First of a three-volume series, this book collects tales of imagination from the last couple of centuries. These are not specifically science fiction, or fantasy, or horror stories, but somewhere in the middle.
Robert Silverberg looks at a far-future human society that no longer believes in myths, so a great machine is built to bring to life mythical figures from throughout human history. Among those recreated were Adam and Eve, Odysseus, Shiva, Dionysus, Thor, St. George and St. Jude. It also recreated more modern figures who became mythical, like Galileo, Newton, Freud, Einstein and John Kennedy. After fifty years, humanity gets bored with them, so all of them are sent back into the machine. Then the invaders come and enslave humanity.
There is an excerpt from a longer piece written in 1895 by Robert W. Chambers. It explores 1930s New York City in a parallel reality, and is about the opening of the first public suicide chamber. A story from 1901 is about a man found insane and uncommunicative in an isolated area. Later, a diary is found that describes him abruptly quitting his job, living in the isolated area, becoming sick of all human contact, and convincing himself that he is a god. Elvis Presley returns to America from the Army to bear witness to a weird and jumbled timeline of death. There is a portion of a play from early 1900s German Expressionism. Included in this volume are tales by Ambrose Bierce, Algernon Blackwood and Guy de Maupassant.
This is what they mean when they talk about "great imaginative literature." These authors helped to create the fantasy and science fiction genres. There is something here for everyone, and it is highly recommended.
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