There is so much to like in this book, choosing favourites seems almost impossible. But I loved Theodore Sturgeon’s ‘A Touch of Strange’ about two lonely souls drawn together through the amorous intentions of mermaids. The story has an amusing, dream-like quality to it, something like watching a Wes Anderson short film, if Wes Anderson used mermaids in his movies. One of the great things about reading an anthology like this is you are almost guaranteed to come across a writer you have never read before and become enamoured of them – I have already ordered another book of his short stories.
Harlan Ellison’s wonderfully strange and disturbing ‘The Deathbird’ is another highlight. Like many Ellison stories, it is uncomfortable, confusing, dark and compulsively readable, containing within its pages mad gods, alien races and multiple questionnaires on the nature of humanity and the true face of God. I rolled my eyes and loved it in equal measure.
There are so many more gems to find in this book, whether you are a regular reader of sci-fi who delights in reading ‘Flowers of Algernon’ one more time, or you are new to the genre and want a great place to start (this would be the perfect place!). There are a couple of duds (Neil Gaiman’s ‘Other People’ is preachy and self-satisfied, and I wasn’t impressed with James Tiptree Jr.’s attempt at gender commentary) but by and large, The very best of fantasy & science fiction : 60th anniversary anthology is well worth your time.
Editor: Gordon Van Gelder
Recommended by Hannah C. at Mount Albert Community Library.
Hannah C. would like to see Wes Anderson dragged into the ocean by mermaids.