This Way to the End Times is exactly what the title advertises, a nice, thick collection of science fiction and speculative stories about the end of the world. Robert Silverberg, himself an award winning science fiction writer, has a deft touch in choosing the stories, and has done his homework to pull together stories that, while thematically connected, present wildly different views of how the world might end, which gives the reader far more options that Robert Frost’s “fire or ice.”
The stories are presented in roughly chronological order, with the earliest, from Jules Verne, preceding the actual acknowledgement of science fiction as a genre. Readers looking for hard SF will be disappointed, as many of the stories, especially the older ones tiptoe along the line with speculative fiction more than science fiction proper, but open minded readers will very much enjoy this collection. Not only does it give a good overview of the history of science fiction, with Silverberg going to some effort to find and pull together rare stories from 20th century magazine fiction, but the collection is also far more uplifting than a collection of stories about the apocalypse has any right to be. There are some stories that do take a bleak view of humanity and our ending; however, many of the stories show the optimistic side to science fiction, celebrating human hope, ingenuity, and connection right up until the moment of our own deaths. This collection is more historically focused, and the contemporary writers featured are largely established figures of the genre, but this anthology is still worth the time and effort to seek, if only to see the redeeming features of humanity for a few minutes.
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