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Literature / The Great SF Stories

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This 26-volume set covers the span of time from 1939 to 1964, anthologizing many of the most significant stories in Science Fiction each year. The introduction of each volume describes the important Real Life events of the year, but the bulk of each Genre Anthology are the stories that had been published in the Pulp Magazines of the era. Initially co-edited by Isaac Asimov and Martin H. Greenberg, the series went on hiatus after Dr Asimov's death in 1992. Robert Silverberg convinced Greenberg to publish one additional volume in 2001.

The Great SF Stories consists of twenty-six volumes:

These works provide examples of:

  • Amazing Technicolor Population: The cover to Isaac Asimov Presents: The Golden Years of Science Fiction: Fourth Series has a bald gold-skinned humanoid alien climbing along a cliff.
  • "Best Of" Anthology: A series of 25 (now 26) Genre Anthology volumes, covering the years of 1939 through 1964. Each volume contained a dozen or more short fiction stories to represent the best of the year, selected by editor Martin H. Greenberg, with Isaac Asimov (or Robert Silverberg) assisting.
  • Big Red Devil: The cover to Isaac Asimov Presents: The Golden Years of Science Fiction: Second Series has a bald red-skinned humanoid with large fangs and a long tail sitting in an iron throne with flames on either side. As artwork, we don't really learn how it relates to any narrative, but it certainly evokes the idea of the classic Christian devil.
  • Doorstopper: Each of the omnibus volumes exceeded six hundred pages, Third Series is the shortest, due to omitting five stories.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The first few volumes of Isaac Asimov Presents The Golden Years of Science Fiction, an omnibus series reprint, would present each of the two books with different page numbers and separate introductions. Around Series 3, however, the introductions started to be merged into a cohesive whole and the stories were listed together with one page count.
  • In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: Each volume was originally prefaced with Dr Isaac Asimov's name, as he is more well-known amoung casual readers than Martin H. Greenberg. Long after Dr Asimov's death, Greenberg teamed up with Robert Silverberg to anthologize one additional volume. Silverberg replaced Asimov in the title.
  • "Mister Sandman" Sequence: The primary purpose of the introduction is to help the reader get into the mindset of that volume's year. It starts with major Real Life events, shifts to describing the English-speaking culture milestones of the year, and ends more specific details about major events in the Science Fiction subculture.
  • Multi-Volume Work: This Genre Anthology series collects the "best" short fiction stories between the Golden Age of Science Fiction until the New Wave decades later. Each volume is dedicated to a specific year, covering 1939 until 1963 (and then another volume for 1964 was produced a decade later).
  • Omnibus: Isaac Asimov Presents The Golden Years of Science Fiction is a series of two-book omnibuses that lasted for six volumes. The volumes republish the first twelve copies of The Great SF Stories, printed a few years after the first publication of the originals. The initial volumes presented each book separately, but later omnibuses would merge the two introductions into a cohesive whole, disguising its role.
  • Spell My Name With An S: Isaac Asimov Presents: The Golden Years of Science Fiction: Second Series recognizes that "Mechanical Mice" was written by Eric Frank Russell under a Pen Name, but claims the pseudonym was Maurice G Hugi in the table of contents and Maurice A Hugi on the title page. (It was supposed to be the second version, the first is the name of a different author.)
  • Spiritual Successor: In this case, the series is intended as a spiritual antecedent to the Worlds Best Science Fiction series that began in 1965. Greenberg and Dr Asimov planned on ending the series by anthologizing up until 1963, but Robert Silverberg worked with Martin H. Greenberg to produce one more volume.
  • Tagline:
    • "36 stories and novellas" — Isaac Asimov Presents: The Golden Years of Science Fiction
    • "28 stories and novellas" — Isaac Asimov Presents: The Golden Years of Science Fiction: Second Series

Alternative Title(s): Isaac Asimov Presents The Golden Years Of Science Fiction