SCIENCE FICTION A TO Z by Isaac Asimov

SCIENCE FICTION A TO Z

A Dictionary of the Great Themes of Science Fiction

KIRKUS REVIEW

Forget the pretentious "dictionary" label: this admittedly mammoth, 50-piece collection--with its contrived categories ("knights," "judicial system," "women," etc.) and haft-witted definitions ("children--persons between infancy and puberty; the offspring of human beings")--is just another gab-bag, despite the noisy packaging. Furtermore, 34 of the yarns are from the 1940s and '50s, with all that implies in terms of pulpish writing, flawed or flimsy premises, and juvenile, cliff-hanging plots. Among the famous entries: Cordwainer Smith's hyperspace pinball, "The Game of Rat and Dragon"; Arthur Clarke's Venusians puzzling over a Walt Disney cartoon, "History Lesson"; Anne McCaffrey's original cyborg-spaceship tale, "The Ship That Sang"; and H. G. Wells' horrifying deep-sea dive, "In the Abyss." There's plenty of humor, including a Richard Matheson tale about a crawling, sentient Los Angeles taking over the world, and one of Piers Anthony's interstellar dentist yarns (funny, but guaranteed to induce toothache in the reader). Plus: touching love stories from Theodore Sturgeon and Robert F. Young; a blend of spaghetti western and time travel from Bob Shaw; a half-animal, half-vegetable alien in distress from C. D. Simak; sharp feminism from Suzette Haden Elgin; and several space operas of the "who was that masked man?" variety. Entertaining, often YA-ish, certainly browse-worthy tales--but, overall, mutton dressed as lamb.
Pub Date: Aug. 12th, 1982
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1982




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