Our b/f discussion a few mornings ago turned to science fiction and the idea that it has become mainstream. I beg to differ. When browsing the science fiction shelves of various bookshops recently what stood out for me was utter predominance of fantasy. There was almost no science fiction. And this is reflected in science fiction movies: (a) there are almost none and (b) they are generally done as fantasy perhaps because that IS now mainstream.
Oh for the days when science fiction was about rockets and aliens.
Enter this 1950s collection by Damon Knight. I loved reading this sort of thing for some years. I don't even recall why I gave away my collection and decided I'd moved on, since I'm so thoroughly enjoying revisiting it in my dotage.
I can see why he is known for his short stories: can he sustain a novel? As befits the notion of what science fiction was, Knight hasn't the least idea how to paint a character - early on he'll flesh out the idea of the shape of the human in his story so that you have something to hang it on, I guess but that doesn't make anything like a character - really, though, that's all to the good. It's about speculative ideas - what would happen if?- and he does this nicely.