Inevitably, most are famous classics in the field, and in many cases I've read them in other collections, but it's good to have them all in one place. **** "Trouble With Water," H.L. Gold: as the editor notes, Campbell's Unknown published stories that - like the SF stories appearing in his better-known magazine Astounding - rigorously worked out the consequences of a single difference in the world, but chose a magical difference instead of a scientific difference. ** "Fruit of Knowledge," C.L. Moore: I'm a big Moore fan, but I couldn't finish this story based on the Garden of Eden and the character Lilith from Jewish mythology. **** "The Compleat Werewolf," Anthony Boucher: a story from 1942 filled with humour and romance and action, it stands up well more than 70 years later. **** "There Shall Be No Darkness," James Blish: another werewolf story, which I didn't feel belonged in this collection. **** "The Man Who Sold Rope to the Gnolls," Margaret St Clair: again, more horror than fantasy, to me, but a good story that sustains a mocking, almost light tone against very dark events. ***** "The Silken-Swift," Theodore Sturgeon: I'd read this recently in the same collection as the Heinlein, so I didn't reread it, though it's an excellent story, emotionally powerful and beautifully written. **** "Operation Afreet," Poul Anderson: recently read in the other collection, not reread, and another werewolf story (making three werewolves in this volume). **** "That Hell-Bound Train," Robert Bloch: a deal-with-the-devil story, another common fantasy trope, particularly well executed by this master of the creepy, and closely approaching horror. But it's a quintessential Lafferty story: surreal characters and events, perhaps a bit flat, amusing in an offbeat way. The setting, in a world taken over by the Communist powers, is interesting, but I'm afraid I'm just not a big fan of this author's work. Simak: a beautiful example of a story without much in the way of a plot, that's more about a character's realisations - and, in this case, memories and perspective on life - than any events or struggle, but nevertheless works. **** "The Demoness," Tanith Lee: I'm not a particular fan of Lee's dark, sex-soaked stories, but she does them well, and this is a classic example of one. ***** "Jeffty is Five," Harlan Ellison: a fine story, which I'd read before recently enough that I didn't reread it. **** "Unicorn Variations," Roger Zelazny: I'm a huge Zelazny fan, though more of his novels than his short stories - not that his short stories aren't good, but the longer works give me more time to sink into his powerfully imaginative settings. **** "Tower of Babylon," Ted Chiang: with this story we are, in a sense, back at the beginning, because, like the stories in Campbell's Unknown magazine, it's a rigorously worked out exploration of a fantastical speculation, in this case about the structure of the universe (what if it was as some ancient civilisations believed?) The main character is somewhat flat, and largely there as an observer, but the working out of the premise is well enough done that I enjoyed it.
it's a huge collection, which i really liked, and some of the authors i'd never heard of before really surprised me and i loved their work. i felt it odd that the editors felt like reaching so far back into the repertoires of these authors and their works, avoiding at all costs anything remotely modern even if it fit the criteria better and was better written.
The Fantasy Hall of Fame introduces the Sci-Fi/Fantasy reader to fantasy stories that the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America felt deserved a place of prominence in the world of speculative fiction. Most of the stories are written by writers known for their science fiction.
"The Valley of the Worm" where a hero has to destroy a hellish worm like beast that haunts the nearby valley. "The Silken Swift" My absolute favourite, where an evil girl gets her comeuppance at the hands of a mythical beast.