Budrys Benchmarks

BENCHMARKS CONTINUED: F&SF “BOOKS” COLUMNS 1975-1982, BENCHMARKS REVISITED: F&SF “BOOKS” COLUMNS 1983-1986, and BENCHMARKS CONCLUDED: F&SF “BOOKS” COLUMNS 1987-1993, all published by Ansible Editions, form a complete three-volume collected edition of Algis Budrys‘s classic Science Fiction review columns from The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. The first volume was published 30th November 2012, and the second and third were published at the beginning of last month.


Budrys is one of the grand masters of Golden Age Science Fiction and Fantasy. Born January 9th 1931, in Kaliningrad, before eventually emigrating to the United States, he was a prolific writer of short stories, novels, and genre-focused non-fiction. Over the course of his long career, he would produce some now-classic SF novels – for example, ROGUE MOON, MICHAELMAS, and WHO? (which was recently re-issued as part of the Library of America’s collection AMERICAN SCIENCE FICTION: CLASSIC NOVELS OF THE 1950s). Budrys also influenced the growth of the genre as a agent, critic and mentor of new authors. The Benchmarks series is a project that has brought some of his greatest non-fiction writing back into print, and are a must for any devotee of SF and the genre’s history.

Algis Budrys sadly passed away June 9th 2008, in Evanston, USA. Here’s what some people have said about Budrys and his work…

‘Although he never received a major award – he turned down the author emeritus award from the Science Fiction Writers of America in 2005 – his small canon of novels and 200 short stories were critically well received for what the influential author and futurologist Charles Platt called their “depth, humanity, and political sophistication”.’  —  The Guardian (Obituary)

‘Algis Budrys was one of the handful of literary geniuses who have found that science fiction is the field most open to the exploration of their deepest personal convictions’  —  Tim Powers

‘The most terrifying pages in any SF novel I have ever read’  —  Robert Silverberg on ROGUE MOON

‘Budrys is incapable of writing anything less than a deeply thoughtful book. This one is sometimes a bit aridly written, sometimes fiercely charged, always full of fine invention. One of the season’s more important offerings.’  —  Kirkus on MICHAELMAS (Starred Review)

‘… his three major novels — , and MICHAELMAS — are an achievement of central importance to the SF field, all the more because each tries to do something different, with an approach and structure reshaped each time.’  —  Locus

‘This study of the human psyche has an incredible amount of power which when combined with the study of relationships and exploration of that final frontier – the inevitable truth that is death – creates a unique and breathtaking novel that simply has no equal, a true classic in every sense.’  —  SF Book Review on ROGUE MOON

‘… a tight, taught thriller packed full with wonderful ideas and it’s beautifully written… a great plot and a sense of wonder…’  —  SF Reviews on MICHAELMAS

And, finally, we leave you with this quotation from the man himself, about what Science Fiction and Fantasy actually do…

‘What science fiction does – and fantasy, too – is speculate about the nature of things. SF frequently turns to the past. All kinds of SF and fantasy is set centuries in the past. People forget that when they talk about SF as a medium for predicting the future. You’re bound to predict a few things, but that’s just coincidence. That’s not what SF is for. SF is for speculating, not predicting.’  —  Algis Budrys (1997)

Gollancz’s SF Gateway offers Budrys’s 1985 BENCHMARKS: GALAXY BOOKSHELF as an eBook; this collects his earlier reviews for Galaxy magazine. The three new BENCHMARKS collections (there is no overlap) are forthcoming in e-format from Ansible Editions.

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