Return Home

Vintage Treasures: Worldmakers and Supermen, edited by Gardner Dozois

Saturday, February 6th, 2016 | Posted by John ONeill

Worldmakers SF Adventures in Terraforming Supermen Tales of the Posthuman Future-small

Back in December I talked about a few of my favorite anthologies, The Good Old Stuff (1998) and The Good New Stuff (1999), which collected some of the best adventure SF from the last century, alongside Gardner Dozois’ detailed and affectionate commentary. Dozois followed up with another fine pair of anthologies focused on deep space exploration and the far future, Explorers: SF Adventures to Far Horizons and The Furthest Horizon: SF Adventures to the Far Future, both published in 2000. All four were released in trade paperback from St. Martin’s/Griffin, and the set is the equivalent of a Master’s level course in SF of the 20th Century.

In 2001/02, Dozois produced a final two anthologies in this format, exploring two more common themes in 20th Century SF, terraforming and advanced human evolution:

Worldmakers: SF Adventures in Terraforming (459 pages, December 2001, $17.95) — cover by Chesley Bonestell
Supermen: Tales of the Posthuman Future (463 pages, January 2002, $17.95) — cover by Nick Stathopoulos

Like the first volumes, they include Dozois’ lengthy and highly informative intros to each story. Together with the first four, these books form the basis of a very solid library of 20th Century science fiction.

Here’s the back covers:

Worldmakers SF Adventures in Terraforming-back-small Supermen Tales of the Posthuman Future-back-small

In my SF Site review of The Good Old Stuff in 1998, I wrote:

Dozois is arguably the most accomplished editor in the field of modern genre short fiction.

I admit I was pleased to see that quote show up on later titles in the series, including both of these (see the back cover scans above).

Unlike the first four volumes in the series, which were heavily weighted with classic SF, Dozois’ emphasis here is much more modern. He took pains in these two books to highlight the work of  emerging SF stars of the 90s, including Robert Reed, G. David Nordley, Stephen Baxter, Ted Chiang, Charles Stross, Paul J. McAuley, Tony Daniel, David Marusek and Eric Brown.

Worldmakers packs in plenty of classic SF in its 20 stories, including a Psychotechnic League novella by Poul Anderson, an Instrumentality of Mankind tale by Cordwainer Smith, and a Shaper/Mechanist story by Bruce Sterling. But half of the contents were from the previous decade, including two novellas by Joe Haldeman and Geoffrey A. Landis.

The Psychotechnic League-smallHere’s the complete Table of Contents:

Preface by Gardner Dozois
“The Big Rain” by Poul Anderson (Astounding Science Fiction, October 1954)
“When the People Fell” by Cordwainer Smith (Galaxy, April 1959)
“Before Eden” by Arthur C. Clarke (Amazing Stories, June 1961)
“Hunter, Come Home” by Richard McKenna (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, March 1963)
“The Keys to December” by Roger Zelazny (New Worlds, August 1966)
“Retrograde Summer” by John Varley (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, February 1975)
“Shall We Take a Little Walk?” by Gregory Benford (Destinies, Winter 1981)
“The Catharine Wheel” by Ian McDonald (Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, January 1984)
“Sunken Gardens” by Bruce Sterling (Omni, June 1984)
“Out of Copyright” by Charles Sheffield (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, May 1989)
“A Place with Shade” by Robert Reed (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Apr 1995)
“Dawn Venus” by G. David Nordley (Asimov’s Science Fiction, August 1995)
“For White Hill” by Joe Haldeman (Far Futures, December 1995)
“The Road to Reality” by Phillip C. Jennings (Asimov’s Science Fiction, March 1996)
“Ecopoiesis” by Geoffrey A. Landis (Science Fiction Age, May 1997)
“People Came from Earth” by Stephen Baxter (Moon Shots, July 1999)
“Fossils” by William H. Keith, Jr. (Asimov’s Science Fiction, August 1999)
“A Martian Romance” by Kim Stanley Robinson (The Martians, April 1999)
“Dream of Venus” by Pamela Sargent (Star Colonies, June 2000)
“At Tide’s Turning” by Laura J. Mixon (Asimov’s Science Fiction, April 2001)

Like Worldmakers, Supermen includes a fine cross-section of classic SF, including another Psychotechnic League novelette by Poul Anderson, a Pantropy short story by James Blish, and Samuel R. Delany’s Nebula Award-winning masterpiece, “”Aye, and Gomorrah.”

But of its 26 stories, some two thirds — 17 in total — were published in the preceding decade, including a Quiet War novelette by Paul J. McAuley, Joe Haldeman’s Hugo-winning “None So Blind,” and no less than four novellas: a Metaplanetary tale by Tony Daniel, a Sister Alice story by Robert Reed, a Cathy tale by David Marusek, and a novella by Brian Stableford.

Metaplanetary Tony Daniel-smallHere’s the complete TOC for Supermen.

Preface by Gardner Dozois
“The Chapter Ends” by Poul Anderson (Dynamic Science Fiction, January 1954)
“Watershed” by James Blish (If, May 1955)
“Slow Tuesday Night” by R. A. Lafferty (Galaxy Magazine, April 1965)
“Aye, and Gomorrah” by Samuel R. Delany (Dangerous Visions, October 1967)
“Nobody’s Home” by Joanna Russ (New Dimensions II, December 1972)
“The Hero as Werwolf” by Gene Wolfe (The New Improved Sun, September 1975)
“Halfjack” by Roger Zelazny (Omni, June 1979)
“Dancer’s in the Time-Flux” by Robert Silverberg (Heroic Visions, March 1983)
“Spook” by Bruce Sterling (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, April 1983)
“Understand” by Ted Chiang (Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, August 1991)
“None So Blind ” by Joe Haldeman (Asimov’s Science Fiction, November 1994)
“Mortimer Gray’s History of Death ” by Brian Stableford (Immortals, July 1998)
“Brother Perfect” by Robert Reed (Asimov’s Science Fiction, September 1995)
“A Child of the Dead” by Liz Williams (Interzone, #123 September 1997)
“Nevermore” by Ian R. MacLeod (Dying For It: More Erotic Tales of Unearthly Love, October 1997)
“The Wisdom of Old Earth” by Michael Swanwick (Asimov’s Science Fiction, December 1997)
“TOAST: A Con Report” by Charles Stross (Interzone, #134 August 1998)
“The Gardens of Saturn” by Paul J. McAuley (Interzone, #137 November 1998)
“Grist” by Tony Daniel (Asimov’s Science Fiction, December 1998)
“Fossil Games” by Tom Purdom (Asimov’s Science Fiction, February 1999)
“The Wedding Album” by David Marusek (Asimov’s Science Fiction, June 1999)
“Steps Along the Way” by Eric Brown (Moon Shots, July 1999)
“Border Guards” by Greg Egan (Interzone, #148 October 1999)
Epilogue by Gardner Dozois
“Homo Sapiens Declared Extinct” by Bruce Sterling (Nature, November 11, 1999)
“A History of the Human and Post-Human Species” by Geoffrey A. Landis (Science Fiction Age, January 2000)
“The Great Goodbye” by Robert Charles Wilson (Nature, September 21, 2000)

Exploring-The-Horizons-smallOne thing I regret about these two volumes is that they never had an omnibus edition from the Science Fiction Book Club. The Good Old Stuff and The Good New Stuff were collected into one massive 982-page volume as The Good Stuff in 1999, and the same thing happened with Explorers and The Furthest Horizon, with the 916-page hardcover omnibus Exploring the Horizons.

Boy, those were doorstopper volumes, the kind that made you wish you had a desert island to get stranded on so you could bring them with you (as cargo, obviously). Alas, these last two books did not receive the same omnibus treatment.

However, digital versions are available from the publisher for $7.99 each. If you’re interested in print editions, both volumes are readily available online, new and used, at very reasonable prices.

If you’re interested in these books, check out the previous Dozois anthologies in the same loose series:

The Good Old Stuff and The Good New Stuff
Explorers and The Furthest Horizon

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

See all of our recent Vintage Treasures here.

4 Comments »

  1. Your review of Explorers and The furthest Horizon inspired me to buy the omnibus edition of those anthologies. I also recently discovered that in 2008 Dozois published an anthology of brand-new galactic empire stories. And I already had the Good Stuff omnibus and his Old Mars and Old Venus anthologies (edited with GRRM) and several of his Best of the Year anthologies. My wallet wishes he weren’t such a prolific editor, even though my fanish side is glad he is.

    Comment by Amy Bisson - February 7, 2016 12:14 am

  2. > I also recently discovered that in 2008 Dozois published an anthology of brand-new galactic empire stories.

    I almost forgot about that! Thanks for the reminder… that’s a good place to pick up the series.

    > My wallet wishes he weren’t such a prolific editor, even though my fanish side is glad he is.

    I know exactly what you mean. :)

    Comment by John ONeill - February 7, 2016 12:39 am

  3. His original anthology One Million A.D. is also worth a look if you like these types of stories.

    Comment by ChrisDodson - February 7, 2016 3:31 pm

  4. Another great suggestion, Chris. One Million A.D was another Science Fiction Book Club exclusive. I think it would be rewarding to look at the entire set:

    One Million A.D., edited by Gardner Dozois (2005)
    Escape from Earth, edited by Gardner Dozois & Jack Dann (2005)
    Down these Dark Spaceways, edited by Mike Resnick (2005)
    Forbidden Planets, edited by Marvin Kaye (2006)
    Galactic Empires, edited by Gardner Dozois (2007)
    Alien Crimes, edited by Mike Resnick (2007)
    Godlike Machines, edited by Jonathan Strahan (2009)

    Comment by John ONeill - February 7, 2016 6:34 pm


Comments RSS  |  TrackBack URI

 

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.


Black Gate Home
This site © 2020 by New Epoch Press. All rights reserved.