6 From Worlds Beyond, ed. T. E. Dikty (1956)

October 22nd, 2009

I have two paperback compilations by Dikty and both of them consist of selections from a larger hard cover book. I’ll be reading the other one, soon. This one was one of the books that Erica got me for my Birthday. It was a good find.

I finished this last week, but I got involved at work and never got around to reviewing it. Now, almost a week later, some of the stories are forgotten and others stand out.

The collection is only 6 novellas. These stories represent the newly emerged humanistic stories that appeared in the 1950s in reaction to the strict technology stories in Astounding. Galaxy, F&SF, Worlds of IF and other magazines of the time were publishing psychological and philosophical dramas that did not necessarily involve a scientific gadget. These, with one exception, are good examples of this kind of story. All are better written and more interesting than the kinds of stories one finds now in SF zines.

There is an outstanding Cordwainer Smith story, The Game of Rat and Dragon, about a cat that I found very interesting, but Smith’s relationship to cats, especially when they are a romantic interest is a little disturbing. The Smith story was well worth the read. I have a collection of Smith’s stories and when I encounter this one, I will read it again.

The Robert Bloch story "I Do Not Love Thee, Doctor Fell", is, as you would expect from Bloch (the author of the movie Psycho), first rate. Although Bloch wrote many SF stories, he doesn’t seem to come up often in anthologies. You hear about "I Am Legend" and his movie credits, but I had never encountered this story. I have read several Bloch anthologies, but they were almost all horror stories.

I started reading Jungle Doctor by Robert F. Young and since I did not know the name, I was worried that it was not going to be good. I was surprised. It was a strong story and a good way to start off the anthology.

Dream Street, by Frank M. Robinson and You Created Us, by Tom Godwin were good stories, but left no strong impressions. Dream Street is the story of a boy who wants to travel to the stars and You Created Us is about mutant lizards that destroy Earth. Tom Godwin wrote "The Cruel Equations" that is one of the best short stories that John W. Campbell, Jr. ever forced an author to write, but You Created Us is just not that interesting.

The last story was not that good. "The Shores of Night" by Thomas N. Scortia was way too long and it rambled. It started with an interesting premise. A project that could bring man to the stars loses its funding and a group of heroic scientists choose to test the spacecraft prematurely, thinking that would be man’s last chance to expand beyond the Solar System. The novella is expanded from a story that appeared in Astounding and this first part sounds like something Campbell would like. The rest of the novella jumps around with different characters and has nothing much in common with the first part. I lost interest and just barely managed to finish it.

All in all, 6 From Worlds Beyond, is a good collection of some stories a little outside the Golden Age of SF mainstream and a very good read.

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