Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Thursday, December 3, 2020


 World's Best Science Fiction:  1965, edited by Donald A. Wollheim and Terry Carr (1965)

In the beginning there was Everett F. Bleiler and T. E. Dikty, who introduced the concept of a "Best of the Year" anthology to the science fiction field with their Best Science Fiction Stories series that began in 1949 and continued through 1958, with Dikty compiling the last three volumes as Best Science Fiction Stories and Novels (skipping publishing a volume in 1957); Bleiler and Dikty had also edited The Year's Best Science Fiction Novels from 1953 to 1954.  Bleiler and Dikty had opened the floodgates but those gates opened ever so slowly.

August Derleth's 1954 Portals of Tomorrow was an attempt to begin another best of the year anthology; there was not a second volume.  1956 saw the publication of S-F:  The Year's Greatest Science-Fiction and Fantasy, the first of 12 volumes (under various titles, and skipping 1967) edited by Judith Merril.  Merril's anthologies had the advantage of both having regular paperback editions and a sophisticated editorial taste, becoming the gold standard in the field.  Then came Donald A. Wollheim and Terry Carr in 1965.

Wollheim was a major force in the SF field beginning with his teen years as a member of the legendary Futuriana.  He wrote short stories and novels, edited a slew of magazines, and, most importantly, was an editor at wo major paperback publishing houses, first Avon Books, then Ace Books.  At Ace he was responsible for publishing some of the most noteworthy authors of the 50s and 60s, as well as reprinting a number of "Golden Age" science fiction novels that would otherwise have been lost to time.  Much of his Ace line was dreck, but among the dreck were some shining novels.  Perhaps the best thing that happened to Wollheim and Ace Books was the hiring of Terry Carr as an editor.  Carr was responsible for, among other things, the legendary Ace Science Fiction Special line, which help elevate the science field greatly.   Wollheim and Carr combined their talents and tastes in seven best of the year anthologies.  After which, Wollheim left Ace to found DAW Books and to continue his best of the year anthologies with Arthur Saha, ending in 1990 with Wollheim's death.  Carr went on to edited his own best of the year series (as well as two volumes of The Best Sf Novellas of the Year, 1979-1980, and five volumes of The Year's Finest Fantasy/Fantasy Annual, 1978-1982, skipping 1980) for 16 years from 1972 to 1987, ending with Carr's death.  And what about Ace Books?  When Wollheim and Carr left the company, Fredrik Pohl was tapped to continue their series, which he did for one year, followed by Forrest Ackerman, who also edited the series for a year.  Lester del Rey then cam on board for a five-year stint with a retitled Best Science Fiction Stories of the Year series; Gardner Dozois carried the series on for another four years, ending in 1981.  Dozois went on to edited his storied The Year's Best Science Fiction for thirty-five years, beginning in 1984.

Other year's best series including those by Brian W. Aldiss and Harry Harrison (9 volumes, 1968-1976), David G. Hartwell (both solo and with Kathryn Cramer) (18 volumes, 1996-2013), Rich Horton (3 volumes, 2006-2008, followed by The Year's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy (beginning in 2010, 12 volumes and counting), Jonathan Strahan (The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, 13 volumes, 2007-2019, plus one volume of Science Fiction:  The Very Best in 2005), and others both targeted and general -- The Best Vegan Science Fiction and Fantasy (4 volumes), Best Indie Speculative Science Fiction (2 volumes), Science Fiction:  The Best of 2001...2005 (5 volumes), The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy (6 volumes and counting, from various editors), The Best Asian Speculative Fiction (1 volume), The Best Science Fiction of the Year (edited by Neil Clarke, 5 volumes and counting), The Year's Best Military SF and Space Opera (5 volumes, including a name change), The Year's Best Aotearoa New Zealand Science Fiction and Fantasy (2 volumes and counting), two separate but similarly titled The Year's Best Australian Science Fiction and Fantasy (2 volumes and 5 volumes, respectively), Year's Best Transhuman SF (1 volume), and Year's Best YA Speculative Fiction (3 volumes).  And the list goes on....

Tired yet?  And that's not counting all of the year's best series of fantasy, horror, British horror, paranormal and romantic fantasy, British fantasy, British science fiction, dark fantasy, fantastic fiction, hardcore horror, and Lord knows what else.  I'm not even going into annual collections of the best from single magazines.

Until a few years ago, one could get a good sense of the field through the Dozois annual anthologies and, previous to that, through Terry Carr's annuals.  So it is interesting to look at Carr's first best of the year anthology, even though he got second billing to his boss and the better-known Don Wollheim.  

First, there are no prize-winners here.  Second, all of the stories from the US and England are from traditional SF magazines -- The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (5 stories), Galaxy Magazine (3 stories), Analog (2 stories), New Worlds SF (2 stories), and Amazing Stories (2 issues); the three stories from other locations (Australia, Czechoslovakia, Holland) are sourced from single author collections (2) and a small press foreign magazine (1).  The influence of original anthologies is not present.  Third, all the stories are fairly standard science fiction, albeit with some interesting twists.  Top stories, in my opinion, are those from Leiber (of course), Dick, Brunner, Nesvadba, and Disch.  Perhaps the most disappointing story is from Jack B. Lawson, not because of the quality or the scope of the tale -- which involves mankind being supplanted by robots -- but because of its herky-jerky pace (something that may have been the fault of the original magazine editor, for whatever reason)

All in all, this is a solid anthology with good, readable tales.  Nothing world-shaking, but worth your time.  And a harbinger of better anthologies to come.

The stories:

  • Tom Purdom, "Greenplace" (from The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, November 1964)
  • Ben Bova & Myron R. Lewis, "Men of Good Will" (from Galaxy Magazine, June 1964; I should note that Bova died this week at age 88 -- he was a prolific writer and editor of note)
  • "Christopher Anvil"  (Harry Christopher Crosby). "Bill for Delivery" (from Analog Science Fact -> Science Fiction, November 1964; part of Anvil's "Federation of Humanity" sequence)
  • Norman Kagan, "Four Brands of the Impossible" (from The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, September 1964)
  • William F. Temple, "A Niche in Time" (from Analog Science Fact -> Science Fiction, May 1964)
  • Edward Jesby, "Sea Wrack" (from The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. May 1964)
  • "C. C. McCapp" (Carroll M. Capps), "For Every Action" (from Amazing Stories, May 1964)
  • Josef Nesvadba, "Vampires Ltd." (Originally published in Czechoslovakia in 1962 as "Upir ltd"; original English book publication in his collection Vampires Ltd., 1964; translated by Iris Urwin)
  • John Brunner, "The Last Lonely Man" (from New Worlds SF #142, May-June 1964)
  • Robert Lory, "The Star Party" (from The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, September 1964)
  • Colin Free, "The Weather in the Underworld" (from the Australian magazine Squire, date unknown although it was copyrighted in 1964; it was reprinted in 1968's The Pacific Book of Australian SF, which states that the story was sourced from Squire, June 1965, which conflicts with it being published in this volume of stories from 1964; The FictionMags Index is of no help, giving only space information about Squire; **sigh**)
  • Philip K. Dick, "Oh, To Be A Blobel!" (from Galaxy Magazine, February 1964)
  • Edward Mackin, "The Unremembered" (from New Worlds SF, March 1964; Mackin is sometimes confused with Ralph M. McInerney, who occasionally used "Edward Mackin" as a pseudonym)
  • Harry Mulisch, "What Happened to Sergeant Masuro?" (originally appeared as "Wat gebeurde er met sergeant Massuro?" in Mulisch's 1957 collection De versierde mens; English version from The Busy Bee Review:  New Writings from the Netherlands; translated by Roy Edwards)
  • Thomas M. Disch, "Now Is Forever" (from Amazing Stories, March 1964, under the pseudonym "Dobbin Thorpe")
  • Jack B. Lawson, "The Competitors" (from If, January 1964)
  • Fritz Leiber, "When the Change-Winds Blow" (from The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, August 1964; part of Leiber's "Change War" sequence)


  1. And Earl Kemp all but ghost-edited the Dikty solo volumes, after having pitched in when Bleiler was still co-editing.

    The Del Rey BOTY actually started by/for Dutton, and Ace just jumped on to do the paperback after the collapsing Ace gave up on generating their own.

    AnD that was a pretty comprehensive rundown...the notable omission, I'd say, was Kelly's BEST WEIRD FICTION...

  2. Oh! Yes...original anthos were barely on the scene in '64, so it was hard to fault them thus...STAR was gone, ORBIT not yet up,,,just the first volume of NEW WRITINGS IN SF and the marginal TABOO, I think...

  3. Derleth's OVER THE EDGE might also have had some borderlive sf, as an original anthology, I see, and SPECTRUM 3 from Kingsley Amis and Robert Conquest did have the one published Mark Rose story as an original...and the US edition was published in '64...what might I be foolishly overlooking?

  4. Ah...I see I sleepily misread the implication of their influence not being present. Emily Litella wants you to know that we all might go about our business.

  5. Maybe not the best antho to start with, then.

  6. I remember reading this volume (and most of the following books in the series). Then Gardner Dozois arrived with his mammoth tomes.