Robots and Magic (Nesfa's Choice)
by Lester Del Rey
Review by Steve Sawicki
Nesfa Pr Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781886778887
Date: 12 February 2010 List Price $29.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK /
This is volume two of the Selected Short Stories of Lester Del Rey. Del Rey wrote over the course of seventy years--novels, novellas, short stories--in almost every sub genre of fantasy and science fiction around. And somewhere in the middle he edited and founded the Del Rey books imprint. But this collection is all about his short fiction. This volume gathers 34 of Lester's short fiction efforts, including one of his best known efforts, "Helen O'Loy", as well as his final effort, "The Fairy Godmother". In between there are thirty two other stories that represent the best that Del Rey had to offer over an almost 40 year span of time. Ironically, Del Rey did not consider himself much of a writer. He felt his work would not much last beyond his death. He figured he would be remembered more as an editor, a task at which he excelled if you just look at the number of writers introduced by Del Rey books.
Many newer readers may know Del Rey only as an imprint of Random House. Many others may be most familiar with him as an editor. Those who embrace the art of short fiction, however, can not help but know him best for that form. Del Rey was prolific and while he never thought of himself as much of a writer, his writing clearly had an impact on readers. He was able to move between forms and genres while maintaining a high standard for fact and form. He was an influence on the art of many other writers as well, both indirectly through his own written work but also through his editorial direction. There are some who insist he was the best editor of his time.
As always, NESFA Press has produced a beautiful book, well constructed, well edited (by Steven Silver of Argentus fame), with a thought provoking cover and content you simply can not get anywhere else. Much of Del Rey's work was published in the pulps and magazines and there are so few of those still around that even if you wanted to try to collect these stories it would border on impossibility. Thank goodness we have the fine folks at NESFA to do all that work for us and to then present us with a package that is simply wonderful. I've said it before that NESFA deserves support simply for doing this work but invariably they produce such great books that you can both support them and get a great read in the process. Such is the case here. If you have never read anything by Del Rey then here is your chance. If you are an old fan then you will want to take the opportunity to revisit the work that may have brought you to love these genres to begin with. Go. Buy. Enjoy.