Wesleyan Anthology of Science Fiction
The Wesleyan Anthology of Science Fiction was conceived and developed by the editors of the scholarly journal Science Fiction Studies (SfS). It refl ects no single editor’s viewpoint but rather a consensus among us that a good an- thology should include stories ranging from the nineteenth century to today, should exemplify a number of themes and styles characteristic of the genre, and should represent both the best and—not always the same thing—the most teachable stories in the fi eld. While our journal is known for a lively engagement with critical and cul- tural theory, it is also committed to exploring the disparate body of texts grouped under the rubric “science fi ction” (sf ).
Any sf anthology necessarily declares a provisional canon of classics by prescribing a limited course of essential reading. Canonization is a dubious as well as a diffi cult enterprise, but we hope that our canon is less prescriptive than provocative. Our goal has been to suggest how varied the genre is, to showcase writers from the justly famous (Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Ursula K. Le Guin) to the unjustly neglected (Robert Sheckley, R. A. Laff erty, William Tenn), and to serve as a starting point for further reading. Many of the stories reprinted here, especially those published before 1960, fi rst appeared in the pulp magazines or later digests that served as the chief training ground for sf writers.
Authors who published in these formats often spent their careers writing for pennies a word—if that—while in our own day, high-budget sf fi lms and television series continue to recycle their ideas without so much as a screen credit. Despite the ongoing popularity of Jules Verne and H. G. Wells, there was no signifi cant North American market for full-length sf novels until the 1950s. The pulp magazines and postwar sf digests were therefore cru- cial publishing venues for the fi rst generations of American sf writers, from C. L. Moore and Edmond Hamilton to Robert A. Heinlein and Theodore Sturgeon. Their work appeared alongside reprinted tales of Wells, Verne, and Edgar Allan Poe, so that early readers of the pulps were being simul- taneously introduced to new writers and immersed in some of the best nineteenth-century sf. Although today’s North American sf market is geared
predominantly toward novels (the form in which most writers now make their reputations), a number of professional and semiprofessional venues— magazines, reprint anthologies, and, more rarely, original short-fiction an- thologies—still publish short sf. The more recently published selections in this volume strongly demonstrate the form’s continuing vitality.