.Arthur C Clarke delivers a brilliant send up of corporate guile in Silence, Please To get even with unscrupulous businessman Sir Roderick Fenton, a professor invents a portable sound cancelling device and sells the patent to Fenton The professor s associates are mystified by his decision, until they observe how the devices are used when sold to the public, putting Fenton in the government s crosshairs In Wyman Guin s Volpla, a scientist creates a new, highly intelligent biological species with the ability to fly, speak, adapt, and reproduce He fabricates a backstory that they had originated on another world and only recently came to Earth Surely, this gag will spark the intended panic in the zoological community once the creatures are released into the wild Unfortunately, the biologist s plan backfires when the Volpla s take a drastic course of action to preserve their race Alan Nelson s lighthearted Soap Opera delivers the hysterical tale of a hapless young member of a soap manufacturer s advertising team who experiments with skywriting as a marketing tool The words vanish too quickly cries the company s owner, sending Everett Mordecai on a quest to find a permanent solution one that covers the entire city of San Francisco What happens when the government implants a second personality into its citizens, one that forces them to be docile, to be behave contrary to their natural tendencies In Analogues, Damon Knight deftly presents us with this disturbing possibility When a homeless man named Ollie swallows what he think is a nut, he suddenly finds his appetite insatiable, no matter how much he eats After winning an egg eating competition by consuming over 100 eggs, Ollie is taken to the hospital to be examined Shortly after, strange foreign objects materialize in Ollie s stomach, causing intense pain and swelling At the same time, two aliens arrive after realizing that their matter transfer device is inside poor Ollie The question is now what We find out in William Morrison s Shipping Clerk G.C Edmondon s Technological Retreat brings us the story of extraterrestrial technology run amuck when humans trade simple Earth goods for a device that can instantly repair damage to any surface by making it malleable enough to reshape It isn t long before the aliens begin disseminating the device across the planet, with devastating effects on human evolution In Ted Sturgeon s The Skills of Xanadu, a haughty scout sent by an advanced alien race lands on the bucolic world of Xanadu While reluctantly spending time among the primitive barbarians of this world, Bril marks them as ripe for conquest Yet, he finds their manufacturing abilities beyond comprehension When Bril finally discovers the source of their power in the form of polished stones worn as part of their clothing, he takes one back to his homeworld where the true conquest begins. From Today S Most Celebrated Writers Of Science Fiction Comes This Baker S DozenContents Introduction Essay By Groff Conklin The War Is Over By Algis Budrys The Light By Poul Anderson Compassion Circuit By John Wyndham Volpla By Wyman Guin Silence, Please Tales From The White Hart By Arthur C Clarke Allegory By William T Powers Soap Opera By Alan Nelson Shipping Clerk By William Morrison Technological Retreat By GC Edmondson The Analogues By Damon Knight The Available Data On The Worp Reaction By Lion Miller The Skills Of Xanadu By Theodore Sturgeon The Machine By Richard Gehman Inventions is the theme of this anthology, from ones that do everything to ones that do nothing at all, both living and inanimate It s a broad topic and the stories are varied Several of them are funny, with quite a bit of satire Here are some of my favorites Compassion Circuit by John Wyndham Think Asimov s first rule of robotics is a wise one Think again Volpla by Wyman Guin A mischievous geneticist plans to unleash a hoax upon society Allegory by William T Powers An inventor has great difficulty getting the establishment to accept his latest creation, because its existence contradicts known facts Technological Retreat by G.C Edmondson A pair of aliens offers a technological exchange with an Earthlingwho is also a die hard capitalist The Analogues by Damon Knight A dangerous vision of a possible future where an implant can alter people s perceptions to prevent crime Soap Opera by Alan Nelson A fed up researcher decides to turn the tables on his employer Silence, Please by Arthur C Clarke A tale of corporate espionage involving a device that can cancel sound. This is the first time I ve read this collection of science fiction short stories, in a Spanish translation.The best for me was The machine, by Richard Gehman, but the stories by Poul Anderson, John Wyndham and Arthur Clarke were also quite good. Should a robot be able to overlook its master s orders if the robot s compassion circuit which mimics human consciousness deems it best What happens when a person s free will and consent become merely terms analyzed by robots The short story sets to answer these questions by analyzing the way in which the consequences of technological advancement are not always positive and ready to embrace. See Allegory by William T Powers Addendum, July, 2018When I wrote this review, Volpla was listed on Goodreads as a stand alone e book Some over zealous Goodreads librarian has evidently decided that I must have meant this to be a review of part of a Groff Conklin anthology I did not It appears that other reviews of individual stories in this book were also changed into incomplete reviews of the anthology I grew up reading and loving Conklin anthologies, including 13 Great Stories of Science Fiction , but as my review made plain, that is not what I was writing aboutThis is not really a review of an electronic version of this story but rather of the original printed story in the May, 1956 issue of Galaxy Science Fiction This review is excerpted from my review of that issue.Wyman Guin is my choice for one of the two most unjustly forgotten science fiction authors of the 1950 s The other is T L Sherred I first read Volpla as an adolescent and liked it very much Now I realize how loony the basic premise is but I still think that it s a fine story A scientist, living with his wife, son, and daughter on an isolated ranch, creates a new species He started with rats and has now produced a race of winged humanoids, very intelligent and capable of speech He uses his metabolic accelerator to bring on their extremely rapid development Evidently the accelerator is just something he has around the house He names them volplas.The scientist is planning a joke on the world He tells the volplas that they came to Earth from Venus before there were any humans in what is now North America He has made up a language for the volplas to use Volpla wisdom would become a cult and of all forms of comedy, cults, I think, are the funniest.The story never explains the name volpla, which the scientist plans on saying is their name for their species in their native language I believe it is just a back formation from the word volplane, an unpowered dive, from the French vol plan , meaning glided flight. Compassion Circuit by John Wyndham is a very short story about a new generation of robots who have a compassion circuit built in i.e they can make moral judgements.I was reminded of this short story when I visited the Artificial Intelligence and Robotics exhibition, MAK, Vienna Some aspects of this story are very nineteen fifties, but the handling of the central idea of what if robots is well presented and very thought provoking.I ve read this story several times and am a fan of many of John Wyndham s science fiction stories including The Chrysalids , The Day of the Triffids , Trouble with Lichen What I like is he explores the human impact of scientific innovations in a very credible manner The focus of his books is not the actual scientific innovation itself, but how society could be affected.He was very popular in the 1950 s to 1970 s, but seems to be undeservedly out of fashion these days. This collection contains one of my favorite science fiction short stories, Algis Budrys The War Is Over 1957 , which has haunted me in the positive sense for a very long time Other stories include Poul Anderson s The Light, Wyman Guin s Volpla, and the very cute The Available Data on the Worp Reaction by Lion Miller A well rounded baker s dozen of finely crafted stories published between 1946 and 1957 June 4, 2012. I registered a book at BookCrossing.com
and is of Science Fiction Editor Timothy Doyle.
- 192 pages
- 13 Great Stories of Science Fiction
- Groff Conklin
- 20 August 2018 Groff Conklin