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Science Fiction for People Who Hate Science Fiction

We’ve talked before about “gateway” science fiction; that is, accessible science fiction that you would recommend to people who do not normally read it. I was in a used bookstore this weekend – What, you don’t spend your weekends trolling used bookstores? – and found an anthology of gateway short stories: Science Fiction for People Who Hate Science Fiction edited by Terry Carr.

Here’s the list of stories that Carr thought would be good introductions to sf:

  1. “The Star” by Arthur C. Clarke (1955)
  2. “A Sound of Thunder by Ray Bradbury (1952)
  3. “The Year of the Jackpot” by Robert A. Heinlein (1952)
  4. “The Man with English” by H. L. Gold (1953)
  5. “In Hiding [Timothy Paul]” by Wilmar H. Shiras (1948)
  6. “Not with a Bang” by Damon Knight (1950)
  7. “Love Called This Thing” by Avram Davidson & Laura Goforth (1959)
  8. “The Weapon” by Fredric Brown (1951)
  9. “What’s It Like Out There?” by Edmond Hamilton (1952)

Carr’s book appeared in 1968. I wonder what a more current list would look like?

For more on gateway books, see:

About John DeNardo (13013 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

3 Comments on Science Fiction for People Who Hate Science Fiction

  1. I always recommend “The Chrysalids” by John Windham to people who don’t normally read or like sci-fi. It’s exceptionally accessible.

  2. I think there are a number of anthologies that would fit the bill. For example, Silverberg’s “The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume I”.

    One of the odder introductions to SF that I’ve come across was a volume called “Survival Printout”. The stories were allegedly chosen by a computer and the purpose of the collection was to help people overcome future shock and survive the onslaught of the future. It was an interesting mix of non-fiction (for example, Loren Eisely’s “The Star Thrower” and an article co-written by Carl Sagan) and fiction (a pretty good mix (ranging from Cordwainer Smith to J.G. Ballard to Robert A. Heinlein).

    It also was an odd size. Taller than paperbacks of the day, even today. The whole “chosen by a computer” story smelled even then, but the editors did a good job.

  3. I still think that that’s a fine list of introductory science fiction, but wonder if the age of it would turn off new SF readers. It’s not always easy to backtrack and read Shakespeare, of course, but it’s also not always easy to read early Fritz Leiber works, or even Isaac Asimov. Whether people get lost in the exposition, or the use of exclamation points, I hear people complain.

    Personally, I find those eras of science fiction to be the best. I’m only now starting to discover current science fiction works that I would recommend to people and that I’m excited to read. (But I think that’s just me.)

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