The Best of L. Sprague de Camp
first edition of The Best of L. Sprague de Camp
|Author||L. Sprague de Camp|
|Cover artist||Richard V. Corben|
|Genre||Science fiction, fantasy short stories|
|Media type||Print (Hardback)|
|Pages||xv, 301 pp|
The Best of L. Sprague de Camp is a collection of writings by science fiction and fantasy author L. Sprague de Camp, first published in hardback by Nelson Doubleday in February 1978 and in paperback by Ballantine Books in May of the same year. The book was reprinted by Ballantine in May 1986. It has also been translated into German.
The book contains short works of fiction and poetry by the author, together with an introduction by fellow science fiction writer Poul Anderson.
- "L. Sprague de Camp — Engineer and Sorcerer" by Poul Anderson
- "Language for Time Travelers"
- "The Command"
- "The Merman"
- "The Gnarly Man"
- "Reward of Virtue" (poem)
- "Nothing in the Rules"
- "The Hardwood Pile"
- "The Reluctant Shaman"
- "The Inspector's Teeth"
- "The Guided Man"
- "The Ameba" (poem)
- "Judgment Day"
- "A Gun for Dinosaur"
- "The Emperor's Fan"
- "Two Yards of Dragon"
- "The Little Green Men" (poem)
- "Author's Afterword"
The book was reviewed by Algis Budrys in The Washington Post for March 5, 1978 and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction for September 1978, as well as by Dan Miller in Booklist for June 1, 1978 and Robert Coulson in Amazing Stories for May 1987.
Budrys called the book "[a] triumphant collection from SF's best-educated humanist,: and a "selection of De Camp's witty, very literate fantasy and science fiction. He considered it "long overdue," citing "Language for Time Travelers" as "seminal" in "creat[ing] a permanent change in the way many time travel stories are written, or should be written" and "The Gnarly Man," "Nothing in the Rules" and "A Gun for Dinosaur" as "classics from which many subsequent stories by other writers have derived. ... "Time after time, de Camp has created basic ideas which were obviously larger than his original setting, and whose development within the minds of other writers has given them a species of extended life, to the enrichment of the genre." "The Emperor's Fan," "The Hardwood Pile" and "Judgment Day" are also singled out for positive comment. De Camp's fiction, Budrys notes, provides "entertainment on a high level of intelligence," and the author himself "is another one of those people who does good work and endures."
Miller rated the collection "[s]olid entertainment from a master," demonstrating how "de Camp's piquant ironies and tragicomic view of mankind set him apart as a story-teller of singular erudition and sensitivity." Elsewhere, Booklist noted that "De Camp's clever fusion of the droll and the sober is evident throughout."
Coulson comments extensively on each of the pieces in the collection, observing that "not all of these are humorous, but a high percentage are." "Judgment Day" and "A Gun for Dinosaur" are cited as "more serious stories." He notes that "[t]he plots of most of the stories would qualify as farce, but the treatment, less raunchy than most modern faces, would make them something between farce and whimsy."
- Laughlin, Charlotte; Daniel J. H. Levack (1983). De Camp: An L. Sprague de Camp Bibliography. San Francisco: Underwood/Miller. p. 28.
- The Best of L. Sprague de Camp title listing at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
- Budrys, Algis. "Tales Of Time And Space," in The Washington Post, March 5, 1978, pages F1-F2.
- Budrys, Algis. "Books," in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, v. 55, no. 3, September 1978, pages 37-38.
- Miller, Dan. "Paperbacks. Fiction. De Camp, Lyon Sprague. The best of L. Sprague de Camp," in Booklist, v. 74, no. 19, June 1, 1978, page 1541.
- Uncredited. "Books for young adults. De Camp, Lyon Sprague. The best of L. Sprague de Camp," in Booklist, v. 74, no. 19, June 1, 1978, page 1544.
- Coulson, Robert. "Humorists in a Strange Land," in Amazing Stories, v. 62, no. 1, May 1987, pages 70-72.