Complete Short Stories: the 1950s, by Brian Aldiss

Second paragraph of third story (“Breathing Space”):

The younger man lay gasping in the deep dust. Wilms attempted to stand over him and then, too exhausted, sank down beside his late opponent.

One of the books that I got Brian Aldiss to autograph for me.

A collection that does exactly what it says on the tin: this is the sum of the short stories published by Brian Aldiss during the 1950s, his first full decade as a professional writer. I count 65 of them, about half of them republished (or even published) here for the first time. Several of my favourites from other collections are here – “Who Can Replace a Man?”, “Supercity”, the novella “Equator”; some of the new (to me) stories are more experimental than successful, but they are all really interesting illustrations of a talent working out what can be done and which corners of the envelope can be pushed. I don’t think I would recommend it to anyone who is not already interested in Aldiss, but I do think that Aldiss is very interesting! You can get it here.

This was both the sf book that had lingered longest unread on my shelves, and my top unread book acquired in 2015. Next on the former list was La Femme, an anthology edited by Ian Whates, and next on the latter was The Bad Christian’s Manifesto, by Dave Tomlinson. I have read both in the time between finishing the Aldiss collection and publishing this review.