Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Best of Damon Knight (Damon Knight)

The Best of Damon Knight
Damon Knight
Pocket
Fiction, Collection/Sci-Fi
***+ (Okay/Good)


DESCRIPTION: Aliens bring the gift of world peace, but with an unexpected price... a misfit steps outside of time... a temporal hiccup gives a con man an extraordinary machine... a lone miner on a planetoid makes a terrible discovery... these and more stories by science fiction master Damon Knight are collected here.

REVIEW: Damon Knight's short "To Serve Man" was the basis of one of the most memorable episodes of the classic TV series The Twilight Zone. That tale and several others appear in this collection. The ideas are often intriguing, but I couldn't help finding the presentation and characters occasionally dated. One story in particular, "A Likely Story," loses a lot of relevance over the years: it features many then-popular science fiction writers in thin disguise, and primarily seems like an inside joke that was never meant to be read by an outsider over half a century later. (I picked out a few names, but the rest eluded me.) All in all, I liked several of Knight's concepts, and the writing itself is fairly decent. Unfortunately, it just can't help reflecting the bygone era in which Knight wrote, even in a forward-looking genre like sci-fi.

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