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Reading Around in Groff Conklin's Anthologies

Extollager

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#52 is Margaret St. Clair's "Rations of Tantalus" from Conklin's paperback anthology Worlds of When (Pyramid, 1962).

The story originally appeared in Fantastic Universe, July 1954.

Mr. Harvey lives lovelessly and peacefully with his beautiful wife Mara in a society whose calm is occasionally broken when someone loses control and ducks under cover to give way to a Rage fit. Harvey yearns to increase his dosage of euphoria medication because unhappiness gnaws at him. To his alarm, he finds his passions aroused, unintentionally for both of them, by proximity to a woman who declines the drugs that control female physiology and even perspiration. He has to decide whether to settle for a predictable, drug-dependent and conformist way of life, or to venture into a riskier future for himself and Mara by flushing away their meds. 3/5
 

Extollager

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#53 is Stephen Barr's "The Back of Our Heads," which Conklin reprinted in 13 Above the Night, from the July 1958 Galaxy.

It reminded me a bit of Donald Wollheim's "Colossus" from the mid-1930s and a bit of Kuttner and Moore's "Vintage Season," but I'd have to read it, or some of it, again to get a firmer grip on it. For now: 3/5
 

Extollager

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I'm not going to include stories I didn't finish reading in the enumeration of stories for this ongoing series. Maybe it's appropriate, though, for me to register here that Conklin anthologized some stories that I could finish only if I forced myself, slogging along sentence by sentence. Whatever it is that has drawn me to science fiction, it's lacking in a fair bit of the sf that's been published -- and republished in anthologies such as Conklin's 12 Great Classics of Science Fiction, where we find Robert F. Young's "Thirty Days Had September" and Robert Sheckley's "Human Man's Burden." To judge from what I managed to read, these are meant to be bright, clever things; sf for grown-ups, don't you know, the kind of grown-ups with martinis on Scandinavian Modern-style coffee tables.


Not for me!
 

Victoria Silverwolf

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Ha! Nice analogy.

I think I know the kind of thing you mean, and I have to admit to a weakness for that kind of story myself. Very 1950's, very Galaxy-ish stories, if I take your meaning. Clever, witty, satiric little stories. Just my cup of tea (or very dry martini, if you will.)
 

Extollager

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#54 -- Eric Frank Russell's "Impulse," reprinted by Conklin in Invaders of Earth. I'm giving this 3/5 at best, though Conklin seemed to think his readers would find it as memorable as Lovecraft's "Colour Out of Space." (I'd read the Russell a few years ago and pretty well forgotten it!) A meteorite bearing something like an alien intelligent virus lands and possesses a corpse that visits a doctor and makes a horrible demand. The story could've made an effective old-time radio play.

Maybe I'm dull-witted on this very warm July day, but: I didn't get whether there was supposed to be some significance in the bit at the end about the madman Wilson.
 

clovis-man

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#54 -- Eric Frank Russell's "Impulse," reprinted by Conklin in Invaders of Earth. I'm giving this 3/5 at best, though Conklin seemed to think his readers would find it as memorable as Lovecraft's "Colour Out of Space." (I'd read the Russell a few years ago and pretty well forgotten it!) A meteorite bearing something like an alien intelligent virus lands and possesses a corpse that visits a doctor and makes a horrible demand. The story could've made an effective old-time radio play.
I read it in the same Conklin publication. And I visualized it as being effective in a film as opposed to radio. Not a bad tale, IMO.
 

Extollager

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Nelson Bond's "The Monster from Nowhere," reprinted in The Best of Science Fiction from Fantastic Adventures for July 1939, gets 3/5. It's an adaptation of the Flatland dimensions idea for the sake of an economically-told thriller. Nothing to go out of your way to find, I suppose, but if you have it on hand and have never read it, you might give it a few minutes' perusal. This was #55 and my entry for August -- not to say I might not be back later this month for some other story.
 

Extollager

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#56 is Asimov's "The Fun They Had," as reprinted in Fifty Short Science Fiction Tales. It's sfnal small change, but Asimov accomplishes what he set out to do. In our own time of increasing use of electronic instruction of the young, this futuristic story -- for all it has some unintentionally amusing misfires of extrapolation -- has some relevance. 3/5
 

Victoria Silverwolf

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#56 is Asimov's "The Fun They Had," as reprinted in Fifty Short Science Fiction Tales. It's sfnal small change, but Asimov accomplishes what he set out to do. In our own time of increasing use of electronic instruction of the young, this futuristic story -- for all it has some unintentionally amusing misfires of extrapolation -- has some relevance. 3/5
Certainly one of the most reprinted stories of the Good Doctor.
 

Extollager

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[QUOTE="Extollager, post: 1781433, member: 27126]Looking ahead to the new year, I'm thinking of a minimum goal of one story per month from a Conklin anthology to keep this thread going. Comments on some stories more deserving of attention should be showing up here!

Once again: how about other readers? Surely others have Conklin anthologies on their shelves. Conklin's books used to be everywhere.[/QUOTE]

A goal of two stories a month (2013) or one a month (2014) has moved me to return to my collection of 15 or so Conklin anthologies. Looking towards 2015, I don't expect to keep this monthly goal going. In fact, I'm starting a new anthologies thread today. However, I expect from time to time in 2015 to post further entries on Conklin selections here. To reiterate -- it would be fun to see others participate. But I'm wondering if Chronsfolk have copies of Conklin's books to the degree I would have guessed. By now, I suppose they're all nearly out of print; still, some of us have acquired sf books for many years.....
 

Bick

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This is the sort of thread I would join in, Extollager, but I have precious few anthologies in fact - I've always preferred novels to shorts, though I'm warming to short stories these days. I actually don't own a Conklin anthology! :oops:
 

Extollager

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You used to see some of Conklin's anthologies often, whether in libraries or used book stores, etc. It seems, however, that they're not everywhere in the collections of sf fans -- and I hasten to add that, until a few years ago, I didn't have any of them myself. When I started deliberately getting into sf short fiction more, though, I acquired copies of most of those early thick hardcover anthologies -- most of which you could find for just a few dollars a copy as long as, like me, you're not too particular about dustjackets and so on.

I've been wondering if Conklin made his mark early on with packed volumes such as A Treasury of Science Fiction, but he fell out of favor a bit when, within a few years, publishers were looking to him mostly for small paperback anthologies. Some of those (there were a lot of them; I have a dozen or so of them, but there must be around 20 I don't have) were maybe not all that strong. Could it be that Conklin (or his publishers, such as Pyramid) didn't pay particularly well for reprinting stories, and so some authors preferred to see their work appear in books such as the reprint series for Galaxy, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Astounding/Analog? Was Pyramid kind of a second-rate house among paperback publishers -- as I suspect they were (compared to, say, Ballantine or Bantam/Signet)?

I don't expect to write up a formal discussion of my "findings" after having read around a lot, for two years, in Conklin's books, but if I did I might muse along those lines. I do have the impression that several of his anthologies were picked up by Scholastic Books, which must have been nice for him, but I wonder if the authors got any additional money or if they were paid a flat amount for reprint rights in a given book, and, if that book were picked up by Scholastic, didn't get any further reimbursement....
 

Extollager

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Simak's "Shadow World" in 5 Unearthly Visions kept me guessing. 3/5

That's #58...
 

LoZioOscuro

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#57 -- I'm going for 60 for 2013 and 2014 -- is Simak's "Worrywart," about which I write here:

A Rediscovery of Clifford D. Simak - A Reading Challenge

Extollager,
Worrywart in my opinion is a very good story. I re-read it recently, and the end let me oppressed as it always did...

It gets 3/5.
Simak's "Shadow World" in 5 Unearthly Visions kept me guessing. 3/5

That's #58...
Shadow World is one of the stories I never read. Definitely, I have to purchase all Simak stories I still miss, as I decided to do many times.
I'm afraid that some won't be easy to trace, though.
And I hate thinking there wouldn't be any more Simak unread out there...

Roberto
 

LoZioOscuro

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I would guess that copies of 5 Unearthly Visions are easy to find and not expensive. As of this morning, abebooks.com had some to offer:

http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?an=conklin&sts=t&tn=unearthly
Extollager,
thanks a lot. I understand that such Conklin's antologies are interesting and cheap. There's a list of the stories they contain, so that I might search for other stories from Simak I haven't, thus place on only order?
Thanks again

Roberto
 

Extollager

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Thank you Extollager, I'll reach for Simak stories and order accordingly. Once read I'll post my reviews .
Roberto
I look forward to seeing them. I'm already wondering if there are enough stories (in these anthologies) that are really good, that they should be collected together for a "new" Simak book.
 
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