Final Stage: The Ultimate Science Fiction Anthology edited by Ed Ferman and Barry Malzberg is a classic anthology with a troubled history. The book contains 13 pieces of short fiction “that carry [science fiction’s] basic themes as far as possible given the current state of the art”. Each story includes an afterword written by that story’s author. Its not quite an original anthology; the Asimov story is a reprint.

Why is its history troubled?

When this anthology was first published in the U.S. in 1974, the publisher (Carol Rinzler at Charterhouse) rewrote and edited stories without the consent of the book’s attributed editors. Penguin published the book a year later (with the more bizarre cover you see here) in its intended form.

Bud Webster has a more complete explanation with copious amounts of name-dropping.

Here’s the table of contents, as per isfdb:

  1. “We Purchased People” by Frederik Pohl
  2. “The Voortrekkers” by Poul Anderson
  3. “Great Escape Tours, Inc.” • shortstory by Kit Reed
  4. “Diagrams For Three (Enigmatic) Stories: (“The Girl in the Tau-Dream” ; “The Immobility Crew” ; “A Cultural Side-Effect”) by Brian W. Aldiss
  5. “That Thou Art Mindful of Him!” by Isaac Asimov
  6. “We Three” by Dean R. Koontz
  7. “An Old-Fashioned Girl” by Joanna Russ
  8. “Catman” by Harlan Ellison
  9. “Space Rats of the CCC” by Harry Harrison
  10. “Trips” by Robert Silverberg
  11. “The Wonderful, All-Purpose Transmogrifier” by Barry N. Malzberg
  12. “Her Smoke Rose Up Forever” by James Tiptree, Jr.
  13. “A Little Something for Us Tempunauts” by Philip K. Dick

[via Good Show Sir]

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