The original Science Fiction Anthology Problem required finding anthologies that contained all the 101 stories from the Classics of Science Fiction Short Story list. Szymon Szott solved that problem, but then he wrote and told me since he lived in Poland that it was too expensive to buy physical books from overseas. He wanted to rerun the program but this time pick only anthologies that were available in ebook format.
His first effort could only find 80 of the 101 stories. There just weren’t that many science fiction anthologies available on the Kindle. I told him to break the original rule and include single-author collections. That allowed him to bring the total stories to 94. It was especially surprising that he couldn’t find an ebook collection of James Tiptree, Jr. stories, however, Her Smoke Rose Up Forever that’s available on audio contains those stories. That suggests we should also do a Science Fiction Anthology Problem with an audiobook solution.
By the way, the two giant anthologies, Sense of Wonder and The Big Book of Science Fiction are so huge in print that I don’t like holding them to read, and Sense of Wonder has a typeface that demands perfect vision. They are better read as an ebook. In fact, I’m starting to want the Kindle edition as my primary format. My eyes still prefer reading off of paper pages but only if the font is large enough, otherwise my eyes like the Kindle e-ink page. My eyes do enjoy reading off my phone or tablet, but they tire more easily.
There is another reason to prefer the Kindle edition. All these books fit on one small device. And they can be read on my phone. It’s great to pull out my iPhone and read a science fiction short story whenever I have an idle moment.
Here are Szymon’s program results looking for Kindle editions:
Sense of Wonder - "Arena" by Fredric Brown - "Bears Discover Fire" by Terry Bisson - "Black Destroyer" by A. E. van Vogt - "Blood Music" by Greg Bear - "Bloodchild" by Octavia E. Butler - "The Cold Equations" by Tom Godwin - "The Country of the Kind" by Damon Knight - "Day Million" by Frederik Pohl - "First Contact" by Murray Leinster - "Fondly Fahrenheit" by Alfred Bester - "The Game of Rat and Dragon" by Cordwainer Smith - "Hell Is the Absence of God" by Ted Chiang - "Jeffty Is Five" by Harlan Ellison - "The Little Black Bag" by C. M. Kornbluth - "Lobsters" by Charles Stross - "The Lucky Strike" by Kim Stanley Robinson - "A Martian Odyssey" by Stanley G. Weinbaum - "Microcosmic God" by Theodore Sturgeon - "The Mountains of Mourning" by Lois McMaster Bujold - "Nightfall" by Isaac Asimov - "The Only Neat Thing to Do" by James Tiptree, Jr. - "Or All the Seas with Oysters" by Avram Davidson - "Passengers" by Robert Silverberg - "The Persistence of Vision" by John Varley - "Rachel in Love" by Pat Murphy - "A Rose for Ecclesiastes" by Roger Zelazny - "The Sentinel" by Arthur C. Clarke - "Seven American Nights" by Gene Wolfe - "Souls" by Joanna Russ - "Surface Tension" by James Blish - "That Only a Mother" by Judith Merril - "Think Like a Dinosaur" by James Patrick Kelly - "The Ugly Chickens" by Howard Waldrop - "Who Goes There?" by John W. Campbell, Jr. Running story total: 34 The Big Book of Science Fiction: The Ultimate Collection - ""Repent, Harlequin!" Said the Ticktockman" by Harlan Ellison - "And I Awoke and Found Me Here on the Cold Hill's Side" by James Tiptree, Jr. - "Aye, and Gomorrah …" by Samuel R. Delany - "Desertion" by Clifford D. Simak - "Sandkings" by George R. R. Martin - "Snow" by John Crowley - "Story of Your Life" by Ted Chiang - "Swarm" by Bruce Sterling - "The Last Question" by Isaac Asimov - "The Man Who Lost the Sea" by Theodore Sturgeon - "The Star" by Arthur C. Clarke - "The Star" by H. G. Wells - "The Voices of Time" by J. G. Ballard - "Vaster Than Empires and More Slow" by Ursula K. Le Guin - "When It Changed" by Joanna Russ Running story total: 49 The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume I - "Coming Attraction" by Fritz Leiber - "Flowers for Algernon" by Daniel Keyes - "Mimsy Were the Borogoves" by Henry Kuttner, C. L. Moore - "Scanners Live in Vain" by Cordwainer Smith - "The Nine Billion Names of God" by Arthur C. Clarke Running story total: 54 The Best of Connie Willis: Award-Winning Stories - "At the Rialto" by Connie Willis - "Even the Queen" by Connie Willis - "Fire Watch" by Connie Willis - "The Last of the Winnebagos" by Connie Willis Running story total: 58 The Reel Stuff - "Air Raid" by John Varley - "Second Variety" by Philip K. Dick - "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale" by Philip K. Dick Running story total: 61 Modern Classic Short Novels of Science Fiction - "Sailing to Byzantium" by Robert Silverberg - "The Death of Doctor Island" by Gene Wolfe - "The Star Pit" by Samuel R. Delany Running story total: 64 Dreamsongs: GRRM: A RRetrospective - "A Song for Lya" by George R. R. Martin - "The Way of Cross and Dragon" by George R. R. Martin Running story total: 66 Beyond the Rift - "The Island" by Peter Watts - "The Things" by Peter Watts Running story total: 68 Future on Ice - "Press ENTER ■" by John Varley - "Speech Sounds" by Octavia E. Butler Running story total: 70 The Wind's Twelve Quarters - "Nine Lives" by Ursula K. Le Guin - "The Day Before the Revolution" by Ursula K. Le Guin Running story total: 72 The Top of the Volcano: The Award-Winning Stories of Harlan Ellison - "A Boy and His Dog" by Harlan Ellison - "I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream" by Harlan Ellison Running story total: 74 Masterpieces: The Best Science Fiction of the Twentieth Century - "All You Zombies—" by Robert A. Heinlein - "Inconstant Moon" by Larry Niven Running story total: 76 Sisters of the Revolution: A Feminist Speculative Fiction Anthology - "The Screwfly Solution" by James Tiptree, Jr. Running story total: 77 The Best of C. L. Moore - "Vintage Season" by Henry Kuttner, C. L. Moore Running story total: 78 The Year's Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2012 - "The Man Who Bridged the Mist" by Kij Johnson Running story total: 79 The Best of Lucius Shepard - "R & R" by Lucius Shepard Running story total: 80 Born with the Dead - "Born with the Dead" by Robert Silverberg Running story total: 81 The Best of the Best Volume 2: 20 Years of the Best Short Science Fiction Novels - "Beggars in Spain" by Nancy Kress Running story total: 82 The Martian Chronicles - "There Will Come Soft Rains" by Ray Bradbury Running story total: 83 Exhalation - "The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate" by Ted Chiang Running story total: 84 Hackers - "Burning Chrome" by William Gibson Running story total: 85 The Mammoth Book of 20th Century Science Fiction: Volume One - "Great Work of Time" by John Crowley Running story total: 86 The Last Defender of Camelot - "For a Breath I Tarry" by Roger Zelazny Running story total: 87 The Best of Gene Wolfe: A Definitive Retrospective of His Finest Short Fiction - "The Fifth Head of Cerberus" by Gene Wolfe Running story total: 88 The Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke - "A Meeting with Medusa" by Arthur C. Clarke Running story total: 89 Modern Classics of Fantasy - "Buffalo Gals, Won't You Come Out Tonight" by Ursula K. Le Guin Running story total: 90 The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume Two B - "The Moon Moth" by Jack Vance Running story total: 91 Nebula Awards Showcase 2015 - "Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones" by Samuel R. Delany Running story total: 92 The World Turned Upside Down - "Thunder and Roses" by Theodore Sturgeon Running story total: 93 Welcome to the Monkey House: The Special Edition - "Harrison Bergeron" by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. Running story total: 94 Missing stories: ['"Houston, Houston, Do You Read?" by James Tiptree, Jr.', '"Of Mist, and Grass, and Sand" by Vonda N. McIntyre', '"The Women Men Don\'t See" by James Tiptree, Jr.', '"The Bicentennial Man" by Isaac Asimov', '"The Girl Who Was Plugged In" by James Tiptree, Jr.', '"The Queen of Air and Darkness" by Poul Anderson', '"Light of Other Days" by Bob Shaw'] Selected books: Sense of Wonder The Big Book of Science Fiction: The Ultimate Collection The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume I The Best of Connie Willis: Award-Winning Stories The Reel Stuff Modern Classic Short Novels of Science Fiction Dreamsongs: GRRM: A RRetrospective Beyond the Rift Future on Ice The Wind's Twelve Quarters The Top of the Volcano: The Award-Winning Stories of Harlan Ellison Masterpieces: The Best Science Fiction of the Twentieth Century Sisters of the Revolution: A Feminist Speculative Fiction Anthology The Best of C. L. Moore The Year's Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2012 The Best of Lucius Shepard Born with the Dead The Best of the Best Volume 2: 20 Years of the Best Short Science Fiction Novels The Martian Chronicles Exhalation Hackers The Mammoth Book of 20th Century Science Fiction: Volume One The Last Defender of Camelot The Best of Gene Wolfe: A Definitive Retrospective of His Finest Short Fiction The Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke Modern Classics of Fantasy The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume Two B Nebula Awards Showcase 2015 The World Turned Upside Down Welcome to the Monkey House: The Special Edition Number of selected books: 30
Szymon is still tweaking this program and the latest results can be found here. For example, he found “The Bicentennial Man” in Robot Visions.
This solution can be reconfigured easily with other options. For example, instead of buying The Best of C. L. Moore to get “Vintage Season,” you could purchase The Science Fiction Hall of Fame Volume 2A. You’d need to decide if you wanted more Moore or more other SF writers.
This effort shows the weak ebook support SF anthologies have. Retrospective and theme anthologies don’t seem to be as popular as they used to be, but then I’m not sure that reading short science fiction is as popular as it used to be.
Maybe anthologists will read this and be inspired to assemble an ebook anthology. I hope.
James Wallace Harris, 8/12/20