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Poul Anderson
"Brain Wave" (nv)
(exp. from "The Escape")
© Space Science Fiction, Nov 1953
novel: Ballantine Books, 1954
--/ second place sf novel
--/ wonder award
--/ idea award
--/ style award
--/ emotion award
--/ awesome scale

Hands-down the most enjoyable Poul Anderson and one of the most classic extrapolations of "the mind" in science fiction - it is also the most unusual apocalypse for the human race: gradual increase in IQ world-wide, total "genius" epidemic. What the people would do when they realize the ultimate futility of most of our conventional tasks, goals and aspirations? Not to mention the downfall spiral, when they begin to lose the hightened intelligence and return to previous "dumbed-down" state. Sort of like "Flowers for Algernon", but on the global scale. Plus has the signature poetic prose of vintage Anderson.
review: 04-Jul-06 (read in 1985)

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Poul Anderson
"The Escape"
(exp. into "Brainwave")
© Space Science Fiction, Nov 1953
novel: Ballantine Books, 1954
--/ second place sf novel
--/ wonder award
--/ idea award
--/ style award
--/ emotion award
--/ awesome scale

I only read the novel, not this original story; if I get my hands on this pulp...but it is quite rare. I am curious how suc a great novel evolved out of this story, what has been added, and what started it.
review: 04-Jul-06 (read in 1999)

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Poul Anderson
"The Martyr"
© F&SF, March 1960
The Gods Laughed, 1982
--/ fourth place sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ idea award
--/ style award

A group of humans hold members of a superior species captive in order to research their psionic powers. This is a nifty mystery tale combined with classic Anderson sweeping background. Plus the humans are told that there is no afterlife - in a quite ironic circumstances.
review: 07-Jul-06 (read in 2004)

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Poul Anderson
"The Star Plunderer"
(Terran Empire)
© Planet Stories, Sep 1952
The Long Night, 1983
--/ cool space sf story
--/ wonder award

Good stuff, nice planetary fiction. Not remarkable in any way, but enjoyable. Space bubble-gum. Kind of like Piers Anthony "Bio of a Space Tyrant" (I can't believe I mentioned Anthony in the same sentence as Anderson, wink, wink), but more readable, of course. Space pirate's rising to power in the Stellar Empire.
review: 04-Jul-06 (read in 1992)

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Poul Anderson
"The Troublemakers"
(Psychotechnic League series)
© Cosmos Science Fiction, Sep 1953
Cold Victory, 1982
--/ cool sf novella
--/ wonder award
--/ rare find

A "generation ship" story: long journey to the stars produces - you guessed it - troublemakers. An ensign on a generation ship is demoted down to the level of a crew member and fights back up the ranks all the way to become a captain.
review: 01-Jul-06 (read in 2002)

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Charles Beaumont
"The Beautiful People"
(also as "The Beautiful Woman")
© IF, Sep 1952
Yonder, 1958
--/ cool sf story
--/ idea award

Idea about the Transformation that is every teenager's reward at age 19 - accepting the beautiful new face. Every teenager accepts it with glee, but one girl has the stubborn idea of keeping her own face... "When everyone is beautiful, nobody will be, because without ugliness, there can be no beauty."
review: 04-Jul-06 (read in 2006)

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Alfred Bester
"Star Light, Star Bright"
© F&SF, Jul 1953
Starburst, 1958
--/ cool sf story

A group of government officials vs. group of little children. Each child is reported to have a unique ability to create marvellous technical gadgets - And there is one kid who quietly does absolutely nothing...wishing...
review: 04-Jul-06 (read in 1986)

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Jerome Bixby
"One Way Street"
© Amazing, Dec 1953
Space by the Tail, 1964
--/ third place time sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ style award

This is a "definitive" and classic treatment of the parallel worlds, and is quite delicious. I read it more than 20 years ago and still remember it with pleasure. Something in the way the story is told, not in spectacular action or ideas.
review: 04-Jul-06 (read in 1983)

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Leigh Brackett
"Mars Minus Bisha"
© Planet Stories, Jan 1954
The Coming of the Terrans, 1967
--/ cool sf story
--/ wonder award

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Ray Bradbury
"Death And The Maiden"
© F&SF, Mar 1960
The Machineries Of Joy, 1964
--/ cool f story
--/ style award

A touching tale, or rather a fable, one of a kind. An 80-year old woman is born. Quite an idea.
review: 07-Jul-06 (read in 1983)

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Ray Bradbury
"A Sound of Thunder"
© Colliers, Jun 1952
Planet Stories, Jan 1954
The Golden Apples of the Sun, 1953
--short story : 1999 Locus All-Time Poll /8 (tie)
--/ third place time sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ idea award
--/ adventure award


You can not find more classic SF story about time-travel. A "required reading". The good news is that it is also thrilling to read. Time safari with huge consequences / ripples down the time-stream for squashing a butterfly. A highlight of Bradbury's writing carrer. It is also entirely possible, that it was the very first SF story I've read.
review: 04-Jul-06 (read in 1981)

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Ray Bradbury
"The Wilderness"
(The Martian Chronicles)
© F&SF, Nov 1952
revised from - Today, Apr 6 1952.
The Golden Apples of the Sun, 1953
The Martian Chronicles, 1973
--/ cool sf story

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L. Sprague De Camp
"The Gnarly Man"
© Unknown, Jun 1939
Fantastic Story Magazine, Jul 1953
The Wheels Of If, 1948

A humorous story about an immortal Neanderthal. He goes through life avoiding trouble, so he has a lot of knowledge about the small things in history.
review: 01-Jul-06 (read in 2002)

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Gawain Edwards
"The Return from Jupiter" (nv)

© Wonder Stories, Mar 1931


Its a rare novel, depicting epic conflicts between cultures, but it was too obsolete in style for me, and did not register. I only read the first part, anyway. Has great interior illustration by Frank R. Paul.
review: 01-Jul-06 (read in 2004)



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Russell Hays
"The Beetle Experiment"
© Amazing Stories, Jun 1929
--/ fourth place sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award
--/ shock value
--/ rare find

Great little treatise on how to deal with oversized bugs. Makes you simply love these critters. Probably classic in this "bug" sub-genre.
review: 01-Jul-06 (read in 2004)

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Henry Kuttner
"Absalom"
© Startling Stories, Fll 1946
Bypass to Otherness, 1961
--/ cool sf story
--/ idea award

Solid "mutant child" story, the child who makes his parents literally obsolete. Though a little dry in style.
review: 01-Jul-06 (read in 1985)

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Murray Leinster
"Dead City"
(also as "Malignant Marauder")
© Thrilling Wonder Stories, Sum 1946
Fantastic Story Magazine, Jul 1953
Twists in Time, 1960
--/ fourth place sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award

One of these stories, that do not generate a lot of reviews, quietly providing us with the sense of wonder and adventure. Strange expedition, stars above us (in fact, whole huge Galaxy, approaching our galaxy on a collision course), mystery and great pulp writing.
review: 01-Jul-06 (read in 2002)

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Murray Leinster
"The Other Now"
© Galaxy, Mar 1951
Twists in Time, 1960
--/ cool sf story
--/ wonder award

A classic tale of branching-out realities, and alternate universes, affected by our choices. You would think that this is no more crazy idea than "uncertainty principle" in quantum physics, where location of anything in space is ...uncertain. How about "uncertainty principle" applied to time? Just as easy to believe.
review: 07-Jul-06 (read in 1999)

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Murray Leinster
"Second Landing"
(Canis Venatici series)
© Thrilling Wonder Stories, Jan 1954
Get Off My World!, 1966
--/ fourth place space sf novella
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award
--/ style award

I thoroughly enjoyed this planetary exploration tale. I remember how after laying my hands on this old Belmont collection in a library, i devoured it so fast, that the worlds and stars were whirling in my head like crazed comets and a satisfied nebula of reader's delight nested in my mind like in the center of the galaxy, for many years afterwards. This collection made me REALLY appreciate Leinster as a space adventure writer. A piece of trivia: this novella was one of the first attempts at "shared world" type SF stories, so called "the Twayne Triplets". A scientist would design a "world" and a situation, and three writers would be commissioned to write novellas based on the world/situation. In this case, first one was "Get Out of My Sky" by James Blish. The prospective third story was "First Cycle" by H. Beam Piper, which Piper left unfinished, but which Michael Kurland completed and published in 1982.
review: 04-Jul-06 (read in 1986)

--------------------------------------



Walter Miller, Jr.
"Conditionally Human" (coll)

© Ballantine Books, 1962
larger collection: Corgi Books, 1982 (UK)

--/ fourth place sf collection
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award
--/ emotion award

This review is based on UK edition - with 6 stories. Great selection from the pulps - and good style of writing. Very satisfying collection, prime stuff. Maybe the best presentation of Miller in an adventure mode.
review: 30-Jun-06 (read in 1992)

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Ed Earl Repp
"From Out of the Earth"
© Wonder Stories, Mar 1931
--/ fourth place sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ idea award
--/ rare find

Quite nice adventure with dragons from out of the earth, with solid action and excitement. So far the best effort of this writer that I've read. Something about East-Asia deserts attracts pulp writers in droves.
review: 01-Jul-06 (read in 2004)

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James Schmitz
"We Don't Want Any Trouble"
© Galaxy, Jun 1953
Eternal Frontier, 2002
--/ fourth place sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ shock value

Suspenseful and strong. Aliens are among us; and they can do mimicry very well. Idea is not fresh, but the gutsy, hard-boiled treatment of it in this story makes it one of the best for Schmitz.
review: 04-Jul-06 (read in 2000)

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Robert Sheckley
"All The Things You Are"
© Galaxy, Jul 1956
Pilgrimage to Earth, 1957
--/ cool sf story

Very average tale of alien (but really similar to Earth) place, where the guys are discussing problems of Earth and aggresion of humans. Boring.
review: 07-Jul-06 (read in 1986)

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Robert Sheckley
"Bad Medicine"
© Galaxy, Jul 1956
Pilgrimage to Earth, 1957
(russ. as
"Terapiya")
--/ cool sf story
--/ adventure award

A perturbed person ends up seeing a robot psychiatrist - plus big corporations rule the world, paying a separate police department to enforce brand loyalty.
review: 07-Jul-06 (read in 1985)

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Robert Sheckley
"The Girls And Nugent Miller"
© F&SF, Mar 1960
Shards Of Space, 1962
--/ cool sf story
--/ humour award

Light-weight fare. Our hero is the survivor of a nuclear holocaust who goes off armed with a Geiger counter in search of other survivors only to find the formidable Miss Dennis and her 4 young ladies.
review: 07-Jul-06 (read in 1983)

----------------------------------------------



Robert Sheckley
"The Hour of Battle"
© Space Science Fiction, Sep 1953
--/ cool sf story
--/ wonder award

Quite an amusing piece: humans send robots to fight against the devils of Hell at Armageddon in order to avoid any human deaths, only to find that the robots get raised from the dead and sent to heaven instead of the humans.
review: 04-Jul-06 (read in 1999)

----------------------------------------------



Robert Sheckley
"The King's Wishes"
© F&SF, Jul 1953
Untouched by Human Hands, 1954
--/ cool sf story

An entertaining, very light-weight story about college of magics, pre-Harry Potter stuff. Forgettable.
review: 04-Jul-06 (read in 1986)

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Robert Sheckley
"The Perfect Woman"

© Amazing Stories, Dec 1953
--/ cool sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ rare find

The basis for "Stepford Wives" movie? Here is the synopsis: a man is at a party, and several references are made to "new women". They gossip about a guy who is married to an "old woman" who makes him do the dishes. The guy goes home to his "stepford wife", who suffers some sort of routine, irreparable breakdown. The story ends with some line about "new woman" having all of the desirable characteristics of "old woman", except durability, as he takes her back to the shop.
review: 07-Jul-06 (read in 1989)

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Robert Sheckley
"Warm"
© Galaxy, Jun 1953
Untouched by Human Hands, 1954
--/ fourth place sf story
--/ idea award
--/ style award

Very strong, and unusual for Sheckley story - its all about perceptions. Loved every bit of it. “Basically there is no form. Man produces gestalts, and cuts form out of the plethora of nothingness.” The protagonist goes on to accept that there is no such thing as man. “There are only humanizing features that we-myopically- attach to it.”
review: 04-Jul-06 (read in 2001)

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Margaret St. Clair
"Horrer Hawce"
© Galaxy, Jul 1956
The Best of Margaret St.Clair, 1988
--/ fourth place sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ style award

An amazingly effective haunted house/multiple dimensions story; I loved the atmosphere and fast-paced writing. A certain winner, with many Lovecraftian overtones.
review: 07-Jul-06 (read in 1989)

----------------------------------------------



Margaret St. Clair
"Prott"
© Galaxy, Jan 1953
The Best of Margaret St.Clair, 1988
--/ cool f story
--/ style award
--/ wonder award
--/ humour award

"Prott" is a "boring" alien race, who did nothing but bore humans. They looked like gigantic space-going fried eggs. The story begins with a Prott discovering a human in a spaceship; the Prott enthusiastically begins telling the human about "--ing the --." However, the man can't make out what the noun and verb in the telepathically transmitted phrase mean, so the Prott explains some more... and more... and brings equally enthusiastic friends
review: 04-Jul-06 (read in 1993)

----------------------------------------------



Margaret St. Clair
"Shore Leave"

© Change the Sky, 1974
Change the Sky, 1974
--/ cool sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ idea award
--/ shock value
--/ rare find

----------------------------------------------



R. F. Starzl
"The Terrors of Aryl"
© Wonder Stories, Mar 1931
--/ fourth place space sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award
--/ rare find

This story teems with monsters in a truly shameless pulp fashion. Veritable window shopping of bizarre planet ecology. Wonderful.
review: 01-Jul-06 (read in 2004)

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Evelyn E. Smith
"The Last Of The Spode"
© F&SF, Jun 1953
--/ cool sf story
--/ humour award
--/ emotion award
--/ rare find

Funny, with some nice fifties household "paranoia" overtones. Great afternoon mix. Do you remember "the pod people" from "Invasion of the Body Snatchers"? More subtle than this, but also creepy.
review: 04-Jul-06 (read in 2002)

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Manly Wade Wellman
"The Solar Invasion" (nv)

(Captain Future series)
© Startling Stories, Autumn 1946
book: Paperback Library, 1966
--/ cool space sf novel
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award
--/ awesome scale


This Captain Future entry does not live up to usual Edmond Hamilton standards - he fights a fiend from the fifth dimension who threatens to destroy the universe. Sounds nice, but the style is not inspired, and action is flat.
review: 01-Jul-06 (read in 2004)

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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.


All major OFFICIAL AWARDS are highlighted in BLUE
("winner" has a letter "W" by it, otherwise it is a runner-up only)

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--/ first place :
--/ second place :
--/ third place :

--/ fourth place :

--/ cool : (equal to fifth place)
ALL "BEST OF" LISTS ARE LOCATED HERE

These awards are given in the following categories:
- novel :
- series :
- novella :
- story :
- collection :

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

--/ wonder award
sense-of-wonder, "visual intensity" and inventiveness

--/ idea award
originality of idea / concept

--/ adventure award
exhilarating plot, excitement / action

--/ style award
outstanding literary qualities, inimitable style

--/ romance award
intense and beautiful love / relationships

--/ humour award
funny and cool

--/ emotion award
touching, lasting impression, sensitivity

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altogether wild

--/ awesome scale
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Again, please feel free to leave your own review or comment under every writer's entry; also recommend us other stories you liked.