March 25, 2009

La Grande Anthologie de la Science Fiction

I grew up with a whole library of strange books at home. My mom was interested in French fiction and non-fiction, reading books about escaping from turbulent relationships, the French Kings’ legacies, and women marrying Iranian men and struggling to get their daughters back to France. My dad was more of an Anglophone reader and introduced me to short stories about Englishmen ill fitted for the Indian Colony, books about spies, and science fiction. Their tastes in books have both evolved, and my mother tends to read stories on culture and religion, and my dad is all history and disease these days.

Still imprinted in my mind, are his amazing books on science fiction. Before the age of 12, I didn’t really ask myself what it would feel like to be the last person on earth, or how radiation might mutate my neighbors, or what would happen if my robot-servant decided to go rogue. But boy, when I picked up those science fiction books, I was plummeted with a myriad of outlandish scenarios that blew understanding of life right out of the ballpark.

I fondly remember 4 or 5 books that belonged to a collection called La Grande Antropologie de Science Fiction. The stories were often kooky, with odd conclusions and parting words. For example, when meeting aliens, apparently “two heads are better than none”. This refers of course, to the fact that conversing with a two-headed being is easier than conversing with a no-headed being. The books dated from the 1970s, so they had this intoxicatingly pleasant musky smell, and the pages were brittle and yellowed.

One day, much to our collective (my brother, sister and I) horror, my mother decided to take the books to church and donate them to the church Bazaar. We cried and moaned, blamed and tore our hair out, but alas, those books where for the benefit of others now.

After a lot of digging, I just found that there are a few remaining copies on the internet! French Wikipedia says the following (paraphrased):

The Large Anthologie of Science Fiction is a collection published by a French company Livre de Poche in the 1970s, by Demètre Ioakimidis, Jacques Goimard and Gérard Klein. The collection was initially composed of two series, one with 12 volumes and the second with 24 volumes. A third series dedicated to French Scifi had 5 volumes.

Each volume has short stories organized around a main theme.

First Series (1966-1975)
1-Stories of Aliens
2-Stories of Robots
3-Stories of Astronauts
4-Stories of mutants
5-Stories of the End of the World
6-Stories of Machines
7-Stories of Planets
8-Stories of Special Powers
9-Stories of Tomorrow
10-Stories of Travel in Time
11-Stories of Going Backwards
12- Stories of Galaxies

Second Series
1-Stories of ESP
2-Stories of Survivors
3-Stories at the End of Time
4-Ecological Stories
5-Stories of Colonizers
6-Stories of Space Travels
7-Stories of Doctors
8-Divine Stories
9-Stories of the 4th Dimension
10-Stories of Immortals
11-Stories of Androids
12-Stories of Supermen
13-Stories of Creatures
14-Stories of Future Societies
15-Stories of Strange Worlds
16-Stories of Mechanics
17-Stories of Rebels
18-Fake Stories
19-Paradoxale Stories
20-Stories of Mirages
21-Stories of Year 2000
22-Stories of Catastrophes
23-Stories of Future Wars
24-Stories of Mechanics
25-Stories of Sex-Fiction

Third Series
1-Worlds of the Francs
2-The Hallucinated Hexagone
3-The Exploded Frontier
4-Mosaics of Time
5-Divergant Horizons
6-Story of Science Fiction

I bought two books at an exorbitant price, and am now voraciously reading through my Stories of Aliens. In this economy, it seems silly to spend so much money on used books, but who wouldn’t do the same to recapture one’s youth?


Anonymous said...

Sweet :)
Those themes look super interesting! Makes me want to take up SciFi again (I've gone all fantasy now, the past seems more welcoming than the future :).

Victoria said...

Please please please can you mail them to me when you've finished?

I'll send them back... I miss those books like none other!

007 in Africa said...

Ammo, fantasy is for dorks. Science-fiction on the other hand, is for...nerds!

Vicky, OK, but you have to promise to wash your hands before you read them, don't break the spine, don't fold the corners over, and treat them like they are your own children :)