First published in 1954 by editor Judith Merril, this Genre Anthology has fifteen stories by Science and Fantasy writers exploring what it means, exactly, to be human.
Works published in this Anthology:
This Anthology provides examples of:
- Alien Among Us: In "The Big Contest", Hobe speculates that aliens have been coming around Earth for hundreds of years, keeping humans under observation and trying to keep us from doing too much damage to each other, like separating chickens that get to pecking at each other.
- All Cavemen Were Neanderthals: In "The Gnarly Man", the caveman protagonist is a Neanderthal.
- Bilingual Dialogue: "Crucifixus Etiam", by Walter M Miller Jr, has Spanish/Latin sprinkled throughout the dialogue and narration.
- Central Theme: Each of these stories were selected by Judith Merril to evoke the question of what does it take before a non-human is no different from a human?
- Contemporary Caveman: "The Gnarly Man" is about a Neanderthal named Shining Hawk whose aging process was frozen when he was struck by lightning early in his life. He has survived by his wits on the periphery of human society since the extinction of his own kind, using a succession of false identities and getting by as a blacksmith or in menial professions like his present one; appearing as as an 'ape man' in a travelling freak show. He has been a witness to much of history from the margins, making little personal impact on it. He's also frustrating as hell to the scientists trying to get information from him, both cause he's deliberately tried to be low-key and stay away from important/influential people (he mentions at one point the only King he ever even personally saw was Charlemagne, from a distance when he was addressing a crowd) and because every conversation about history goes like "Yeah, that was in the 13th century. No, wait, maybe it was the 11th. I remember all the bystanders had beards, so it wasn't the 12th..."
- The Fog of Ages: In "The Gnarly Man", Shining Hawk is a Neanderthal caveman who got zapped by lightning and wound up not aging, or at least aging very slowly. When he's interviewed, he turns out to be less useful than hoped: he can remember the broad strokes pretty well, but he gets his times mixed up ("Let's see, most of the men in the crowd had beards, so that was 8th century, or was it 12th, there were a lot of beards then too..."). Also, it turns out that unless you're invulnerable as well as immortal, the best way to survive history is not to be present during any of the more exciting bits of it, so anything interesting enough to be worth writing down he probably wasn't around for.
- The Nondescript: In "The Big Contest", by John D Mac Donald, Woolmutt is described as the sort of person you don't notice coming or going.
- One-Word Title: "Ghosts" by Don Marquis
- Poetry: "Ghosts" by Don Marquis
- Short Story:
- Shout-Out: In "The Temptation Of Harringay", the titular character keeps comparing the painting he's working on with masterpieces by other painters.
- Tagline: "Fifteen stories by the world's Great Writers of Science-Fantasy . . . and for the first time in any Anthology"
- Unreliable Narrator: In "The Temptation Of Harringay", the first lines of the story establish that the rest of the story cannot be believed because the titular Harringay is an artist.