Raymond J. Healy is one of the most important editors in the history of science fiction. Although he has a scant four books to his credit, he did as much to popularize and establish the field as editors with dozens more. His first book, Adventures in Time and Space (1946), edited with J. Francis McComas, is arguably the most important SF anthology of the Twentieth Century. Although it wasn’t the first true SF anthology (that honor belongs to Donald A. Wollheim’s The Pocket Book of Science-Fiction, 1943), it was enormously successful, and that success paved the way for the SF reprint anthology market as we know it today.
Before Healy and McComas, no major publisher would take a risk on the unproven genre of science fiction, which at the time was the province of low-paying pulp magazines. Adventures in Time and Space, a massive 1,013-page survey volume which reprinted the best early science fiction from Astounding Science Fiction and other magazines, found its way into libraries and schools across the country, and remained in print for decades. Its success virtually created the SF reprint anthology, which brought countless writers into permanent editions for the first time, and introduced them to a host of new readers. In 1952 the readers of Astounding/Analog voted Adventures in Time and Space the All-Time Best Book, beating out Slan, The Green Hills of Earth, and The Martian Chronicles.
After his enormous success with Adventures in Time and Space, Healy made one more major innovation. Instead of filling his next book with reprints, he bought brand new stories from the top writers in the field — and in the process invented the original science fiction anthology. The result was New Tales of Space and Time (1951). He did it again three years later with 9 Tales of Space and Time (1954). Both books were successful… and needless to say, highly influential, spawning thousands of imitators through the decades.
If we have Healy to thank for the modern wonder of the science fiction anthology — and I think we do — I also don’t want to overlook the anthologies themselves, which are still read and enjoyed by modern readers. For example, here’s a snippet from Derek Davis March 2017 review at Goodreads.
This anthology of all-original stories, published in 1951, was a signal document in the defining years of the “golden age” of SF. Raymond Healy and Anthony Boucher set out to wrest the genre from both the blunderbuss nonsense of the 1920s-’30s and the sterile “just the facts” approach sometimes resulting [from] Astounding Science Fiction‘s otherwise sterling job of uplifting quality and focus.
Seen from today, it’s also a remarkable look at the cultural mindset unfolding as postwar America settled into what looked like a possible era of peace…
Bradbury’s “Here There Be Tygers” is, not [surprisingly], something entirely personal and of its own sort. No one did a more remarkable job of blending character and environment so that they became, if not a single entity, almost indistinguishable. Another stunner is Kris Neville’s “Bettyann.” Though riding on an SF premise, its real strength lies in telling one of the most touching and embracing tales of alienated childhood ever put together. Neville gave up SF not long after, having decided it did not have the scope he needed. Too bad: he had immense promise.
Here’s the complete Table of Contents.
Introduction by Anthony Boucher
“Here There Be Tygers” by Ray Bradbury
“In a Good Cause—” by Isaac Asimov
“Tolliver’s Travels” by Frank Fenton and Joseph Petracca
“Bettyann” by Kris Neville
“Little Anton” by Reginald Bretnor
“Status Quondam” by P. Schuyler Miller
“B + M – Planet 4” by Gerald Heard
“You Can’t Say That” by Cleve Cartmill
“Fulfillment” A. E. van Vogt
“The Quest for Saint Aquin” by Anthony Boucher
New Tales of Space and Time was published by Henry Holt in November 1951, and reprinted in paperback by Pocket Books in December 1952. It is 273 pages, priced at 25 cents. The cover is by Charles Frank.
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