AMERICAN SCIENCE FICTION: Four Classic Novels 1960-1966

American SciFi

ed. By Gary K. Wolfe

Library of America
2019, 728 pages, $37.50

ISBN 978-1-59853-501-3

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Unfortunately, at times, I think about Generation Z and its lack of knowledge of the basic science-fiction classics, or any classic literature for that matter. These books are what I would have read when I was Gen Z’s age, anything from WAR OF THE WORLDS to GULLIVER’S TRAVELS.

But editor Wolfe, of Locus Magazine review columnist fame, sets the stage, and his sense of history and purpose for SF in that selected time period is nothing short of well thought-out and impeccable.

The four novels within this treasured Library of America edition, hardcover perfect-bound and with a ribbon-fabric bookmark attached in the binding, like our Catholic missalette, include THE HIGH CRUSADE by Poul Anderson, WAY STATION by Clifford D. Simak, FLOWERS FOR ALGERNON by Daniel Keyes and … AND CALL ME CONRAD (THIS IMMORTAL) by Roger Zelazny.

Gary Wolfe, the premier Locus Magazine book reviewer, provides great socio-historical background for this literary time roadmark, giving us the whys and hows of the creation of these multiple award-winning works. While at times I believed Anderson was unreadable (my style leads me to enjoy FLOWERS over CRUSADE any day), we get a compendium of histories and brief biographies in notes by Wolfe about the creators and their works.

AMERICAN SCIENCE FICTION is an excellent classroom collection. Any bona fide SF course in college will most likely be that much less without it.