In a near future USA an obscure inventor creates the Gizmo—a device which can duplicate anything, including itself. The social and economic implications of this machine are explored in a brilliant and terrifying extrapolation. Damon Knight is an SFFWA Grandmaster.

What would happen if someone invented a machine that could duplicate anything? That is the simple but remarkable premise of Damon Knight’s classic 1959 novel, A for Anything. “The Gismo,” as the machine is known, seems like it will end poverty and need forever. But of course, things are not that simple. Like any truly great work of science fiction, Knight’s novel boldly pursues the ramifications of this premise. What will people do if there is no longer any need to work for anything? What happens if this device is spread carelessly throughout the world? Finally, there is the supreme and most chilling of question: what happens if you try to duplicate a human being?

A for Anything is a classic work of science fiction, but it considers questions that are as relevant and compelling today as they were fifty years ago, perhaps more so. Like most of us, Knight watches the mind-boggling technological advancements of our time with a mixture of awe and alarm, and wonders whether we are really in control of the things we are creating. Knight has put his finger on the pulse of our modern sensibility and, mixed with his truly remarkable imagination, created a novel that is gripping, thought-provoking and impossible to put down.

Author Description

Damon Knight (1922-2002) was another GALAXY mainstay establishing and extending the reach of the acid satire at the heart of what Gold took to be the magazine’s mission. His short story, TO SERVE MAN, which appeared in GALAXY’s second issue (November 1950), may be the most famous short work the magazine ever published. Knight, born in Hood River, Oregon, reached some kind of prominence as a fan critic in a 1945 essay demolishing Van Vogt’s WORLD OF NULL A; shortly after its publication the still teenage Knight came to Brooklyn to join the Futurians. He edited pulp magazines for Pine and Hillman publications, worked briefly in the fee department of the Scott Meredith Agency and achieved prominence as a writer in the early 50’s. He is regarded as among the very best short story writers in science fiction history; his novels never achieved the level of his shorter work although one, A FOR ANYTHING (1955) is memorable. He founded the Milford Writers Conference and somewhat later the Science Fiction Writers of America of which he was its first President. Editorially, Knight originated the influential original anthology series, ORBIT and brought several important novels (such as Disch’s GENOCIDES) to Berkley Books. With his third wife, the distinguished writer Kate Wilhelm, he founded the Clarion Writing Program and taught there for decades. In 1995 he was named an SFWA Grand Master and a year after his death the award was renamed the "Damon Knight Grand Master Award".

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