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Orbit (anthology series)

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Title: Orbit (anthology series)  
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Subject: Gene Wolfe bibliography, Kim Stanley Robinson, Hugo Award for Best Novelette, Moopsball, Stepan Chapman
Collection: Science Fiction Anthology Series, Science Fiction Book Series
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Orbit (anthology series)

Orbit was a long-running series of anthologies of new fiction edited by Damon Knight, often featuring work by such writers as Gene Wolfe, Joanna Russ, R. A. Lafferty, and Kate Wilhelm, who was married to Knight. The anthologies tended toward the avant-garde edge of science fiction, but by no means exclusively; occasionally the volumes would feature some nonfiction critical writing or humorous anecdotes by Knight. Inspired by Frederik Pohl's Star Science Fiction series, and in its turn an influence on Harlan Ellison's Dangerous Visions volumes and many others, it ran for over a decade and twenty-one volumes, not including a "Best-of" collection which covered the years 1966-1976.


  • Orbit 1 1
  • Orbit 2 2
  • Orbit 3 3
  • Orbit 4 4
  • Orbit 5 5
  • Orbit 6 6
  • Orbit 7 7
  • Orbit 8 8
  • Orbit 9 9
  • Orbit 10 10
  • Orbit 11 11
  • Orbit 12 12
  • Orbit 13 13
  • Orbit 16 14
  • Orbit 19 15
  • References 16
  • External links 17

Orbit 1

Volume 1 was published in October 1966. Algis Budrys described it as an example of "a book that represents science fiction well, but not to any extraordinary extent."[1]

Table of contents:

Orbit 2

Volume 2 was published in 1967, and edited by Damon Knight. Budrys received it without enthusiasm, saying "It is more a sign that Damon's heart is in the right place than it is a really satisfactory book." [2]

Table of contents:

  • "Full Sun", short story by Brian W Aldiss written in 1967, with a werewolf theme. Republished in 1968 World's Best Science Fiction fourth edition.[3] and Creatures from beyond: Nine stories of science fiction and fantasy [4]
  • "Trip, Trap", short story by Gene Wolfe

Orbit 3

Volume 3 was published in 1968, and edited by Damon Knight. Algis Budrys found the volume "happens to contain some remarkable work," although he faulted the jacket copy as overpromotional.[5]

Table of contents: (incomplete)

Orbit 4

Volume 4 was published in 1968, and edited by Damon Knight.

Table of contents:

Orbit 5

Volume 5 was published September 1969 by G.P. Putnam's Sons. It was reprinted in October 1969 by Putnam, December 1969 by Berkley Medallion, and November 1970 in the UK by Rapp & Whiting. It was edited by Damon Knight[6] Barry Malzberg wrote that the anthology "doesn't, somehow, seem to be at the same high level of ambition or accomplishment as the earlier volumes," but singled out "The Big Flash" for praise, declaring "The last pages of this story may be one of the strongest experiences available in modern American fiction."[7]

Table of contents:

  • "Somerset Dreams", short story by Kate Wilhelm
  • "The Roads, The Roads, The Beautiful Roads", short story by Avram Davidson, written in 1969, reprinted in the anthology Car Sinister[8] The head of a state highway department, whose highest passion in life is designing highways even if they are not needed, is driving on one of the highways he built. He takes the wrong exit and ends up in a closed off tunnel where a highway minotaur attacks him.

From the story, "The roads, the roads were engineered beautifully. It was the stupid bastard "people" who were engineered wrong." [9]

  • "Look, You Think you've Got Troubles", short story by Carol Carr, about a non-religious Jewish family whose daughter marries an alien who subsequently converts to Judaism.
  • "Winter's King", short story by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • "The Time Machine=", short story by Langdon Jones, with a prisoner reminiscing about an affair he had with a married woman.
  • "Configuration of the North Shore", short story by R.A. Lafferty about a psychiatrist exploring a patient's extraordinary dream that could lead to the ultimate fulfillment of human existence.
  • "Paul's Treehouse", short story by Gene Wolfe
  • "The Price", short story by Robert S. Richardson written under the pen name Philip Latham. A professor notices that racing scores have dramatically improved and proposes that it is due to space shrinking.
  • "Winston", short story by Kit Reed,[10] written in 1969 [11] and reprinted in 1976 in the anthology The Killer Mice and in 1981 in the collection Other Stories and...The Attack of the Giant Baby.[12] A family purchases a child bred for intelligence, but neglects it and beats it until it suffers irreparable brain damage. In its brain damaged state the mother finally views it as a normal child.
  • "The History Makers", short story by James Sallis, written in 1969. The story is told in a series of letters from a person known as Jim to his brother John. He writes about his stay on an alien planet. The beings there live in an "alternate time span" whereby interaction with humans is nearly impossible. Over the course of the planet's "day" the inhabitants build a city from a rude village. Over the course of the day of city gains in size until it becomes a major metropolises. Than as the day ends the inhabitants began to go through a change. Most go comatose, while others began insanely destroying their city. Eventually the entire city, nicknamed Siva, including ruins is destroyed.
  • Quotes

"All my faces had run together like cheap watercolor." [13]

  • The Big flash

A short story by Norman Spinrad. Which won the Nebula Award for Best Novelette The pentagon hatches a plan to use atomic warfare in Vietnam War. It had been determined that a single nuclear attack would destroy 2/3 of the enemy's fighting force. In order to get the American population to go along with the idea of nuclear warfare, the pentagon gets a band formed called the four horseman. The band's theme is advocacy of nuclear warfare [14] By funneling money to them the military is able to get them very popular.

Orbit 6

Edited by Damon Knight

Table of contents:

  • "Remembrance to Come", short story by Gene Wolfe
  • "How the Whip Came Back", short story by Gene Wolfe

Orbit 7

Edited by Damon Knight

Table of contents:

Orbit 8

Published in 1970 by G.P. Putnam's Sons and edited by Damon Knight.

Table of contents:

  • Notable quote

"A man in an automobile is worth a thousand men on foot" [22]

Orbit 9

Edited by Damon Knight, published by Putnam Books in 1971.

Theodore Sturgeon found the anthology "fascinating," saying "I profoundly admire what Knight is doing here."[23]

Orbit 10

Edited by Damon Knight, published in 1972.[24]

Orbit 11

Edited by Damon Knight, published in 1973.

"If the human race ever stops acting on the basis of what it thinks it knows, paralyzed by fear that its knowledge may be wrong, then Homo sapiens will be making its application for membership in the dinosaur club."[25]

Orbit 12

Edited by Damon Knight

  • Table of Contents:
  • "Shark" by Edward Bryant
  • "Direction of the Road" by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • "The Windows in Dante's Hell" by Michael Bishop
  • "Four Stories" by Brian W. Aldiss
  • "Serpent Burning on an Alter"
  • "Woman in Sunlight with Mandoline"
  • "The Young Soldier's Horoscope"
  • "Castle Scene with Penitents"
  • "The Red Canary" by Kate Wilhelm
  • "What's the Matter With Herbie?" by Mel Gilden
  • "Pinup" by Edward Bryant
  • "The Genius Freaks" by Vonda N. McIntyre
  • "Burger Creature" by Steve Chapman
  • "Half the Kingdom" by Doris Piserchia
  • "Continuing Westward" by Gene Wolfe
  • Arcs and Secants Afterword

Orbit 13

Edited by Damon Knight

  • Table of Contents:
  • "The Scream" by Kate Wilhelm
  • "Young Love" by Grania Davis
  • "And Name My Name" by R. A. Lafferty
  • "Going West" by Edward Bryant
  • "My Friend Zarathustra" by James Sallis
  • "Therapy" by Gary K. Wolf
  • "Gardening Notes From All Over" by W. Macfarlane
  • "Idio" by Doris Piserchia

Orbit 16

Table of contents:

Spider Robinson dismissed the anthology as minor and disappointing, noting that most of the stories were "manifestly by newcomers, first sales or nearly so."[26]

Orbit 19

Edited by Damon Knight

  • Table of Contents:
  • They Say - Forward
  • "Lollipop and the Tar Baby" by John Varley
  • "State of Grace" by Kate Wilhelm
  • "Many Mansions" by Gene Wolfe
  • "The Veil Over the River" by Felix C. Gotschalk
  • "Fall of Pebble-Sky" by R. A. Lafferty
  • Memory Machine - Quotes
  • "Tomus" by Stephen Robinett
  • "Under Jupiter" by Michael W. McClintock
  • "To the Dark Tower Came" by Gene Wolfe
  • "Vamp" by Michael Conner
  • "Being of Game P-U" by Phillip Teich
  • "Night Shift" by Kevin O'Donnell, Jr.
  • "Going Down" by Eleanor Arnason
  • "The Disguise" by Kim Stanley Robinson
  • Arcs and Secants - Afterword


  1. ^ "Galaxy Bookshelf", Galaxy Science Fiction, October 1966, p.157
  2. ^ "Galaxy Bookshelf", Galaxy Science Fiction, December 1967, pp.192
  3. ^ World's Best Science Fiction : 1968. Donald Wollheim/Terry Carr (eds), 1968.
  4. ^ "Creatures from Beyond: Nine Stories of Science Fiction and Fantasy: Terry Carr: 9780840764591: Books". 
  5. ^ "Galaxy Bookshelf", Galaxy Science Fiction, February 1969, pp.184-86
  6. ^ "Bibliography: The Time Machine". 
  7. ^ "Books," F&SF, May 1970, p.27-8
  8. ^ "The Roads, the Roads, the Beautiful Roads". 
  9. ^ "Science Fiction Quotations". 
  10. ^ "Kit Reed". 
  11. ^ "Teosed". 
  12. ^ "Winston". 
  13. ^ "James Sallis Web Pages - Themes". 
  14. ^ "American Science Fiction and the Cold War". 
  15. ^ "Stories, Listed by Author". 
  16. ^ "Stories, Listed by Author". 
  17. ^ "Stories, Listed by Author". 
  18. ^ R. A. Lafferty papers - Indexes; Collected Works
  19. ^ "Lafferty Collections". 
  20. ^ "Uchronia: Interurban Queen". 
  21. ^ Garlic fries and Ichirolls
  22. ^ "Science Fiction Quotations". 
  23. ^ "Galaxy Bookshelf", Galaxy Science Fiction, March 1972, pp.87
  24. ^ "Damon Knight's Orbit 10 (Open Library)". 
  25. ^ "Henry ("Hank") T. Davis Quotes - 1 Science Quotes - Dictionary of Science Quotations and Scientist Quotes". 
  26. ^ "Galaxy Bookshelf", Galaxy Science Fiction, October 1975, pp.145-46

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