Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Friday, March 8, 2019


The Best from Fantasy and Science Fiction, Sixteenth Series, edited by Edward L. Ferman (1967)

There's always a problem with the use of the word "Best" in an anthology.  (Or an award, for that matter.)  Best is an subjective word:  one person's meat can be another's poison.  Too, the vicissitudes of publishing place demands on an anthologist.  Some stories are too long, some are unavailable for reprint, some are to similar to others, some authors produce a large amount of great stories and the editor is forced to choose, and some stories may be included because of popular acclaim -- deserved or not.  Some science magazine editors opt out of this quandry by coming up with alternative titles for their "Best of" series; John Campbell numbered his analog anthologies (Analog 1..2..3, etc.), H. L. Gold did the same with his Galaxy anthologies (The Galaxy Reader of Science Fiction, The Second Galaxy Reader, the Third...Fourth, etc.), James Quinn's short-lived series also avoided "Best of" with The First Worlds of IF..The Second), and the various editors of Isaac Asimov's Science fiction Magazine simply issued themed anthologies (Isaac Asimov's Aliens, isaac Asimov's Moons, Isaac Asimov's Cyberdreams...)

Te Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction issued 24 "Best of" anthologies, beginning in 1952, continuing annually until 1967 with the Sixteenth Series, and then irregularly until 1982.  This book sThe various editors responsible for these anthologies were Anthony Boucher and J. Francis McComas, Anthony Boucher (solo), Robert P. Mills, Avram Davidson, and Edward L. Ferman.  The stories included may not have been the best, but they were damned good reading and providing a good representation of the magazine over the years.  (I also should mention that F&SF has consistently been my favorite SF magazine over the years.)

Sixteenth Series contains thirteen stories, four poems, and six Gahan Wilson cartoons from 1965-6.  The book should viewed with the "Best of" caveats in the first paragraph, above, but this should not deter anyone.  The authors cover the well-known (Asimov, Dick, Zelazny) and the little-known (Joan Patricia Basch, Mose Mallette, John Shepley), as well as some popular authors who may be unfairly called second-tier authors (Biggle, Christopher, Goulart, Bulmer).  No award winners are included, but some nominees are.  Time travel, space flight, aliens, mushrooms, homosexual dogs, virtual reality, technology run amok, very strange takes on story-telling,  and's all here -- humorous, scary, silly, moving.  And it's fun.

The stories:

  • "Luana" by Gilbert Thomas (September 1966; also picked up by Judith Merril in her "best of'" anthology, SF12)"
  • "And Madly Teach" by Lloyd Biggle, Jr. (May 1966)
  • "Matog" by Joan Patricia Basch (August 1966)
  • "The Key" by Isaac Asimov (October 1966; a Wendell Urth story; also included in Ferman's The Best From Fantasy and Science Fiction:  A Special 25th Anniversay Anthology, 1974)
  • "The Seven Wonders of the Universe" by Mose Mallette (August 1966)
  • "A Few Kindred Spirits" by "John Christopher" [Sam Christopher Youd] (November 1965; nominated for the 1966 Nebula Award for Best Short Story)
  • "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale" by Philip K. Dick (April 1966; noominated for the 1967 Nebula Award for Best Short Story; included in Terry Carr and Donald A Wollheim's World's Best Science Fiction:  1967, 1967; in Brian W. Aldiss and Harry Harrison's Nebula Award Stories Two, 1967; in Ferman and Mills' Twenty Years of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, 1970; Ferman's The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction:  A Thirty Year Retrospective, 1980; Gordon van Gelder's Fourth Planet from the Sun:  Tales of Mars from The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, 2005; it was also reprinted in the October 1979 issue of F&SF; the storeywas also the basis of both the 1990 and 2012 films Total Recall)
  • "Three for Carnival" by John Shepley (May 1966)
  • "Experiment in Autobiography" by Ron Goulart (July 1966; a Jose Silvera story)
  • "The Adjusted" by Kenneth Bulmer (June 1966)
  • "The Age of Invention" by Norman Spinrad (July 1966; nominated for the 1967 Nebula Award for Best Short Story)
  • "Apology to Inky" by Robert M. Green, Jr. (January 1966; nominated for the 1967 Nebula Award of Best Novelette; finalist for the 1967 Hugo Award for Best Novelette)
  • "The Moment of the Storm" by Roger Zelazny (June 1966; nominated for the 1967 Nebula Award for Best Novelette; finalist for the 1967 Hugo Award for Best Novelette; included in van Gelder's The Very Best of Fantasy & Science Fiction:  60th Anniversary Anthology)
The poems:
  • "Mickey Finn" by Doris Pitkin Buck (March 1966)
  • "Imaginary Numbers in a Real Garden" by Gerald Jonas (April 1965; also included in Ferman's The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction:  A Thirty Year Retrospective)
  • "Letter to a Tyrant King" by Bill Butler (August 1966)
  • "Memo to Secretary" by Pat De Graw (June 1966)

Good stuff.


  1. Oh, I'd definitely take issue with the notion that Goulart was a lesser writer than Asimov or Zelazny...certainly more consistent.

    But otherwise not too much argument from me..."Luana" is one of the more memorable stories in this volume. Ferman's choices of what was best out of his usually good-to-excellent issues (he was Way too fond of Robert F. Young, Raylyn Moore and a few others' work), but there are stronger volumes in his years, as well...Gordon Van Gelder and Ferman also have published subsequent volumes of Best-Ofs.

  2. Todd, IO certainly would not say that Goulart was a lesser writer, only that he is not as well-known -- and this is from a guy who has read (an almost always enjoyed) almost all his books published under various names, including AN AMERICAN FAMILY and the his atrocious Regency romances.