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The Fantasy Hall of Fame:
The Definitive Collection of the Best Modern Fantasy

edited by Robert Silverberg
HarperPrism Books, 562 pages

The Fantasy Hall of Fame: The Definitive Collection of the Best Modern Fantasy
Robert Silverberg
Robert Silverberg was born in New York City in 1935. In 1949 he started a science fiction fanzine called Spaceship and made his first professional sale to Science Fiction Adventures, a non-fiction piece called "Fanmag," in the December 1953 issue. His first professional fiction publication was "Gorgon Planet" in the February 1954 issue of the British magazine Nebula Science Fiction. His first novel, Revolt on Alpha C, was published in 1955.

In 1956 he graduated from Columbia University, with a major in Comparative Literature, and married Barbara Brown. After many sales, he earned a Hugo Award for his promise (the youngest person ever to do so). In the summer of 1955, He had moved into an apartment in New York where Randall Garrett, an established science fiction writer, lived next door; Harlan Ellison, another promising young novice, also lived in the building. Garrett introduced Silverberg to many of the prominent editors of the day, and the two collaborated on many projects, often using the name Robert Randall. He divorced his first wife in 1986 and married writer Karen Haber the following year. He now lives in the San Francisco area.

ISFDB Bibliography
Robert Silverberg Tribute Site

A review by Todd Ruthman

"Definitive" and "Best" are in the eye of the beholder, but Robert Silverberg and the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America have selected thirty thoroughly enjoyable works of short fantasy in this long overdue companion to The Science Fiction Hall of Fame.

The introduction, in which Silverberg describes the selection process, is well worth reading. Silverberg discusses the difficulties in distinguishing fantasy from science fiction. Three of the nominated stories were in fact disqualified because they'd already been published in the older science fiction Hall of Fame books.

The stories could be no longer than 17,500 words, and must have been published between 1939 and 1990. 1939, Silverberg explains, marks "the beginning of the launching of the modern fantasy movement in the United States with the founding of John Campbell's magazine Unknown." He did not explain why 1990 was chosen as the upper limit, but presumably it gave sufficient time for the most recent nominees to attain "classic" status . The nominations resulted in a ballot of 71 stories by 49 authors.

Members of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America then voted on these stories over a six-month period. If a particular author had more than one story on the ballot, the members could only vote for one. To spare these authors from competing with themselves, all votes an author received were added to the total for their most popular story. Only one story per author would be published.

It was well worth the effort. The thirty stories represent a wonderful cross-section of themes, techniques and talent. Martin H. Greenberg introduces each story with brief but informative reflection on the author's contribution to the genre. Some of the authors are better known for their work in science fiction or contributions in publishing or editing, but all the stories are treasures.

A few of my favorites are Ted Chiang's "Tower of Babylon", Roger Zelazny's "Unicorn Variations", Robert Bloch's "That Hell-Bound Train" and H.L. Gold's "Trouble with Water." However, I could have easily picked a dozen more.

Table of Contents
H.L. Gold Trouble with Water
L. Sprague de CampNothing in the Rules
C.L. Moore Fruit of Knowledge
Jorge Luis Borges Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius
Anthony Boucher The Compleat Werewolf
Ray Bradbury The Small Assassin
Shirley Jackson The Lottery
Robert A. HeinleinOur Fair City
James Blish There Shall Be No Darkness
Jack Vance The Loom of Darkness
Margaret St. ClairThe Man Who Sold Rope to the Gnoles
Theodore Sturgeon The Silken-Swift
Avram Davidson The Golem
Poul Anderson Operation Afreet
Robert Bloch That Hell-Bound Train
Fritz Leiber The Bazaar of the Bizarre
Peter S. Beagle Come Lady Death
J.G. Ballard The Drowned Giant
R.A. Lafferty Narrow Valley
Philip K. Dick Faith of Our Fathers
Clifford D. Simak The Ghost of the Model T
Tanith Lee The Demoness
Harlan Ellison Jeffty is Five
Gene Wolfe The Detective of Dreams
Roger Zelazny Unicorn Variations
Robert Silverberg Basileus
Lucius Shepard The Jaguar Hunter
Ursula K. Le Guin Buffalo Gals, Won't You Come Out Tonight
Terry Bisson Bears Discover Fire
Ted Chiang Tower of Babylon

Copyright © 1998 by Todd Ruthman

Todd Ruthman is the SF Site Poetry Editor.

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