Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Friday, June 17, 2016


Evil Earths, Galactic Empires Volume Two, & Perilous Planets all edited by Brian Aldiss (1975, 1976, and 1978, respectively)

While rummaging around in some old boxes, I came across these three books which were part of a series of six books Aldiss edited in the 70s.  (The other three were Space Odysseys, 1974, Space Opera, 1974, and Galactic Empires Volume One, 1975 -- all three of which are most likely buried in another box or boxes.  I'll have to fig them out soon.)

All three are collections of good, old-fashioned science fiction adventure, written purely to entertain.  When I was a kid, science fiction was basically divided into two camps.  There was John W. Campbell and his humans can overcome everything philosophy and there was everything else.  The everything else included the Horace Gold social science-oriented stories as well as the Planet Stories type of off-world adventure; later would come the New Wave of semi-experimental fiction.
Aldiss prefers entertaining (as well as literary) science fiction, as opposed to what Jim Baen used to call the "ones with rivets."  And there's nothing wrong with that.

So here are three books of slam-bang entertainment, mainly from the 40s and the 50s -- Aldiss even includes some from Campbell's Astounding Science Fiction.  A few of these stories are crudely written but -- as for entertaining -- they get the job done.

Like Bill Crider, I miss the old days.

The contents:

Evil Earths

  • The Last Word by Chad Oliver & Charles Beaumont (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, April 1955)
  • Film of Death by J. Scott Campbell (Astounding Science Fiction, March 1948)
  • The Wound by Howard Fast (from The General Zapped an Angel, 1970)
  • The Golden Man by Philip K. Dick (If, April 1954)
  • Guest Expert by Allen K. Lang (Planet Stories, January 1951)
  • The Valley by Richard Stockham (If, June 1954)
  • Down Among the Dead Men by William Tenn (Galaxy Science Fiction, June 1954)
  • Among the Hairy Earthmen by R. A. Lafferty (Galaxy Science Fiction, August 1966)
  • Later than You Think by Fritz Leiber (Galaxy Science Fiction, October 1950)
  • The Time Trap by Henry Kuttner (Marvel Science Stories, November 1938)
  • The Men Return by Jack Vance (Infinity Science Fiction, July 1957)
  • Heresies of the Huge God by Brian W. Aldiss (Galaxy Science Fiction, April 1966)
  • "If I Forget Thee, Oh Earth..." by Arthur C. Clarke (Future Combined with Science Fiction Stories, September 1951)
  • Night by John W. Campbell, Jr. (Astounding Stories, October 1935)
A great line-up.  The Lafferty story was nominated for a Nebula and the Kuttner for a Retro Hugo Award.  Aldiss provides provoking introductions to various sections of the book.  The Kuttner is a complete short novel, the type that would have been welcome as part of an Ace Double back in the day.

Galactic Empires Volume Two
  • Escape to Chaos by John D. MacDonald (Super Science Stories, June 1951)
  • Concealment by A. E. van Vogt (Astounding Science Fiction, September 1943)
  • To Civilize by Algis Budrys (Future Science Fiction, January 1954)
  • Beep by James Blish (Galaxy Science Fiction, February 1954)
  • Down the River by Mack Reynolds (Startling Stories, September 1950)
  • The Bounty Hunter by Avram Davidson (Fantastic Universe, March 1958)
  • Not Yet the End by Fredric Brown (Captain Future, Winter 1941)
  • Tonight the Stars Revolt! by Gardner F. Fox (Planet Stories, March 1952)
  • Final Encounter by Harry Harrison (Galaxy Magazine, April 1964)
  • Lord of a Thousand Suns by Poul Anderson (Planet Stories, September 1951)
  • Big Ancestor by Floyd L. Wallace (Galaxy Science Fiction, November 1954)
  • The Interlopers by Roger Dee (Astounding Science Fiction, September 1954)
Another good line-up.  The MacDonald has not been previously reprinted and is a real treat.  Gardner Fox is probably best remember as a comic book writer but he wrote a number  of science fiction, fantasy and historical novels; his story here is somewhat clunky, but fun.  Again, Aldiss adds some interesting introductions to the various sections.

Perilous Planets
  • Mouth of Hell by David I. Masson (New Worlds, January 1966)
  • Brightside Crossing by Alan E. Nourse (Galaxy Science Fiction, February 1953)
  • The  Sack by William Morrison (Astounding Science Fiction, September 1950)
  • The Monster by A. E. van Vogt (Astounding Science Fiction, August 1948)
  • The Monsters by Robert Sheckley (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, March 1953)
  • Grenville's Planet by Michael Shaara (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, October 1952)
  • Beachhead by Clifford D. Simak (Fantastic Adventures, July 1951)
  • The Ark of James Carlyle by Cherry Wilder (New Writings in SF 24, edited by Kenneth Bulmer, 1974)
  • On the River by Robert F. Young (Fantastic Stories of Imagination, January 1965)
  • Goddess in Granite by Robert F. Young (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, September 1957)
  • The Seekers by E. C. Tubb (New Writings in SF 6, edited by John Carnell, 1965)
  • When the People Fell by Cordwainer Smith (Galaxy Magazine, April 1959)
  • The Titan by P. Schuyler Miller (abbreviated version published in Unusual Stories, March 1934; then published as a three-part serial, first in the semi-prozine Marvel Tales, Winter 1934, the second part in Marvel Tales of Science and Fantasy, March-April 1935, and the concluding part in Marvel Tales, Summer 1935)
  • Four in One by Damon Knight (Galaxy Science Fiction, February 1953)
  • The Age of Invention by Norman Spinrad (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, July 1966)
  • The Snowmen by Frederik Pohl (Galaxy Magazine, December 1959)
  • Schwartz Between the Galaxies by Robert Silverberg (Stellar 1, edited by Judy-Lynn del Rey, 1974)
Aldiss also contributes introductions to the various sections.  There is also an introduction to the book -- "How Are They All on Deneb IV?" by C. C. Shackleton -- which was reprinted from SF Horizons No. 2 (1965), a short-lived critical magazine from Aldiss and Harry Harrison.  "Shackleton," of course, was a pseudonym for Aldiss.  The Silverberg was nominated for both a Locus Award and a Hugo.  The Nourse was nominated for a Hugo.  The Spinrad was nominated for a Nebula.  The Wilder was nominated for a Ditmar.  Three of the stories in this volume were first published in England.  A. E. van Vogt's story has also been published as "Resurrection."

That's a total of 43 stories in the three volumes.  Many of the stories are unfamiliar to the casual science fiction reader and a good number probably unfamiliar to the more experienced science fiction reader.  A great introduction to the science fiction many of us grew on!


  1. I have the two volumes of GALACTIC EMPIRES but have yet to read them. Now, I want to!

  2. The two volumes of the US version of GALACTIC EMPIRES and SPACE OPERA are the only of these I've had (in storage for some time now!), and these were all also meant to be seen, I think, as complements to BILLION YEAR SPREE, his first history of sf, revised later as TRILLION YEAR SPREE. I think he as well as I would suggest there were more dichotomies in sf than simply Campbellian and Everyone Else's, but that is certainly how a Whole Big Lot of Fans persist in seeing At Least the fiction of the middle decades of the last century, and I gather I often irritate them by disagreeing as I tend to do. (A bit like insisting it was Hardboiled and Everyone Else in crime fiction, also popular and also too reductionist, by me.) I'm glad I've read most of the contents of EVIL and PERILOUS in other anthologies over the years, but would like to see Aldiss's notes...and I'm glad to see them reviewed here! Thanks.

  3. After checking The Shelves, and The Catalog, I see I have neither of the Galactic Empires paperbacks, and I wish I did. Must rectify that. Not that I haven't read most of the stories in the three anthologies you review here, but heck, want, want. I like Aldis as an editor better than I do as a fiction writer, I think.