Monday, February 27, 2012

More Skiffy in the Library of America

SF Signal notes that a couple more SFnal books are coming up from the Library of America, one of the very classiest of the classy publishers: a volume of early Vonnegut novels and stories, and a two-volume sampler of SF from the '50s, including novels by Sturgeon, Brackett, Pohl & Kornbluth, Leiber, Blish, Bester, and Heinlein. (And, from those last names, you could probably guess exactly which novels are included.)

The Vonnegut is very welcome, and is actually the second LoA Vonnegut volume -- Novels & Stories, 1963 to 1973 is already out, and Novels & Stories 1950-1962 is coming up. With any luck, we'll get the post-1973 novels in due course.

The SF miscellany is more dubious -- though they've done it before, in a very similar two-volume set of crime novels -- since that's more obviously editorial-driven (the books had to be selected by someone, and are thus a snapshot of what one particular person at this moment in time thinks is important in an area the LoA doesn't want to fully cover), and the whole point of the LoA was not to exercise editorial judgement within books. Sure, there's the whole question of who's in or out of the LoA at all, but each author's works were supposed to be essentially complete. But nowadays, especially with their Philip K. Dick volumes, they're cherry-picking what some guest editor thinks are the important works, instead of letting each reader decide for herself.

(There's a longer version of this argument in an Antick Musings post from 2005 about the LoA Tales volume by Lovecraft; this has been a hobby-horse of mine for a while.)

However, one of my major complaints about the LoA -- that they hadn't done Ambrose Bierce, my pick for the greatest neglected writer in American history -- is now somewhat answered, with The Devil's Dictionary, Tales, & Memoirs. (It's not even his complete short fiction -- all of which deserves to be collected! -- but that's the same argument all over again.)

1 comment:

Shane said...

Barnes and Noble started publishing a massive one volume complete collection of Lovecraft's fiction a couple of years ago. I can't tell you how excited I was the first time I saw it in the store. They now include it in their leatherbound collection, which I really need to upgrade to. I don't believe it contains any of his revisions though.

Oh, and I do still have my copy of Black Seas of Infinity. Which was, in my opinion, the best Lovecraft collection I had ever owned, right up until the complete fiction came out in one volume.

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