I admit it: I love classic science fiction. I'm thinking of science fiction from the 1930's, '40s, and '50s. There was such an innocence to all of it. An emphasis on character development and plot. A sense of wonder.

Imagine my delight when I recently discovered the series Classics of Modern Science Fiction, ten books selected by George Zebrowski and put out by Crown Books. There's a fascinating introduction by Isaac Asimov as well.

Apparently these novels were serialized in the pulp magazines of those days, later assembled as paperbacks, then lost to the ages. I'm spending this summer reading all of them. So far I've read the Forgotten Planet, a story of a group of men and women abandoned on a planet that is filled with gigantic insect life (and I mean GIGANTIC). Next a collection of stories by Philip Jose Farmer from 1952 to 1964. Then another Farmer collection, this one from 1967 to 1973. If you haven't read Farmer, you need to; some real classics such as "The Shadow of Space."

Here are the ten books in the series:

  • Men, Martians and Machines by Eric Frank Russell
  • The Joy Makers by James Gunn
  • The Shores of Another Sea by Chad Oliver
  • The Classic Philip Jose Farmer, 1952-1964 by Philip Jose Farmer
  • Classic Philip Jose Farmer 1964-1973 by Philip Jose Farmer
  • The Forgotten Planet by Murray Leinster
  • The Paradox Men by Charles L. Harness
  • Unearthly Neighbors by Chad Oliver
  • Shadows in the Sun by Chad Oliver
  • Greener Than You Think by Ward Moore