Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Friday, January 13, 2017


Isaac Asimov's Wonderful Worlds of Science Fiction #6:  Neanderthals edited by Robert Silverberg, Martin H. Greenberg, & Charles G. Waugh (1987)

So, when is an Asimov/Greenberg/Waugh anthology not an Asimov/Greenberg/Waugh anthology?  When it's a Silverberg/Greenberg/Waugh anthology.  I'm not sure why, but there it is.

From 1983 to 1991, Signet Books published two anthology series from Issac Asimov, Martin H. Greenberg, & Charles G. Waugh:  Isaac Asimov's Wonderful Worlds of Science Fiction (with ten volumes) and Isaac Asimov's Magical Worlds of Fantasy (with twelve volumes).  Each was a highly readable themed collection combining the more familiar with the decidedly less so.  Each -- with the exception of this volume -- was co-edited by Asimov.  Silverberg was a great choice to fill in for the Good Doctor.  An experienced editor and one who is very knowledgeable about the science fiction and fantasy fields, Silverberg, like Asimov, has had a long writing career divided between highly regarded fiction and diverse and entertaining non-fiction.  Silverberg also expanded three of Asimov's best-known stories into novels:  Nightfall (1990, based on the story of the same title"), Child of Time 1991, a.p.a., The Ugly Little Boy, based on Asimov's Story "The Ugly Little Boy," also known as "Lastborn"), and The Positronic Man (1992, based on "The Bicentennial Man").   From 1979 though 1992, DAW Books published the Asimov/Greenberg anthology series The Great SF Stories, with each volume covering a specific year, from 1939 through to 1963, 25 volumes in all.  In 2001, Greenberg joined with Silverberg to expand the series by one year with Robert Silverberg Presents the Great SF Stories, 1965 (NESFA Press).

Although not edited by Asimov, Neanderthals does have an introduction by him and features his story "The Ugly Little Boy."

Neanderthals are a good breeding ground for science fiction writers.  Many of us have some Neanderthal in our DNA#3, which indicates cross breeding at some point in our distant past.  How did this happen?  How did the Neanderthals cope with population pressures, competition, and technological changes?  How did Neanderthal Man die out?  Or, is he still alive today.  And, if alive, is he hiding or hiding in plain sight?  These and many more questions have been SF fodder for decades.

Like all the other books in the series, it's hard to go wrong with this one.

The line-up:

  • "Introduction:  Neanderthal Man" by Isaac Asimov
  • "Genesis" by H. Beam Piper (a Paratime Police story, from Future Combines with Science Fiction Stories, September 1951)
  • "The Ugly Little Boy" by Isaac Asimov (from Galaxy Science Fiction, September 1958 under the title "Lastborn")
  • "The Long Remembering" by Poul Anderson (from The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, November 1957)
  • "The Apotheosis of Ki" by Miriam Allen deFord (from The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, December 1956)
  • "Man o' Dreams" by Will McMorrow (from Argosy All-Story Weekly, January 5, 1929)
  • "The Treasure of Odirex" by Charles Sheffield (an Erasmus Darwin story, from Fantastic, July 1978)
  • "The Ogre" by Avram Davidson (from If, July 1959)
  • "Alas, Poor Yorick" by Thomas Easton (a Howie Wyman story, from The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, August 1981)
  • "The Gnarly Man" by L. Sprague de Camp (from Unknown, June 1939)
  • "The Hairy Parents" by A. Bertram Chandler ( although not part of a series per se, this features Chandler's alter ego, George Whitley; from Void #2, November 1975)
  • "The Alley Man" by Philip Jose Farmer (from The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, June 1959; this placed second in the 1960 Hugo Best Short Fiction category)
  • "Afterward:  The Valley of Neander" by Robert Silverberg (an extract from Silverberg's 1964 non-fiction book Man Before Adam.)

Several of these stories border on fantasy, but let's not quibble.  Each one is a gem.

For those interested, here's a list of Asimov's "Wonderful Worlds" and "Magical Worlds":

Isaac Asimov's Wonderful Worlds of Science Fiction:
  • #1  Intergalactic Empires (1983)
  • #2  The Science Fictional Olympics (1984)
  • #3  Supermen (1984)
  • #4  Comets (1986)
  • #5  Tin Stars (1986)
  • #6  Neanderthals (1987; edited by Silverberg, Greenberg, & Waugh)
  • #7  Space Shuttles (1987)
  • #8  Monsters (1988)
  • #9  Robots (1989)
  • #10  Invasions (1990)

Isaac Asimov's Magical Worlds of Fantasy:
  • #1  Wizards (1983)
  • #2  Witches  (1984)
  • #3  Cosmic Knights (1985)
  • #4  Spells (1985)
  • #5  Giants (1985)
  • #6  Mythical Beasties (1986)
  • #7  Magical Wishes (1986)
  • #8  Devils (1987)
  • #9  Atlantis (1988)
  • #10  Ghosts (1988)
  • #11  Curses (1989)
  • #12  Faeries (1991)
Check 'em out.


  1. I've seen these collections from time to time but didn't pick them up. Now I kick myself! Maybe I can track them down online. Thanks for the helpful lists!

  2. Yes, they're widely available from secondhand sources...

    Amusingly, while the Chandler story appeared in the Australian magazine VOID first,it appeared also in the October, 1978 issue of FANTASTIC, where I read it...the issue after the one featuring the Sheffield story. 1978 a good year for Neanderthals in FANTASTIC...

    Oddly enough, I only very recently realized how much a silver thread of Silverberg's work ran through my early reading...