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James Blish

(artwork by R. Battory)

Pen-names: Arthur Merlyn

(also as "A Work of Art")
©  Science Fiction Stories, Jul 1956
Galactic Cluster, 1959
--/ cool sf story

Richard Strauss finds himself "resurrected" in a different body in 2161 and is asked to write a new opera. He tries his best, but can not escape his own creative conundrums and basically repeats his old works. The people in the future still appreciate what he's done, only because... they most pathetically do not have a clue - and do not much care either way. In some respect this is a sad tale.
review: 10-Jul-06 (read in 1983)


(also as "Giants in the Earth")
© Future Tense, ed. K. F. Crossen, 1952
Galactic Cluster, 1959

© Galaxy, Feb 1954
Galactic Cluster, 1959

"Black Easter" (nv)
(also as "Faust Aleph-Null")
© IF, Oct 1967
book: Dell, 1969
--novel : 1969 Nebula

"The Box"
© Thrilling Wonder Stories, Apr 1949
So Close To Home, 1961
--Groff Conklin's story selection
--/ fourth place apocalyptic sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ idea award
--/ emotion award
--/ awesome scale

© Astounding, Feb 1952
Year 2018!, 1957
--/ cool sf story
--/ idea award

"A Case Of Conscience" (nv)
© IF, Sep 1953
book: 1958, Doubleday Books
--novel : 1959 Hugo W
--all time novel : 1975 Locus All-Time Poll /28 (tie)

"Common Time"
© Science Fiction Quarterly, Aug 1953
Galactic Cluster, 1959
--/ cool sf story

"Detour to the Stars"
(also as "Nor Iron Bars")
© Infinity, Dec 1956, Nov 1957
Galactic Cluster, 1959
--/ fourth place space sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ idea: spcae travel inside the atom
--/ awesome scale

"Faust Aleph-Null"
(also as "Black Easter")
© IF, Oct 1967

"Galactic Cluster" (coll)
© Signet Books, 1959
--/ fourth place sf collection
--/ wonder award
--/ style award

"Getting Along"
(with Judith Ann Lawrence)
© 1972, Again, Dangerous Visions

"Giants In The Earth"
(also as "Beanstalk")
© Future Tense, ed. K. F. Crossen, 1952
Galactic Cluster, 1959


"How Beautiful With Banners"
© Orbit # 1, 1966
Anywhen, 1970
--/ third place space sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ style award
--/ idea award

Total surprise! James Blish writing a sophisticated planetary adventure with all the color, action and ideas worthy of modern practitioners of the genre: Reynolds, Stephen Baxter, Swanwick's "Slow Life"... trust me, it's in the same category! As such, it is an incredible find, partly because Blish did not approach such classic planetary exploration themes again, to the best of my knowledge - and he can really write when he wants to. "Surface Tension" went to number one on my list, even though I read it in translation; now I can really appreciate his style: poetic allusions and hard science blended to one wild idea. A "living" space-suit made from an artificially engineered virus (!) nicely shields a visitor to Titan from its frozen environment - until rather serious trouble occurs when one of the local life forms decides to mate with it... A gem of a story, you can read it online here
review: 18-Jul-06 (read in 1986)


"King of the Hill"
(Civilian Intelligence Group series)
© Infinity Science Fiction, Nov 1955
Galactic Cluster, 1959
--/ cool apocalyptic sf story
--/ emotion award:cold war

"The Masks"
© F&SF, Nov 1959
So Close To Home, 1961

"Midsummer Century" (nv)
© F&SF, Mar 1972
book: DAW, 1974
--novella : 1973 Locus

"Mission to the Heart Stars" (nv)
© Avon Books, 1965

"The Night Shapes" (nv)
© 1962, Ballantine

"Nightride And Sunrise"
(with Jerome Bixby)
© Authentic SF, Aug 1957
(exp. of story by Jerome Bixby
"Nightride and Sunrise")
© Other Worlds, June 1952
-- see J. Bixby entry

"No Jokes on Mars"
© F&SF, Oct 1965
Anywhen, 1970

"None So Blind"
(also as "Who's in Charge Here?")
© F&SF, May 1962

"Nor Iron Bars"
(also as "Detour to the Stars'')
© Infinity, Dec 1956, Nov 1957
Galactic Cluster, 1959
--/ fourth place space sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ idea: space travel inside the atom
--/ awesome scale

"The Oath"
© F&SF, Oct 1960
So Close To Home, 1961

(Okie series)
© Astounding, Apr 1950
Earthman Come Home, 1955
--novelette : 2001 Retro Hugo

"The Quincunx of Time" (nv)
(exp. from "Beep")
© Galaxy, Feb 1954
book: Dell, 1974
--novella : 1974 Jupiter
--/ cool sf novel

"Request of an Angel"
© 1940, Super Science Stories

"The Shipwrecked Hotel"
(with Norman L. Knight)
(Tritons series)
© Galaxy, Aug 1965
A Torrent of Faces, 1967
--/ cool sf novella

"Solar Plexus"
© 1940, Astonishing Stories, Sep
--/ cool sf story

"Statistician's Day"
© Science Against Men, 1970
--/ cool sf story
"Sunken Universe"
(as by Arthur Merlyn)
(also as "Surface Tension")
© Super Science Stories, May 1942
--/ FIRST place sf story
--/ idea award
--/ wonder award
--/ rare find

"Surface Tension"
(exp. from "Sunken Universe")
© Galaxy, Aug 1952
The Seedling Stars, 1956
--short fiction : 1971 Astounding /Analog All-Time Poll /17 (tie)
--novella : 1999 Locus All-Time Poll /38

--/ FIRST place space sf story
--/ idea award
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award
--/ emotion award

"Testament of Andros"
© Future, Jan 1953
So Close to Home, 1961
--/ cool sf story

"They Shall Have Stars" (nv)
(also as "Year 2018!")
(Cities In Flight)
© Faber and Faber, 1956
Cities in Flight, 1970
--all time novel : 1975 Locus /27

"This Earth of Hours"
© F&SF, Jun 1959
--/ fourth place sf story
--/ wonder award: worm aliens
--/ style award: irony

"Titan's Daughter" (nv)
© 1961, Berkley Books

"To Pay The Piper"
© IF, Feb 1956
Galactic Cluster, 1959


"Tomb Tapper"
© Astounding, Jul 1956
Galactic Cluster, 1959
--/ second place apocalyptic sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ idea award
--/ style award
--/ emotion award
--/ shock value
--/ rare find

A blistering, furious apocalyptic story that is going to haunt you all your life, if you really let it into your brain. Possibly the most frightening, and ingenious Cold War creation about "limited" nuclear conflict and its wild consequences, especially for the roles of children. Needless to say, I did not expect this from Blish, who is usually a very reserved and "proper" writer, happy to explore scholarly possibilities and conventional venues. But, my goodness, does he ever let loose here. Do yourself a favour and put your hair on end with this one.
review: 12-Jul-06 (read in 2002)


"Two Worlds In Peril"
© Science Fiction Adventures, Feb 1957

© IF, May 1950
The Seedling Stars, 1956
--/ cool sf story

"We All Die Naked"
© Three For Tomorrow, ed. R. Silverberg, 1969
Best SF of James Blish, 1973
--novella : 1970 Hugo

"Welcome To Mars!" (nv)
© 1967, Avon Books

"Who's in Charge Here?"
(also as "None So Blind")
© F&SF, May 1962


"A Work of Art"
(also as "Art-Work")
©  Science Fiction Stories, Jul 1956
Galactic Cluster, 1959
--/ cool sf story

Richard Strauss finds himself "resurrected" in the different body in 2161 and is asked to write a new opera. He tries his best, but can not escape his own creative conundrums and basically repeats his old works. The people in the future still appreciate what he'd done, only because... they most pathetically do not have a clue - and do not much care either way. In some respect this is a sad tale.
review: 10-Jul-06 (read in 1983)


"Year 2018!" (nv)
(also as "They Shall Have Stars")
(Cities In Flight)
© Faber and Faber, 1956
Cities in Flight, 1970
--all time novel : 1975 Locus /27


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Enchanting Victorian Fairy Tale Art

"Then world behind and home ahead..."

Exceptional British Scifi Artwork from the 1950s

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Pulp Pleasures: Eando Binder

Great space adventure fiction from the 1930s
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Epic Fantasy: the Start of the Journey

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Strange Shadows: Best Classic Fantasy

Fantasy "glitches in the matrix",
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Classic Cyberpunk SF Novels: Reviews

Neal Stephenson, William Gibson, K. W. Jeter, et al
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10 Possible Sources of "Avatar" in Classic Science Fiction

Going beyond the obvious "Dances with Smurfs"...
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"Steampunk" Anthology: Full Review

some truly crazed stories in there...
(plus artwork by John Coulthart)

"Dune", Plus Often-Neglected
Other Novels by Frank Herbert

"Dune", plus some overlooked gems:
"The Santaroga Barrier" and "The Green Brain"

Universe at Play:
Two Must-Read Novels of the Fantastic

"The Yiddish Policemen's Union" by Michael Chabon...
and David Mitchell's "Cloud Atlas"

Two of the Most Entertaining SF Novels from the 1980s

"Vacuum Flowers" by Michael Swanwick...
and Tim Power's "The Anubis Gates", of course!

"The Body Snatchers" and Other Alien Pods

Fiction by Jack Finney, Vance, Simak and Bloch
mind impostors and emotion imitators

Exploring the Noir and the Grotesque

Jack O'Connell "The Resurrectionist"
and other newest examples of the bizarre

Overpopulation, Sex and Sensibility

Robert Silverberg's "The World Inside"
and other classic sf blasts

H. P. Lovecraft "At the Mountains of Madness"

and other masterpieces of terror
including original illustrations

"Constellations", edited by Peter Crowther

original anthology, 2005
full review: mind-bending stories

The Ultimate Guide to New Writers of SF&F

more than 2,000 writers, 1990-2009
Ratings, awards, web links

The Surreal Office

"The Situation", "The Cookie Monster"
Weird fiction by Jeff VanderMeer and Vernor Vinge

Mind-shattering Novels of Philip K. Dick

"UBIK", "Now Wait for Last Year", etc.

Theodore Sturgeon's "More Than Human"

There’s a problem with this new gestalt being: needs a conscience.

Jack Williamson's "Legion of Space" Series

Classic Space Opera
The ultimate weapon, controlled by a gorgeous woman

Astounding Stories, August 1934

Jack Williamson, Nat Schachner, "Doc" Smith
Epic space opera gems and horror surprises

Rare Pulp SF&F, Issue 3

Leigh Brackett, Fritz Leiber, Vic Phillips
Rediscovered gems of wonder & adventure

William Gibson's Novels

"Pattern Recognition", "Neuromancer"
A Fractured Delight...

Alfred Bester "The Computer Connection"

"Bester was the mountain, all the rest of us..."
Pyrokinetic writing in one neat package

Two Novels by Samuel R. Delany

"Nova" and "Babel-17"
New Wave Milestones, and then some.

Theodore Sturgeon's "The Cosmic Rape"

(and more reviews of his fiction)
Classic SF at its best and most humane

Travel Distant Worlds!

Vintage Space Travel Posters, and more.
Part 3 of Pulp Sf art series...

Alastair Reynolds' Epic Novels

"Chasm City" and "Revelation Space"
And it's only the beginning...

Rare Fantasy Gems by C. L. Moore and Henry Kuttner

Hidden Gems of Pulp Fiction
When two star writers become husband and wife

Grand Old Times... in the Future

Overview of Pulp Art
A Loudly Lurid Universe of Sci-Fi Illustration

Exclusive: Interview with Nancy Kress

From High Fantasy to Hard Science Fiction
A Spectrum of Wonder

Jack Vance

"To Live Forever"
and other Vance extravaganzas

Alastair Reynolds

"Pushing Ice"
Cosmological "noir" chase across space

Charles Stross

"Missile Gap"
Mind-bending Cold War world-building

Hidden Gems of Pulp SF, Part 2

Rare stories from the "Age of Wonder"
incl. David Keller, Horace Gold etc.

Ultra-Rare Serials from "Fantasy Magazine"

"Cosmos" + "Challenge From Beyond"
incredible line-up of writers

Hidden Gems of Pulp SF, Part 1

Neat & Rare Stories
incl. the mad rally story "The Racer"

Astounding Stories, June 1935

Full Issue Review
incl. Gallun, Schachner, Campbell

Astounding Stories, May 1941

Full Issue Review
incl. Heinlein, Asimov, Eric Frank Russell

Horace Gold; P. Schuyler Miller

"Apocalyptic Blockbusters"
"Inflexure" and "Spawn": guilty pleasure

Interview with John C. Wright

Plus his advice to new writers
Adventures in Space & Magic

Frank Belknap Long

"The Horror from the Hills"
Great Lovecraftian Weird Novella

Interview with Jeff VanderMeer

Plus his Recommended Reading List
A Triumph of the Bizarre

Alastair Reynolds, Part 2

More "Galactic North" Stories
A Mixture of Hard Sf, James Bond & Jaws...

Alastair Reynolds Review

"Galactic North"
staring down infinity...

Most Shocking Article

"Holey Fools" by M. Christian
Warning: Gross Subject Matter

Alfred Bester Review

"The Stars My Destination"
"...nail it to the Retro Hugo voting board..."

Larry Niven Review

"Neutron Star"
"better get GP alien ship hull"

Poul Anderson Review

"Ensign Flandry"
"or how to start a sub-genre..."

Thomas M. Disch Review

"The Squirrel Cage"
"...seriously mind-bending stuff..."

Henry Kuttner Review

"Mimsy Were the Borogoves" (The Last Mimzy)
"...great storyline for a pretty average movie..."

Robert A. Heinlein Review

"The Moon is the Harsh Mistress"
" caused a tooth ache, and put my brain on freeze..."

Frank Herbert Review

"Destination: Void"
"...a layered cake of ideas and a scientific extrapolation on a genius level..."

Harlan Ellison Review

"The Abnormals"
"...editors slapped the most outrageous titles on his stories..."

James White Review

"All Judgement Fled"
"...the tension is palpable, soon to grow almost unbearable..."

Grand Adventure Strikes Again

Space Opera Article, by Avi Abrams
Based on Arthur Clarke's "Against the Fall of Night"

William Gibson Review

"Burning Chrome"
"...sheer pyrotechnics and exuberance of style..."

Ace Double: Murray Leinster

"The Pirates of Ersatz /The Mutant Weapon"
"...the characters might as well be cats or hamsters..."

Astounding Stories, May 1935

Pulp SF Magazine Review
with many original illustrations

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"SF&F Reading Experience" is part of "Dark Roasted Blend / Thrilling Wonder" family of sites. We try to highlight the most entertaining and rewarding science fiction and fantasy, with emphasis on memorable reader experience, not necessarily general acceptance by the critics. Have fun, and delve into our extensive ratings and reviews!

Most reviews are written by Avi Abrams, unless otherwise noted. Reviews also appear on our unique historical retrospective page Wonder Timeline of Science Fiction. Feel free to submit your own review, if a particular story is not listed here.

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Also, there are our personal STYLE / GENRE SPECIFIC AWARDS. These reflect the story's content and the lasting impression on the reader:

--/ wonder award
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