Harlan Ellison: Again Dangerous Visions



Nge 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 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 on t know There is one fun bagatelle about the legal implications of cryogenics that reads like A Touch of Persuasion (Men Of Wolff Mountain droll sci fi Thackeray and HH Hollis story about LSD lawyering was also spry but theseo not justify 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 Watch for Me by Moonlight (The Midnight Twins, 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 allairy products come from milking human women that is pretty jaw The Mommy Makeover 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 whatimension 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 The Convicts Bounty Bride (Convict Wives 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 suchangerous 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 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 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 A River of Royal Blood (Untitled, 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 aangerous 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 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 First Blood 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 Beifferent 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 This copy is signed by Harlan Ellison. 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

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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 environmental 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 The Palliser Novels daring and provocative ideas In sooing he not only pushed the boundaries of what was being published in those Men And Gods In Mongolia 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 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 Itid to prepare me for the future I would soon be living in than all my boring classes It would Hunter Killer (Pike Logan deeplyisturb today s high schoolers but it would Brazen and the Beast (The Bareknuckle Bastards, do them a lot of good Age appropriate is for losers Wow I set myself up to read 100 books this year and then give myself thisoorstopper in December Smart selfSome The Friend Zone 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 itoesn t appear to have been made or if made Flying Scotsman Manual 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 just have a little sex in them and tons of misogyny but I sadlyon 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 Alpha (Shifters, 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 to something the men Whalerider 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 mano that Moth Race by Richard Hill was a good classic SF piece For me it really captures the ineffable joy 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 ialect Problematical things all over the board Are the Alabaman s being gay meant 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.

O be a slur against them or just 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 angerous 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 Graphic Design For Everyone 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 think I love sex and Considering Kate (The Stanislaskis, 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 just 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 just read the ones for your favorite authors because you want to know about them I watched a TVocumentary 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 Sweetland due to its popularity at the time I read aozen stories from the 46 presented in the seuel and it gave me my Art of Laurel and Hardy 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 superepartment 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 Hers To Cherish (Verdantia, 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 writers juxtaposed 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 authorsoing 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 on 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 excha. 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.

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