Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,
Nicholas
nwhyte

January Books 5) Dangerous Visions

5) Dangerous Visions, ed. Harlan Ellison

Tried emailing this to LJ as well, but no sign of it. Meantime I posted the gist of it also to a relevant thread on RASFW.

I've bought and reread this because the next story on my list of joint Hugo and Nebula winners is in it, and also in the name of my continuing sfnal education. It's a great collection, 33 stories, the majority of them still fresh.

However, only the Anderson and the Sturgeon stories still qualify as "dangerous"; although homosexuality is now much less of a taboo subject than when Anderson wrote, his portrayal of it in the context of a clash of cultures I think remains valid. Likewise Sturgeon's portrayal of incest, though that if anything is probably even more of a taboo than it was in 1967.

Perhaps my brain has turned to mush, but I found both the Farmer and Emshwiller stories incomprehensible.

I'd classify the Del Rey, Hensley, and Knight stories as of the "Shaggy God" category, along with the Brand; making points about religion and/or God that seem pretty trivial now, but perhaps were more "dangerous" at the time of writing. Perhaps I have just been spoiled by Philip Pullman.

I would rate the Aldiss, Ballard, Brunner, Delany, Dick, Lafferty, Leiber, Pohl, Sladek, Spinrad and Zelazny stories as good to excellent samples of their writing, if not necessarily "dangerous". I also thought the Bunch, "Cross", Dorman, Eisenberg, and Rodman stories were pretty good though I'm less familiar with the authors' oeuvres (indeed the various databases assert that these were the only sf short stories ever published by "Cross" and Rodman, though both published other material).

I did not enjoy the Silverberg and DeFord stories (which both turned out to be about the same future development in the criminal justice system), nor the Bloch/Ellison riffs on Jack the Ripper, because the violence was too gratuitously nasty for my taste.

I thought the Laumer, Neville, Niven and Slesar stories were very weak, taking in each case a silly premise and then failing to do much with it. Actually the Niven is promising enough for most of its length but is then killed by the punchline.

But basically, money well spent. The standout stories for me were Howard Rodman's "The Doll's House", Anderson's "Eutopia" and Dick's "Faith of Our Fathers".
Tags: bookblog 2005, writer: harlan ellison, writer: philip k dick, writer: poul anderson
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