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Reading Around in Groff Conklin's Anthologies

LoZioOscuro

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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.
Extollager,
of course I don't know the quality of Simak stories I haven't read yet... ;-)
However, I must say that averagely the quality of stories I've read, that had been published once or few times in English, and never translated into Italian (as to my knowledge) is lower than the most published and translated stories, as one could expect, as the editors evaluated that there would have been no diffusion enough to cover the costs.
Still, I found some remarkable exceptions - I will cite " The Call from Beyond " - discreet, " Courtesy " - nice, " Contraption " - excellent, " Dusty Zebra " - nice, " The Immigrant " - not bad, " Leg.Forst. " - strange but fine, " Kindergarten " - just excellent.
All the best to you all
Roberto
 

Extollager

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Extollager,
of course I don't know the quality of Simak stories I haven't read yet... ;-)
Right... I just meant that, as you review these uncollected stories, it will be interesting to see if they could make up a nice collection of "Simak rarities."
 

Ralf 58

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Simak's "Shadow World" in 5 Unearthly Visions kept me guessing. 3/5
...
That's #58...
The story "Shadow World" I know, it is appeared in Germany even in two different translations. I think it's very funny. At first reading, I had to laugh a lot. My rating is 4/5.

Here is the cover of the German edition of "5 Unearthly Visions"
 

Ralf 58

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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
Hello Roberto,

"Shadow World" has also appeared in the British Simak collection "Off-Planet". Maybe you are missing other Simak stories from this book? Then it might be worth to buy it. The hardcover version of this book is currently from an Italian dealer on eBay!

"Shadow World" was also translated into Italian and was published in "nova sf * 59" . This magazine can be found at ELARA SRL. Unfortunately, it is quite expensive.
 
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LoZioOscuro

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Right... I just meant that, as you review these uncollected stories, it will be interesting to see if they could make up a nice collection of "Simak rarities."
Sure, Extollager, I didn't mean to joke you. Indeed, it'd be interesting to collect such stories, even though one couldn't expect that their quality was on the same level of the most known ones.

The story "Shadow World" I know, it is appeared in Germany even in two different translations. I think it's very funny. At first reading, I had to laugh a lot. My rating is 4/5.

Here is the cover of the German edition of "5 Unearthly Visions"
Ralf, it's nice to know that some of the stories I haven't read are good. I'll search up for this as well as other unread stories. Thank you.

Hello Roberto,

"Shadow World" has also appeared in the British Simak collection "Off-Planet". Maybe you are missing other Simak stories from this book? Then it might be worth to buy it. The hardcover version of this book is currently from an Italian dealer on eBay!

"Shadow World" was also translated into Italian and was published in "nova sf * 59" . This magazine can be found at ELARA SRL. Unfortunately, it is quite expensive.
Ralf, nice to know it was translated into Italian. However - beside the cost of this very translation - under a certain point of view I do prefer to read Simak in English. Don't take me wrong - my English is not fluid enough to read smoothly, and, at any rate, I must have a dictionary at hand, because very rarely I stumble in a page that doesn't contain any unknown word (often, they contain more than one...).

But, but the other hand, I can appreciate it more, because even though the average quality of translations into Italian (so long as I can understand, that of course is a limit itself) is good, some were rather poor.

END TIS WEI AI EMPROFE MAY INGLIS... :)

Roberto
 

Ralf 58

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...
Ralf, it's nice to know that some of the stories I haven't read are good. I'll search up for this as well as other unread stories. Thank you.
...
Ralf, nice to know it was translated into Italian. However - beside the cost of this very translation - under a certain point of view I do prefer to read Simak in English. ...
I had actually put a link to the eBay page with "Off-Planet". Here it is again: "Off-Planet" on eBay.

All stories in this collection have been translated into Italian, but with the exception of "Mirage" they are not included in any Italian Simak collection. In my bibliography you can use these settings to see which story is in which Italian edition appeared. Click in the right frame on the individual stories.
Perhaps it is worth for you to buy the book.
 

Extollager

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#59 is Simak's "Limiting Factor," which Conklin reprinted in Possible Worlds of Science Fiction. The story depends on what has turned out to be an erroneous assumption; a key clue within the story and for this error is a computer punch card. I enjoyed the story, though. 3/5
 

Extollager

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And #60 is Asimov's "Blind Alley," from The Best of Science Fiction, which was later reprinted in The Early Asimov -- which I take to be a collection of stories that the author didn't think to be his best. There's some satire of bureaucratic correspondence and attitudes coinciding with an underdeveloped sense of the alienness of aliens encountered by the Galactic Empire. I don't know that the mix works well. 2/5 I admit that there's more to be said about, and for, this story than I'm indicating here. A "2/5" means that the story may be passably entertaining but skippable. I might be susceptible to arguments to rate it higher.

Anyway, that brings to a sort of end my Conklin-reading project. I'll probably come back here from time to time to comment on some other story reprinted by Conklin, but 60 stories commented on seems like a good number with which to "end" the project. It seems that Conklin often reprinted stories, perhaps especially after his first ten years or so of anthologizing, that weren't all that attractive to me, but I think that they reflect the field. It seems sf authors often wrote would-be sophisticated, clever, ironic stories about "living in the future" during the later forties and fifties or so; stories not necessarily lacking mild value, but not the sort of thing that has made sf matter to me. Offhand I'd probably rate highest his early Best of Science Fiction and Treasury of Science Fiction. This series of comments has worked with about 15 of his anthologies, out of around 35 or more devoted to sf.
 
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LoZioOscuro

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Hi there.
Thanks to the kindness of a member of the forjum on Simak I could lay my hands on the files of a lot of short stories, several of which I hadn’t read before.
After having duly printed and bound them – I prefer to read on the old paper rather than on Kindle and the like – I read them all; my comments follow.
IMHO averagely they are rather poor – so, no wonder they’ve been never or very seldom reprint. However, some of them contain the seeds of future stories or novels, and a few are reasonably good of their own.
My reviews follow, in chronologic order:

- Hermit of Mars (1939)
Nothing worth mentioning IMHO, it’s one of the typical adventurous, naive SF stories Simak was writing ante-City.
My vote 4/10.

- Masquerade (1943)
Not a masterpiece again IMHO, however it represents a step forward compared with the above mentioned story.
My vote 5/10

- Shadows of Life (1943)
The plot is so confused and the story so overall poor I must admit I quit it without finishing. I’ll have a new try. Definitely, not Simak’s best – perhaps, his worst.

- Seven came back (1950)
Much better. IMHO, not very much a Simakian story; it is set on Mars – a Mars on which Men can breath without helmets, however, typical of earlier SF stories.
It develops on two different planes and reminds me Bradbury and even, under some expects, Burroughs.
Not bad, generally speaking.
My vote 7/10

- Retrograde Evolution (1953)
Not too bad. It’s interesting to note that here Simak develops a concept many times recurring in his works: a culture – be it men or an alien one – bound to destroy itself by fighting a tremendous war, and the possibilities/efforts to avoid that. The way chosen by the alien culture in this story is a very original one, though...
My vote 7/10

- Junkyard (1953)
This is a much more modern Simak. The plot flows smoothly, and overall is not bad. Interesting to note that it contains a concept very largely used by Simak in later works: one alien race collecting knowledge from all over the universe – even though in this story the way such a race follows is unusual and awkward, as they steal such a knowledge from spaceships casually stranded upon an abandoned planet in a desolate part of universe – that means, the universe life span wouldn’t suffice to collect enough...
My vote 6/10

- Shadow world (1957)
A step back IMHO, the concept behind the whole plot is a bit absurd. It turns to comic somewhat, but it’s not too good a story.
My vote 5/10

- The Civilisation Game (1958)
It’s interesting the idea that the mankind of the future will have to recover some of its old, abandoned behaviours, such as politics and war, and carry them out in an artificial and controlled environment, to keep itself human.
Not very well developed, however, nor original.
My vote 5/10.

- Installment plan (1959)
The plot itself is not particularly original. It’s interesting however that most main characters are robots – but a man who’s the main one. Robots featuring definite personality, much unlike the often plain pieces of machinery from Asimov (that’s why I do like Simak’s robots much more).
Interesting also to note that here the concept of “ Transmogs “ – interchangeable devices applied on robots, to supply them with different abilities (engineer, physician etc.); this concept will come back in the novel “ Planet of Shakespeare ” with the robot Nicodemus.
Generally speaking a nice story, elegant and pleasant to read.
My vote 7/10

- No Life of Their Own (1959)
IMHO the plot doesn’t flow smoothly, and generally speaking it’s not a great story. However it’s interesting the concept of different alien races cohabiting Earth with mankind – even though the alien races are not described in details, and seem to me mostly like men – and the way thy interact with mankind, mainly with human youngsters.
My vote 6/10

- Drop Dead (1960)
Interesting to note that the guy who scanned this story made a big error, as in the cover it reports “ Original title: All the Traps of Earth “ that instead it’ a completely different story, as you know.
It’s a bit disquieting story; lurking behind it there’s an alien sinister race – never acting directly in the story itself – that grows artificial animals/plants to their own benefit.
My vote 5/10

- Day of Truce (1963)
I had read some reviews of this story before actually reading it. I think they were right, i.e. is a cruel story, very little Simakian.
I find the basic assumption non realistic, and, all in all, I must admit I couldn’t very well understand what Simak meant to say.
My vote 5/10.

Looking forward to further comments – reviews.

All the best

Roberto
 

Bick

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Thanks for the reviews, LoZioOscuro. Did you find these in Groff Conklin books ?
 

Ralf 58

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Thanks for the reviews, LoZioOscuro. Did you find these in Groff Conklin books ?
I think Roberto made a mistake in the thread. The contribution should be more in the Simak thread. Maybe that can move an administrator?

From the stories that mentioned Roberto, to my knowledge, only one published in a Conklin anthology:
"Shadow World" in 1965 in "5 Unearthly Visions"
 

bwrynn

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I have quite a few of Conklin's books packed away from my 1960s fan/collector's period although the books were old even then. Several are in original hardcover editions such as his first, "The Best of Science Fiction (1946). Or his second "Treasury of Science Fiction." Much larger than the paperbacks carved out of them. They were a great way to learn about the best authors in the field or ones you didn't know before. I think their great value was as an entrance way into the field when not much SF was being published in books. Later as book publishing expanded and nearly every author had short story collections the need for such anthologies diminished. I hope when I die my kids don't just throw them out, if I haven't gotten around to selling them somehow.
 

Extollager

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Welcome, bwrynn!

Those thick early Conklin sf anthologies -- I suppose I mean from the mid-1940s through the early 1950s or so -- are rich sources for notable sf from the period. His later anthologies seem to me -- based on my limited reading -- to be less appealing. I don't know if others would agree.
 

2DaveWixon

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Jack Vance's "Winner Lose All" from the Omnibus of Science Fiction is #34 in this series and my first for October. I wasn't much taken with it but I suppose 3/5. As the title suggests, it's an exercise in irony, and in the construction of a couple of bizarre alien life forms. It originally appeared in the Dec. 1951 issue of Galaxy with a typical "clever" Galaxy -type cover featuring Santa Claus and aliens. However, in addition to a passable Vance story, it contained the exceptional "A Pail of Air" by Fritz Leiber.

"Exceptional", indeed! I'd forgotten about it; thanks for reminding me!!!
 

2DaveWixon

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...
Those thick early Conklin sf anthologies -- I suppose I mean from the mid-1940s through the early 1950s or so -- are rich sources for notable sf from the period. .
I'm not sure if this is on point, or not; but I'll ask: somewhen, I think in the 60's or so, I once read a story (and almost certainly in an anthology) named "Let's Be Frank." It keeps popping back up in my mind, but I cannot recall either the name of its author nor the book/magazine in which it appeared...
If you happen to know about it, I'd be grateful to learn more... (If I found it in an anthology, then I likely still have it. But I have many, many anthologies that I gathered over the years, and they're packed into various of the one hundred or so boxes I have in storage -- so it's not really feasible to do my own search...

Dave
 

LoZioOscuro

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Dave, I did read the story in Italian, which title is " Siamo Franchi ". Please allow me a quick search among my Sf books and I'll come back with the answers.
Roberto
 

LoZioOscuro

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Brian Aldiss - 1957.
I read it in Asimov's " The Greeat Storieis of SF " - I don't wnow by which editor it was first publicated.
All the best
Roberto
 

2DaveWixon

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I have quite a few of Conklin's books packed away from my 1960s fan/collector's period although the books were old even then. .... They were a great way to learn about the best authors in the field or ones you didn't know before.
I suppose that's true, but it did not work that way for me. You see, in those years I was so excited over the concepts I was discovering in science fiction stories, that I seldom paid attention to who wrote them...
 
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