FFB: First Step Outward

Old SF Anthologies

First Step Outward edited by Robert Hoskins, introduction by Poul Anderson, Dell 1969 mass market paperback, science fiction anthology.

The cover suggests we “Blast off into the unknown with the greatest SF writers of today”, “today” being 1969. The authors here are a who’s who in the field at the time.

Today, a Millenial or Gen Whatever science fiction reader would likely find these stories too old and creaky to be worth notice, especially since science has caught up to much of what’s here. But older readers, such as myself (born in 1945, I’m at the beginning of the Baby Boom age) find these fun and can appreciate both the stories and the viewpoints. I found my very nice copy on eBay. I’ve made a few notes on specific stories after the contents list, below.


Introduction (First Step Outward) • essay by Poul Anderson
Prologue (First Step Outward) • essay by Robert Hoskins
Cold War • (1949) • short story by Kris Neville
Third Stage • (1962) • short story by Poul Anderson
Gentlemen, Be Seated! • (1948) • short story by Robert A. Heinlein
Jaywalker • (1950) • short story by Ross Rocklynne
The Hated • (1958) • short story by Frederik Pohl
Sunrise on Mercury • (1957) • short story by Robert Silverberg
Hop-Friend • (1962) • short story by Terry Carr
The Man Who Lost the Sea • (1959) • short story by Theodore Sturgeon
First Contact • (1945) • novelette by Murray Leinster
Misbegotten Missionary (aka Green Patches) • (1950) • short story by Isaac Asimov
Market in Aliens • (1968) • short story by K.M. O’Donnell ]
The Rules of the Road • (1964) • short story by Norman Spinrad
Jetsam • (1953) • short story by A. Bertram Chandler

Two of the stories here were in one or the other of the old SF Anthologies I’ve posted recently, “Sunrise on Mercury” and “First Contact”. The latter was oft-anthologized, and for good reason, it is truly a classic, and a favorite of mine. “The Man Who Lost the Sea”, on the other hand, which I’d read before, not so much. Though I have read and was impressed by Sturgeon’s novel More Than Human it seems to me much of his writing, including this story, is just strange.

The Asimov story is one of his lesser efforts, and though I liked it, “Jetsam” shows it’s age. Overall, though an anthology of it’s time, which you might enjoy.

About Rick Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
This entry was posted in Anthology, Books & Reading, Science Fiction. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to FFB: First Step Outward

  1. tracybham says:

    That looks like a good one. I love old paperbacks like that. I will have to read More Than Human by Sturgeon sometime soon. I read some of his stories when I was younger and liked them, but have no specific memories of them.

    • Todd Mason says:

      Sturgeon is one of those whose short stories and novellas are even better than his novels…the central section of MORE THAN HUMAN, “Baby is Three”, was published on its own. If you want a portable re-introduction to Sturgeon, I’d strongly recommend E PLURIBUS UNICORN; the COMPLETE STORIES set, particularly the middle volumes, are a larger reading project!

  2. Jeff Meyerson says:

    I just reread “Sunrise on Mercury” in a collection of Silverberg’s “alien encounter” stories. Early work rather than one of his more memorable stories.

  3. Jerry House says:

    I read this back when it was first published. Even then, many of the stories were familiar. This was the first of seventeen anthologies that Hoskins edited. They got better, especially his five-volume INFINITY series. Still, there are some pretty good stories here, Rick, particularly if, like me, you don’t mind “creaky.”

  4. 1412064gk says:

    I picked up many DELL SF anthologies over the years but somehow missed this one. I have Hoskins’ INFINITY series around here somewhere, too. Good choice!

  5. I have no doubt I would like these, I love the old stories. And whether or not the science holds up is never a factor in my enjoyment. Few modern SF stories have consistently achieved the sense of wonder that I feel these older stories have.

    Absolutely fabulous cover. Is it John Berkey? The exhaust coming out of the ship reminds me of his painting style.

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