The bastards at NESFA Press have done it again. Every <censored> few months they come out with another <censored> book designed specifically to remove my money from me. It’s like they know exactly what I want and publish it. The bastards.
NESFA Press is “the publishing pseudopod of the (New England Science Fiction Associaton” which has, as one of it’s goals “bring[ing] back into print the works of deserving classic SF writers”
And this time they’ve gone too far. Normally, they only publish one book at a time that I want, this time they’ve got two:
From These Ashes The Complete Short Fiction of Frederic Brown
Immodest Proposals: The Complete William Tenn (vol 1).
Good Lord, why don’t they just grind the stuff up and inject it directly into my veins?
Anyone who’s seen the Star Trek episode “Arena” is at least familiar with Fredric Brown, the ultimate master of the short short-story. In the 700(!!) page volume, NESFA reprints ALL of the short stories Brown wrote or collaborated on (about 120 if I counted correctly.) Some of 'em are one page masterpieces (for example: “Answer” which has the single most MISremembered last line in SF (it’s NOT “There is…now!”), " ) , some of 'em are considerably longer (“The Angelic Angleworm”) but all of them are wonderful. Some of the other highlights in this volume are the creepy “The Geezenstacks”, the funny “Short Happy Life of Eustace Weaver” 1-3 and one of my personal favorites “Jaycee”. Brown has been out of print for about 10 years and this is a welcome addtion to any SF fan’s library.
William Tenn is (sadly) forgotten nowdays, but for a brief period, he was a master of funny, sarcastic, witty and creepy short stories. From mid-50s to mid=60s Tenn wrote such wonderful short stories. One of my favorites is a story called “The Masculinist Revolt” about a backlash against feminism. Another “The Brooklyn Project” deals with exactly why time travel is a bad weapon. Yet another is “Venus and the Seven Sexes” (a Hollywood producer tries to produce a lovestory on Venus. But how do you do the “Boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl, boy-gets-girl” formula when there’re seven sexes to contend with? Tenn’s humor is so dry that it should be served with a twist of lemon.
But beyond those two: NESFA’s done a volume of the complete short stories of Anthony Boucher, a volume of all Zenna Henderson’s “People” stories, the complete short stories of C.M. Kornbluth, an Eric Frank Russell collection, a Cordwainder Smith collection, several Hal Clement collections and on and on and…
All the volumes are well designed, sewn (not glued) bindings, nice typeface (except for the appendix of the Kornbluth volume which requires a magnifying glass), nice dustjackets. It’s obvious that the NESFA folks are fans and are producing volumes that any fan would be proud to own (the content notwithstanding).
This review doesn’t do credit to either author. Short stories are hard to review, short short-stories are harder, and it’s hard to summarize the entire career of an author in a short paragraph, but if you’re a younger SF fan who’s not familiar with either of these two (mostly forgotten) giants, do yourself a favor and give one or both of 'em a try.
Note: Despite the glowing review, I’m not associated with NESFA, other than as a consumer who’s happily finding all his old favorites back in print.