Commentary: “Best of” and “Book of” books

SFFaudio Commentary recently asked me to participate in another of their “Mind Melds.” The topic:

Q: What are the “Forgotten Books” of science fiction/fantasy/horror?

Here was my answer:

Best Of/Book Of/Many Worlds Of books (spines)

I spend most of my time worrying about which lost gems deserve audiobook editions. But, there are quite a paperbooks I’d like to be able to lay my grubby mitts on too. Just lately I’d been thinking about the “Best Of AUTHOR NAME” and “Book of AUTHOR NAME” books that I’ve collected and cherished over the last twenty years or so. There was a big wave of them in the 1970s but most have been out of print forever. These are seriously in need of reprints. I’m a sucker for a carefully edited short story and novella collections with introduction by another SF author (and often an afterward by the author himself). Maybe it is a conservative streak in me. I don’t love these books because they’re old, though that doesn’t hurt. I love them because they’ve collected stories by authors who’ve had a chance to stand the test of time. It’s hard to judge the recent crop of SF authors and say exactly who’ll be the next grandmaster of SF, a grand old man of the genre – someone worth reading a “best of” collection without even having read a page of their work before. Innovation, style, a few solid hits is great, but to stand the burning acid of just a few years of history is by far a greater test. A good new book only wins you a second chance with me but a “best of” or “book of” book is the proof that you’ve stuck around long enough that you’ve been shown to be the genuine article – an author whose work is to be remembered.

If some publisher does pick up the idea of printing “best of/book of” collections again they can always throw in a “Best of Charlie Stross” and a “Book of Ted Chiang” into the mix too. In fact I’d love to read The Book Of Ted Chiang with an introduction by Charlie Stross and a Best Of Charlie Stross with an introduction by Ted Chiang.

To read everyone else’s check out the ORIGINAL POST.

And here are more images of these notable paperbooks:

The Best Of C.L. MooreThe Best Of C.M. KornbluthThe Best Of Edmond HamiltonThe Best Of Eric Frank RussellThe Best Of Frederik PohlThe Best Of Fritz LeiberThe Best Of Hal ClementThe Best Of Henry KuttnerThe Best Of John W. CampbellThe Best Of Leigh BrackettThe Best Of Lester Del ReyThe Best Of L. Sprague De CampThe Best Of Murray LeinsterThe Best Of Cordwainer SmithThe Best Of Raymond Z. Gallun

Posted by Jesse Willis

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