The Ansible Editions Algis Budrys project comprises three trade paperback volumes which between them contain the whole of Budrys's substantial critical achievement at The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, following on from his acclaimed Galaxy magazine reviews (as already collected in the award-winning 1985 Benchmarks: Galaxy Bookshelf).
Budrys wrote 156 "Books" columns for F&SF, plus an additional essay of appreciation for the special Stephen King issue, in all totalling more than 467,000 words.
Benchmarks Continued: F&SF "Books" Columns 1975-1982, released in November 2012, contains the first third of this material. The saga continues in Benchmarks Revisited: F&SF "Books" Columns 1983-1986 and the sequence is completed in Benchmarks Concluded: F&SF "Books" Columns 1987-1993, both published on 1 July 2013. All three are available through the Ansible Editions "spotlight page" at Lulu.com and have since been released as Ansible Editions ebooks.
The photograph above, of Algis Budrys in the 1960s, appears by kind permission of Edna Budrys – who has also authorized this collected edition of the F&SF review columns.
- Algis Budrys in The Science Fiction Encyclopedia: Third Edition
- Algis Budrys book covers in the SF Encyclopedia Picture Gallery
- Algis Budrys in ISFDB
- "About Something Truly Wonderful" (November 1961 F&SF article, reprinted in Tangent Online)
From the Introduction to Benchmarks Continued
Algis Budrys (1931-2008) was a noted science fiction author – his Rogue Moon in particular is an acclaimed classic – who also wrote much memorable and witty criticism of the field. His 1985 volume Benchmarks: Galaxy Bookshelf, assembling the review columns he published in Galaxy magazine from 1965 to 1971, is one of the few single-author books about SF to be as highly regarded as the pioneer works In Search of Wonder (1956; expanded 1967, 1996) by Damon Knight, New Maps of Hell (1960) by Kingsley Amis and The Issue at Hand (1964) and More Issues at Hand (1970) by James Blish.
In his final Galaxy column, Budrys signed off with a hint that he might return to regular reviewing:
... your faithful reviewer has no further grounds for believing himself even marginally competent. It has been about five years, I thank you for your attention, and I am hanging it up.
But not irretrievably.
He returned in September 1975 for a first "Books" column in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, where his stint continued – though not in every issue – until January 1993. In June 1985 he did not omit to cover his own Benchmarks: Galaxy Bookshelf, and happily recorded in October 1986 that it had won the Locus Award as best nonfiction. That same F&SF column announced his plans for a further collection of the F&SF reviews:
... it will be out some time in late 1987, I imagine. It will be called by some variation of Benchmarks ...
It was still forthcoming when Budrys wrote his February 1989 F&SF piece and named the intending publishers, Southern Illinois University Press, who had also produced Benchmarks. By the time of his January 1993 farewell to F&SF reviewing, the publication date had slipped further – "one of these days not so soon now. Busy, busy, busy." – and without achieving quite the legendary status of The Last Dangerous Visions, the promised follow-up to Benchmarks has never appeared until now.
Budrys's total accumulated F&SF review wordage was considerable, longer in fact than Dune or The Lord of the Rings. The present volume contains almost exactly the first third of this hefty achievement: 47 columns published from September 1975 to November 1982. If it's well received, there will be more.
Benchmarks won a Locus Award as best nonfiction about the SF genre; Algis Budrys received the 2007 Pilgrim Award for life achievement in SF and fantasy scholarship.