The Seven Deadly Sins of Science Fiction and The Seven Cardinal Virtues of Science Fiction
(Fawcett Crest, 1980 and 1981). Covers by Jerome Podwil
Back in the day, there was a pretty reliable formula for a successful science fiction anthology.
Went like this: Step one, find a fresh theme. Could be anything. Unicorns, space dreadnaughts, cats (cats were always a good choice). Step two, find a bunch of science fiction stories. Step three, put Isaac Asimov’s name on the cover.
In 1978, Asimov put out his first anthology with Martin H. Greenberg, who was famously gifted at the production side of things, and over the next decade or so they published over a hundred together, usually with Charles G. Waugh, a psychology professor in Maine. Charles picked the stories, Isaac wrote the intros, and Marty did everything else.
It was an inspired partnership, and it produced many celebrated volumes, including Isaac Asimov’s Wonderful Worlds of Science Fiction (10 books), Isaac Asimov’s Magical Worlds of Fantasy (12 books), and many Mammoth Books of Science Fiction. But for me the real gems of the enterprise were some of the one-offs, including The Seven Deadly Sins of Science Fiction, and its sequel The Seven Cardinal Virtues of Science Fiction.
[Click the images for deadly versions.]
Back covers of The Seven Deadly Sins of Science Fiction and The Seven Cardinal Virtues of Science Fiction
The books were published in 1980 and 1981, the early years of the Asimov/Greenberg/Waugh consortium. As usual, they contained a terrific assortment of stories, from writers like Jack Vance, Roger Zelazny, Frederik Pohl, Michael G. Coney, Judith Merril, Poul Anderson, Arthur C. Clarke, Theodore Sturgeon, Gordon R. Dickson, Eric Frank Russell, and Alexei Panshin.
They also had eye-catching covers by Jerome Podwil, which were a significant draw (they certainly were for me, anyway).
One unusual aspect of these books is that the introductions weren’t by Asimov (in fact, it’s not immediately obvious what contribution Asimov made, if any.) Martin H. Greenberg provided the intros for both, and in my opinion he did a decent imitation of Asimov’s breezy, humorous style. Here’s a snippet from the into to The Seven Deadly Sins of Science Fiction.
The reader will note that there are many important sins that are not included in the Seven: lying, watching soap operas, admiring Idi Amin, remaining only half-safe, not going for it, and indulging in literary criticism. There are also virtues not included in the Seven, of which the chief are reading and enjoying science fiction.
Well, we, the editors, do read and enjoy science fiction and, activated by Brotherly Love, we would bring the joy to others. Possessing Meekness and Temperance, we do not claim to have achieved perfection; possessing Chastity, we know out results to be pure; and possessing Diligence, we know we have done the best we can.
For we have labored beyond measure to observe and classify; we hypothesize you will enjoy the results, and it is for you to test it. Here we have stories which, in the science-fiction mode, exemplify and illustrate each of the Seven Deadly Sins, and give each a dimension perhaps not thought of by Saint Thomas Aquinas.
Here’s the inside cover text for both books.
Inside covers of The Seven Deadly Sins of Science Fiction and The Seven Cardinal Virtues of Science Fiction
The Seven Deadly Sins of Science Fiction was published first. It contains a long novella by Frederik Pohl, a Robot story by Isaac Asimov, a Nicholas Van Rijn novelette by Poul Anderson, and much more. Here’s the complete TOC.
Introduction by Martin H. Greenberg
“Sail 25” by Jack Vance (Amazing Stories, August 1962)
“Peeping Tom” by Judith Merril (Startling Stories, Spring 1954)
“The Invisible Man Murder Case” by Henry Slesar (Fantastic, May 1958)
“Galley Slave” by Isaac Asimov (Galaxy Science Fiction, December 1957)
“Divine Madness” by Roger Zelazny (Magazine of Horror, Summer 1966)
“The Midas Plague” by Frederik Pohl (Galaxy Science Fiction, April 1954)
“The Man Who Ate the World” by Frederik Pohl (Galaxy Science Fiction, November 1956)
“Margin of Profit” by Poul Anderson (Astounding Science Fiction, September 1956)
“The Hook, the Eye and the Whip” by Michael G. Coney (Galaxy, March 1974)
The Seven Cardinal Virtues of Science Fiction contains the Hugo nominated novella “Riding the Torch” by Norman Spinrad, Gordon R. Dickson’s Hugo nominated story “Jean Duprès,” and a novella by Eric Frank Russell. Here’s the Table of Contents.
Introduction by Martin H. Greenberg
“Superiority” by Arthur C. Clarke (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, August 1951)
“Whosawhatsa?” by Jack Wodhams (Analog Science Fiction and Science Fact, December 1967)
“Riding the Torch” by Norman Spinrad (Threads of Time, 1974)
“The Nail and the Oracle” by Theodore Sturgeon (Playboy, October 1965)
“Jean Duprès” by Gordon R. Dickson (Nova 1, 1970)
“Nuisance Value” by Eric Frank Russell (Astounding Science Fiction, January 1957)
“The Sons of Prometheus” by Alexei Panshin (Analog Science Fiction and Science Fact, October 1966)
“The Ugly Little Boy” by Isaac Asimov (Galaxy Science Fiction, September 1958)
Science Fiction Book Club edition of
The Seven Deadly Sins of Science Fiction (1981). Cover by Larry Kresek
Here’s the publishing details.
The Seven Deadly Sins of Science Fiction (317 pages, $2.50 in paperback, November 1980)
The Seven Cardinal Virtues of Science Fiction (350 pages, $2.50 in paperback, September 1981)
Both books were paperback originals from Fawcett Crest, with covers by Jerome Podwil. The SFBC produced a hardcover edition of The Seven Deadly Sins of Science Fiction in 1981. There are no digital editions.
Our previous coverage of Asimov, Greenberg, and Waugh includes:
Where Do We Go From Here? edited by Isaac Asimov
The Tomorrow’s Warfare Anthologies, edited by Joe Haldeman, Charles G. Waugh, and Martin Harry Greenberg
The Space Anthologies, edited by David Drake with Charles G. Waugh and Martin Harry Greenberg
A Fine Addition to Any SF Library: Isaac Asimov’s Wonderful Worlds of Science Fiction, edited by Isaac Asimov, Martin H. Greenberg, and Charles G. Waugh
Isaac Asimov’s Wonderful Worlds of Science Fiction 1: Intergalactic Empires edited by Isaac Asimov, Martin H. Greenberg, and Charles G. Waugh
Isaac Asimov’s Magical Worlds of Fantasy 10: Ghosts edited by Isaac Asimov, Martin H. Greenberg, and Charles G. Waugh
Thank You, Martin H. Greenberg (And Doug Ellis)
Machines That Kill, edited by Fred Saberhagen & Martin Harry Greenberg
The Great Science Fiction Series, edited by Frederik Pohl, Martin H. Greenberg and Joseph D. Olander
See all our Vintage Treasures here.