Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Friday, February 19, 2016


Catastrophes! edited by Isaac Asimov, Martin Harry Greenberg, & Charles G. Waugh (1981)

The thing about Isaac Asimov's anthologies -- especially the ones he edited with Martin H. Greenberg -- is that they are always a good buy.  Thick and meaty, these themed books are jam-packed with great stories from some of the best writers around, along with ones from lesser-known writers.  Even the most jaded reader will find something in these books they have never encountered before.  Case in point:  Catastrophes!, one of several paperback originals that Asimov and Geenberg (along with frequent co-editor Waugh) assembled for Fawcett Books.

Catastrophes! is actually designed to be a companion book to Asimov's nonfiction title A Choice of Catastrophes (1979; reprinted in 1981 by Fawcett).  In that book, Asimov laid out some pretty dire (and all too possible) disaster scenarios that could emperil us.  (For a similar take, see Asimov and Frederik Pohl's Our Angry Earth, a 1991 book dealing with ecological problems and their possible solutions.)  Asimov designed A Choice of Catastrophes to discuss five different levels of disaster He used the same scheme for this anthology, with four stories for each of the five levels.

The contents:

Universe Destroyed:

     - The Last Trump by Isaac Asimov (from Fantastic Universe, June 1955)
     - No Other Gods by Edward Wellen (from The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, April 1972)
     - The Wine Has Been Open Too Long and the Memoory Has Gone Flat by Harlan Ellison (from Universe 6, edited by Terry Carr, 1976)
     - Stars, Won't You Hide Me? by Ben Bova (from Worlds of Tomorrow, January 1966)

Sun Destroyed:

     - Judgement Day by Lloyd Biggle, Jr. (from Fantastic Universe, April 1958)
     - The Custodian by William Tenn (from If, November 1953)
     - Phoenix by Clark Ashton Smith (from Time to Come:  Science Fiction Stories of the Tomorrow, edited by August Derleth, 1954)
     - Run from the Fire by Harry Harrison (from Epoch, edited by Roger Elwood and Robert Silverberg, 1975)

Earth Destroyed:

     - Requiem by Edmond Hamilton (from Amazing Stories, April 1962)
     - At the Core by Larry Niven (from If, November 1966)
     - A Pail of Air by Fritz Leiber (from Galaxy Science Fiction, December 1951)
     - King of the Hill by Chad Oliver (from Again, Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison, 1972)

Humanity Destroyed:

     - The New Atlantis by Ursula K. Le Guin (from The New Atlantis and Other Novellas of Science Fiction, edited by Robert Silverberg, 1975)
     - History Lesson by Arthur C. Clarke (from Startling Stories, May 1949)
     - Seeds of the Dusk by Raymond Z.Gallun (from Astounding Science-Fiction, June 1938)
     - Dark Benediction by Walter M. Miller, Jr. (from Fantastic Adventures, September 1951)

Civilization Destroyed:

     - Last Night of Summer by Alfred Coppel (from Orbit, No. 4, September-October, 1954)
     - The Store of the Worlds by Robert Sheckley (from Playboy, September 1959)
     - How It Was When the Past Went Away by Robert Silverberg (from Three for Tomorrow, anonymously edited by Robert Silverberg, 1969)
     - Shark Ship by C. M. Kornbluth (from Vanguard Science Fiction, June 1958, as "Reap the Dark Tide")

A great line-up of authors and stories.  It's hard impossible for me to pick my favorite.  Dip anywhere into the volume for good reading.


  1. I've been slowly squiring these Asimov/Greenberg anthologies. The quality is high and the price for many of these wonderful volumes is absurdly low: a penny in some cases!

  2. Good reading. Low cost. That's a win-win, Geroge!

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  4. A fine book, but, oddly enough, I am familiar with them all from other contexts...but I suspect I'm funny that way. Most Greenberg reprint anthos, that would be less true of...

  5. Universe, Sun, Earth, Humanity? And here I was expecting a pebble in the shoe, maybe a flat tire at worst. I mean, come on, there's just not a lot you can do when the universe is destroyed.