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Dangerous Visions by Harlan Ellison
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Dangerous Visions (original 1967; edition 2009)

by Harlan Ellison

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1,207186,630 (4.02)33
Member:JoHnny999
Title:Dangerous Visions
Authors:Harlan Ellison
Info:e-reads.com (2009), Paperback, 650 pages
Collections:Currently reading, Your library, Favorites
Rating:*****
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Dangerous Visions by Harlan Ellison (Editor) (1967)

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Somehow, somewhere, my original copy of this went missing, I finally got tired of missing it (and Again, Dangerous Visions), and am incredibly grateful to find it in this SF Masterworks edition. It has a print inside, in the front of the original cover (and thank you, to whoever was so thoughtful).

I often read the other reviews of a book before adding my own, here. Sometimes everything that needs to be said has been said. Not this time.

If you don't own, or haven't at least read, this and the companion volume, you're missing a chunk of life that you aren't even aware is missing. Sure, some of the stories, from a distance of (oh my god) more than 35 years, are dated, and may not light the fire in you that they did in me, in that long ago time.

Each story in this has an introduction, and an afterword (all written *then*, and you must read them in that context), and those alone make it worthwhile. I'm looking forward to the pleasure of reading this again, and I have the joy of all those extra forewords and introductions to the book itself, added (mostly) in 2002.

Yes, it's true. This is the British version (with a price tag label stuck over that shows a price of $17.95). ( )
  Lyndatrue | Dec 3, 2013 |
■Foreword 1 - The Second Revolution by Isaac Asimov

■Foreword 2 - Harlan and I by Isaac Asimov

■Thirty-Two Soothsayers (introduction) by Harlan Ellison

■Evensong by Lester del Rey. This is described by its author as an allegory. It details the capture of a being, identified at the end of the story as God, by Man, which has usurped God's power.

■Flies by Robert Silverberg. It was inspired by a quote from King Lear: "As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods. They kill us for their sport."

■The Day After the Day the Martians Came by Frederik Pohl

■Riders of the Purple Wage by Philip José Farmer (Hugo Award for best novella)

■The Malley System by Miriam Allen deFord

■A Toy for Juliette by Robert Bloch

■The Prowler in the City at the Edge of the World by Harlan Ellison

■The Night That All Time Broke Out by Brian W. Aldiss

■The Man Who Went to the Moon — Twice by Howard Rodman

■Faith of Our Fathers by Philip K. Dick
■The Jigsaw Man by Larry Niven

■Gonna Roll the Bones by Fritz Leiber (Hugo and Nebula awards for Best Novelette)

■Lord Randy, My Son by Joe L. Hensley

■Eutopia by Poul Anderson

■Incident in Moderan and The Escaping by David R. Bunch

■The Doll-House by James Cross (pseudonym)

■Sex and/or Mr. Morrison by Carol Emshwiller

■Shall the Dust Praise Thee? by Damon Knight

■If All Men Were Brothers, Would You Let One Marry Your Sister? by Theodore Sturgeon

■What Happened to Auguste Clarot? by Larry Eisenberg

■Ersatz by Henry Slesar

■Go, Go, Go, Said the Bird by Sonya Dorman

■The Happy Breed by John Sladek

■Encounter with a Hick by Jonathan Brand

■From the Government Printing Office by Kris Neville

■Land of the Great Horses by R. A. Lafferty

■The Recognition by J. G. Ballard

■Judas by John Brunner

■Test to Destruction by Keith Laumer

■Carcinoma Angels by Norman Spinrad

■Auto-da-Fé by Roger Zelazny

■Aye, and Gomorrah by Samuel R. Delany (Nebula Award for best short story, 1967)
( )
  SChant | Apr 25, 2013 |
First published in 1967, Dangerous Visions was editor Harlan Ellison's attempt to make the case for science fiction as a literary genre and to shake up the genre itself in order to push it towards something new and better. At the time Dangerous Visions was the largest collection of original science fiction short stories. It has become something of a legend in the 40 plus years since it was published. By insisting on all original work, no reprints of earlier material, Mr. Ellison hoped to provide a platform for ideas and stories that could not find a home in the periodicals of the day, visions of the future too dangerous for ordinary publications.

Reading the anthology some 40 years later most of the stories struck me as largely pedestrian, the kind of stuff one typically found in early science fiction magazines. They are all well-written; they are all entertaining, but only a handful struck me as dangerous or visionary. Some make contain very mild social critique. A few suggest there is no God. One creates a future society where incest is the norm. Most of them are material that would comfortably find a home on the Syfy channel today.

Samuel R. Delany provides the only truly dangerous vision in his story "Aye, and Gamorrah..." Mr. Delany imagines a future full of space travel that comes at a very high price. In order to survive the harsh conditions of space, "spacers" must be surgically altered to resist high levels of radiation including a process which renders them genderless. "Aye, and Gamorrah..." is the story of one such "spacer" on a visit to earth where he must face the advances of "frelks" unaltered humans who are sexually attracted to the genderless and passionless spacers. Readers of Mr. Delany know that he never shied away from discussion of sex and sexuality and the possible forms it might take in humanity's future. The rest of the stories in Dangerous Visions seem afraid of sex by comparison.

But the real reason to read Dangerous Visions in 2012 is the introductions Mr. Ellison wrote to each of the 33 stories, which are the only introductions I've really enjoyed reading. Gossipy, opinionated, intended to reveal the authors of each story, they succeed in creating a portrait of the editor who wrote them by creating portraits of the authors in the book. Many of the authors in Mr. Ellison's book did go on to do great work, but most of them are people I've never heard of before, in spite of Mr. Ellison's assurance that this was an author to watch. However, through his introductions, some of which are as long as the story that follows, Mr. Ellison brings each author to life as a character in an ensemble piece which is the world of science fiction circa mid-1960's. For that alone, Dangerous Visions is a useful and entertaining record.

Which is one reason why I found it such a shame that none of these visionary authors saw a future with a place for gay/lesbian people. References to LGBT people are limited to a few bits of casual homophobia both in the stories and in the introductions. I'm willing to cut people in history a little slack, but even in 1967 this was a backwards looking view. Pro-gay social movements were already visible in the major cities of America if not the countryside in the 1960's. Since so much of the publishing world at that time was centered in New York City, I find it difficult to accept that none of the writers in Mr. Ellison's book were aware of LGBT people. They're supposed to be visionaries. They're supposed to imagine the future. We would have to wait several more years for writers like Samuel R. Delany, Ursula K LeGuin, Octvia Butler to make room for gay and lesbian characters in science fiction. You can see a hint of his future in Mr. Delany's story, but that's the only one in Dangerous Visions that sees a future with anything other than fully heterosexual people in it. ( )
  CBJames | Jul 5, 2012 |
I bought this collection of 33 science fiction stories because it was recommended in A Reader's Guide to Science Fiction on its "5 Parsec Shelf" of the best books in the genre. Here's what it said about the book: Anthologies, no matter how excellent, have seldom had enough impact to be "classics." But the first Dangerous Visions, edited by Ellison, was not only a wonderful sampling of the writers working in the exciting late '60s, it revolutionized science fiction in the matter of attacking more controversial subject matter. It further claimed the book "revived the moribund science fiction short story as a form" by publishing "stories considered unpublishable by the American magazines." In his introduction, Harlan Ellison, said his purpose was to publish "taboo" stories, "all new stories, controversial, too fierce for magazines to buy... a canvas for new writing styles, bold departures, unpopular thoughts." In other words, dangerous visions, particularly dealing with religion, politics, violence or sex.

I've been a huge science fiction fan since childhood--especially of the science fiction short story, because at its best it's mind-expanding. I looked at the night sky with fresh awe after reading Isaac Asimov's "Nightfall;" his "The Dead Past" made me see the very nature of time in a new way. Stories such as Vernor Vinge's "The Ungoverned" made me think about the limits of freedom. Did any of the stories in this anthology work the same magic for me? Decidedly not. Maybe these stories were shocking or groundbreaking in 1967 when they were published. But in 2012? Even for 1967, I thought very few of these stories were innovative or thought-provoking. About a good third of the stories I couldn't for the life of me see what could have ever been controversial. Several stories such as Larry Niven's "Jigsaw Man," Henry Slesar's "Ersatz" and John Sladek's "The Happy Breed" seemed ridiculous to me, all the more for the sober afterwords of Niven and Sladek insisting this could be our near future. After 45 years, I'd say the near future has arrived--and doesn't look anything like what they feared.

Take the first seven stories that comprise about a quarter of the book. Lester del Rey's "Evensong" opens the anthology and tackles religion. I thought frankly Arthur C. Clarke's "The Star" published in Infinity Science Fiction in 1955 and C.L. Moore's "Fruit of Knowledge" published in Unknown in 1940 are both more provocative, more subversive--and much more memorable. (Ditto regarding almost all the other stories with religious themes such as Damon Knight's "Shall the Dust Praise Thee," Jonathan Brand's "Encounter With a Hick," and John Brunner's "Judas.") Robert Silverberg's "Flies" has some gut-wrenching misogynist violence that I could see making it hard to place with a magazine editor, but I didn't think the story had enough payoff to justify the content. Frederik Pohl's "The Day After the Martians Came" examined the potentially explosive issue of race--puerilely. Ray Bradbury's "Way in the Middle of the Air" published in Other Worlds in 1950 and later included in The Martian Chronicles is much more incisive and provocative on the subject. The next story is Philip Jose Farmer's "Riders of the Purple Wage." In his introduction to the story Ellison said this is not just the longest story in the anthology at over 30,000 words, but the "best" and the "finest." So, I started the first few paragraphs. And reread. And reread. Really trying to comprehend what I was reading. And by and large failing. Yet increasingly suspecting Farmer was trying to imitate James Joyce. This was solidified when I turned the page to read more. I flipped towards the end of the story and saw its last chapter was titled "Winnegan's Fake." You know, I really hated James Joyce's Ulysses, but at least I could respect it as innovative, original, and erudite. But when you're copying a style rolled out in 1922 in a 1967 story, as unpopular as the style might be, you're not being "new" or "bold." I skipped the rest of that story, because I hated the style fiercely. Thus what Ellison pointed to as the best story in the book would be the first I left unfinished. Not a good sign. Then the next story, Miriam Allen deFord's "The Malley System" didn't so much shock me as nauseate me with its depiction of child rape. The next two stories by Robert Bloch and Harlan Ellison inspired by Marquis de Sade and Jack the Ripper also hit my ewwwww spot. My reactions to these stories encapsulated my reaction to most of the book--a so-what shrug or a gag reflex or a huh???--at times evoked simultaneously in the same story.

I'm not impressed by writers trying to shock for its own sake. Reading many of these I was struck that "censorship" or "taboo" is often just another word for good taste, and if some of these stories couldn't find homes in magazines, it's to their editors credit. And it's science fiction's optimistic inspiring side that hooked me, not this dark, depressing strand. Many of the stories were more horror than science fiction. Nor am I a fan of the '60s counterculture or by and large of modernist literary techniques. But the hell of it is given this is an anthology comprised of different authors, I didn't feel I could just drop it after 50 to 100 pages as I would have were it a novel. I kept hoping for stories to love, especially since there were authors (including Farmer) on the contents page who had written stories or novels I'd enjoyed. For what it's worth, these were for me the standout stories in the order they appeared:

Philip Dick, "Faith of Our Fathers" - one of the few stories dealing with a religious theme that felt fresh and not predictable. It was more than a bit chilling in a horror story way.
Fritz Leiber, "Gonna Roll the Bones" - a truly chilling horror story well-told--but with more than a dollop of black humor--and humor was rare in this collection. I couldn't see what would be controversial about it though.
Poul Anderson, "Eutopia" - the ending I saw a long way off--but this not only had style but an intriguing set of alternate universes it would have been fun to explore further.
James Cross, "The Doll-House" - a horror story that would have made Poe or Hawthorne proud. Though another where I'm missing what makes it "edgy" in any way.
Keith Laumer, "Test to Destruction" - I liked the ironic twist in the tale at the end. Again, not getting what would have made this at all controversial.
Norman Spinrad, "Carcinoma Angels" - I thought it started off both infodumpy and Marty Stu--but it surprised me in the end. A horror tale I could see Stephen King proudly owning, yet another I can hardly see as shocking or controversial.
Samuel Delany, "Aye, and Gomorrah..." - Delany in the afterword called it essentially a horror story--but one I found rather poignant in a way I found rare in this anthology. And hey, it takes genius to invent a new sexual perversion!

Worth my buying and keeping the book on my shelves for those seven stories? I don't think so. Incidentally, I often found Ellison's introductions to stories off-putting and over-lengthy (in one case I noted it was longer than the story it was introducing) so about midway I started skipping them. They often seemed more about him than the story, and about sucking up to the authors when he wasn't being condescending. In particular, were I Miriam deFord, I'd have wanted to beat Ellison over the head with the book--the hardcover version. ( )
1 vote LisaMaria_C | Apr 5, 2012 |
Harlan Ellison and I have totally different tastes in SF. I don't want stories in which people get raped, have totally nasty things happen, etc. Once in a while is fine, but the stories I sampled ran too high on either being nasty or else using such 'clever' language that I found the story unreadable. ( )
  JudithProctor | Nov 14, 2011 |
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» Add other authors (12 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ellison, HarlanEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Aldiss, Brian, W.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Anderson, PoulContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Asimov, IsaacForewordsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ballard, J. G.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bloch, RobertContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brunner, JohnContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bunch, David R.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cross, JamesContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
deFord, Miriam AllenContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
del Rey, LesterContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Delany, Samuel R.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dick, Philip K.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Dorman, SonyaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Eisenberg, LarryContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ellison, HarlanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Emshwiller, CarolContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Farmer, Philip JoséContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hensley, Joe L.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Knight, DamonContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lafferty, R. A.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Laumer, KeithContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Leiber, FritzContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Neville, KrisContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Niven, LarryContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Pohl, FrederikContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rodman, HowardContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Silverberg, RobertContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sladek, JohnContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Slesar, HenryContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Spinrad, NormanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sturgeon, TheodoreContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Zelazny, RogerContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brand, JonathanContributorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moorcock, MichaelForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Roberts, AdamIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

Contains

A Toy for Juliette by Robert Bloch

Dangerous Visions 1 by Harlan Ellison

Dangerous Visions 2 by Harlan Ellison

Dangerous Visions 3 by Harlan Ellison

Evensong by Lester del Rey

Flies by Robert Silverberg

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Book description
Contents:

Foreword 1: The Second Revolution - Isaac Asimov
Foreword 2: Harlan and I - Isaac Asimov
Thirty-Two Soothsayers (introduction) - Harlan Ellison
Evensong - Lester del Rey.
Flies - Robert Silverberg.
The Day After the Day the Martians Came - Frederik Pohl
Riders of the Purple Wage - Philip José Farmer
The Malley System - Miriam Allen deFord
A Toy for Juliette - Robert Bloch
The Prowler in the City at the Edge of the World - Harlan Ellison
The Night That All Time Broke Out - Brian W. Aldiss
The Man Who Went to the Moon — Twice - Howard Rodman
Faith of Our Fathers - Philip K. Dick
The Jigsaw Man - Larry Niven
Gonna Roll the Bones - Fritz Leiber
Lord Randy, My Son - Joe L. Hensley
Eutopia - Poul Anderson
Incident in Moderan and The Escaping - David R. Bunch
The Doll-House - James Cross (pseudonym)
Sex and/or Mr. Morrison - Carol Emshwiller
Shall the Dust Praise Thee? - Damon Knight
If All Men Were Brothers, Would You Let One Marry Your Sister? - Theodore Sturgeon
What Happened to Auguste Clarot? - Larry Eisenberg
Ersatz - Henry Slesar
Go, Go, Go, Said the Bird - Sonya Dorman
The Happy Breed - John Sladek
Encounter with a Hick - Jonathan Brand
From the Government Printing Office - Kris Neville
Land of the Great Horses - R. A. Lafferty
The Recognition - J. G. Ballard
Judas - John Brunner
Test to Destruction - Keith Laumer
Carcinoma Angels - Norman Spinrad
Auto-da-Fé - Roger Zelazny
Aye, and Gomorrah - Samuel R. Delany
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0743452615, Paperback)

The best and most honoured science fiction anthology of all time, newly restored and introduced by its revolutionary editor, Harlan Ellison. This massive anthology contains 34 short stories, including Nebula-Award winning stories by Samuel R. Delany and Fritz Leiber and Hugo-Award winning stories by Fritz Leiber and Philip Jose Farmer. Includes stories by some of the best science-fiction writers who ever lived, writing at the height of their storytelling powers. All stories were chosen originally by Ellison.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:48:27 -0400)

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