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book-date: 1974
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Design/illustration: David Pelham

If this seems pricey - blame the Koontz story. Ever since he became a best-selling author, anything containing his early work commands a premium price.

Penguin 1975 paperback (matches the 1974 American Charterhouse hardcover, although one note I've seen suggests that 3 stories are longer versions of stories that the authors felt had been substantially cut for the Charterhouse edition.) Cover by David Pelham, 284 pages, 75 pence or $2.50 U.S.A. cover price. Condition is near-Fine: tight and square with flat spine; spine has some edgewear front & back; age tanning is mild to moderate and uniform (I'm not sure you can find better, given the paper quality); faint line next to spine on back cover (see scans.) This looks new/unread, with some shelfwear.

Final Stage: The Ultimate Science Fiction Anthology. Editors Edward L. Ferman & Barry N. Malzberg commissioned these stories from authors who "were selected not only for their clear accomplishments and gifts, but because the thrust of each writer's work seemed to qualify him or her to write the ultimate story on the theme asignedů Each contributor was asked to write an afterword commenting on the assigned theme and to submit a list of novels and stories that would include a) works he believed to be classics of the theme, b) works that had influenced his own story, and c) at least one of his own pieces." What they were looking for was "an anthology of ultimates: stories that carry these basic themes as far as possible given the current state of the art, stories that function both as an ending and a beginning." (The theme for each story is listed above the title.) The only American edition was the original hardcover (from a not very well known publisher); the edition offered here is the first British paperback edition from the following year - making this a very hard to find anthology of original stories by "big-name" authors.

(Introduction by Edward L. Ferman & Barry N. Malzberg)
...First Contact:
"We Purchased People" by Frederik Pohl
...The Exploration of Space:
"The Voortrekkers" by Poul Anderson
"Great Escape Tours, Inc." by Kit Reed
...Inner Space:
"Diagrams for Three Enigmatic Stories" (The Girl in the Tau-Dream / The Immobility Crew / A Cultural Side Effect) by Brian W. Aldiss
...Robots and Androids:
"That Thou Art Mindful of Him!" by Isaac Asimov (reprinted from Magazine of F&SF May 1974; nominated for Hugo award)
...Strange Children:
"We Three" by Dean R. Koontz
...Future Sex:
"An Old Fashioned Girl" by Joanna Russ (formed part of The Female Man)
"Catman" by Harlan Ellison
...Space Opera:
"Space Rats of the CCC" by Harry Harrison
...Alternate Universes:
"Trips" by Robert Silverberg
...The Uncontrolled Machine:
"The Wonderful, All-Purpose Transmogrifier" by Barry N. Malzberg
...After the Holocaust:
"Her Smoke Rose Up Forever" by James Tiptree, Jr.
...Time Travel:
"A Little Something for Us Tempunauts" by Philip K. Dick