Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Sci-fi book cover: "The Best of Judith Merril"

  • Title: The Best of Judith Merril
  • Secondary cover text: Science fiction the famous author considers her finest
  • Author: Judith Josephine Grossman (1923-1997), whose pen name was Judith Merril
  • Cover illustrator: Gray Morrow (1934-2001)
  • Publisher: Warner Books
  • Year: 1976
  • Pages: 254
  • Format: Paperback
  • Cover price: $1.25 (though it's been blacked out by a marker)
  • Excerpt from back cover: "No one projects herself more penetratingly into the psyche of the women of future centuries than Judith Merril. ... No matter how mechanized our journeys into space become, inside the space suits we are human; and Judith Merril predicts we always will be."
  • Total stories and poems: 11
  • First story: "That Only a Mother"
  • Preface to first story: "A buried newspaper item on Army denial of post-Hiroshima rumors engendered Merril's first sf story ('Even in those days some of us automatically read certain kinds of official U.S. releases backwards.') John Campbell bought it for Astounding — October 1948."
  • Random sentence from the middle #1: She stuck to her resolve, even after the message from Earth.
  • Random sentence from the middle #2: Forty females started the journey, with a supply of sperm from one hundred genetically selected males carefully preserved on board.
  • Merrill biographical tidbit from Wikipedia #1: "In 1970 she began an endowment at the Toronto Public Library for the collection of all science fiction published in the English language. She donated all of the books and magazines in her possession to the library, which established the 'Spaced Out Library' (her term) with Merril in a non-administrative role as curator. The library has had its own physical space from the onset. During her last decade it was renamed the Merril Collection of Science Fiction, Speculation, and Fantasy. She received a small annual stipend as curator and, when short of money, she lived in her office at the library, sleeping on a cot."
  • Merrill biographical tidbit from Wikipedia #2: "From 1978 to 1981 Merril introduced Canadian broadcasts of Doctor Who. As the 'Undoctor', Merril presented short (3-7 minute) philosophical commentaries on the show's themes." [That's her in the photo at right.]
  • Merrill biographical tidbit from Wikipedia #3: "From the mid-1970s until her death, Merril spent much time in the Canadian peace movement, including traveling to Ottawa dressed as a witch in order to hex Parliament for allowing American cruise missile testing over Canada."
  • Merril was bleeping awesome: Yes.
  • Book rating on Goodreads: 3.88 stars (out of 5)
  • Goodreads review excerpt: In 2015, Virginia wrote: "These stories focus on the anxiety of the feminine, of the maternal, of the sexual, and of matriarchies. They're excellent and hold up well for their psychological studies."

1 comment:

  1. Judith Merril is a name from my pre-adolescence. I'd never read her until a few years ago, after coming across an inexpensive first edition of her debut, Shadow on the Hearth (1950). An early Cold War novel set largely in the aftermath of a nuclear explosion in Manhattan, it isn't so much about the death and destruction, rather how the government and select citizens exploit the ensuing chaos. "Atomic Attack," the 1954 Motorola TV Hour adaptation captures much more than one might expect of the novel. Both are recommended. Looking back through my notes, I see I described Shadow on the Hearth as my most memorable read of 2017 in the pages of the Montreal Gazette.

    I think they were expecting a new book, but who is to say it isn't contemporary.

    I'm happy to learn of this collection, Chris. Thank you for bringing it to my attention. You've reminded me that I meant to read more Merril. I've just ordered a copy.