Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Friday, December 18, 2020


 Universe 10, edited by Terry Carr (1980)

The original science fiction anthology series has been around since at least 1953 when Frederik Pohl started Star Science Fiction.  Among the most popular and significant such series were Damon Knight's Orbit, Robert Silverberg's New Dimensions, John Carnell's New Writings in SF, Judy del Rey's Stellar, and -- of course -- Terry Carr's Universe.

Carr was one of the most perceptive and creative anthology editor in the field.  His anthologies were always a high standard for the genre and his Universe series (totally 17 volumes) was no exception.  Universe 10 is a good example:  eight well-written and intriguing stories, plus two "Non-Fact" articles that stretch the imagination.  The most notable story in the volume is Howard Waldrop's award-winning "The Ugly Chickens." but this may not be the best story in the book because it is hard to pick the best.  Michael Bishop's "Saving Face" gives us an unusual story of a litigious future, while R. A. Lafferty's "And All the Skies Are Full of Fish" is an uproarious look at children with special gifts.  F. M. Busby's "First Person Plural" adds a new twist on both time and on possession.  Actually, I defy you to find a story in Universe 10 that dull or boring or uninteresting.  The anthology is that good. 

The stories:

  • Michael Bishop, "Saving Face."  In the near future celebrities "own" their likeness and anyone who resembles them can be subject to punishment or worse for infringement. Nominated for a 1981 Locus Award for Best Novelette; later included in Bishop's 1984 collection One Winter in Eden.
  • "James Tiptree, Jr." (Alice Sheldon), "A Source of Innocent Merriment."  A spaceman is haunted by something he had seen.  Later included in Tiptree's 1981 collection Out of Everywhere and Other Extraordinary visions.
  • R. A. Lafferty, "And All the Skies Are Full of Fish."  A group of prissy kids can control the rain and an opposing groups (including the world's largest dog) throw a spanner (well, fish, actually)in the works.  Part of Lafferty's Men Who Knew Everything  series; later included ion his 1983 collection Through Elegant Eyes.
  • Lee Killough, "Bete et Noir." In the near future, theatre verite is an unscripted form of theater, thanks to a drug that allows actors to become their characters.  Part of Killough's Aventine series; later included in his 1982 collection Aventine.
  • Howard Waldrop, "The Ugly Chickens."  It turns out that dodos are were still in existence and they taste like chicken.  Winner of the 1981 Nebula award for Best Novelette; winner of the 1981 World Fantasy Award for Best Short Fiction; nominated for the 1981 Locus, Hugo, and Balrog Awards; included in Donald A. Wollheim & Arthur Saha's The 1981 Annual World's Best SF, in Gardner Dozois' Best Science Fiction Stories of the Year:  Tenth Annual Collection, in Terry Carry's The Best Science Fiction of the Year #10, in John F. Carr & Jerry Pournelle's Nebula Award Stories 16, and in Waldrop's collections Howard Who? (1986), Things in Close-Up:  The Nearly Complete Howard Waldrop (1989), and in Things Will Never Be the Same:  A Howard Waldrop Reader:  Selected Short Fiction 1980-2005 S
  • Charles E. Elliott, "SUPERL."  A "Non-Fact" Article.  An artificial language is created to replace all other languages.  
  • "Eric G. Iverson" (Harry Turtledove), "Report of the Special Committee on the Quality of Life."  Another "Non-Fact" Article.  Bureaucrats in the year 1491 put the kibosh on Columbus.  Later reprinted in Turtledove's 1993 collection Departures.
  • Mary C. Pangborn, "The Confession of Hamo."  A tale of alchemy and a curse.  Nominated for a 1991 Locus Award for Best Short Story; included in Terry Carr's Fantasy Annual IV (1981).
  • Carter Schotz, "The Johann Sebastian Bach Memorial Barbeque and Nervous Breakdown."  A time traveler is responsible for Bach's Brandenburg concertos. 
  • F. M. Busby, "First Person Plural."  A man wakes up in the body of a nineteen-year-old girl who has been in a vegetative state all her life, but he also remains in his on body -- only fifteen hours apart.  This dual not-quite simultaneous life has its problems.


  1. I read UNIVERSE 10 when it was first published. I liked Terry Carr's inclusion of a variety of stories--some appealed to me, some didn't. But you could count on Carr finding some very original stories for each volume of the series. Nice choice!

  2. And the one-off anthologies, original and reprint, from Carr and others...ah, well. I wonder how many who don't already know would make anything of the notation that Mary Pangborn was Edgar's slightly older and longer-lived sister, and both the children of Georgia Pangborn.

  3. I just picked up "And a Puzzle to Die On", the Kindle version of course, only a few days late. The Minuteman Library Network has slim pickings of Parnell's work, but a tip o' the hat from Jerry's House of Everythings' brother should set them straight.