Harlan Ellison – Dangerous Visions

Harlan Ellison was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame last month. At the age of 77, I have no idea why they waited so long. However it’s great news nonetheless.

Ellison wrote so many novels and short stories since the ’50, it’s very difficult to single one out. However, I would like to highlight one book of his which I think (at least in my mind) is quite significant: Dangerous Visions, edited by Ellison and published back in 1967.

Why was it so important. It was a ground-breaking anthology that made manifest the New Wave revolution in Science Fiction. Smashing head on with the expectations of SF publishing, and setting new horizons for what Science Fiction (as a genre) was capable of.

And the list of authors is breathtaking: Robert Silverberg; Frederik Pohl; Philip José Farmer; Robert Bloch; Brian W. Aldiss; Philip K. Dick; Larry Niven; Poul Anderson;  J. G. Ballard;  John Brunner; Keith Laumer;  Norman Spinrad; and so on, and so on. I don’t think there’s anyone in this anthology who isn’t famous.

It’s books like this which take Science Fiction to new literary heights , and I venture to say we have yet to see a similar work of its kind. Perhaps, we never will.


2 responses to “Harlan Ellison – Dangerous Visions

  1. I actually read Again, Dangerous Visions (Ellisons’s second DV anthology) six or seven years ago and can’t say that I liked the stories all that much. I remember reading “The Big Space Fuck” by Vonnegut, which featured a rocket loaded with the sperm of politicians (if I remember correctly) and some other story where a guy smokes hallucinogenic seeds and ends up sodomizing himself with a candle. Not my cup of tea, and most of the stories seemed to rely more on shock value than anything else. I know they wanted to push the boundaries, and they did, but I’m glad they came back into normal space.

    • Thanks for that. A completely valid comment. In some respects, tastes have changed, and one expects more than just “shock” from the writer. When you take that away, or just the context under which the story was written, one is left with less than the full affect. Still, I think we miss SF which at its core, tries to push the limit. Who are the New Wave writers of today? So much is packaged in the same old form. Everything is a thriller: alway a page turner; keep you on the edge; same-old-same-old. All missing true literary backbone. Are there writers today, who like the New Wave generation, are attempting to push SF into new territory? I think there are, and would venture to say “perhaps” China Mieville. What do you think? He’s quite different in many respects. But if there are many others, they certainly don’t command the attention they deserve. Ethan, if you have any suggestions, please keep this thread going. Anyone else? Please let me know.

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