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“Not In The Literature” and Christopher Anvil

Analog illustration – “Not In The Literature”

I liked “Not In The Literature” (see illustration from original appearance), and I am pretty sure I have read it before in Analog. Still, when I read this, I found myself wondering (as many of us do at times about the contents of a “Best Of” or “Year’s Best” anthology), “Why is this story in The Great SF Stories #25 (1963) ?” I’ll try to answer that question.

Christopher Anvil was a well known journeyman SF writer of his era. His legal name was Harry Christopher Crosby, he was born in 1925 and died in 2009, and published original science fiction from 1952 to 2010. Although he published under a pseudonym, his obituary listed his career as a freelance writer of SF and fantasy. This leads me to believe he and his family were proud of his writing career. I believe his biggest market was Astounding/Analog. Between 2002 and 2009, he was returned to print by a number of Baen collections of his short fiction. For more information on him, see his entry at ISFDB:

William Sims Bainbridge wrote an article, “The Analytical Laboratory: 1938–1976”, published in Analog in January 1980, the “Fiftieth Anniversary Issue” as noted on the cover. “The Analytical Laboratory” was a regular Astounding/Analog feature that summarized reader feedback/voting on stories. The article notes two very interesting things about Anvil: 1) he published 73 stories in Astounding/Analog in this era, the most of anyone, and 2) for authors with 10 or more stories published in Astounding/Analog in this era, he was rated in 38th place, just behind George O. Smith (known for “Venus Equilateral” stories) and just ahead of Nathan Schachner (best known for his “Kerry Dale/Space Lawyer” stories). Robert A. Heinlein was rated #1 and E. E. “Doc” Smith was rated #2.

I like a lot of Christopher Anvil’s science fiction. As you can see, I have more than a few paperbacks by him.

Thinking about his fiction and looking at comments and reviews, elements of his fiction that were attractive to me included a sometimes zany sense of humor, a different perspective, and twists and plots that get there, sometimes at a breakneck pace. Among others, I am very fond of the first story he published in Astounding under the name “Christopher Anvil”, the 1956 novelette “Pandora’s Planet”. At the same time, I don’t find him a stylist and don’t feel much emotional content to his fiction.

Here is what Martin H. Greenberg and Isaac Asimov had to say in the Introduction to “Not in The Literature”:

I’m not prepared to argue with Asimov and Greenberg, but I still find this story an odd choice for this anthology. It does check the “Analog” box with an author that was well known and prolific and clearly enjoyed by many. However, there are a number of other 1963 stories that I would have expected to find in this anthology before this one.

Curious about how Anvil’s fiction was recognized overall, I took a look at Mark R. Kelley’s Science Fiction Awards Database entry for Anvil: The table below summarizes the SFADB entries. I added information on how the stories ranked in the Astounding/ Analog Analytical Laboratory (AKA “AnLab”) when applicable.

I added an entry to the table for Anvil’s “No Small Enemy”, Analog Nov 1961, which was a Hugo nominee but not a finalist (I assume this is why this story does not appear in SFADB). I saw online sources that called Anvil a Nebula nominee. I did not find anything definite on Anvil works nominated for a Nebula, so I suspect this was also not a finalist.

StoryappearanceAnlab result
“The Prisoner” • Astounding Feb 1956 Anthology: Best SF 5, ed. Edmund Crispin, Faber and Faber 1963#5/5
“Pandora’s Planet” • Astounding Sep 1956Anthologies:
• Analog: Writers’ Choice (Anthology #5), ed. Stanley Schmidt, Davis 1983
• Prologue to Analog, ed. John W. Campbell, Jr., Doubleday 1962
“Torch ” • Astounding Apr 1957Anthology: There Will Be War, Vol. IX: After Armageddon, ed. Jerry Pournelle, Tor 1990#4/5
“The Gentle Earth ” • Astounding Nov 1957Anthologies:
• Future Wars… and Other Punchlines, ed. Hank Davis, Baen 2015
• The World Turned Upside Down, ed. David Drake, Eric Flint & Jim Baen, Baen 2005
Did not place
“The Troublemaker” • Astounding Jul 1960 Anthology: Science Fiction A to Z, ed. Isaac Asimov, Martin H. Greenberg & Charles G. Waugh, Houghton Mifflin 1982#2 (tied)/5
“A Rose by Other Name… ” • Astounding Jan 1960
• International Relations Through Science Fiction, ed. Martin H. Greenberg & Joseph D. Olander, Franklin Watts 1978
• Sixth Annual Edition: The Year’s Best SF, ed. Judith Merril, Dell 1961
“Mind Partner ” • Galaxy Aug 1960Anthologies:
• Isaac Asimov Presents the Great SF Stories #22 (1960), ed. Isaac Asimov & Martin H. Greenberg, DAW 1991
• Neglected Visions, ed. Barry N. Malzberg, Martin H. Greenberg & Joseph D. Olander, Doubleday 1979
• Mind Partner and 8 Other Novelets from Galaxy, ed. H. L. Gold, Doubleday, 1961
“The Hunch” • Analog Jul 1961Anthology: Analog 1, ed. John W. Campbell, Jr., Doubleday 1963#3/5
“No Small Enemy”, Analog, Nov 1961Hugo nominee (not a finalist, not listed in SFADB) #2/4
“Gadget vs. Trend ” • Analog Oct 1962Anthologies:
• Isaac Asimov Presents the Great SF Stories #24 (1962), ed. Isaac Asimov & Martin H. Greenberg, DAW 1992
• Sociology Through Science Fiction, ed. John W. Milstead, Martin H. Greenberg, Joseph D. Olander & Patricia S. Warrick, St. Martin’s 1974
• Spectrum V, ed. Kingsley Amis & Robert Conquest, Gollancz 1966
“Uncalculated Risk” • Analog Mar 1962Anthology: Nightmare Age, ed. Frederik Pohl, Ballantine 1970#3/5
“Not in the Literature ” • Analog Mar 1963 Anthologies:
• Isaac Asimov Presents the Great SF Stories #25 (1963), ed. Isaac Asimov & Martin H. Greenberg, DAW 1992
• Analog 3, ed. John W. Campbell, Jr., Doubleday 1965
“Bill for Delivery” • Analog Nov 1964Anthology: The World’s Best Science Fiction 1965, ed. Donald A. Wollheim & Terry Carr, Ace 1965#4/5
“The Captive Djinn ” • Analog May 1965Anthology: The World’s Best Science Fiction: 1966, ed. Donald A. Wollheim & Terry Carr, Ace 1966#3/5
“Positive Feedback ” • Analog Aug 1965Anthology: Sociology Through Science Fiction, ed. John W. Milstead, Martin H. Greenberg, Joseph D. Olander & Patricia S. Warrick, St. Martin’s 1974#5/5
“Stranglehold” • Analog Jun 1966 (ss)Anthology: Analog 6, ed. John W. Campbell, Doubleday 1968#1/5
“Behind the Sandrat Hoax ” • Galaxy Oct 1968Anthology: The Eleventh Galaxy Reader, ed. Frederik Pohl, Doubleday 1969 
“The Great Intellect Boom” • Analog Jul 1969Anthologies:
• Social Problems Through Science Fiction, ed. Martin H. Greenberg, John W. Milstead, Joseph D. Olander & Patricia S. Warrick, St. Martin’s 1975
• School and Society Through Science Fiction, ed. Joseph D. Olander, Martin H. Greenberg & Patricia S. Warrick, Rand, McNally 1974
“The Claw and the Clock” • Analog Feb 1971Anthology: Space-Fighters, ed. Joe Haldeman, Charles G. Waugh & Martin H. Greenberg, Ace 1988#3/5
“Ideological Defeat ” • Analog Sep 1972
Anthology: There Will Be War, Vol. VI: Guns of Darkness, ed. Jerry Pournelle, Tor 1987#3/5
“The Knife and the Sheath ” • Future KinOriginal Anthology: Future Kin, ed. Roger Elwood, Garden City, NY: Doubleday 1974 
“Negative Feedback ” • short fiction • Analog Mar 1994Analog Readers Poll 1995 — short story3rd place
Christopher Anvil – SFADB

Looking at the SFADB entrees and the corresponding Anlab results, he had two stories that were the top ranked story for that specific issue. He had two more stories that came in 2nd or tied for 2nd. As noted in the Bainbridge article, Analog/Astounding readers favored longer fiction that was serialized. Taking this into account, Anvil’s performance with mostly short fiction is more impressive.

The last one listed, in the era of Analog Readers Polls, placed him at 3rd place for short story in 1994 overall.

He appeared in “Best SF 5”, ed. Edmond Crispin, 1963; “Sixth Annual Edition: The Year’s Best SF”, ed. Judith Merril, 1961; “The World’s Best Science Fiction 1965”, ed. Donald A. Wollheim & Terry Carr, 1965; and “The World’s Best Science Fiction: 1966”, ed. Donald A. Wollheim & Terry Carr, 1966. That is a fair amount of “Best Of” appearances for a journeyman author.

Even though I wonder about his inclusion here, he and this story were clearly attractive enough to Asimov/Greenberg for inclusion in “The Great SF Stories #25”. Noting the other “Best Of” appearances, he was attractive to and valued by both editors and readers.

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