The first volume collects most of Sturgeon’s early work, most of which isn’t speculative fiction of any brand. The best description for his early non-speculative fiction is hack writing, but even there you can see a writer who knows how to entertain readers. Regarding his early speculative fiction, I didn’t expected how much of it I would like.
It’s all over the map, some fantasy, some horror, some science fiction in the broadest sense, some stuff that dances on the borders between the genres. Most of it is entertaining, well written stories, many very clever, but none if it is really heady stuff, with maybe the exclusion of ‘Bianca’s Hands’. This is one story that really stands out in this volume, it’s very different from everything else here. A rather chilling horror story that feels as if it came from a much more mature writer than the one Sturgeon was at that time. Even the two other stories I liked nearly equally, ‘A God in a Garden’ and ‘The Ultimate Egoist’ pale in comparison to it.
Overall this book is something for people who want to read all of Sturgeon’s short work, and since especially this first volume has many of his minor pieces, not for the casual reader.