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The Best Science Fiction Stories: 1951 (ed. E. F. Bleiler and T. E. Dikty)

07/10/2012

YEAR THREE

Started off as bad and uninspired as the last volume, but picked up some steam somewhere along the way. I don’t know that I’d say any of these were truly great, but they at least had a bit of a spark from time to time, even if they were almost all played in a totally straight and unsubtle manner (it occurs to me that perhaps a large part of this problem is that so many of them just consist of expository dialogue wherein two characters explain things to one another). Thematically, there was an upsurge in time travel, psychology, and biology this year, and the Cold War is weighing noticeably heavier on the authors (the influence of the Korean War, perhaps?). Capitalism also figures (oddly) in two of the stories, but more on that below.

Only three of the nineteen authors are repeats this time, and C. L. Moore’s absence means we have only a single woman author (Katherine MacLean, whose story also features the one woman protagonist this year and also the closest example of passing the Bechdel test so far).

Four take place entirely in a different star system.
One starts on Earth and features space travel and another star system.
Thirteen take place on Earth.

The abundance of time traveling makes organizing these stories chronologically more difficult, but we have one story that takes place primarily in the past, one in an unclear era, seven contemporary, three near future settings, and six in a more distant future.

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