Tag Archives: Robert Silverberg

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.

The Second Trip – New Wave from Bob Silverberg

Does anyone remember this novel?  The Second Trip was written by Robert Silverberg and first serialized in Amazing Science Fiction. It was later released in novel form  in 1972 . It’s quite enjoyable to read a book like this. With a story set in the year 2011, seeing how the author envisioned our “present day” is a blast.

The book’s theme revolved around capital punishment, which was deemed too harsh. Instead, violent criminals are subjected to coercive therapy that effectively erases their personalities, which are replaced with artificially constructed memories to form a person deemed useful to society.

The novel includes graphic scenes of copulation and sexual assault, and long stretches of the narrative between the pro and antagonist which must share the same body. In my opinion, this placed The Second Trip squarely within the New Wave sub genre.

Perhaps its shock appeal has diminished over the years, but it’s still a good read. Check it out if you have time.

Self Publishing: The New Wave?

Will a second coming of New Wave of Science Fiction arrive? Self publishing makes it possible to read stories the traditional gatekeepers would never approve. To some degree, the slush pile from hell is about to be unleashed. That’s how some see it, but maybe that’s not the right attitude to have.

From my perspective, what occurred in the 1960’s may yet take place again. Namely, the creation of a New Wave.  Think about it: the publication of books and short stories which challenge the establishment, and edify readers. Is it not time to celebrate? 

Harry Harrison wrote: It was an age of experiment. The old barriers were coming down, pulp taboos were being forgotten, new themes and new manners of writing were being explored.

Good words. I truly hope we can enjoy this freedom a second time, where Science Fiction reaches the literary heights so many had hoped for.