The book consists of 13 science fiction novellas all written between 1950 and 1980. At the outset, I am a bit disappointed that I didn’t like the book as much as I thought I would. The start was fantastic, with Isaac Asimov’s “Profession”, where he manages to narrate a story that’s universal and timeless. I wasn’t particularly impressed with John Campbell’s piece, though it was made into comics and movies. Lester Del Ray’s “For I am Jealous People” has an intriguing plot in which God abandons the human race and sides with aliens.
“The Mortal and the Monster” by Gordon Dickson also proved too slow for my liking, and though well paced David Drake’s “Time Safari” seems jaded now that we are inundated with Jurassic monsters regularly on the screen. Phyllis Eisenstein’s “In the Western Tradition” is an interesting plot but from just a human angle.
“The Alley Man” by Philip Jose Farmer was too convoluted and slow for me, but I found the concept of John Jakes’ The sellers of the dream” very intriguing. Donald Kingsbury’s “The Moon Goddess and the Son” was another extended work and I gave up on Barry Longyear’s “Enemy Mine” after a few pages. Larry Niven’s “Flash Crowd” had teleportation which I have always found interesting and it helped that it was a fast moving plot. Frederik Pohl’s “In the Problem Pit” was also just barely there but the book ended reasonably well with Robert Silverberg’s “The Desert of Stolen Dreams”.
There were indeed many stories which I would rate as good science fiction, but there were too many universal human condition stories which were science fiction only because of a setting which then faded into insignificance. There were also a couple of fantasy works which seemed to be masquerading as science fiction. I would say that the “Science Fiction Treasury” edited by Isaac Asimov is a much better read. But it’s still amazing to see many of the concepts spread between what is now reality, or aspirational or still science fiction.