Penguin Galaxy: a boxed set of six science fiction greats, introduced by Neil Gaiman


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Last October, Penguin released its Galaxy boxed set, a $133 set of six hardcover reprints of some of science fiction’s most canonical titles: The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K LeGuin; Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A Heinlein; 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C Clarke; Dune by Frank Herbert; The Once and Future King by TH White; and Neuromancer, by William Gibson.


They do look nice together on the shelf as a boxed set, but some of us enjoy “fussy dust jackets”! And because the boards are not cloth-backed, each book feels (to me, anyway) like a lightweight book club edition. I would also have preferred a separate, full-length introduction from Mr. Gaiman to each of these undeniably important books - I am certain he has much more to say about each one!


I’ve read two-thirds of these. About time I completed the set.


The spines are “upside-down”

Alas, that’s something that drives me nuts.

(for English-language books – they run bottom to top, as is normal for most other languages),

Then other languages are doing it wrong. Lots of languages are written left to right. Some are even written top to bottom. Zero are written bottom to top.


drool. Alas, I don’t really have the space for those. They would go into a box after reading them.

someday though…


The once and future king, despite Merlin’s timey-wimeyness, is not generally considered science fiction.

And I don’t know that Stranger in a Strange land, despite Heinlein’s perversions, is generally considered great.


Now I don’t have to be that guy. Thanks, @rasmussen_bryan!


Living in a city that is mostly French, but with a significant mix of English, the fact that the two languages write title in opposite directions makes my life much easier when I am searching for English books in an unsorted shelf.


The box set is not available to buy, but seems like you can buy all the books individually on Amazon.


No Vonnegut? What’s up with that?


I’ve lived my life as that guy, thanks appreciated.


As I haven’t read them, are any of these good to read with kids?


Sometimes the Amazon “you might also like” gets it very wrong, other times… not so much.

Just dropping this here because it’s kinda neat and some mutants might enjoy it too.


That depends on which two you haven’t read.

One of the six really isn’t worth the time it takes, if you ask me.


Since I managed to get out from under those literal piles of novels, I’m pretty strict about what I’ll own in physical form. The set looks really good, and I’d be happy to have The Left Hand of Darkness on my shelf, and Neuromancer I guess (plus I haven’t read that for years). If 2001 is part of the set that’s fine.

But Stranger in a Strange Land and especially Dune, I would have misgivings about. I mean, that’s shelf space that could be occupied by authors who weren’t homophobic assholes.

(I haven’t read The Once and Future King)

I can kind of see how people (like Neil Gaiman) decide to just keep every novel they ever read, in a colossal mountain that avoids any of this kind of value judgment. But since that’s physically impossible, it makes me think I should unsentimentally purge all novels.

I bet that’s not the train of thought the creators of this series were hoping to inspire.


“Once and Future King” is probably the only one that’s of interest to kids that are still reading with their parents (basically the childhood years of King Arthur, where Merlin lives backwards through time; was made by Disney as “The Sword in the Stone”). Even that may be a little advanced.


The Sword in the Stone is only the first volume of the book. The second part introduces incest and the third part adultery. It really ends up going downhill for Arthur. It gets fairly grim and complicated. I wouldn’t expect any parent to read anything more than the first section to their child.


And the cover design for that book doesn’t match the other five, IMO.


Haha. Oops. I have the individual volumes as separate novels, and I misremebered the first one as actually being called Once and Future King, and full of boy-becomes-various-animals whimsy. Thanks for the correction.


I’m frequently that guy. 2001 is far from Clarke’s strongest work IMO, and in fact is a novelization of his screenplay written with Kubrick based on his short story The Sentinal.

As for not reading homophobes from the past, you’re ruling out most writers. Sadly that was the way it was, and IIRC Heinlein’s characters Jubal Harshaw and Lazarus Long weren’t homophobic, they just said they didn’t swing that way. Heinlein wrote a lot of nonstandard sexual stuff, for God’s sake he had a character go back in time and fuck his mother, give him a little credit.