cover image Science Fiction Century

Science Fiction Century

. Tor Books, $40 (992pp) ISBN 978-0-312-86338-8

Over the past quarter century, Hartwell has built a well-deserved reputation in SF, fantasy and horror as an editor extraordinaire. In addition to discovering many of the leading luminaries in the genre, he has produced a pool of anthologies (The Ascent of Wonder; The Dark Descent; etc.) that attempt to stand as definitive volumes. The Science Fiction Century is another such successful landmark collection. In his introduction, Hartwell makes a strong case that ""science fiction is the characteristic literary genre of the century."" He defines this SF century as starting in 1895 with H.G. Wells, ably represented in this volume by ""A Story of the Days to Come."" Frequently showing his academic roots, Hartwell includes several lesser-known female writers (e.g, Mildred Clingerman, Margaret St. Clair), as well as some foreign writers in translation. Mostly, though, the anthology is filled with classic and wonderful stories by well-known authors in the field, including James Morrow, A.E. Van Vogt, James Blish, Connie Willis, Poul Anderson, Roger Zelazny, Bruce Sterling, William Gibson and Harlan Ellison. The volume closes with the sentimentally beautiful ""Sail the Tide of Mourning"" by Richard Lupoff. While Hartwell's exclusions are sometimes curious (there's no Ursula K. Le Guin, Greg Bear, Theodore Sturgeon or Damon Knight), his selections persuade that this has been a century enriched, as he says, by the ""literature for people who value knowledge."" (June)