The Ascent of Wonder: The Evolution of Hard SF (Tor, 1994) is a delightful volume collecting almost 70 hard sci-fi short stories. The authors represented range from the father figures of science fiction (Poe, Wells, Verne) to the classics (Asimov, Clarke) to more modern figures like Niven, Brin, and Gibson.
I'm having scads of fun jumping around this thousand page tome, reading whatever catches my eye as I flip through. The editors do a good job introducing each author, trying hard in a few paragraphs to give some personal history and to attempt to fit the author's work into the overall dialog of the genre.
I'm no expert on science fiction and my tastes generally run more towards trashy space operatics and sword & planet stuff, but I give Ascent of Wonder a hearty recommendation.
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