Mon
Jul 23 2012 4:00pm

Library of America to Release Classic 1950’s SF Novels in Two-Volume Set

Though the “Golden Age” of science fiction ended purportedly ended in 1946, the 1950s were an astounding time for the genre. Some of the most enduring, shocking, risk-taking, and memorable American science fiction novels were published in the 1950s, and any fan of the genre knows it. Now a new two-volume set celebrating this period is coming from the Library of America!

Come September, the Library of America is publishing a two volume set containing nine complete novels. The are: The Space Merchants by Frederik Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth, More Than Human by Theodore Sturgeon, The Long Tomorrow by Leigh Brackett, The Shrinking Man by Richard Matheson, Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein, The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester, A Case of Conscience by James Blish, Who? By Algis Burdys, and The Big Time by Fritz Leiber.

These volumes look to be beautiful, but the special treat (beyond the great books themselves) is the essays by contemporary SF luminaries over on the Library of America website. There’s also some great pictures from period of several of the authors and other SF greats.

Both books are edited by Gary K. Wolfe, which includes an insightful introduction. From his essay:

“Taken together, all of these works, and many others, were part of a new and distinctly American literature. By the end of the decade, a field once dominated by short “pulp” fiction had reinvented itself, and expanded the range of “the novel” more generally.”

The novel definitely changed in the 1950’s, and we’ll be looking forward to re-exploring these awesome books come September!

5 comments
Eugene R.
1. Eugene R.
But you illustrated the post with the cover art for Who? by Algis Budrys, which is not in the LoA collection, though it is a 1950s work.

And, really, growing up and reading sf in the 1960s after the Great Speculative Magazine Die-off, I was convinced that the Golden Age of SF was the 1950s since the bulk of my reading came from anthologies and colletions and novels of that decade.
Eugene R.
2. Mark Pontin
WHO? by Algis Budrys definitely is in the LOA collection. And a good thing, too
jon meltzer
3. jmeltzer
I thought the 1950s were a galaxy time for fantasy and science fiction. The 1940s were the astounding time.
Kristen Templet
4. SF_Fangirl
I am excited about this because I have been keeping an eye out for Who? for several years now. Seriously, I recognized Who? from the image and immedaitely clicked on the post to read the good news. If my public library doesn't oblige me I will be purchasing this set. (Hopefully I am not as disappointed by it than I was by Rogue Moon. Sounded great, but didn't meet my expectations and even I could not ignore the sexism.)

I've read
- The Space Merchants by Frederik Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth
- More Than Human by Theodore Sturgeon (so good I still own it)
- The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester (so good I still own it)
- A Case of Conscience by James Blish

These others I gave give or take, but if LOA is going to make it easy I'll probably give them a go. Maybe even the Incredible Shrinking Man which I know is supposed to be better and deeper than a B movie but it just screams B movie.
Eugene R.
5. Eugene R.
Mark Pontin (@2): Ooops, you are absolutely correct. I missed Who? in the contents. Must be overly excited by the thought of the collection coming out.

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