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Literature / Worlds Imagined

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First published in 1980 under the title The Arbor House Treasury of Great Science Fiction Short Novels, this Genre Anthology was edited by Robert Silverberg and Martin H. Greenberg. It was republished under the title Worlds Imagined in 1989 because William Morrow & Company purchased Arbor House the year before and they wanted to sell copies under their Avenel Books imprint.

Fifteen Novellas and Novelettes have been reprinted in Worlds Imagined:

Tropes appearing in this anthology:

  • Ambiguous Innocence: In A Case Of Conscience, a Jesuit Priest is part of the team that establishes contact with the first known sapient extraterrestrials. They have a working civilization, but no religion; they are completely without any concept of God, an afterlife, or the idea of sin. The story ambiguously suggests that they were created by Satan.
  • Doorstopper: This Anthology has just over 700 pages because all fourteen stories are actually short novels, classified as Novelettes or Novellas. (Adding in "The Miracle Workers" would mean an additional 64 pages, halfway to eight hundred.)
  • Genre Anthology: In addition to being focused on Science Fiction, the stories in this anthology are all at least Novelette size in length.
  • Hurl It into the Sun: In "Giant Killer", a Novella by A. Bertram Chandler, the setting is an enormous spaceship populated by "The People" and "The Giants". When "The People" become a serious menace to "The Giants", and voiding the air of the ship doesn't kill all of them, the last surviving "Giant" sends the ship into a star.
  • The Milky Way Is the Only Way: In "The Star Pit", a Novella by Samuel R. Delany, only people with a specific set of psychological issues can handle going outside the galaxy, even though interstellar travel is ridiculously convenient.
  • Minimalistic Cover Art: The original front cover features a plain blue background, white text for The Arbor House Treasury and the editor names, and lime green for of Great Science Fiction Short Novels.
  • Moustache de Plume: James Tiptree Jr. is a Pen Name used by Alice Sheldon for writing Science Fiction. Having worked in the intelligence community, "his" publishers didn't know. She didn't voluntarily reveal her true identity, it was discovered by fans. Yes, that's right, SF fans are apparently better at ferreting out this kind of thing than actual spies.
  • Naked on Arrival: "On The Storm Planet", a Novella by Cordwainer Smith, has Casher O'Neill transported from Henriada to his homeworld of Mizzer by T'Ruth and gets badly sunburned, although his mental faculties recover more or less unimpaired.
  • Noodle Incident: "On The Storm Planet" had a robot, rat and Copt, and the three rediscovered the "Old Strong Religion". What religion did they mean?
  • One-Word Title:
  • Orwellian Retcon: William Morrow & Company had The Arbor House Treasury of Great Science Fiction Short Novels reprinted under their Avenel Books imprint with the name Worlds Imagined to avoid the confusion of including multiple publishing company names. They also omitted "The Miracle Workers" in their version of the Anthology.
  • Split Personality: "Beyond Bedlam", a Novella by Wyman Guin, depicts a society about 1000 years in The Future where everyone is "schizophrenic" (actually, possessed of two personalities; "schizophrenia" rather than "multiple personality disorder" being the accepted medical term in The '50s) and each of the two personalities is allowed five days of life at a time, before being legally required to surrender the reins to the other personality.
  • Tomato Surprise: In "Giant Killer", a Novella by A. Bertram Chandler, the main characters call themselves "The People", but they can't be normal humans (among other things, one of the "hideously deformed mutants" whose names describe their mutations is called No-Tail), but knowing what and where they actually are (sentient rats on a spaceship) causes a perspective shift that turns it into almost an entirely different story.

Alternative Title(s): The Arbor House Treasury Of Great Science Fiction Short Novels