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See how it all began! In Before They Were Giants, editor James L. Sutter collects the first published stories of 15 of science fiction and fantasy's most important authors, including winners of the prestigious Hugo and Nebula awards, New York Times bestsellers, and members of the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. Along with these often rare or never-before-anthologized stories See how it all began! In Before They Were Giants, editor James L. Sutter collects the first published stories of 15 of science fiction and fantasy's most important authors, including winners of the prestigious Hugo and Nebula awards, New York Times bestsellers, and members of the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. Along with these often rare or never-before-anthologized stories, all 15 authors provide brand-new retrospective critiques and interviews discussing the stories' geneses, how publication affected their lives, and what they know now about writing that they wish they'd known then. Contributors include Ben Bova, Charles Stross, China MiEville, Cory Doctorow, David Brin, Greg Bear, Joe Haldeman, Kim Stanley Robinson, Larry Niven, Michael Swanwick, Nicola Griffith, Piers Anthony, R. A. Salvatore, Spider Robinson, and William Gibson.


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See how it all began! In Before They Were Giants, editor James L. Sutter collects the first published stories of 15 of science fiction and fantasy's most important authors, including winners of the prestigious Hugo and Nebula awards, New York Times bestsellers, and members of the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. Along with these often rare or never-before-anthologized stories See how it all began! In Before They Were Giants, editor James L. Sutter collects the first published stories of 15 of science fiction and fantasy's most important authors, including winners of the prestigious Hugo and Nebula awards, New York Times bestsellers, and members of the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. Along with these often rare or never-before-anthologized stories, all 15 authors provide brand-new retrospective critiques and interviews discussing the stories' geneses, how publication affected their lives, and what they know now about writing that they wish they'd known then. Contributors include Ben Bova, Charles Stross, China MiEville, Cory Doctorow, David Brin, Greg Bear, Joe Haldeman, Kim Stanley Robinson, Larry Niven, Michael Swanwick, Nicola Griffith, Piers Anthony, R. A. Salvatore, Spider Robinson, and William Gibson.

30 review for Before They Were Giants: First Works from Science Fiction Greats

  1. 4 out of 5

    Traci

    I don't think short stories are my thing. Even when I read one of an author I know I like I usually don't like it. I guess I like more structure to what I read. More prolongued suspense. I like a slow seduction with my reading not a quick one night stand. But I did find the interviews with each author interesting. I noticed that the stories I enjoyed the most the authors listed things they would change and the ones I didn't like the authors said they would change nothing. It seemed I liked humbl I don't think short stories are my thing. Even when I read one of an author I know I like I usually don't like it. I guess I like more structure to what I read. More prolongued suspense. I like a slow seduction with my reading not a quick one night stand. But I did find the interviews with each author interesting. I noticed that the stories I enjoyed the most the authors listed things they would change and the ones I didn't like the authors said they would change nothing. It seemed I liked humbleness more than ego. But maybe I am a little unfair. These are first stories. And most of these authors pobably improved.

  2. 4 out of 5

    James Bowman

    This anthology collects the first published short stories from a number of prominent science fiction and fantasy authors, then provides the authors an opportunity to comment on them with the benefit of hindsight, along with discussing their writing techniques. As you would expect from a book of first short stories, this is a mixed bag, although the commentary makes up for the weaker entries. Stories I liked: "A Long Way Back" by Ben Bova (probably my favorite in the book). "Craphound" by Cory Doc This anthology collects the first published short stories from a number of prominent science fiction and fantasy authors, then provides the authors an opportunity to comment on them with the benefit of hindsight, along with discussing their writing techniques. As you would expect from a book of first short stories, this is a mixed bag, although the commentary makes up for the weaker entries. Stories I liked: "A Long Way Back" by Ben Bova (probably my favorite in the book). "Craphound" by Cory Doctorow (a nice ode to collectors of nostalgia). "Mirrors and Burnstone" by Nicola Griffith (like the alien culture and the colonial themes). "Ginungagap" by Michael Swanwick (took me a bit to warm to it but really liked it by the end). Stories I disliked: "Fragments of a Hologram Rose" by William Gibson (so I guess I'm not a Gibson fan). "Highway 61 Revisited" by China Mieville (it quickly became frustrating trying to work out the alien linguistics). "The Boys" by Charles Stross (trying too hard to be weird). Stories I thought were OK: "The Guy with the Eyes" by Spider Robinson (the first Callahan's story; you almost think this is going to be a non-genre tale, until near the end). "In Pierson's Orchestra" by Kim Stanley Robinson (some decent ideas but the execution didn't grab me). "Destroyers" by Greg Bear (while I appreciate the place this was coming from, it was basically just setup for a punchline). "Out of Phase" by Joe Haldeman (interesting ideas and no serious flaws, I guess I just don't like the ending). "The Coldest Place" by Larry Niven (fine but way too short). "Just a Hint" by David Brin (I like the premise and the twist, but not a favorite for whatever reason). "A Sparkle for Homer" by R.A. Salvatore (reads like an entertaining D&D session). (B+)

  3. 5 out of 5

    Toby

    Before They Were Giants is an anthology of science fiction and fantasy short stories by a bunch of authors you've probably heard of, but the twist is that is a collection of their first professionally published stories. Fine so far, and you might ask, on seeing the list of authors involved, "Where are the real rock stars of Sci-Fi and Fantasy?" and the answer is "probably dead." This is a consequence of second twist to this anthology -- in addition to presenting these writers' first works, they Before They Were Giants is an anthology of science fiction and fantasy short stories by a bunch of authors you've probably heard of, but the twist is that is a collection of their first professionally published stories. Fine so far, and you might ask, on seeing the list of authors involved, "Where are the real rock stars of Sci-Fi and Fantasy?" and the answer is "probably dead." This is a consequence of second twist to this anthology -- in addition to presenting these writers' first works, they also each have done a Q&A about the story, how they feel about it now, do they think it still works, and what advice do they have for aspiring writers? As the stories go, they're generally pretty good. They fall into two camps: stories that were evaluated by a professional editor for a professional publication, accepted by that editor and published in that publication; and stories that are juvenilia that won some competition among a bunch of other 8th graders. I would just as soon leave the latter to the dustbins of history, but I wasn't the editor on this. Some standouts in here include Piers Anthony's "Possible To Rue" (although I generally can't stand the guy), Cory Doctorow's "Craphound", Ben Bova's "A Long Way Back", and William Gibson's "Fragments of a Hologram Rose" (which is not new to you if you have his Burning Chrome collection). Others don't quite transcend being a one-note riff on the timeless Sci-Fi What-If question: Greg Bear's "Destroyers", David Brin's "Just A Hint" and "The Coldest Place" by Larry Niven don't quite scramble above "meh." Some, like China Mieville's "Highway 61 Revisited" and R.A Salvatore's "A Sparkle For Homer" shouldn't even be in here, for different reasons. Mieville because, well, remember what I said about the 8th graders? and Salvatore because (A) this story is kind of stupid and (B) he had sold and seen a novel in print before this story was published, so it doesn't really fit the conceit of the anthology, does it? (There are a couple of other instances of published novels preceding these "first stories" too, but Salvatore's is the only straight-up Fantasy tale in this science fiction collection -- and we're talking halflings, giants, and floating castles-on-clouds.) The real treat is reading the Q&As after each story. Some authors are standoffish about their early (professionally published) work; some are unsettlingly bully about it (or maybe jealous of their younger selves (Hi Piers!)); almost all them agree that the more they write the better they get and aspiring writers ought not quit their day job. Even when trite, these guys give out good advice and it's a bit of a peek behind the scenes.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Michael Ryan

    I think that if you like science fiction, or the craft of writing, or want to be an author, or like authors, or wondered if all authors started out as amazing writers, then this book is for you. When I was a teenager I read many of these authors pretty religiously, including Greg Bear, Piers Anthony, and a few others. What I didn't realize until reading this collection, though, was that I knew almost nothing about their short stories, having read mostly novels. This collection is fantastic at do I think that if you like science fiction, or the craft of writing, or want to be an author, or like authors, or wondered if all authors started out as amazing writers, then this book is for you. When I was a teenager I read many of these authors pretty religiously, including Greg Bear, Piers Anthony, and a few others. What I didn't realize until reading this collection, though, was that I knew almost nothing about their short stories, having read mostly novels. This collection is fantastic at doing three things. First, it connects you with some authors you have probably heard of but might not have read, it exposes you to some pretty great short stories, and it confirms what most of us have suspected. Most of these guys and girls DID start out as amazing authors. But that's not to say that some of the stories, or sections within stories, weren't a bit rough. But that's what I loved most about it. It made the authors more human, and really laid bare the craft of writing that these people were developing and honing. A few of the stories I didn't care for at all (I won't name names so as not to offend) but unlike other anthologies where I'd feel slighted, here it was illustrative and interesting. Some of these authors had no idea what they were doing at all! Editor James Sutter (Paizo Publishing) does a great job in the foreward of setting the expectation-level by introducing the collection as the first published short stories by these amazing sci-fi writers. A few had already published novels, or written elsewhere, but these were the first shorts, which many novel-writers struggle with even after they are famous. Each story also has a standard/structured Q&A where the authors answer questions about where they were in their life when they wrote the story (that was fascinating) and what lefthem to want to be writers, why this story, etc. Like I said, it's not your usual polished collection of high-level authorship, but that's exactly the point. It's a more down-to earth look at short stories by writers who would go on to greatness, and I find that infinitely more engaging than when they've already made it and are just churning out more of the same great stuff.

  5. 4 out of 5

    David

    The Nicola Griffith story was why I read this book. I had already read the stories by Spider Robinson, William Gibson, and Larry Niven. Liked: A Long Way Back - Ben Bova Fragments of a Hologram Rose - William Gibson Mirrors and Burnstone - Nicola Griffith. (This is a prequel to Ammonite) Out of Phase - Joe Haldeman (This story makes me want to read Camouflage) In Pierson's Orchestra - Kim Stanley Robinson The Guy with the Eyes - Spider Robinson (I read the Callahan's series in high school but none of h The Nicola Griffith story was why I read this book. I had already read the stories by Spider Robinson, William Gibson, and Larry Niven. Liked: A Long Way Back - Ben Bova Fragments of a Hologram Rose - William Gibson Mirrors and Burnstone - Nicola Griffith. (This is a prequel to Ammonite) Out of Phase - Joe Haldeman (This story makes me want to read Camouflage) In Pierson's Orchestra - Kim Stanley Robinson The Guy with the Eyes - Spider Robinson (I read the Callahan's series in high school but none of his recent work) A Sparkle for Homer - R. A. Salvatore (This story was mildly amusing.) Ginungagap - Michael Swanwick (I hadn't read anything by him previously, this story makes me want to) Disliked: Highway 61 Revisited - China Mieville (I found the dialect annoying) Blah: Possible to Rue - Piers Anthony (I have read only one story by him) Destroyers - Greg Bear (I liked the Forge of God) Just a Hint - David Brin (I like most of his books but abandoned reading the Second Uplift trilogy. Ancient intergalactic civilizations and uplift are plausible enough, but humans happily sharing a planet with three other races is a bit much.) Craphound - Cory Doctorow (I liked Ownz0red haven't read anything else by him) The Coldest Place - Larry Niven (I read a lot of Niven in high school) The Boys - Charlie Stross (I liked Saturn's Children but abandoned Halting State)

  6. 5 out of 5

    Phillip

    The thing that I enjoyed the most about this book was that it drove home for me that even some of the giants in the SF&F industry had started out as amateurs. Though there were a couple of stories that also reinforced that the author was a fantastic writer, before making it big. All of the stories were good and a number read like they were written by an amateur, but even then I could still see the glimmer of potential in the writing. Which was what probably caught the original editors who publis The thing that I enjoyed the most about this book was that it drove home for me that even some of the giants in the SF&F industry had started out as amateurs. Though there were a couple of stories that also reinforced that the author was a fantastic writer, before making it big. All of the stories were good and a number read like they were written by an amateur, but even then I could still see the glimmer of potential in the writing. Which was what probably caught the original editors who published the works. I especially liked that the end of every story there was a section devoted to the author of the story. A section where James Sutter (the editor of this book) asked each author the same half-dozen questions, and the wide variety of answers that each author provided. Overall I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to others.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Tim Elkins

    Interesting concept in reprinting the first published stories by several science fiction writers, although I would argue that R.A. Salvatore instead exactly a science fiction writer. His story had its amusing bits but was very derivative of the typical D&D setting and lacked the originality of some of the others. The interviews with the authors about their works were the best part. Most had very mixed feelings about them, with a mixture of pride ("this started my career!") to embarrassment ("thi Interesting concept in reprinting the first published stories by several science fiction writers, although I would argue that R.A. Salvatore instead exactly a science fiction writer. His story had its amusing bits but was very derivative of the typical D&D setting and lacked the originality of some of the others. The interviews with the authors about their works were the best part. Most had very mixed feelings about them, with a mixture of pride ("this started my career!") to embarrassment ("this amateurish crap started my career!"). Depressingly, a major theme of the advice they'd give to writers starting out was to keep your day job or to marry someone with a steady job that could support two people.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rhonda

    I liked this book for so many different reasons. I liked the one or two stories I didn't enjoy at all (possibly especially the one I couldn't even finish) because they showed me no one is perfect and no matter how great a writer someone is, they are going to have stories someone (in this case me) won't like. I loved several of the stories which, despite being the first professional sale for someone, were freaking amazing, deep, well-written and enjoyable. I also liked the author interviews which I liked this book for so many different reasons. I liked the one or two stories I didn't enjoy at all (possibly especially the one I couldn't even finish) because they showed me no one is perfect and no matter how great a writer someone is, they are going to have stories someone (in this case me) won't like. I loved several of the stories which, despite being the first professional sale for someone, were freaking amazing, deep, well-written and enjoyable. I also liked the author interviews which came after each story. I think this was a fantastic idea for an anthology and very well-executed and if you like science fiction you should totally give it a go.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Ashley

    The whole premise of this book is awesome - collect some of the greatest SF/speculative writers, from multiple generations, and put out each of their first published stories. In particular, the William Gibson and China Mievelle works are not to be missed.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Fred Goodwin

  11. 4 out of 5

    D. E.

  12. 5 out of 5

    OTIS

  13. 5 out of 5

    Indio

  14. 5 out of 5

    Steven A Baumgartner

  15. 5 out of 5

    John Curtin

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kate Arms

  17. 5 out of 5

    James

  18. 5 out of 5

    Christopher

  19. 4 out of 5

    Eric Hart

  20. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

  21. 4 out of 5

    Elvira Scaff

  22. 5 out of 5

    James Eggebeen

  23. 4 out of 5

    John

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Stephens

  25. 5 out of 5

    Paulmet

  26. 4 out of 5

    Joseph

  27. 4 out of 5

    Xavi

  28. 4 out of 5

    Alan

  29. 4 out of 5

    DB in Richmond

  30. 5 out of 5

    Anya

    There's a reason most of the authors interviewed in this book want to disown or bury the stories... There's a reason most of the authors interviewed in this book want to disown or bury the stories...

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