What, asks Mr Aldiss in his introduction, is Fantasy? Used in a wide sense, the term could include writers as diverse as William Golding and Nevil Shute. But Mr Aldiss plays fair. A title like Best Fantasy Stories promises something more specific — fantasy labelled as such, fantasy that centres round some sort of extra-mundane object or novelty. And it would be cheating, too, to include ghost stories, Black Magic stories, horror stories, science-fiction stories. They all deserve, and get, anthologies to themselves. So here is fantasy undiluted — the world of pepper and salt pots gone mad, of word-obliterators, of the last surviving megatherium, of jet-propelled couches. How can such stories be described? Perhaps it is best to leave them, in Mr Aldiss’s phrase, ‘to levitate on their laurels’. One last word, though. Mr Aldiss has been careful to avoid the over-anthologized masterpieces of the past which turn up, with maddening regularity, in collection after collection. Best Fantasy Stories is bang up to date and the authors represented in it include Robert Lindner, Ray Bradbury, Jack Finney and Angus Wilson.
FIRST EDITION: Faber & Faber, 1962