30th Anniversary DAW Science Fiction Anthology
Ed. by Elizabeth R. Wollheim and Sheila E Gilbert

List Price: $24.95
Hardcover - 432 pages (May 2002)
DAW; ISBN: 0756400643
Review by Ernest Lilley
Check out this book at: Amazon US / Amazon UK

Also this issue: 30th Anniversary DAW Fantasy

Never trust anyone over 30 was the battle cry when DAW was born three decades ago, and we've come a long way over those years...closing out the last century with the admonishment not to trust anyone.

What's that got to do with DAW? Nothing. And that's  what's so great about them.

DAW, was founded by Donald A. Wolheim in 1971, after nineteen and a half years as the Editor-In-Chief of Ace books, whose paperback line he had convinced the owner of Ace publications to start in 1952. He left Ace when "big business" took away the personal element of publishing, when Ace became part of the establishment.

When he left Ace, he didn't know what he was going to do next, but he left to defend a principle, and he never abandoned it. With little more than his reputation as an editor, he got Herb Schall of New American Library to give him a home for his own publishing house. Herb told Donald that he could write his own ticket, and that agreement provided the basis from which DAW's style sprung, and has been maintained over the last three decades.

This collection of short stories by DAW's authors is much more than an anthology. Together with the introduction written by the current editors of DAW, Donald's Daughter Elizabeth Wolhiem and her friend Shelia Gilbert, and frontpieces to each of the stories, some by the authors, some by the editors it's a tribute to Don Wolhiem, and a survey of his legacy.

Though it is an anthology, and it's got some great stories which stand on their own, little surprise considering the crop of authors that DAW grew over the years.

Consider:

  • In "The Plauge Wars" Brian Stableford looks forward to the collapse of the next investing bubble, this one driven by biotech and the drive to protect ourselves against viral attack in the face of mounting genetically engineered threats like the hyper-flu and neurotoxic Human Mosic Virus.  His story asks what the costs of safety are, and who is at risk in the dangerous future we're about to enter.
     

  • Ron Goulart's "Odd Job #213" is a delightful bit of catnip that would amuse any fan of noir detective stories or Asmiovian robotics, though it's not constrained by either. 
     

  • C.J. Cherryh tells us how she got her name misspelled and entertains us with a tale of a deepspace chatroom in "The Sandman, The Tinman, and the BettyB". 
     

  • Timothy Zahn shows that seeing is a matter of perspective in a clever little story called "The Big Picture" in which you really do need to step back to see the forest for the trees...especially from orbit.
     

  • Frederik Pohl serves up a juicy tidbit from his HeeChee stories with a visit to "A Home For The Old Ones" in which we get to spend some time with our ancestors on the new African plain.
     

  • C.S. Friedman pays a visit to an aging relative as well in "Downtime." What can it cost to spend a little time with your aging mother after all she's done for you. What indeed.
     

  • Tad Williams uploads a truly chilling bit of computer fiction when chatrooms meet the Vingian singularity in "Not With A Whimper, Either"
     

  • Ian Watson's "The Black Wall Of Jerusalem" had better be part of a larger work, even though it stands quite well on it's own. Why? So I can find out what happens next, of course. It's about a poet who searches for his muse, and much to his horror, finds it.
     

  • I'd never read Charles Harness, though he published his first story in 1948 and is still writing. Now that I've read his Jupiter adventure "Station Ganymede" I know I'll have to go back and find out what I've been missing.
     

  • My favorite piece of the collection is "Words" by Cheryl J. Franklin, which considers the implications of who owns who, pets or masters...and what it means when the common housecat isn't common at all.

All told there are nineteen different stories in this collection, nineteen different visions of what SF is from the family that Donald Wolheim created. That they cover a wide range of styles and themes is to be expected. DAW never worked to a formula, and yet within these covers is proof positive that it has worked well because of that.

We can only hope the 60th Anniversary collection is as good.

2002 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu                                                                                sa 05.22.02