Harlan Ellison: Again Dangerous Visions

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Role of the critic The Dangerous Visions anthologies were a great idea and the two that were published had an impact that could be felt beyond the SFF world Yet the warning signs for the project going off the rails could clearly be seen in ADV even if Locus picked it as the best original anthology published in 1972 It s probably for the best that The Last Dangerous Visions never appeared because it simply could not have lived up to its hype What s sad is that the stories got bumped into that stillborn volume never had the opportunity to feed their author s careers aside from cover letters where they might have been listed as a sale The other sad part of the whole debacle is how it continually cast a cloud over Ellison s career even until the very end For a good part of my senior year of high school 1973 I carried a copy around with my notebook sneaking reads when I could It did to prepare me for the future I would soon be living in than all my boring classes It would deeply disturb today s high schoolers but it would do them a lot of good Age appropriate is for losers Man most of these stories are extremely bad Some of the standouts include the Le Guin and the Tiptree and the Hollis and perhaps the Vonnegut but even then man I don t now There is one fun bagatelle about the legal implications of cryogenics that reads like droll sci fi Thackeray and HH Hollis story about LSD lawyering was also spry but these do not justify the many many bad stories you will read Really the only reason to read this collection is if you have any Talk to Me kind of fascination with theinetic and utterly self involved world of seventies sci fi a world that is rather dead now and which was charming without ever actually being very relevant or producing any stand out writers I have such a fascination reading this collection was my own faultThere is a Piers Anthony story about a PARALLEL DIMENSION where all dairy products come from milking human women that is pretty jaw dropping and would make a great short film for Lars Von Trier perhaps but which cannot be taken seriously on its own merits at all no matter what dimension you are from Reading the explanation in the afterword of this piece where it is explained that it is a parable about animal cruelty I was uhunpersuadedthat it was not just an elaborate disturbing specific jolly fucked up sex fantasy I liked it on that level I guess but DAMN who was this story for Now we have Smashwords for such dangerous visions I guessI like reading bad books but I cannot recommend this to anyone unless you like journeying into REALMS OF THE MISGUIDED AND CRANKY AND SELF INDULGENT AND DEAD IN SPIRIT Sometimes the worst thing that can happen is to be successful Because your next thing has to surpass your first success Just ask the guy who came up with the idea of pet rocksHarlan Ellison probably Silver Mortal (The Gracen Chronicles, knows what I am talking about Dangerous Visions was a raging success It is still the definitive sci fi anthology of the last half of the 20th century It was a risk and a risk well taken So of course there had to be a seuelBut in Again Dangerous Visions the writersnow the score Be ground breaking Be controversial Be different So what we get is 46 authors in 800 plus pages trying to out innovate the others and trying too hard The result is an uneven set of stories that pale to the original collection That isn t to say there are not some nice tales here It just isn t Dangerous VisionsUpdate Today I took this off my shelf and looked at the inscription Ellison wrote for me on the title page It reads I never wanted to edit this book Pretty much sums it up. Hine Saxton Ken McCullough David Kerr Burt K Filer Richard Hill Leonard Tushnet Ben Bova Dean R Koontz James Blish and Judith Ann Lawrence A Parra y Figueredo Thomas M Disch Richard A Lupoff M John Harrison Robin Scott Andrew Weiner Terry Carr James Tiptree

Power of science fiction when it s done well and done correctlyThere are some other good stories in this 46 story anthology as well Ching Witch by Ross Rocklynne is one of the funniest stories that incorporates a cat H H Hollis Stoned Counsel is an interesting idea of how legal work could be transformed in the future through hallucinogens The two stories by Bernard Wolfe The Bisuit Position and The Girl With Rapid Eye Movements are unusual and strange in their mixture of 70s cultural themes Vietnam war sleep research with 50s era style world weary protagonists caught up in weirdness Gregory Benford s And the Sea Like Mirrors predates Stephen King by a decade containing much of what has become King s stock in trade a horrific world in which an everyman tries to survive But the majority of these stories are simply meh and in some instances downright awful One story in particular Richard Lupoff s With the Bentfin Boomer Boys on Little Old Alabama was so annoying ie made up language similar to Russell Hoban s Riddley Walker I skimmed it after the first section And it s not hard to discover why this may be because the very process of putting this anthology together can be pieced together from the introductions and afterwords The culprit Ellison s increasing need to grandstand to puff up the book and himself One of the earliest things you learn is that this huge volume comprises only half of what Ellison had accepted and bought and that it became so large he and the publisher agreed to release this volume and then one called The Last Dangerous Visions later so much later that it never appeared Grandstanding The best example of which can be read in the introduction and afterword to Bed Sheets are White by Evelyn Lief which is of a story than the story itself Basically Ellison shows up at Clarion determined to be a holy terror to the students by tearing apart their stories on the first day of his week In the afterword Lief reports that Ellison said this about her story that first morning This story is trite and schoolgirlish It s the perfect example of every single thing that can be done wrong all in one piece of writing She goes back to her room and writes DAMN YOU HARLAN ELLISON on a sign and hangs it above her typewriter and then proceeds to write something that he will like He likes it and immediately buys it for Again Dangerous VisionsAnd that would be a beautiful story if Bed Sheets are White was any good but it s not It s short enough that you can forgive it for being mediocre but Ellison lauds it as on par with Le Guin or Russ or Benford Sorry not even close What the foreword by Ellison and afterword by Lief depict is Ellison s increasing role in the creation of not only the book but the stories themselves as he started to see himself as the great savior of literature challenging both established authors and beginning students and becoming their benefactor muse and daemon It becomes all about him both from his standpoint and the author s And thus when it fails to be about the story things fall apartUnlike others before me who ve laid criticism at Ellison s feet his recent departure from this world means I have no fear of a late night phone call or sharply worded threat made in a public place The thing is I ve always liked Ellison s writing his short story and essay collections were meat and potatoes to me in my formative years and I loved his zeal and passion to champion perceived and real injustices in the world In particular his essays in The Glass Teat and The Other Glass Teat were early influences on how I viewed popular entertainment and the. D Oliver Edward Bryant Kate Wilhelm James B Hemesath Joanna Russ Kurt Vonnegut T L Sherred K M O'Donnell Barry N Malzberg H H Hollis Bernard Wolfe David Gerrold Piers Anthony Lee Hoffman Gahan Wilson Joan Bernott Gregory Benford Evelyn Lief James Sallis Josep.

I won t write on everything in the collection I wrote about The Word for World is Forest by Le Guin on the novella s own page since it was so long and fantastic on its own On an interesting side note these stories are certainly of an era with a good number of them concerned greatly by overpopulation and many also being environmentally focused It makes sense given the publication date and years during which the stories were written Plenty also seem to comment on Vietnam cryogenics and other topics that were controversial or cutting edge at the timeEllison s extensive intros to each pie Wow I set myself up to read 100 books this year and then give myself this doorstopper in December Smart selfSome day I ll find a copy of Dangerous Visions which is what I was recommended to read and why I picked up its seuel The introducti It s been years since I ve read this and I m still thinking about it This really raised some potent and hard hitting uestions about gender roles and life in general Really wish this had been a whole novel This copy is signed by Harlan Ellison I have to say that this massive anthology of science fiction novellas and short stories completely blew me away in the early 1970 s I read this one before the original Dangerous Visions Editorauthor Harlan Ellison encouraged contributing writers to cut loose with their most daring and provocative ideas In so doing he not only pushed the boundaries of what was being published in those days he expanded his readers ideas of what was possible in the genre This book helped to Educating for the New World Order kick off what I would say was the third great era of science fiction in the 1970s The first was its invention by Mary Shelley Jules Verne H G Wells Doc Smith and Edgar Rice Burroughs and the second periodnown as the Golden Era began in the 1940 s with Heinlein Asimov Clarke etc Again Dangerous Visions was also my introduction to Ursula Le Guin who wrote The Word for the World is Forest I thought this was one of the most amazingly well written science fiction stories I had ever read I watched a TV documentary on Harlan Ellison recently a larger than life writer who seems to put Hemingway and Hefner to shame His scien Sometime between the first Dangerous Visions anthology and the second Harlan Ellison jumped the shark Perhaps in those four years he started to believe his own hype It is true that the first anthology did seem to set a fire under a number of writers both old and new to experiment and try new things and it happened because Ellison championed it But in the preparation of the second volume Ellison took on much than a simple championing role he became a dangerous vision of himselfBut before I get to the real criticism of this volume let me note that it still contains a couple of the greatest short fiction stories ever published Ursula K Le Guin s The Word for World is Forest a piece that merges environmentalism and racism in such a talented way that it s as hard to read it as Le Guin says in her afterword it was easy for her to write it and Joanna Russ s When It Changed one of the best feminist science fiction stories posting a world where the men died off and the women did what they had to do to continue then the ramifications of being rediscovered by the rest of humanity Both of these stories are as powerful today as they were forty years ago because the problems remain To be entirely frank I ve never been a fan of either writer some of whose other stories set my teach on edge But there s no disputing that these stories are worthy of being read by every reader especially any reader who wants to understand the. The classic companion to the most essential science fiction anthology ever published 46 original stories edited with introductions by Harlan Ellison Featuring John Heidenry Ross Rocklynne Ursula K Le Guin Andrew J Offutt Gene Wolfe Ray Nelson Ray Bradbury Cha.

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Harlan Jay Ellison was a prolific American writer of short stories novellas teleplays essays and criticismHis literary and television work has received many awards He wrote for the original series of both The Outer Limits and Star Trek as well as The Alfred Hitchcock Hour; edited the multiple award winning short story anthology series Dangerous Visions; and served as creative consultantwrit