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Year Five – The Best Science Fiction Stories: 1953 (ed. E. F. Bleiler and T. E. Dikty)


It’s tough to know how much to attribute trends here to the editors versus actual publication trends – is the sharp dropoff in post-apocalyptic stories (one, with one dying earth story, versus five last year) due to burnout on the part of Bleiler and Dikty, or a reflection of the actual stories out there this year? Time travel also takes a dive this year.

What we have instead this year is a fixation on gender – while only one story is by a woman author (Zenna Henderson), seven of the 15 feature a woman protagonist, and four of the others focus on the interactions between a man and a woman (or girl). This is weirdly emphasized in the marketing materials on the book jacket, as when Fritz Leiber’s post-apocalyptic “The Moon is Green” is blurbed as “Every woman wants a red-’hot’ lover.” This is a play on the fact that the story is concerned with radioactive fallout, but romance plays no part in the story at all (in that sense, anyway). I wondered if this was published around Valentine’s Day, but Wikipedia, ISFDB, and Worldcat all just have 1953 as the published date, so who knows.

Timewise: 6 contemporary, 1 contemporary/far future, 4 near future, 3 future, and 1 far future.
Spatially: 10 on Earth, 2 that jump between Earth and galactic, 2 galactic, and 1 solar system.

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