63. SF: ’57 The Year’s Greatest Science Fiction and Fantasy


Merril ranged across an even wider range of mainstream sources for this second annual anthology, taking from as far away as the newspaper The London Observer, which in 1954 ran a story contest for tales set in the year A. D. 2500 and collected them the next year in an anthology of that name. Eric L. Malpass won the competition with “Return of the Moon Man” over such competition as the very young Brian Aldiss and the world-famous Arthur C. Clarke, whose entry, a little something called “The Star,” was passed over entirely. (Clarke’s story was rejected by every mainstream magazine – Michael Ashley reports that The Saturday Evening Post found it blasphemous – and finally landed near the bottom of the genre in the first issue, dated November 1955, of Infinity. Merril also passed on it along with every other anthologist of the 1950s, but it did manage to win a Hugo and go on to be reprinted as often as any story in the field.) You may be wondering how a 1954 story managed to be eligible for an anthology drawing on stories from 1956. Merril undoubtedly did not discover the story until it was reprinted as “When Grandfather Flew to the Moon” in the prestigious mainstream Canadian magazine MacLean’s, January 21, 1956, where it ran under the pseudonym Samson Darley. It appears here as by E. L. Malpass: Greenberg, in his anthologies, preferred to list authors under the name used on the original publication; Merril always changed them back to the better-known “real” names.

While browsing through mainstream magazines, Merril found stories in Playboy and Harper’s and Esquire and Tiger.

cover artist not found

Tiger? A men’s magazine by that name was founded in 1956 and ran at least into 1957 and maybe longer, although it is so obscure even the obsessively thorough Fiction Mags Index has the contents for only one issue. Nevertheless it published three issues in 1956, including a piece by the equally obscure Roger Thorne. Merril claimed in an introduction that “I do not know Roger Thorne. … and I do not know whether he is an established author.” He was. Roger Thorne was a pseudonym for Ray Russell, who not only was garnering a small reputation as a writer, but happened to be the fiction editor for Playboy, where he made the magazine the leading mainstream source for f&sf. That gave him two almost back-to-back stories in the anthology. Those two stories have been anthologized a grand total of two more times in the 60 years since. Russell is far more important as an editor than as a writer. If Merril truly had no idea of Thorne’s identity, her dedication to reading all the fiction published in 1956 is astonishing.

While on the subject of pseudonyms, please note that John Bernard Daley was the pen name of Bernard John Daley. He wrote three genre stories, all for Infinity, none of which anybody other than Merril thought worth reprinting in English over the last 60 years.

Cover art by Ed Emshwiller

Gnome Notes

As with the 1956 anthology, CURREY again states: “Note: Dell and Gnome Press editions published simultaneously.” Dell First Edition B110 claims a June 1957 first printing on the copyright page. The anthology is listed in the Catalog of Copyright Entries under Dell rather than Gnome and with a registration date of July 9, 1957. The Gnome date of issue is unknown, but is presumed to be July 1957 (the ISFDB cites W. R. Cole’s A Checklist of Science Fiction Anthologies). That still leaves room for ambiguity. For some reason, Dell cut the printing from the 208,000 for SF: ‘56 to a mere 100,000 for this volume. Not a good decision, since a second printing of 50,000, listed as November 1957 but released January 1958, needed to be rushed out. Richard Powers produced archetypal Powers covers for each of the Dell anthologies.

Greenberg repeated the earlier Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 56-8938 for this and for the next two volumes. This is impossible, of course, and I have never seen an explanation.

Cover art by Nicholas Solovioff


P. Schuyler Miller, Astounding Science Fiction, January 1958
Any fine, right-minded, red-blooded, loose-living SF fan who doesn’t agree that Judith Merril’s annual anthologies are the best in the field, belongs in Mozambique with the coelocanths [sic]. … The cover of the paperback says simply: “The Anthology of the Year.” I could have saved the printer ink and you time by just saying, “Ditto.” 

August Derleth, [Madison WI] Capitol Times, August 28, 1957
Miss Merril comes a resounding cropper with her second anthology. There are a few good stories here … but the majority of this collection is made up of mediocre fare… Fans may skip this one and never miss it.

Contents and Original Publication(s)

• story introductions, unsigned, presumably by Judith Merril (original to this volume).
• John Bernard Daley, “The Man Who Liked Lions” (Infinity Science Fiction, October 1956).
• C.M. Kornbluth, “The Cosmic Expense Account” (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, January 1956, as “The Cosmic Charge Account”).
• Theodore L. Thomas, “The Far Look” (Astounding Science Fiction, August 1956).
• E. L. Malpass, “When Grandfather Flew to the Moon” (The London Observer, January 1955, as “Return of the Moon Man;” MacLean’s, January 21, 1956, as by Samson Darley).
• R. Bretnor, “The Doorstop” (Astounding Science Fiction, November 1956).
• Algis Budrys, “Silent Brother” (Astounding Science Fiction, February 1956 as by Paul Janvier).
• Damon Knight, “Stranger Station” (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, December 1956).
• Isaac Asimov, “Each an Explorer” (Future Science Fiction, August 1956).
• Randall Garrett, “All About ‘The Thing’” (Science Fiction Stories, May 1956, as “Parodies Tossed”).
• Ray Russell, “Put Them All Together, They Spell Monster” (Playboy, October 1956).
• Robert Nathan, “Digging the Weans” (Harper’s Magazine, November 1956).
• Roger Thorne, “Take a Deep Breath” (Tiger, October 1956, pseud. of Ray Russell).
• Robert Abernathy, “Grandma’s Lie Soap” (Fantastic Universe, February 1956).
• Mack Reynolds, “Compounded Interest” (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, August 1956).
• J. G. Ballard, “Prima Belladonna” (Science Fantasy, December 1956).
• Theodore Sturgeon, “The Other Man” (Galaxy Science Fiction, September 1956).
• Garson Kanin, “The Damnedest Thing” (Esquire, February 1956).
• Zenna Henderson, “Anything Box” (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, October 1956).
• Judith Merril, “The Year’s S-F: A Summation by the Editor” (original to this volume).
• Judith Merril, “Honorable Mention” (original to this volume).

Bibliographic Information

SF: ’57 The Year’s Greatest Science-Fiction and Fantasy, Edited by Judith Merril, 1957, copyright registration 9Jul57, Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 56-8938, title #63, back panel #34, 320 pages, $3.95. 3000 copies printed. Hardback, red cloth, spine lettered in black. Larger than the standard at 8.6 x 5.7”. Jacket design by W. I. Van der Poel. “First Edition” stated on copyright page. Designed by Western Printing & Lithographing Company. Printed by Noble Offset Co., New York. Bound by H. Wolff, New York. Manufactured in the U.S.A. Back panel: 35 titles. Gnome Press address given as 80 East 11th St., New York 3.


None known.

True first edition

Dell First Edition, B110, (New York: Dell Publishing Co), First printing – July 1957.


SF: ’57 The Year’s Greatest Science-Fiction and Fantasy, red boards, black lettering
SF: ’57 The Year’s Greatest Science-Fiction and Fantasy, Dell B110, 1957, true first edition, cover art by Richard Powers