Orbit (anthology series)

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Orbit was a series of anthologies of new science fiction edited by Damon Knight, often featuring work by such writers as Gene Wolfe, Joanna Russ, R. A. Lafferty, and Kate Wilhelm. The anthologies tended toward the avant-garde edge of science fiction, but by no means exclusively; occasionally the volumes featured nonfiction critical writing or humorous anecdotes by Knight. Inspired by Frederik Pohl's Star Science Fiction series, and in its turn an influence on other original speculative fiction anthologies, it ran for over a decade and twenty-one volumes, not including a 1975 "Best of" collection selected from the first ten volumes.

Orbit 1[edit]

Orbit 1 was published in October 1966 by Berkley Medallion. Algis Budrys praised Knight's skills as editor and critic but said that the compilation "represents science fiction well but not to any extraordinary extent", with no story "clearly and obviously the 'best' of anything". He advised readers to buy the paperback version.[1]

Table of contents:

Orbit 2[edit]

Volume 2 was published in 1967. Budrys said "It is more a sign that Damon's heart is in the right place than it is a really satisfactory book."[2]

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Orbit 3[edit]

Volume 3 was published in 1968. Algis Budrys found the volume "happens to contain some remarkable work," although he faulted the jacket copy as overpromotional.[5]

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Orbit 4[edit]

Volume 4 was published in 1968.

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Orbit 5[edit]

Volume 5 was published September 1969 by G.P. Putnam's Sons. It was reprinted in October 1969 by Putnam, December 1969 by Berkley Medallion, and November 1970 in the UK by Rapp & Whiting. Barry Malzberg wrote that the anthology "doesn't, somehow, seem to be at the same high level of ambition or accomplishment as the earlier volumes," but singled out "The Big Flash" for praise, declaring "The last pages of this story may be one of the strongest experiences available in modern American fiction."[6]

Table of contents:

  • "Somerset Dreams" by Kate Wilhelm
  • "The Roads, The Roads, The Beautiful Roads" by Avram Davidson, reprinted in the anthology Car Sinister[7] The head of a state highway department, whose greatest passion is designing highways, even if they are not needed, takes a wrong exit and ends up in a closed off tunnel, where a minotaur attacks him.
  • "Look, You Think You've Got Troubles" by Carol Carr, about a non-religious Jewish family whose daughter marries an alien who subsequently converts to Judaism.
  • "Winter's King" by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • "The Time Machine" by Langdon Jones, with a prisoner reminiscing about an affair he had with a married woman.
  • "Configuration of the North Shore" by R.A. Lafferty about a psychiatrist exploring a patient's extraordinary dream that could lead to the ultimate fulfillment of human existence.
  • "Paul's Treehouse" by Gene Wolfe
  • "The Price" by Belcher C. Davis, reprinted as "Just Dead Enough". A local newspaper reporter follows a case where a man dies in a car accident and his organs are transplanted into other people in the town. When one of the organ recipients kills someone in a car accident and doesn't have insurance, their lawyer argues that the organ recipient is the donor's heir. Then the heirs sue the hospital for getting them involved in the case to begin with.
  • "The Rose Bowl-Pluto Hypothesis" by Robert S. Richardson. A professor notices that racing scores have dramatically improved and proposes that it is due to space shrinking.
  • "Winston" by Kit Reed,[8] written in 1969 [9] and reprinted in 1976 in the anthology The Killer Mice and in 1981 in the collection Other Stories and...The Attack of the Giant Baby.[10] A family purchases a child bred for intelligence, but neglects them and beats them until they suffer irreparable brain damage, when the mother finally views them as a normal child.
  • "The History Makers" by James Sallis. The story is told in a series of letters from a person known as Jim to his brother John. He writes about his stay on an alien planet. The beings there live in an "alternate time span" whereby interaction with humans is nearly impossible. Over the course of the planet's "day" the inhabitants build a city from a rude village. As the day ends, the inhabitants change: most go comatose, but others go insane and destroy their city. Eventually the entire city, including its ruins, is destroyed.
  • "The Big Flash" by Norman Spinrad, which won the Nebula Award for Best Novelette. The Pentagon hatches a plan to use atomic warfare in the Vietnam War. It had been determined that a single nuclear attack would destroy 2/3 of the enemy's fighting force. In order to get the American population to go along with the idea of nuclear warfare, the Pentagon hire a rock band called the Four Horsemen to popularize the use of nuclear warfare.[11]

Orbit 6[edit]

Volume 6 was published in 1970.[12]

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Orbit 7[edit]

Volume 7 was first published in 1970.[13]

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Orbit 8[edit]

Volume 8 was published in 1970 by G.P. Putnam's Sons.[14]

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Orbit 9[edit]

Volume 9 published by Putnam Books in 1971.[22] Theodore Sturgeon found the anthology "fascinating," saying "I profoundly admire what Knight is doing here."[23]

Orbit 10[edit]

Volume 10 was published in 1972.[24]

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Orbit 11[edit]

Volume 11 was published in 1972.[25]

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Orbit 12[edit]

Volume 12 was published in 1973.[26]

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Orbit 13[edit]

Volume 13 was published in 1974.[27]

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Orbit 14[edit]

Volume 14 was published in 1974.[28]

Table of Contents:[29]

Orbit 15[edit]

Volume 15 was published in 1974.[30]

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Orbit 16[edit]

Volume 16 was published in 1975.[31] Spider Robinson dismissed the anthology as minor and disappointing, noting that most of the stories were "manifestly by newcomers, first sales or nearly so."[32]

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Orbit 17[edit]

Volume 17 was first published in 1975.[33]

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Orbit 18[edit]

Volume 18 was first published in 1976.[34]

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Orbit 19[edit]

Volume 19 was first published in 1977.[35]

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Orbit 20[edit]

Volume 20 was first published in 1978.[36]

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Orbit 21[edit]

Volume 21 was first published in 1980.[37]

Table of Contents:

The Best from Orbit[edit]

The Best from Orbit was published in 1975 and reprinted stories from the first ten volumes.[38]

Table of Contents:

  • "A Sort of Introduction (Best Stories from Orbit, Volumes 1-10) by Damon Knight
  • "The Secret Place" by Richard McKenna (from Orbit 1)
  • "The Loolies Are Here" by Ruth Allison and Jane Rice [as by Allison Rice] (from Orbit 1)
  • "The Doctor" by Ted Thomas (from Orbit 2)
  • "Baby, You Were Great!" by Kate Wilhelm (from Orbit 2)
  • "The Hole on the Corner" by R. A. Lafferty (from Orbit 2)
  • "I Gave Her Sack and Sherry" by Joanna Russ (from Orbit 2)
  • "Mother to the World" by Richard Wilson (from Orbit 3)
  • "Don't Wash the Carats" by Philip José Farmer (from Orbit 3)
  • "The Planners" by Kate Wilhelm (from Orbit 3)
  • "The Changeling" by Gene Wolfe (from Orbit 3)
  • "Passengers" by Robert Silverberg (from Orbit 4)
  • "Shattered Like a Glass Goblin" by Harlan Ellison (from Orbit 4)
  • "The Time Machine" by Langdon Jones (from Orbit 5)
  • "Look, You Think You've Got Troubles" by Carol Carr (from Orbit 5)
  • "The Big Flash" by Norman Spinrad (from Orbit 5)
  • "Jim and Mary G" by James Sallis (from Orbit 7)
  • "The End" by Ursula K. Le Guin (variant of Things) (from Orbit 6)
  • "Continued on Next Rock" by R. A. Lafferty (from Orbit 7)
  • "The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories" by Gene Wolfe (from Orbit 7)
  • "Horse of Air" by Gardner R. Dozois (from Orbit 8)
  • "One Life, Furnished in Early Poverty" by Harlan Ellison (from Orbit 8)
  • "Rite of Spring" by Avram Davidson (from Orbit 8)
  • "The Bystander" by Thom Lee Wharton (from Orbit 8)
  • "The Encounter" by Kate Wilhelm (from Orbit 8)
  • "Gleepsite" by Joanna Russ (from Orbit 9)
  • "Binaries", by James Sallis (from Orbit 9)
  • "Al" by Carol Emshwiller (from Orbit 10)
  • "Live, from Berchtesgaden" by George Alec Effinger (from Orbit 10)


  1. ^ Budrys, Algis (October 1966). "Galaxy Bookshelf". Galaxy Science Fiction. pp. 152–161.
  2. ^ Budrys, Algis (December 1967). "Galaxy Bookshelf". Galaxy Science Fiction. pp. 187–194.
  3. ^ World's Best Science Fiction : 1968. Donald Wollheim/Terry Carr (eds), 1968.
  4. ^ Carr, Terry (1975). Creatures from Beyond: Nine Stories of Science Fiction and Fantasy: Terry Carr: 9780840764591: Amazon.com: Books. ISBN 0840764596.
  5. ^ "Galaxy Bookshelf", Galaxy Science Fiction, February 1969, pp.184-86
  6. ^ "Books", F&SF, May 1970, p.27-8
  7. ^ "The Roads, the Roads, the Beautiful Roads". wizards.pro.
  8. ^ "Kit Reed". fantasticfiction.co.uk.
  9. ^ "Teosed". ttu.ee.
  10. ^ "Winston". wizards.pro.
  11. ^ Seed, David (1999). American Science Fiction and the Cold War. ISBN 9781579581954.
  12. ^ "Orbit 6". ISFDB. Retrieved 30 October 2021.
  13. ^ "Orbit 7". ISFDB. Retrieved 30 October 2021.
  14. ^ "Orbit 8". ISFDB. Retrieved 30 October 2021.
  15. ^ "Stories, Listed by Author". philsp.com.
  16. ^ "Stories, Listed by Author". philsp.com.
  17. ^ "Stories, Listed by Author". locusmag.com.
  18. ^ R. A. Lafferty papers - Indexes; Collected Works
  19. ^ "Lafferty Collections". mulle-kybernetik.com.
  20. ^ "Uchronia: Interurban Queen". uchronia.net.
  21. ^ Garlic fries and Ichirolls
  22. ^ "Orbit 9". ISFDB. Retrieved 30 October 2021.
  23. ^ "Galaxy Bookshelf", Galaxy Science Fiction, March 1972, pp.87
  24. ^ "Damon Knight's Orbit 10 (Open Library)". openlibrary.org.
  25. ^ "Orbit 11". ISFDB. Retrieved 30 October 2021.
  26. ^ "Orbit 12". ISFDB. Retrieved 30 October 2021.
  27. ^ "Orbit 13". ISFDB. Retrieved 30 October 2021.
  28. ^ "Orbit 14". ISFDB. Retrieved 30 October 2021.
  29. ^ "Publication: Orbit 14". www.isfdb.org. Retrieved 2018-07-10.
  30. ^ "Orbit 15". ISFDB. Retrieved 30 October 2021.
  31. ^ "Orbit 16". ISFD. Retrieved 30 October 2021.
  32. ^ "Galaxy Bookshelf", Galaxy Science Fiction, October 1975, pp.145-46
  33. ^ "ISFDB". Orbit 17. Retrieved 30 October 2021.
  34. ^ "Orbit 18". ISFDB. Retrieved 30 October 2021.
  35. ^ "Orbit 19". ISFDB. Retrieved 30 October 2021.
  36. ^ "Orbit 20". ISFDB. Retrieved 30 October 2021.
  37. ^ "Orbit 21". ISFDB. Retrieved 30 October 2021.
  38. ^ "The Best from Orbit". ISFDB. Retrieved 30 October 2021.

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