Book review: The Very Best Of Fantasy & Science Fiction 60

Gordon Van Gelder’s anthology.

Editor: Gordon Van Gelder
Publisher: Tachyon

This excellent short story anthology marks the 60th anniversary of Fantasy & Science Fiction magazine, bringing together 23 of the publication’s best stories. It’s a great showcase for the magazine’s history and the genre as a whole, sporting some familiar sci-fi heavyweights with stories over a 60-year span ranging from Alfred Bester’s ‘Of Time And Third Avenue’ published in 1951 to Ted Chiang’s ‘The Merchant And The Alchemist’s Gate’ from 2007. What makes this anthology so enjoyable is that amid the flights of clever whimsy there are some rich ideas on offer. Stories like Daniel Keyes’ ‘Flowers For Algernon’, and Philip K Dick’s ‘The Electric Ant’ are prime examples of how well the genre handles social commentary and philosophical storytelling.

Gordon Van Gelder, Fantasy & Science Fiction’s editor since 1997, has largely done an admirable job choosing stories that illustrate the diversity of both the genre and the magazine. That said, by his own admission, some of the stories are included more due to editor preference rather than recognised merit as the individual authors’ very best work. While that tends to be the way many collections work – and may have been the result of not wanting to duplicate works from earlier anthologies – it means that those familiar with the genre and magazine’s history will notice some stories that merited inclusion are missing. As a result this anthology, while still a fantastic collection, perhaps falls short of being ‘The Very Best’ that the magazine has had over its long history. Despite that, what’s here is so good that SF fans will enjoy this landmark immensely.

[isbn name=”The Very Best Of Fantasy & Science Fiction – Sixtieth Anniversary Anthology”]978-1892391919[/isbn]