Ursula K. Le Guin has written over fifty books of prose and poetry. Winner of many prizes including a National Book Award, she is perhaps best known for her six Books of Earthsea which have sold millions of copies and been translated into sixteen languages.
With the help of SF author Karen Joy Fowler (billed as ``consultant''), editors Le Guin ( Tehanu ) and Attebery ( Strategies of Fantasy ) have assembled a massive volume of admirable scope and ingenuity that includes most--no one could include all --of the influential North American science fiction writers of the past 30 years. From Fritz Leiber and Samuel R. Delany through Zenna Henderson, James Tiptree Jr. and Barry N. Malzberg to Harlan Ellison, Joanna Russ, John Varley, Octavia Butler, Orson Scott Card and Connie Willis, the table of contents reads like an SF Who's Who. But the editors have collected ``rarely anthologized gems,'' an approach that may not serve readers unfamiliar with the genre: by and large, they've chosen lesser-known works by these well-known authors, rather than the stories that best exemplify their contributions to the field. All the selections are quite good, but in many cases they don't demonstrate what makes these writers important: for instance, William Gibson is represented by ``The Gernsback Continuum'' instead of one of the cyberpunk tales that made him famous. For those well-versed in futuristic fiction, this volume offers a treasure trove of more obscure but eminently worthwhile stories. For the newcomer, it will serve as only a partial introduction to the subject. (Oct.)