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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Originally published in 1997 as a gargantuan 992-page hardcover, The Science Fiction Century -- David G. Hartwell's ambitious attempt to pack 100 years of science fiction into one anthology -- has finally been released in a two-volume trade paperback edition.
Included within The Science Fiction Century: Volume One are stories by genre legends like H. G. Wells, A. E. van Vogt, and C. S. Lewis -- as well as mainstream literary icons like Rudyard Kipling, E. M. Forster, and Jack London. London's "The Scarlet Plaque" follows a group of semi-barbaric survivors of a mysterious contagion that wiped out most of humankind, while "Ministering Angels" by Lewis delves into spiritual enlightenment -- and fornication -- on Mars. Poul Anderson's Hugo- and Nebula-winning "Goat Song," equal parts science fiction and restructured Greek myth, pits man against the gods, or in this case, a supercomputer.
Hartwell writes in the introduction: "Science fiction is the characteristic literary genre of the century. It is the genre that stands in opposition of literary Modernism. It is the paraliterary shadow of Modernism…it expresses, represents, and confirms faith in science and reason." That unwavering faith exemplified in the 26 classic stories included herein makes this anthology one of the most comprehensive -- and downright interesting -- historical overviews of 20th-century science fiction ever put together. With stories by the aforementioned authors, as well as genre heavyweights like Hal Clement, James Tiptree Jr. (a.k.a. Alice B. Sheldon), and Philip José Farmer, this collection is a priceless addition to the library of anyone with a taste for science fiction. Paul Goat Allen