Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Friday, February 25, 2011


All About the Future, edited by Martin Greenberg, Gnome Press, 1955.  Not reprinted.

All About the Future was one of seven anthologies Martin Greenberg edited for his Gnome Press back in the Sixties.  It has to be emphasized that this Martin Greenberg is not Martin H. Greenberg, the current-day anthologist and head of Teckno Books.  The old Martin Greenberg (born 1918) has somewhat of a tarnished reputation for not paying his authors (Isaac Asimov -- gentle Isaac Asimov -- called him a "crook"); the newer Martin H. Greenberg (born 1941) has a sterling reputation and is much-loved.

     Business practices aside, let me sing the praises of Gnome Press.  The small, fan-run publishing house was founded by Greenberg and David Kyle (who also has a sterling reputation) and was one of the first small presses to focus on science fiction.  Since most major publishing firms did not acknowledge SF as a viable genre, it was the small press that rescued stories from pulp oblivion and published much of the early classic SF novels and collections -- and Gnome Press did that better than most everyone else.  Consider the books that Gnome press published:  Isaac Asimov's Foundation trilogy, Arthur C. Clarke's Against the Fall of night and Sands of Mars, L. Ron Hubbard's Fear, Fritz Leiber's Two Sought Adventure, Clifford D. Simak's City, Robert A. Heinlein's Sixth Column and The Menace from Earth, Robert E. Howard's Conan stories, C. L. Moore's Northwest Smith's stories, the first four hardbound editions of Judith Merril's The Year's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy, and Mark Clifton and Frank Riley's They Rather Be Right.  The roster of author's published by Gnome Press reads like a Who's Who of science fiction of the time:  L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt, A. E. van Vogt, Leigh Brackett, Hal Clement, "Andrew North" (a lesser known pseudonym for Andre Norton), James E. Gunn, Jack Williamson, Frederik Pohl, E. E. Smith, John W. Campbell, Jr., James H. Schmitz, Robert Silverberg, Poul Anderson and Gordon R. Dickson, James Blish, George O. Smith, Nelson S. Bond, and Raymond F. Jones.

     Greenberg's anthologies stand with those of Groff Conklin (whose Science Fiction Terror Tales was published by Gnome Press) and other early pioneers of the form as important historical markers in the field.  All About the Future contained a number of top stories rescued for the first time from the science fiction magazines.  Time, however, has made most of the stories readily available in other collections.  Only a very few of the lesser stories have not been reprinted since appearing in this book.

The stories:

  • Where To?, an essay by Robert A. Heinlein.  Also known as Pandora's Box.  From Galaxy Science Fiction, February, 1952.  It has been reprinted in Heinlein's Expanded Universe and several anthologies.
  • Let's Not, by Isaac Asimov.  From the Boston University Graduate, December, 1954.  It has been reprinted in Asimov's Buy Jupiter and Other Stories.
  • The Midas Plague, by Frederik Pohl.  From Galaxy Science Fiction, April, 1954. It has been reprinted in Pohl's The Case Against TomorrowThe Best of Frederik Pohl, Midas World, and numerous anthologies.
  • Un-Man, by Poul Anderson.  From Astounding Science Fiction, January, 1953.  It has been reprinted in Anderson's Un-Man and Other Novellas, The Psycho-Technic League, To Outlive Eternity and Other Stories, and  at least one anthology.
  • Granny won't Knit, by Theodore Sturgeon.  From Galaxy Science Fiction, May, 1954.  It has been reprinted in Sturgeon's The Stars Are the Styx, in Sturgeon's Collected Short Stories, Volume VIII (Bright Segment), and at least one anthology.
  • Natural State, by Damon Knight.  From Galaxy Science Fiction, January, 1954.  It has been reprinted in Knight's Three Novels (also known as Natural State and Other Novels), Rule Golden and Other Stories, and several anthologies; it was also expanded to a novel, Masters of Evolution.
  • Hobo God, by Malcolm Jameson.  From Astounding Science Fiction, September, 1944.  It has not been reprinted.  Jameson was a journeyman author who produced readable but undistinctive stories. 
    This one, about a slow-thinking tramp who altered an alien civilization, is typical.
  • Blood Bank, by Walter M. Miller, Jr.  From Astounding Science Fiction, June, 1952.  It has been reprinted in Miller's The View from the Stars, The Best Science Fiction of Walter M. Miller, Jr. (also known as Dark Benediction and abridged as Conditionally Human and Other Stories), and at least one anthology.
  • The Origin of Galactic Etiquette, The Origin of Galctic Law, The Origin of Galactic Slang, and The Origin of Galactic Medicine, four vignettes by Edward Wellen.  First published in Galaxy Science Fiction, respectively in October, 1953, April, 1953, September, 1952, and December 1953.  They have not been reprinted, which is a shame.  Wellen is a clever unsung but dependable author who seems to brighten everything he has been published in.   A major retrospective of Wellen's science fiction and mystery stories is long overdue.
     The cover jacket is by Ed Emshwiller, whose artwork is always worth checking out.

     This is a good book, with some great stories, but unless you are a collector I can't recommend buying it.  My recommendation:  thank goodness for public libraries and Interlibrary Loans.  Even if you've read the bulk of the the stories, you would still be able to enjoy the Wellen vignettes.  And if you haven't read thse stories, what are you waiting for?


     For more Forgotten Books, visit Patti Abbott at Pattinase, where she has a zillion and a half links to other great books. 


  1. My library continues to rid itself of books like this so it's buy it if you want to read it.

  2. Sadly, the economics which plagued Gnome Press continue to plague even today's more ambitious small presses...Asimov tended to be less gentle than politic in such matters, till he chose not to be.

    Yes, Edward Wellen should be collected, his novels reprinted...and I should go take a look at the Emshwiller cover...

  3. I have a few Gnome Press books but not this one.

  4. An excellent collection, which I had at one point and made the mistake of loaning out, never to see it again. Gnome Press had a lot going for it, the catalog was, as you say Jerry, truly impressive. I had - still have several - GP books mostly purchased at specialty SF-F bookstores in L.A. and Hollywood (A Change of Hobbit comes to mind).

    Sadly, Patti's comment about the library is true, and these are really getting hard - and/or expensive to find. Also, these books weren't printed and bound to last a lifetime, "sturdy" isn't the first adjective I'd apply, but well worth seeking out.

  5. Todd, to my knowledge Wellen published only two novels: HIJACK, a science fiction/mafia sendup, and AN HOUR TO KILL, a hitman/crime novel -- both good reads and both long out of print.

    I also have to make a correction: Five-Star Books published a hefty (26 stories!) Wellen collections in 2001, PERPS: A SHORT STORY COLLECTION. Dunno how I missed that one, but I'm going to try to get a copy asap.

  6. I missed PERPS as well, and those were two of the three novels I was thinking of...HIJACK was one of the novels published in one issue of the revived VENTURE SF magazine, and F&SF in 1978 published in one issue GOLDBRICK, which I did as one of my early FFBs (November 1978, to be exact, with the novel in microprint...a fine Jane Yolen story inspired the elegant cover)...though the last wasn't fantasy at all and only sf by stretching the term ridiculously, there wasn't much other market for it, apparently, despite it being quite a good story.