Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sense of Wonder: A Century of Science Fiction edited by Leigh Grossman

Anyone who has spent time studying literature at a college or university is familiar with the Norton Anthology series.  My introduction to the series was with The Norton Anthology of English Literature (8th Edition), Volume 2, a 3000+ page tome of tiny font, tissue-thin paper, and dense reading.  To say that it is overwhelming is an understatement, but Norton manages to pack in an incredible amount of content into one book, and gives an overview of a very broad swath of literature.

Editor Leigh Grossman is doing something similar with Sense of Wonder: A Century of Science Fiction.  This book is huge.  Massive.  Enormous.  And it has everything from Mary Shelley and Edgar Allan Poe, through Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, into the pulps, and all the way up to today, including short stories, novel excerpts, complete novels, poems, and even a play, along with a host of essays.

It is difficult to even explain the breadth of the contents.  One can view the entire table of contents online (at Amazon, among other places), and it is worth taking a look.  The table of contents alone is the length of a short story.  And while many longtime fans will find some of these stories to not be new, it is impossible to not get your money’s worth out of this volume, even from the essays alone, which are as diverse as the stories, with everything from histories of the main periods of the science fiction magazines, to studies of gothic themes, to a look at science fiction anime.  The depth is staggering.

This isn’t a book that you race through.  It is one that you take your time with.  And it is without a doubt worth the cost.  Everyone will find someone worth while here.

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