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The Greatest Science Fiction Stories of the 20th Century

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Stars of hit sci-fi series include notable works: Why I Left Harry's All by Lawrence Watt-Evans, Jeffty is Five written and performed by Harlan Ellison, and The 9 Billion Names of God by Arthur C. Clarke. Stars of hit sci-fi series include notable works: Why I Left Harry's All by Lawrence Watt-Evans, Jeffty is Five written and performed by Harlan Ellison, and The 9 Billion Names of God by Arthur C. Clarke.


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Stars of hit sci-fi series include notable works: Why I Left Harry's All by Lawrence Watt-Evans, Jeffty is Five written and performed by Harlan Ellison, and The 9 Billion Names of God by Arthur C. Clarke. Stars of hit sci-fi series include notable works: Why I Left Harry's All by Lawrence Watt-Evans, Jeffty is Five written and performed by Harlan Ellison, and The 9 Billion Names of God by Arthur C. Clarke.

30 review for The Greatest Science Fiction Stories of the 20th Century

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    There are more stories than are listed in the description including one by LeGuin. Most were quite good, but I don't think any would have made my greatest list save for The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas. The rest were good, especially the first time they're read, but really lose it once their twist is known & I've read most of them before. Clarke's The Nine Billion Names of God is a perfect example. The narration was very good, except Ellison reading his "Jeffty is Five", another good story the There are more stories than are listed in the description including one by LeGuin. Most were quite good, but I don't think any would have made my greatest list save for The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas. The rest were good, especially the first time they're read, but really lose it once their twist is known & I've read most of them before. Clarke's The Nine Billion Names of God is a perfect example. The narration was very good, except Ellison reading his "Jeffty is Five", another good story the first time through & interesting after that, but his volume is all over the place & I can't hear it when he whispers. It hurts when he shouts, too. Luckily, most of the narrators were great. Wil Wheaton was a perfect choice for the Watt-Evans story, too. They're a great pair. If you need an introduction to SF short stories, this is a good collection to start with. It's nice to revisit old friends, too.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Shawn

    A pleasant mix of well-known classics, some entertaining obscurities, and a couple of dated stinkers. I liked almost everything here and absolutely loved a few of them, but enjoyed the experience of relaxing into each story's constructed worlds and possibilities. A pleasant mix of well-known classics, some entertaining obscurities, and a couple of dated stinkers. I liked almost everything here and absolutely loved a few of them, but enjoyed the experience of relaxing into each story's constructed worlds and possibilities.

  3. 4 out of 5

    B. Pope

    The Good: "Jeffty Is Five" "Fermi and Frost" "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" "The Crystal Spheres" "Tangents" All of these were good stories. They were either thought-provoking, or entertaining, or well-crafted for dramatic effect. They explored interesting ideas and had characters with real drives, or used description to further a theme. Each one had a number of merits and I enjoyed each thoroughly. The Ok: "Why I Left Harry's All-Night Diner" "The Nine Billion Names of God" These two were not bad. The Good: "Jeffty Is Five" "Fermi and Frost" "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" "The Crystal Spheres" "Tangents" All of these were good stories. They were either thought-provoking, or entertaining, or well-crafted for dramatic effect. They explored interesting ideas and had characters with real drives, or used description to further a theme. Each one had a number of merits and I enjoyed each thoroughly. The Ok: "Why I Left Harry's All-Night Diner" "The Nine Billion Names of God" These two were not bad. I just found that they failed to bring the tales to their true potential. Both approached being good, but feel short and left me wanting more. The "I could have done without": "Huddling Place" "That Only a Mother" "Bears Discover Fire" "Allamagoosa" "Twilight" These short stories I just could not get into. Some were "trick ending" plots, which I do not caare for at all. Or just didn't seem to belong in this collection. These five were definitely NOT the greatest science fiction of the 20th century and if you buy or borrow this collection, I recommend just skipping them.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl Gatling

    These are not the greatest science fiction stories of the 20th century, but they are mostly solidly good. I enjoyed them enough that I went to my bookshelves and dusted off three other "treasuries of science fiction stories" that I have kept for 30 or 40 years, and thought, maybe I will read them again. Some of the stories from those anthologies are also in this. Science fiction allows you to imagine other times and other places and other ways of doing things, other ways of organizing society. Th These are not the greatest science fiction stories of the 20th century, but they are mostly solidly good. I enjoyed them enough that I went to my bookshelves and dusted off three other "treasuries of science fiction stories" that I have kept for 30 or 40 years, and thought, maybe I will read them again. Some of the stories from those anthologies are also in this. Science fiction allows you to imagine other times and other places and other ways of doing things, other ways of organizing society. Things might be different than they are right now. Sometimes the thrill of pleasure is just in imagining that difference. "Bears Discover Fire," is such a story. It doesn't seem to have much of a point, but I enjoyed the alternative reality of a rural woodland where bears gather and huddle around campfires at night. If evolution continues, the story seems to ask, why not? And I enjoyed the folksy narrator who treated the newfangled bears with respect, leaving freshcut firewood for them, as opposed to some people who responded with fear and contempt. And maybe that is the point, how we deal with what people and things that are new, different, or "other." Because science fiction is also a way of talking about the here and now. If we continue the way we are, this is where we might end up. "Fermi and Frost" is a cautionary tale about what could happen if we had an all-out nuclear war. Spoiler: there's a slim chance a few people in Iceland might survive. The long, rambling (and sometimes dull) "Twilight" is the narration of a visitor from the future describing his visit to the even farther future, where machines continue to run, even though the people they are supposed to serve are long dead. The people of the future killed off most of the animals and plants, except for a handful of food crops, leaving a depleted gene pool. And there is a word of caution in that. "That Only a Mother" tells of a near future where radiation spills have caused an epidemic of birth defects. An interesting idea. It's worth thinking about how we would deal with that, although the message of this story is sexist and silly. "The Crystal Spheres" answers the question, why have we never encountered any sign of alien life in the universe? It also tackles the question of whether there might be some kind of god who planned our isolation. "Harry's All-Night Hamburgers" describes a diner where wanderers from parallel universes drop in for a bite to eat, giving the place the atmosphere of the space bar from the original Star Wars movie. The teenaged boy at the counter is tempted to hitch a ride. But is there a downside to universe hopping? "Huddling Place" would say that there is. In the future humans have made travel to Mars almost as routine as taking a commuter train. But back on Earth, people have left the cities and settled on country estates, becoming so attached to their particular patch of ground that their psychology has been changed by it. These are not all the stories in the book. The much-anthologized "Nine Billion Names of God" is good for a shudder, at least the first time you read it. In general the stories ask questions, while also creating moods, sometimes playful, and sometimes haunting.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lauren Burnham

    Short story collections are hard for me. Sometimes I just cannot get in to the world it is created. This had some really fun stories in it and I wish I could go back to some of those worlds. My favorites are the Crystal Spheres by David Brian, the 9 Billion Names of God by Arthur C Clarke, & Why I Left Henry’s All Night Diner by Lawrence Watt Evan’s.

  6. 4 out of 5

    F.P.G. Camerman

    A strong collection of stories. My favourite was "Tangents” by Greg Bear. I also loved “Why I Left Harry’s All-Night Diner” by Lawrence Watt Evans and “Fermi And Frost” by Frederik Pohl, and I enjoyed most other stories. I don't think that's ever happened before in a compilation like this, hence the four stars. A strong collection of stories. My favourite was "Tangents” by Greg Bear. I also loved “Why I Left Harry’s All-Night Diner” by Lawrence Watt Evans and “Fermi And Frost” by Frederik Pohl, and I enjoyed most other stories. I don't think that's ever happened before in a compilation like this, hence the four stars.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    A solid collection of sci-fi in audiobook form. Multiple thought-provoking and generally good stories -- "Huddling Place" (Clifford Simak) was probably my favorite, but I also liked "Crystal Spheres" (David Brin), "Nine Billion Names of God" (Arthur C. Clarke), and a few others. A solid collection of sci-fi in audiobook form. Multiple thought-provoking and generally good stories -- "Huddling Place" (Clifford Simak) was probably my favorite, but I also liked "Crystal Spheres" (David Brin), "Nine Billion Names of God" (Arthur C. Clarke), and a few others.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Lucas Millan

    Despite being far from the greatest, with some even being kind of mediocre, this anthology is filled with enjoayable, imaginative and fun examples of why science fiction was one of the most relevant literary generes of the 20th Century.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Aramis

    Good Stories - yes. At least I liked most of them. Some were better, some were just ok. Greatest stories of the 20th Century - not for me. Still nice book to read.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Hellstrom

    Great audio collection with some standout stories "Jeffty Is Five" by Harlan Ellison (read by the author) and "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" by Ursula K. Le Guin Great audio collection with some standout stories "Jeffty Is Five" by Harlan Ellison (read by the author) and "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" by Ursula K. Le Guin

  11. 5 out of 5

    Michael Asteriou

    Not every story in this book is great, but the rest of it make up for them.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Daly

    I listened to the audiobook version. The best story (5/5 stars) was "The Crystal Spheres" by David Brin. These were good too (4/5 stars): "Twilight" by John W. Campbell "Huddling Place" by Clifford D Simak "Tangents" by Greg Bear "Why I Left Harry's All Night Hamburgers" by Lawrence Watt Evans Here are the individual story ratings and info, extracted from iTunes: +-------+---------------------+-----------------------------------------+-------+------+--------+ | track | author | title | stars |rating| I listened to the audiobook version. The best story (5/5 stars) was "The Crystal Spheres" by David Brin. These were good too (4/5 stars): "Twilight" by John W. Campbell "Huddling Place" by Clifford D Simak "Tangents" by Greg Bear "Why I Left Harry's All Night Hamburgers" by Lawrence Watt Evans Here are the individual story ratings and info, extracted from iTunes: +-------+---------------------+-----------------------------------------+-------+------+--------+ | track | author | title | stars |rating|duration| +-------+---------------------+-----------------------------------------+-------+------+--------+ | 1/12 | Harlan Ellison | Jeffy At Five | ** | 2/5 | 46:48 | | 2/12 | John W. Campbell | Twilight | **** | 4/5 | 48:55 | | 3/12 | Ursula K. LeGuin | The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas | *** | 3/5 | 17:12 | | 4/12 | Terry Bisson | Bears Discover Fire | ** | 2/5 | 25:32 | | 5/12 | David Brin | The Crystal Spheres | ***** | 5/5 | 42:03 | | 6/12 | Judith Merrill | That Only A Mother | *** | 3/5 | 21:14 | | 7/12 | Eric Frank Russell | Alamagusa | *** | 3/5 | 28:55 | | 8/12 | Clifford D Simak | Huddling Place | **** | 4/5 | 37:03 | | 9/12 | Greg Bear | Tangents | **** | 4/5 | 33:13 | | 10/12 | Arthur C. Clarke | The Nine Billion Names of God | *** | 3/5 | 15:39 | | 11/12 | Lawrence Watt Evans | Why I Left Harry's All Night Hamburgers | **** | 4/5 | 27:17 | | 12/12 | Frederick Pohl | Fermian Frost | *** | 3/5 | 33:30 | +-------+---------------------+-----------------------------------------+-------+------+--------+ started: 2007-12-17.Dec.Mon 20:44:11 finished: 2007-12-23.Dec.Sun 20:56:14 duration: 6h:17m:14s

  13. 5 out of 5

    Coyle

    Meh- more like the "Adequate Science Fiction Stories of the 20th Century." I mean, they're not bad, and some are even actively good, but none are really great. I suspect that the publisher was looking for a way to make a quick buck and assembled the cheapest stories by big-ish names in Science Fiction for an anthology. Or, maybe this is someone's favorite list, and I just don't have quite the same sci-fi taste. Again, not to say this is bad. I got my copy for free from Audible, so no great loss t Meh- more like the "Adequate Science Fiction Stories of the 20th Century." I mean, they're not bad, and some are even actively good, but none are really great. I suspect that the publisher was looking for a way to make a quick buck and assembled the cheapest stories by big-ish names in Science Fiction for an anthology. Or, maybe this is someone's favorite list, and I just don't have quite the same sci-fi taste. Again, not to say this is bad. I got my copy for free from Audible, so no great loss there, though I wouldn't recommend spending money on it, since a good number of the stories are in the public domain anyway.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    An audiobook review, and despite the awful recording quality, this was worth it. Amazing range of topic, time and style. Clarke's "Nine Billion Names of God" is a classic. LeGuin's "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" was a revelation. Brin's "The Crystal Spheres" is slowly, subtly depressing in the way that all the best science fiction is. I even enjoyed the bizarre, folksy ruralness of "Bears Discover Fire" (exactly what the story is about) and "Why I Left Harry's All-Night Diner." As antholog An audiobook review, and despite the awful recording quality, this was worth it. Amazing range of topic, time and style. Clarke's "Nine Billion Names of God" is a classic. LeGuin's "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" was a revelation. Brin's "The Crystal Spheres" is slowly, subtly depressing in the way that all the best science fiction is. I even enjoyed the bizarre, folksy ruralness of "Bears Discover Fire" (exactly what the story is about) and "Why I Left Harry's All-Night Diner." As anthologies go, it's a nice historical and literary sampler.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kadja Draenor

    I just finished the audio book of this. Most of the stories were mediocre, but a few were great, especially Why I Left Harry's All-Night Hamburgers, by Lawrence Watt Evans. Honestly, that story alone was worth it. Good voices for the stories, too. Almost had to give it a 2 star based on a few of the endings, though. I just finished the audio book of this. Most of the stories were mediocre, but a few were great, especially Why I Left Harry's All-Night Hamburgers, by Lawrence Watt Evans. Honestly, that story alone was worth it. Good voices for the stories, too. Almost had to give it a 2 star based on a few of the endings, though.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Camille

    First time I'd read Ursula K. Le Guin, and was not disappointed. Pleasantly surprised by the whimsical 'Why I Left Harry's All-Night Diner' by Lawrence Watt Evans. Continue to be underwhelmed by Arthur C. Clarke. First time I'd read Ursula K. Le Guin, and was not disappointed. Pleasantly surprised by the whimsical 'Why I Left Harry's All-Night Diner' by Lawrence Watt Evans. Continue to be underwhelmed by Arthur C. Clarke.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    For as many power-house authors as this book contained I'm surprised it wasn't better. There were many stories that felt simply mediocre. There were a few that will stay with me. Don't get me wrong, they were mostly enjoyable. They just didn't move me the way I'd hoped they would. For as many power-house authors as this book contained I'm surprised it wasn't better. There were many stories that felt simply mediocre. There were a few that will stay with me. Don't get me wrong, they were mostly enjoyable. They just didn't move me the way I'd hoped they would.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Nea

    Some stories I liked, others not too much. I really enjoyed 'The Nine Billion Names of God' for the story and the reader. Also a couple of others. It's a nice collection of stories. Some stories I liked, others not too much. I really enjoyed 'The Nine Billion Names of God' for the story and the reader. Also a couple of others. It's a nice collection of stories.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Eric Bowers

    Contains two of my all time favorite stories. "Why I Left Harry's All-Night Hamburgers" and "When Bears Discovered Fire" Contains two of my all time favorite stories. "Why I Left Harry's All-Night Hamburgers" and "When Bears Discovered Fire"

  20. 5 out of 5

    Teddy

    Great collection of stories. All were entertaining and thought provoking.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Todd Martin

    The greatest? Not really.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Vincent Stoessel

    Good anthology of some real sf classics.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Alan

    I enjoyed almost all the stories.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Danielle Ferguson

  25. 5 out of 5

    Bob Johnson

  26. 4 out of 5

    Murat Egrikavuk

    Not the best of selections

  27. 4 out of 5

    Austin Stillwell

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy

  29. 4 out of 5

    Laura

  30. 5 out of 5

    Scott Danielson

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