The Year’s Greatest Science Fiction and Fantasy. ed Judith Merril, Dell 1956.

(Picked this one up in 2017, but have dated it 2003 so that it files in date order with other volumes in this series!)

If you know your way around the Best SF site you’ll know I have amassed a collection of annual Year’s Best SF volumes going back to when they first appeared, that is -almost- complete. I’ve got just a couple of the Bleiler/Dikty volumes that started the whole thing way back in the 1950s, and am missing a couple of other volumes here and there. (If you don’t know you’re way around the site, use the category listing!).

As I’m not at the moment buying new SF other than the Dozois/Clarke annual SF volumes (eschewing the SFF anthologies), I decided to splash out and fill one of those gaps – namely the first in Merril’s series of Year’s Bests. You can browse the other ones in her series that I have here.

This Dell First Edition was published in 1956, and got delivered from a bookseller in Germany, and doesn’t look like it’s been read. It’s four years older than me – a little fragile, frayed around the edges, and with a slightly dodgy lower spine, but what’s inside is still drop-dead gorgeous. But that’s enough about me, what about the book?

The volume has an introduction by no less than Orson Welles, who opines that SF is often at its worst at book length, with good novels ‘about as rare as ambergris’, and his advice for all but the most ‘bug-eyed addict’ is to abstain from novels and to stick to short stories, which ‘come off much better than the long ones’.

Merril has 18 short stories in the collection, all published in 1955, although several are from a 1955 collection of The Best of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and which are a year or two older. I’m going to read through and review stories individually, and append the reviews here, so keep checking back.

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