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January 2004
 
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Adventures to Come edited by J. Berg Esenwein (1937)

J. BERG Esenwein. That's okay, he never heard of you either. He is credited, however, with editing the very first anthology of science fiction; indeed, the very first original such anthology. Not that it mattered in the least; as an artifact, it's really cool, with a Buck Rogers-inspired jacket, but it had zero effect on science fiction.

Adventures to Come (McLoughlin Bros., 1937) contains nine stories (none of which you've ever read) by eight authors (none of whom you've ever heard), one Berger Copeman being represented by two entries. Assuming, that is, that Berger Copeman, Norman Leslie, Burke Framthway or any of the other authors actually existed.

Between 1908 and 1928, Esenwein wrote six courses on writing for the Home Correspondence School, and that opens the possibility that a) he wrote the stories himself using pseudonyms; b) he culled the stories from students who never again published; or c) some combination of the above. My money is on "c."

The stories include "25 Miles Aloft," "Science Steals a March," and "It's Going to Be True." Even for 1937, those titles were a bit ripe. Still, you'd think it would have had some influence, as hungry as fans were back then for anything stfnal, but you'd be wrong. The jacket blurb may give you an idea why: "This book contains a group of highly imaginative tales of the future…. Space ships, adventure in the stratosphere, television figure in astounding events."

Thus, although it's undeniably the progenitor of all sf anthologies, it was not mother but maiden aunt, and passed from human ken leaving no offspring.

—Bud Webster

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