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Issue #127 - March 2006

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Brilliant Idea

By Cheryl Morgan

One of the most common complaints made about best-selling SF&F series is, "the original novella was much better." It is surprising just how many really famous books began life as novellas, which is why I am so pleased that Brian M. Thomsen and DAW have created an anthology of them. Novel Ideas is quite simply an anthology of stories that went on to become very famous books. A book like this doesnít need a review as such because the material is so well known, so Iíll content myself with looking at the contents. Weíll start with the really famous ones:

"Beggars in Spain" by Nancy Kress, first published in Asimovís, a Hugo winner in its own right and nominated for a Hugo a novel.

"Enderís Game" by Orson Scott Card, first published in Analog as a novelette, which was nominated for a Hugo, and later a Hugo winner as a novel too.

"The Postman" by David Brin, first published in Asimovís, nominated for a Hugo as both a novella and a novel, and later a motion picture staring Kevin Costner

"Fire Watch" by Connie Willis, first published in Asimovís, a Hugo winner as a novelette, and the first story in the setting that later produced the Hugo-winning novels, The Domesday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog.

"Blood Music" by Greg Bear, first published in Analog and later to become a Hugo-nominated novel.

"Air Raid" by John Varley, first published in Asimovís, a short story nominee for both Hugo and the source for the Hugo-nominated novel, Millennium.

And that is almost it. The only story that isnít an award winner is "The Lady in the Tower" by Anne McCaffrey, first published in F&SF, and the source for The Rowan and subsequent best-selling novels. Thatís as weak as the book gets.

Of course serious short fiction fans will already have all of these stories as part of "yearís best", or even in the original magazines, but for everyone else this is simply a book that you should own.

And while you are about it you might also pick up the companion fantasy volume, edited by Thomsen and Martin H. Greenberg.

Novel Ideas: Science Fiction - Brian M. Thomsen (ed) - DAW - mass-market paperback

Novel Ideas: Fantasy - Brian M. Thomsen and Martin H. Greenberg (eds) - DAW - mass-market paperback

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Emerald City - copyright Cheryl Morgan - cheryl@emcit.com
Masthead Art copyright Steven Stahlberg (left) and Gerhard Hoeberth (right)
Additional artwork by Frank Wu & Sue Mason
Designed by Tony Geer
Copyright of individual articles remains with their authors
Editorial assistants: Anne K.G. Murphy & Kevin Standlee