Terry Brooks recalls Lester del Rey as being "not physically imposing, barely over 5 feet, rather hollow-cheeked and frail-looking." But "when Lester looked at you, he peered through his thick glasses in the same way a botanist might study an interesting specimen." A legendary editor whose exploits included scooping up untried unknowns like Stephen R. Donaldson, David Eddings, and Brooks himself (not to mention the coup of snagging the rights to Star Wars), the eccentric del Rey is one of SF's elite old guard, widely respected for years as a publisher and critic. But, as Brooks points out in this book's introduction, del Rey also slugged it out in the trenches, writing for John W. Campbell and others in the glory days of Unknown, Astounding Science Fiction, et al. ("In those days of long ago, any sale to John W. Campbell was something of a triumph," del Rey recalls.)|
This collection pulls together del Rey's best short works from the '30s, '40s, and '50s, including many of his personal favorites and more than a couple that sprouted from ideas passed on by Campbell himself. Some of the 16 stories here show their age in places, but all reflect del Rey's inventive, often opinionated, top-shelf mind. Whether it's a classic tale of boy-builds-robot, boy-falls-in-love-with-robot, or a Rip Van Winkle-style riff on an elven tinker who's frustrated by modern alloys, del Rey always stuck to the big ideas that brought him--and us--to sci-fi in the first place.