Last week I talked about two of my favorite anthologies by one of the most acclaimed editors in the field: The Good Old Stuff (1998) and The Good New Stuff (1999) (collected into one massive 982-page volume as The Good Stuff by the Science Fiction Book Club in 1999), both edited by Gardner Dozois. Those books collected some of the best adventure SF from the last century, alongside Dozois’ detailed and affectionate commentary on each author. The result was the equivalent of a Master’s level course in Adventure SF of the 20th Century, and its most proficient writers.
A year later, Dozois did the same thing with another pair of anthologies, this time focused on two similarly fascinating branches of science fiction: tales of deep space exploration, and tales of the far future. Like the first two volumes, they were both released in trade paperback from St. Martin’s/Griffin, and they are both excellent:
Explorers: SF Adventures to Far Horizons (495 pages, April 2000, $17.95)
The Furthest Horizon: SF Adventures to the Far Future (492 pages, May 2000, $17.95)
Both had covers by famous SF artist Chesley Bonestell. Like the first volumes, they include Dozois’ lengthy and highly informative intros to each story. These volumes perfectly compliment the first two, forming the basis for a solid library of modern science fiction.
Also like the other volumes, they collect a delightful mix of both criminally overlooked and classic short fiction, including Arthur C. Clarke’s famous “Sentinel,” the story that inspired 2001, and multiple Hugo Award-winners, such as Robert Silverberg’s famed novella “Nightwings” and Poul Anderson’s “The Longest Voyage,” and Clarke’s Nebula Award-winning “A Meeting With Medusa.”
The writers included are the finest SF writers of the 20th Century, including Jack Vance, Poul Anderson, Brian W. Aldiss, Frederik Pohl, Avram Davidson, Michael Moorcock, Joe Haldeman, James Tiptree, Jr, Gene Wolfe, Walter Jon Williams, James H. Schmitz, Larry Niven, R. A. Lafferty, Roger Zelazny, Ursula K. Le Guin, Vernor Vinge, John Varley, Michael Swanwick, Kim Stanley Robinson, Jack McDevitt, Stephen Baxter, and many others.
In May 2000 the Science Fiction Book Club released a single-volume, 916-page hardcover omnibus collection of both books with a striking cover by John Berkey, titled Exploring the Horizons.
The hardcover edition is still available through places like Amazon.com, and is a real bargain.
Here’s the TOC for Explorers:
Preface by Gardner Dozois
“The Sentinel,” by Arthur C. Clarke (10 Story Fantasy, Spring 1951)
“Moonwalk,” by H. B. Fyfe (Space Science Fiction, November 1952)
“Grandpa,” by James H. Schmitz (Astounding Science Fiction, February 1955)
“The Red Hills of Summer,” by Edgar Pangborn (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, September 1959)
“The Longest Voyage,” by Poul Anderson (Analog, December 1960)
“Hot Planet,” by Hal Clement (Galaxy, August 1963)
“Drunkboat,” by Cordwainer Smith (Amazing Stories, October 1963)
“Becalmed in Hell,” by Larry Niven (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, July 1965)
“Nine Hundred Grandmothers,” by R. A. Lafferty (If, February 1966)
“The Keys to December,” by Roger Zelazny (New Worlds, August 1966)
“Vaster Than Empires and More Slow,” by Ursula K. Le Guin (New Dimensions 1, 1971)
“A Meeting With Medusa,” by Arthur C. Clarke (Playboy, December 1971)
“The Man Who Walked Home,” by James Tiptree, Jr. (Amazing Science Fiction, May 1972)
“Long Shot,” by Vernor Vinge (Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, August 1972)
“In the Hall of the Martian Kings,” by John Varley (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, February 1977)
“Ginungagap,” by Michael Swanwick (TriQuarterly 49, 1980)
“Exploring Fossil Canyon,” by Kim Stanley Robinson (Universe 12, 1982)
“Promises to Keep,” by Jack McDevitt (Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, December 1984)
“Lieserl,” by Stephen Baxter (Interzone #78, December 1993)
“Crossing Chao Meng Fu,” by G. David Nordley (Analog Science Fiction and Fact, December 1997)
“Wang’s Carpets,” by Greg Egan (New Legends, May 1995)
“A Dance to Strange Musics,” by Gregory Benford (Science Fiction Age, November 1998)
“Approaching Perimelasma,” by Geoffrey A. Landis (Asimov’s Science Fiction, January 1998)
And for The Furthest Horizon:
Preface by Gardner Dozois
“Guyal of Sfere,” by Jack Vance (The Dying Earth, 1950)
“Old Hundredth,” by Brian W. Aldiss (New Worlds Science Fiction #100, November 1960)
“Alpha Ralpha Boulevard,” by Cordwainer Smith (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, June 1961)
“Day Million,” by Frederik Pohl (Rogue, Feb/March 1966)
“Bumberboom,” by Avram Davidson (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, December 1966)
“Coranda,” by Keith Roberts (New Worlds, January 1967)
“Nightwings,” by Robert Silverberg (Galaxy, September 1968)
“Pale Roses,” by Michael Moorcock (New Worlds 7, December 1974)
“Anniversary Project,” by Joe Haldeman (Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact, October 1975)
“Slow Music,” by James Tiptree, Jr. (Interfaces, February 1980)
“The Map,” by Gene Wolfe (Light Years and Dark, November 1984)
“Dinosaurs,” by Walter Jon Williams (Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, June 1987)
“The Death Artist,” by Alexander Jablokov (Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, August 1990)
“Sister Alice,” by Robert Reed (Asimov’s Science Fiction, November 1993)
“Recording Angel,” by Paul J. McAuley (New Legends, May 1995)
“Genesis,” by Poul Anderson (Far Futures, December 1995)
“The Days of Solomon Gursky,” by Ian McDonald (Asimov’s Science Fiction, June 1998)
Both volumes are hugely enjoyable reads.
Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of both books is that they weren’t more commercially successful. When I dropped a Facebook note to Gardner on the first entry in the series, on The Good Stuff volumes, his response was:
Few people saw any of those books, as far as I can tell.
Well, their loss is your gain. Both volumes are readily available online, both new and used, at very reasonable prices. And digital versions are available from the publisher for $7.99 each.
If you enjoyed these books, check out Dozois’ other anthologies in the same loose series:
And our previous coverage of some of the other fine anthologies edited by Gardner Dozois:
The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Thirty-First Annual Collection
The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Thirty-Second Annual Collection
Old Venus, edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois
Old Mars, edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois
Rogues, edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois
Warriors, edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois
Songs of the Dying Earth, edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois
Multiverse: Exploring the Worlds of Poul Anderson, edited by Greg Bear and Gardner Dozois
Next up: the last two anthologies in this series, Worldmakers: SF Adventures in Terraforming (2001) and Supermen (2002).
See all of our recent Vintage Treasures here.