The Penguin Science Fiction Omnibus

By Brian W. Aldiss

Rating: 4 stars

This volume collects two earlier Penguin SF collections from the 50s and 60s and is a pretty mammoth affair, coming to over 600 pages and containing 36 stories. Given the time period that the stories were written in (mostly the 1950s, with some outliers in the decade either side), some inevitable themes arise. These are primarily concerned with nuclear apocalypse and ‘Reds under the bed’ type allegories.

There are some great stories here and very few misses. Isaac Asimov’s Nightfall is welcome at any time and William Tell’s Eastward Ho! is a nice reversal of the conquest of America. I’m not necessarily a fan of John Steinbeck, but his The Short-Short Story of Mankind is excellent while Howard Fast’s The First Men is a nice Ubermensch story in the vein of Olaf Stapledon.

That’s just a brief skim through the selection. As I say, there are very few misses, so this is worth a read if you’re a fan of Golden and Silver Age SF, or even if you’re just curious about the history of the genre.

Book details

ISBN: 9780140031454
Publisher: Penguin
Year of publication: 1973

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