old SF Anthology: Contact

Continuing a series of posts on old science fiction anthologies inspired by an article in the Black Gate blog.

Contact edited by Noel Keyes, Paperback Library, 1963 mass market paperback short story anthology

The blurb:
“We may no longer be alone in the Universe — perhaps we never have been. The ultimate possibility — that life exists beyond Earth — is no longer a fantasy but the subject of scientific experimentation. Humans and extra-terrestrial beings may be making contact today, certainly tomorrow. The first explosive, grappling instant of encounter between Man and Alien is the subject of the extraordinary journey of man’s imagination into the unknown by masters of science fiction.” — from the back cover”””

My Take
Like the last anthology I posted on, I was in high school when this one was published, though I don’t think I’d seen it before spotting it for sale just this April. Certainly, it’s got a great cover and a pretty good roster of authors.

Contents:

  • “First Contact” by Murray Leinster
  • “Intelligence Test” by Harry Walton
  • “The Large Ant” by Howard Fast
  • “What’s He Doing In There?” by Fritz Leiber
  • “Chemical Plant” by Man Williamson
  • “Limiting Factor” by Clifford D. Simak
  • “The Fire Balloons” by Ray Bradbury
  • “Invasion from Mars” by Howard Koch
  • “The Gentle Vultures” by Isaac Asimov
  • “Knock” by Frederick Brown
  • “Specialist” by Robert Sheckley
  • “Lost Memory” by Peter Phillips

The best known of these stories is the first one, “First Contact” by Murray Leinster (a nom de plume of William Fitzgerald Jenkins). The remainder of the stories range from good (“Chemical Plant”) to so-so (“The Large Ant”), to disappointing (the Leiber). I liked the Asimov story well enough, though don’t consider it among his best. An interesting anthology, though not as much fun to read as the previous two I review on the last two Fridays. Your mileage may vary.

About Richard Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
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10 Responses to old SF Anthology: Contact

  1. Jeff Meyerson says:

    I agree. I love the cover. It’s fun looking at these old collections. Most covers today are just dull by comparison.

  2. Jerry House says:

    I read this one when it came out. Looking back, this anthology seems rather staid for several reasons. Five of the stories had been reprinted in early Groff Conklin anthologies and now seem rather creaky to me. Sam Moskowitz evidently served as an uncredited co-editor (or at the very least, consultant), which (with no offense to Sam) only added to the creaky feeling. Also, most of the other stories were too familiar, having been reprinted many times.

    The old and jaded fart that I’ve become is certainly different from the bright-eyed sixteen-year-old who eagerly and happily devoured this book so many years ago.

  3. I remember CONTACT well! I bought it as a kid because of the cool cover. Yes, the stories are not as good as the Wollheim anthologies, but still fun to read. Jerry’s right about the creaky nature of these stories, but there’s nothing creaky about that eye-catching cover!

  4. That’s a fun cover. I’ve always liked rockets designed that way in vintage SF art.

    I’ve read the Leinster, and I’m pretty sure I’ve read the Sheckley story. Not sure about the others.

    Only one classic author on my Traveling bookshelf post this morning: Leigh Brackett

    • I like the cover, even if it has nothing to do with any of the stories. Nice bookshelf piece today.

      • Thank you! One area where I’m less bothered about cover art reflecting stories is with anthologies or short story collections. I do appreciate artists who now want to know about the story and tailor their cover illustrations accordingly, but this vintage art is just great and we wouldn’t be exposed to it if it wasn’t for these books.

  5. Steve Oerkfitz says:

    Don’t remember this one and I had most of the anthologies published in the late 50’s and 60’s.I am sure I have read most of these stories back in my teenage years. The only ones not familiar to me are Harry Walton and Man Williamson.

  6. tracybham says:

    I love old paperbacks and this one does have a nice cover. I was not reading science fiction in 1963. I think I first read science fiction stories in the late 1960s or into the 1970s.

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