This 1978 Genre Anthology by editor Donald L Lawler is full of Conversational Troping, as Lawler breaks down Science Fiction Literature into five major parts; ur-examples of Science Fiction, Science Fantasy, "hard" versus "soft" science fiction, and Genre-Busting Speculative Fiction.
Each section is again broken down into popular aspects of their respective impacts on the genre, with Lawler describing how each category made an impact on the genre as a whole. Space Opera, Robots, aliens, the Utopia/Dystopia settings, and the way authors have begun to mix Science Fiction with other genres, including Sci-Fi Horror.
Works published in this Anthology:
Part 1: Nineteenth-Century Backgrounds
- "Darkness", by Lord Byron
- "Frankenstein" (excerpt), by Mary Shelley
- "Some Words With A Mummy", by Edgar Allan Poe
- "The Birthmark", by Nathaniel Hawthorne
- "The Star", by H.G. Wells
Part 2: Fantasy Science Fiction
Speculative Fantasy Science Fiction
Weird Science Fiction
Time Travel and Parallel Worlds
Part 3: Hard Science Fiction
Speculative Hard Science Fiction
Part 4: Soft Science Fiction
Speculative Soft Science Fiction
- "Nine Lives", by Ursula K. Le Guin
- "The Sliced Crosswise Only On Tuesday World", by Philip José Farmer
Utopias and Dystopias
Social Science Fiction
Part 5: Science Fiction Mixtures
Mystery and Horror Science Fiction
Comic Science Fiction
This Anthology provides examples of:
- Adaptation Distillation:
- Apocalypse How: In "The Nine Billion Names Of God", the lamas believe that when they have finished recording all of the names of God, their purpose will be done. The computer engineer figures they mean the end of the earth, but they really mean the end of everything.
- Doorstopper: Even with restricting itself to excerpts of the novel-length fiction, this book adds up to over 570 pages.
- Downer Ending: Ray Bradbury's "Mars Is Heaven!": The explorers land on Mars and find all their deceased relatives, apparently alive and well, until the captain of the ship realizes something was amiss, and the shapeshifting telepathic Martians go on a killing spree.
- Earth All Along: Arthur C. Clarke's "Encounter In The Dawn": In this Short Story, a First Contact situation occurs between a technologically advanced galaxy-spanning empire and a primitive caveman tribe on a backwater planet. The description of the explorers is humans in the Standard Sci Fi Setting, however when the survey team is recalled, it is revealed that the cavemen they interacted with would eventually build the city of Babylon.
- Excited Show Title!: Ray Bradbury's "Mars Is Heaven!"
- Interstellar Weapon: In "The Star", a Short Story by H.G. Wells, when the perspective changes to the Martian astronomers, it's suddenly revealed that the titular star was actually a missile that had been fired from outside the solar system.
- Long Title: Robert Sheckley's "Zirn Left Unguarded, the Jenghik Palace in Flames, Jon Westerley Dead" (Yes, that is just one title, not three, despite appearances.)
- Lotus-Eater Machine: Ray Bradbury's "Mars Is Heaven!": Part of The Martian Chronicles, this story starts out as a sort of Ontological Mystery in the beginning. A crew from Earth land on Mars, which looks like Ohio at the turn of the 20th century. However, their long lost dead relatives start appearing, and everyone gets lost in the excitement of seeing old faces again. It has a Downer Ending: the residents of the town are shape-shifting telepathic Martians who put up the facade to throw the spacemen off guard. It works: that night, just as the Captain is beginning to realize this, his "brother" turns into an alien and stabs him to death. The same thing happens all over town. The next day, they have a funeral for the spacemen... and then take on their true forms and gleefully tear the ship apart.
- Master of Illusion: Ray Bradbury's "Mars Is Heaven!": An expedition to Mars is surprised to find an Earth village populated by all their deceased relatives, only to realize too late it's a trap designed to lure them outside their rocketship so they can be easily murdered.
- Mummy: Edgar Allan Poe's "Some Words With A Mummy": This is an unusual case where the mummy isn't Undead- he went into a cataleptic state and didn't come out for thousands of years. Since he was of a particular group known as the Scarabeus, he was fortunate enough not to get his internal organs removed during embalming.
- Nostalgia Heaven: Ray Bradbury's "Mars Is Heaven!": Some explorers land on Mars and are stunned to find their childhood hometown, populated by all their deceased relatives, very much alive and well. It's a trick.
- One-Word Title:
- Our Nudity Is Different: Fritz Leiber's "Coming Attraction": Being topless is fine for a woman... so long as she wears a mask.
- The Shangri-La: In Arthur C. Clarke's "The Nine Billion Names Of God", the Tibetan lamasery is accessible by air, and in a subversion of typical expectations, has been embracing the way technology can be used to assist in their worship. They've even hired a couple of computer engineers to program a printer to output every name of God.
- Switching P.O.V.: In "The Star", a Short Story by H.G. Wells, the story is in omniscient third-person, describing how events play out from Earth's perspective. For the very last paragraph, however, the perspective shifts to Mars, explaining their perception of the recent events.
- Telepathic Spacemen: Ray Bradbury's "Mars Is Heaven!": The telepathic Martians create a Lotus-Eater Machine to trap the crew of a human spaceship until they're all asleep, so the Martians can murder them easily.
- Up the Real Rabbit Hole: Larry Niven's "All The Myriad Ways": This story is set in a world where travellers to parallel universes report worlds where the Cuba War was "a damp squib" (called the Cuban Missile Crisis) and return with different technology such as the stapler.
- Venus Is Wet: Leigh Brackett's "Enchantress Of Venus": In this story, Venus is warm, wet, and cloudy; most of its surface is ocean or low-lying swamp.