Clifford D. Simak is one of my favorite writers. He wrote over 100 short stories in his lifetime, and published more than 20 collections, but even to this day not all of his short fiction has been collected. Especially neglected is much of his early pulp work, written for magazines like Wonder Stories, Astounding, and Thrilling Wonder in the 1930s.
The lack of a complete collection of Clifford D. Simak’s short stories has been keenly felt among many old-school fans. So as you can imagine, I was delighted to discover that Open Road Media has undertaken the first comprehensive collection of all of Simak’s short stories — including his science fiction, fantasy, and western fiction. The first three books, I Am Crying All Inside, The Big Front Yard, and The Ghost of a Model T, go on sale later this month.
All three, like all six volumes announced so far, are edited by David W. Wixon, the Executor of Simak’s Literary Estate. Wixon, a close friend of Simak, contributes an introduction to each volume, and short intros to each story, providing a little background on its publishing history and other interesting tidbits.
As a special treat the first volume, I Am Crying All Inside, includes the never-before-published “I Had No Head and My Eyes Were Floating Way Up in the Air,” originally written in 1973 for Harlan Ellison’s famously unpublished anthology Last Dangerous Visions, and finally pried out of Ellison’s unrelenting grip after 42 very long years.
Details on the first six volumes in the series have been released. The first three go on sale October 20:
I Am Crying All Inside and Other Stories (Volume One) — 332 pages, $15.99 in trade paperback, $14.99 digital
The Big Front Yard And Other Stories (Volume Two) — 307 pages, $7.99 in digital format
The Ghost of a Model T And Other Stories (Volume Three) — 301 pages, $7.99 in digital format
The next three will be published on March 1, 2016:
Grotto of the Dancing Deer And Other Stories (Volume Four) — $9.99 in digital format
No Life of Their Own And Other Stories (Volume Five) — $9.99 in digital format
New Folks’ Home And Other Stories (Volume Six) — $9.99 in digital format
Here’s the book description for I Am Crying All Inside:
People work. Folk play. That is the way it has been in this country as long as Sam can remember. He is happy, and he understands that this is the way it should be. People are bigger than folk. They are stronger. They do not need food or water. They do not need the warmth of a fire. All they need is a job to do and a blacksmith to fix them when they break. The people work so the folk can drink their moonshine, fish a little, throw a horseshoe. But when Sam starts to wonder about why the world is this way, his life will never be the same.
Along with the other stories in this collection, “I Am Crying All Inside” is a compact marvel: a picture of an impossible reality that is not so different from our own.
Each story includes an introduction by David W. Wixon, literary executor of the Clifford D. Simak estate and editor of this ebook.
I Am Crying All Inside contains nine science fiction stories and one western, spanning the 1940s to the early 60s. Here’s the TOC:
“Installment Plan” (Galaxy Magazine, February 1959)
“I Had No Head and My Eyes Were Floating Away Up In the Air”
“Small Deer” (Galaxy Magazine, October 1965)
“Ogre” (Astounding Science Fiction, January 1944)
“Gleaners” (IF, March 1960)
“Madness From Mars” (Thrilling Wonder Stories, April 1939)
“Gunsmoke Interlude” (Ten Story Western, October 1952)
“I Am Crying All Inside” (Galaxy Magazine, August 1969)
“The Call From Beyond” (Super Science Stories, May 1950)
“All the Traps of Earth” (Fantasy & Science Fiction, March 1960)
And here’s the TOC for The Big Front Yard and Other Stories (also with one western in the mix):
“The Big Front Yard” (Astounding Science Fiction, October 1958)
“The Observer” (Analog Science Fiction, May 1972)
“Trail City’s Hot-Lead Crusaders” (New Western Magazine, September 1944)
“Junkyard” (Galaxy Science Fiction, May 1953)
“Mr. Meek — Musketeer” (Planet Stories, Summer 1944)
“Neighbor” (Astounding Science Fiction, June 1954)
“Shadow World” (Galaxy Science Fiction, September 1957)
“So Bright the Vision” (Fantastic Universe, August 1956)
And for The Ghost of a Model T:
“Leg. Forst.” (Infinity Science Fiction, April 1958)
“Physician to the Universe” (Fantastic Science Fiction, March 1963)
“No More hides and Tallow” (Lariat Story Magazine, March 1946)
“Condition of Employment” (Galaxy Magazine, April 1960)
“City” (Astounding Science Fiction, May 1944)
“Mirage” (Amazing Stories, October 1950)
“The Autumn Land” (Fantasy & Science Fiction, October 1971)
“Founding Father” (Galaxy Science Fiction, May 1957)
“Byte Your Tongue!” (Stellar 6, 1981)
“The Street That Wasn’t There” (with Carl Jacobi. Comet, July 1941)
I’m thrilled to see, at long last, a determined effort to get all of Simak’s rich legacy of short SF in print (and I’m especially pleased to see that we’ll also be treated to his westerns). However, I do find a few things a little odd.
Only the first volume has a print edition announced so far — the others appear to be digital only, which is something of a disappointment. In addition, the announced digital prices seem a little wonky… $14.99 for volume 1, $7.99 for volumes 2 and 3, and $9.99 for volumes 4-6? Can’t they make up their minds?
Finally, the $9.99 digital pricing seem a little high for me, especially if we can expect only 8-10 stories in the later volumes. At that rate, we can likely expect at least 12-14 volumes, meaning it will cost $120-$140 to get the complete digital catalog of Simak’s short fiction. By comparison, the digital volumes of The Complete Theodore Sturgeon, which also retail for $9.99, each contain 25+ stories and novellas.
See all of our recent coverage of the best in upcoming fantasy here.