Harlan Ellison: Again Dangerous Visions



Have a little sex in them and tons of misogyny but I sadly don t think that was taboo in 1972 There are some gems in here Joanna Russ excellent When It Changed which is often reprinted Monitored Dreams Strategic Cremations really two stories by Bernard Wolfe has a real literary feel the first Bisuit Position is an excellent short play on the horrors on napalm and I hope in the second story The Girl With Rapid Eye Movements the author meant for us to feel the misogyny internalized by said girl that she doesn t realize she s the smartest and most creative person in the story however the author s afterword was pure bunk about the muse Eye of the Beholder by Burt K Filer had a good mix of cool invention and motorcycle chases plus a female character who is competent at something shockingly rare though of course the two women in the story are both marked for how they can t do something the men do At this point in the collection I was wondering if men used to only use female characters when they wanted a character to fail at something because gosh they couldn t bear to see a man do that Moth Race by Richard Hill was a good classic SF piece For me it really captures the ineffable oy and madness of sportsIn Re Glover by Leonard Tushnet is pure hard sf for lawyers Reads like a legal brief but fascinatingZero Gee by Ben Bova has moments of hey maybe this is toxic masculinity insight but I felt the ending robbed its meaning With the Bentfin Boomer Boys on Little Old New Alabama will stay with me but I m not sure if for good or ill military SF with New Haiti fighting New Alabama and the Haitians are written in standard English and the New Alabamans in thick dialect Problematical things all over the board Are the Alabaman s being gay meant to be a slur against them or ust an example of hypocrisy Did I lose a character in there Some of the people run together It s a long piece and yeah ok I see why this one is a dangerous vision if only for all the use of the N word Ozymandias by Terry Carr is lovely one of those stories that says a lot that isn t on the page The Milk of Paradise is classic Tiptree so beautiful writing but the story itself felt a little weak and rapey Mostly rapey Those are the ones I liked Among the ones I didn t like there were a few that were so awful I suppose Harlan would be glad to hear that But not awful in the way he d think I love sex and drugs and taboo breaking I loathe flat characterizations and lack of structureNow about the introductions and afterwords Like a good completionist I read them all and as is usual when I force myself to read things ust because I can t bear to skip stuff I regret almost every single one You know what the worst type of wedding toast is The one that begins I met Kevin when You know this wedding toast It s a painful ten minutes of personal exposition saying nothing interesting but giving the toaster a chance to talk about himself Almost all of Harlan s intros are like that Also than half of the afterwards are Harlan made me write an afterward and I hate afterwards my work should stand on its own So skim those at will my friends or The Library of the Unwritten (Hells Library just read the ones for your favorite authors because you want to know about them 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 piece are very hit or miss and oftenust feel like him bragging about how cool his friends are but mostly make me think these maybe aren t necessarily good stories Galina just good chances to give favors to some authorsOn an infuriating side note the Kindle version of this collection screws you over on one piece that was meant to include indeed shouldn t be read without some drawings It s a major bummer because the story by Gahan Wilson is a very enjoyable horror story about a black dot that suddenly appears in a very fastidious man s homeThe first two stories The Counterpoint of View by John Heidenry and Ching Witch by Ross Rocklynne were good enjoyable shorts but nothing I care to write about extensively Heidenry s is a very post modern experimental short on writing and religion andust poking fun and asking uestions of many things but offering nothing in way of answers Rocklynne s story is a fun romp through a strange future where Earth explodes but a part cat man survives and Dead Boy jets off to a new planet before it going so fast he has a few years before this planet will know what happened He enjoys a life there feeling like a king as this planet loves Earth and those from it Yet in the end he finds he has been lied to as he lied to them He has been watched and around mostly beings from a third planet who want to take him back to their planet as a pet It s fun but it doesn t really say much beyond portraying the levels of lies and the impacts of loneliness and isolationThe first short in this collection I d like to write about is For Value Received by andrew offutt To begin Ellison s extensive foreward to the short is as hilarious and wonderful as the story itself offutt is a rebel against capitalism bureaucracy and American governance both in life and in writing In the story he tells of a man who puts his wife in a nice private room for the birth of his third child Upon time to check out he decides he wants the bill mailed to him instead of settling it then and there The hospital refuses saying the patient cannot be discharged until he pays He leaves the baby there calling their bluff Except they don t bluff they keep her until she s 21 and a med school grad She takes over her debts works at the hospital as an intern to cover the costs of the original bill and moves out It appears it will work too the hospital board happy to have a way out of the stalemate Most speaking characters here idolize the father for sticking to his principles calling him a hero However it s absurd for both a father and a hospital to refuse to bend on such small matters to such large conseuences which makes the satire offutt tells the story with great humor throughout reminding me of Vonnegut one of my favorites Both of these writers like to write satirically to uestion America capitalism and other aspects of life people usually assume are positive or neutral if they ever consider them at allNext came three shorts overall titled Mathoms from the Time Closet Gene Wolfe writes them and all three deal with odd timelines of some kind First Robot s Story has a time travelling robot named Robot telling an odd story about a man landing on a grassy planet and uickly deciding to enslave himself to the first woman he meets After the story Robot is asked to go buy some weed for the kids he was ust talking to He s from a different time and thinking on a different level than the kids The story he tells shows men being stupid for lust in a very predictable way Robot himself shows similar issues but was made by man to serve It shows how similar we are to what we make Next comes Against the Lafayette Escadrille a nice little story about a hobbyist that made a nearly perfect replica of an old triplane One day out flying it he sees a woman in a balloon with everything perfectly replicated He never finds her again though so she s likely somehow time traveled Nevertheless he continues to dream of her The last story is titled Loco Parentis and examines parenting in only script style dialogue The parents each uestion their son s reality is he theirs is he a genetically modified ape is he a robot These concerns flash forward throughout their life with him likely the couple s shared anxiety dream Then we re chucked back to them meeting their son They both uickly agree that he is in fact fully theirs This suggests to me that parents have their doubts about the alien things they raise. 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.

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But ust as surely take any and all signs that the child is theirs to heart even if these signs are actually ambiguous and meaninglessBradbury s poem Christ Old Student in a New School warrants much time thinking and writing than I feel like giving it To be as brief as I can it s a poem in which Christman sees all the suffering realizes it was done by himselfmankind and decides to start again renewed in space Something like that A similar story follows although not written in poetry King of the Hill by Chad Oliver Oliver s story brings us an Earth on the brink of collapse via overpopulation and environmental negligence The richest man on Earth though spends years and billions finding the best place to send some animal DNA to start life somewhere else He doesn t send humans However raccoons appear to begin taking humanity s place It s somewhat hopeful for life and intelligent life but also uite stark for mankind and even the hinted cyclical nature of lifeThe 1000 Report Is Brought to You by comes next written by Edward Bryant It s a chilling take on how terribly humans are willing to be for money or fame or whatever enjoyment they seek In the story a news station pays a gang to violently destroy a town for their own ratings increase People that work for the station do nothing Even the guy that resigns over it asks for a ob back The men doing the violence enjoy it and the money It s a sad little story reallyKate Wilhelm s The Funeral threw me for a loop It s like Margaret Atwood which means it s very good speculative fiction often with a healthy dose of feminism In this story the matriarch of a school dies aged 120 or She was instrumental in turning the education system into a rigid system that actually controls most of society after some vague annihilation of the youth The society has specific obs that men and women are placed into by the schools The protagonist thinks she wants to be a Lady but later is shown what that means presumably being used for sex She is selected by the matriarch s protege to be a Teacher During the extensive process of a funeral for the dead Teacher the protagonist Carla learns truths of society and finds a way to escape in a hidden room the same way the dead Teacher escaped from one of the annihilations This story looks down on how we mold children in our own image out of our hate for them It also suggests that young people have an innate moral compass that will guide them to rebel against adult BS no matter how strictly we attempt to control themVonnegut s contribution to the collection The Big Space Fuck is dark and satirical in deliciously Vonnegutian style It s uite short but lambastes overpopulation pollution materialism and It s a fun one which is strange to say because it s effectively about the end of the world due to humanity s horrorsIn TL Sherred s Bounty we get an interesting prophecy on how gun violence may finally end in America An unnamed wealthy person or group places an ad in the paper paying anyone that stops an armed robbery or that dies in said attempt People start killing everyone with a visible gun Vigilantes take over everything Then with a new President guns are entirely outlawed even for police This seems to suggest we can end gun violence with greed and gun violence Or something like thatA later story in the collection titled In the Barn kept me guessing Written by Piers Anthony the universe has multiple parallels and Earth Prime our Earth is the only one able to go to and from these parallels We follow an inspector s visit to 772 which is warless and also animal less The inspector goes into a barn on the pretense of being a new farmhand He finds cows and bulls of humans instead of cattle He does the work only to finally break the rules and save a calf to bring back to EP At first I expected this to be a feminist story about women being oppressed But the bull was male and the society also had non cow women as well This society drew the moral line at how terrible it would be to eat filthy creatures and decided using their own mammal kind is better cleaner When the inspector returns to EP he s in a normal barn and muses on whether or not he did the right thing and if EP is doing the better thing subjecting a different species to tortures and slavery The peace of the other world seems to suggest the evils of their domesticated human farming system may be a better way to go than our own system Chilling thought provoking stuffA uite short but uite thought provoking romp was The Test Tube Creature Afterward by Joan Bernott In this one a man lives alone with a large cat that we learn is uite intelligent and capable of speech It takes a turn toward a sad sort of isolation though when a girlfriend calls him but he declines and breaks up with her preferring to spend the evening with his cat He avoids human love because Somehow this the easier way was also better Another chilling oneGregory Benford brings an interesting survivalist and psychological thriller type story with And the Sea Like Mirrors In this story a man and woman are stranded on a raft in the Pacific with alien dolphin things attacking them It s Eros Unbound (Great Loves, just their young forms though The older forms are trying to communicate with and help them apparently In the process of surviving and meeting aliens the characters follow their gender stereotypes The man takes charge stays logical and uses violence and intelligence to survive and adapt The woman submits becomes hysterical and irrationally seems to side with the murderous aliens It s a cool concept all around even in execution The end leaves the woman dead after stupidly trying to swim to an island obviously covered with the carnivorous aliens while the man happily ignores her screams and continues toward the older forms of alien life leaving the only human behindAt nearly the end of the collection comes Carr s Ozymandias This post apocalyptic gem of a story tickled me in all the right ways First the subtle world building of the short teaches us that this world has vaults that robbers dance to in order to attain tools and food and such Later we learn that thinkers of this tribe were allust murdered save one thinker in training that was spared as he was not technically a thinker yet Once the uniue ritualized dance ascent was completed the robbers made the remaining thinker pick a vault The thinkers said all vaults were empty but robbers disagreed The robbers also thought picking the wrong vault can kill you and maybe everyone so chose this dispensable thinker The thinker however knows something the robbers do not so picks an empty vault for safety He gets them to open a secret bottom to the vault which contains an Immortal The immortal wakes up giant of a man The thinker who has a special empath power feels the immortal wants to be killed so he kills him This short manages to damn the rich and their hyper modern cryogenic pyramids while also pointing to a human tendency toward violence and against knowledge when that knowledge is inconvenientThe Milk of Paradise by James Tiptree Jr ends the collection in style Tiptree s story follows a man not named Timor and his struggles to rejoin humanity after living his first several years on a different planet with his father Having been raised there he learned to love and make love with these aliens and finds humans repulsive He is kidnapped by another human who wants to see Paradise like Timor describes Timor is drugged and gives him enough information that they find it It turns out that Timor s memory is greatly skewed by his being young and small at the time To the kidnapper these aliens are small ugly gray blobs not the tall gorgeous beings that Timor remembers and shortly sees Timor appears to then kill the kidnapper and is able to live happily from then on in Paradise Hidden a bit below the surface it seems these beings may drug people with similar drugs that the kidnapper used on Timor since their radio said something about a medical recall It appears Timor is safe the rest of the humans knowing enough to avoid the addictive aliens It s a strange and delightful meditation on what true beauty and art and pleasure truly are and how much of that is nature or nurture. 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

Sometime between the first Dangerous Visions anthology and the second Harlan Ellison Ma mre m'a tu - Survivre au gnocide des Tutsis au Rwanda 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 whe I watched a TV documentary on Harlan Ellison recently a larger than life writer who seems to put Hemingway and Hefner to shame His science fiction anthology Dangerous Visions was often mentioned in the program I could not get the book at the library by instead found Again Dangerous Visions the seuel I believe even a third anthology was compiled due to its popularity at the time I read a dozen stories from the 46 presented in the seuel and it gave me my dose of speculative edgy fiction that was termed the new science fiction of the timeIt was uaint reading SF written in the late sixties where several of the predictions have now become science fact including propositions that children would sue their parents for improper upbringing the frustrations of navigating the labyrinthine confines of a super department store in search of sexual aids some of these aids haven t been invented yet I believe executing children after the maximum two child limit had been reached didn t many unoficial executions take place in parts of the world where one child was the limit leaving us with the legacy today of a nation of spoilt childrenMany of the writersuxtaposed between a few heavyweights like Ray Bradbury and Kurt Vonnegut Jr were newbies at the time in their twenties and thirties some being published for the first time in this anthology Ellison is generous in giving each writer a personally written copious introduction the most revealing parts of the book I think and lots of praise and affording each writer an afterword at the end of hisher story Some writers needed the afterword as their stories were nt very coherent to me One writer actually said that he set out to confuse and frustrate the reader What happened to entertaining educating and enlightening usNevertheless in an era when the Internet was still a closely guarded military secret and online forms of shameless self promotion were not available to the writer Ellison tirelessly goes out to beat the bushes on behalf of his authors doing his bit to grow the next generation of SF writers revealing frank stories about how he met his contributors nutured them browbeat them when reuired and extracted their best work from them One writer was so overcome that she wrote Harlan a note back saying F you Harlan Ellison you don t know so goddam much She was still published and I m sure that than a few careers were made subseuentlyWhat threw me off was the rough writing inelegant prose in exchange for mind bending premises It was hard to find a writer perhaps Vonnegut was the exception who combined clear prose with an intriguing premise Perhaps that is why 12 stories was enough for me 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 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 period known 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 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 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 writers know 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 Mes recettes au baby-robot 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 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 know 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 notustify the many many bad stories you will read Really the only reason to read this collection is if you have any kind of fascination with the kinetic 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 La Stratgie du camlon 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 notust an elaborate disturbing specific Personality Selling 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 likeourneying into REALMS OF THE MISGUIDED AND CRANKY AND SELF INDULGENT AND DEAD IN SPIRIT 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 This copy is signed by Harlan Ellison 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 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 introductions freuently reference a third volume called Last Dangerous Visions but it doesn t appear to have been made or if made didn t have that title The premise of the collection is Stories too taboo for traditional markets And I suppose taboos were pretty tight in 1972 because most of the stories ust. 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.

Harlan Ellison ´ 1 REVIEW

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