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Worlds Without End Blog

The Entire SF Masterworks Series Reviewed Posted at 12:11 PM by Val


Fanzine Big Sky cover issue 3We do love our lists on Worlds Without End and I think it is fair to say that the Gollancz SF Masterworks series stands out among the ones we’ve added so far. You can argue with the selection of course, and many of us probably have, but it is a remarkable series of books, with numerous award winning novels and books that changed the direction of Science Fiction.

In honour of LonCon 3, which was held last month, Peter Young, editor of the electronic fanzine Big Sky launched a project to get reviews, in the widest sense of the word, on each individual title and collect them in a special edition. Well, two special editions. The list was simply too long to contain in one volume.

These books are among the most discussed novels in the genre and this gave him plenty of material to choose from. In fact, I don’t really want to think about how much material he had to wade through to make his selection. What he was looking for, in his own words, was this:

Plenty of words have been written about all the titles on the SF Masterworks list. In compiling this fanzine, I probably read thousands of reviews, in magazines, fanzines, websites and blogs. Quickly, a form of mental shorthand was set in place for the kind of reviews I wanted to showcase here. I knew instinctively what I particularly didn’t want: the kind of nonanalytical review that fills almost every corner of Goodreads; similarly, at the other extreme, when a reviewer takes pains to come across as exceedingly academic, I just kinda… zoned out.

What I was looking for can be summed up as well-written ‘opinion / context / commentary’ as opposed to something resembling a ‘formal review’ template, and something akin to a ‘four star’ rating rather than a gushing ‘five’. And of course, the more original, the better.

The result is a collection of opinion form authors, editors, critics and bloggers in a wide variety of styles. The list of names in the table of content is impressive and among them are several Worlds Without Ends regulars. Peter put in a lot of effort to collect some of the most interesting stuff that is out there. The result is something I highly encourage you to check out.

Both issues (numbers 3 and 4) are available for free download here.