Chosen by popular ballot among the 1000 professionals who make their livings creating America's bestselling dreams, these are the undisputed classics: The unforgettable stories that influenced and shaped the imagination at work in the field today.
Here are the stories that shaped the shapers. Here are the stories that will live forever.
About the Author
Robert Silverberg has won five Nebula Awards, four Hugo Awards, and the prestigious Prix Apollo. He is the author of more than one hundred science fiction and fantasy novels including the best-selling Lord Valentine trilogy and the classics Dying Inside and A Time of Changes and more than sixty nonfiction works. Among the sixty-plus anthologies he has edited are Legends and Far Horizons, which contain original short stories set in the most popular universe of Robert Jordan, Stephen King, Ursula K. Le Guin, Gregory Benford, Greg Bear, Orson Scott Card, and virtually every other bestselling fantasy and SF writer today. Mr. Silverberg's Majipoor Cycle, set on perhaps the grandest and greatest world ever imagined, is considered one of the jewels in the crown of speculative fiction.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The reputations of some of these stories and that of their authors may have waned in the 26 years since this anthology was published. None of the stories are bad though a few aren't that special. The stories were selected in a manner similar to the Silverberg edited The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume One. Attendees of the World Fantasy Convention chose stories to honor that were published before the convention begin doing their annual awards. The stories are arranged chronologically, and the first is Edgar Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death" (1842). This classic tale of a plague, mysterious colors, and death coming to a cloister of aristocrats is the grandfather of all those far future tales of decadents on a dying Earth. Poe influenced the prose and poems of Clark Ashton Smith, but the influence isn't very evident in the latter's "The Weird of Avoosl Withoqquan" (1932). It's a story of an avaricious man who hears an ominous prophecy from a beggar he snubs. Smith's Zothique series, very definitely a series of far future decadence, is not represented here directly, but it's certainly echoed in Jack Vance's "Mazirian the Magician" (1950), part of Vance's Dying Earth series. In a story full of Vance's exuberant palette of colors and exquisitely named magic, a sorcerer determines to possess a woman who has avoided him. Of course, Poe was not just an inspiration but an idol to Smith's friend, H. P. Lovecraft. He is represented here by "The Silver Key" (1937). It's an odd choice, perhaps dictated by its length. There is nothing wrong with the story. Featuring Lovecraft's alter ego Randolph Carter, it's Lovecraft's most autobiographical work. Carter, a man in his thirties, goes on a quest to find his way back to the world of dreams - and its innocence - that he knew as a child. There are many better Lovecraft stories though. Lord Dunsany was an influence on Lovecraft's dream tales, and he's represented here by "The Sword of Welleran" (1908). A wry tale of a city no longer defended by its legends and full of humor and despair and perverse emotion. Dunsany's oddly syntaxed voice is probably still unique in fantasy. A lesser influence on Lovecraft was Ambrose Bierce. He shows up here with "An Inhabitant of Carcosa" (1886), a short, eerie tale of life after death in a far future land. Representing Robert E. Howard is the fine "Valley of the Worm" (1934). A tale of reincarnation and of the ur-dragon slaying, its style is strong and exciting though delicate modern sensitivities will cringe at the asides on racial evolution. Howard stands near the beginning of the sword and sorcery sub-genre here also represented by Michael Moorcock's Elric story "Kings in Darkness" (1962). It's an ok story, but I suspect the voters thought they should have at least one Elric story. However, the fascination with the doomed Elric comes through many novels and stories and Elric seems a pale character (no pun intended) here. Wonderfully exotic, charged with a dark eroticism, and seemingly composed of equal parts Lovecraft, Howard, and Smith, C. L. Moore's "Black God's Kiss" (1934) may start and end in medieval France, but it goes to some strange places in between. It is the first in her Jirel of Joiry series. Another series character making an appearance here, in a rather unexceptional story, is Manly Wade Wellman's John the Balladeer. In "Oh Ugly Bird!" (1951), John confronts a backwoods bully and the buzzard like creature he shares a bond with." As with the Elric story, I suspect voters thought they needed to have at least one story with a particular character. Several stories represent the nuts-and-bolts, logic intense fantasy published by the legendary, if short-lived, Unknown magazine . L. Sprague de Camp's "Nothing in the Rules" (1939) details the legal wrangling necessary to get a mermaid into a swim meet. It's an adequate story. Better is the delightfully mean-spirited "A Gnome There Was" (1941) which turns its patronizing, trust fund, union orga