By Harlan Ellison

Rating: 2 stars

(Note: my copy only included Doomsman. Telepower was not included)

A feral Argentinian child is hunted down and brought to AmericaState’s feared School for Assassins to be trained. He is to join an elite that are sent in to decapitate the petty monarchies that have sprung up on the American continent since the War, but when a chance remark lets slip something about the father he never knew, he knows he must track him down and join him.

I don’t have a huge amount to say about this book. It didn’t leave many lasting impressions, although I was impressed with how Ellison was able to convey the harshness and brutality of this world, and his antihero, with such a light touch and sparing language.

Book details

Publisher: Ace Books

Again, Dangerous Visions

By Harlan Ellison

Rating: 3 stars

This volume follows Dangerous Visions, Ellison’s earlier anthology, with the same mission statement: to allow writers to spread their wings and write something too dangerous to be published in the mainstream SF publications of the day. This volume was even bigger than the first one, containing 46 stories, each preceded by a foreword by the editor and followed by an afterword by the author, meaning you certainly get value for money.

There were fewer big names in this volume, suggesting that some of the “dangerous” authors that Ellison selected didn’t stick around. I also felt that this book was rather hard work. It started very well with Ursula Le Guin’s stunning novella The Word for World is Forest and ended strongly with Tiptree’s The Milk of Paradise but a lot of the stuff in the middle was, I think, trying too hard to be “dangerous” and edgy, often making them difficult to read, impenetrable or just leaving you scratching your head when you finished it. An interesting volume with some good stories, but I didn’t get as much out of it as I would have liked for the amount of effort that I invested in it.

Book details

ISBN: 9780385079532
Publisher: Doubleday
Year of publication: 1972

Dangerous Visions

By Harlan Ellison

Rating: 5 stars

This is regarded as being one of the most important SF anthologies of all time. It was written in 1967 and Ellison’s vision was a collection of stories that were dangerous, that could never have been published in the other outlets of the era, and that would expand the boundaries of the genre. He succeeded incredibly with a huge collection (33 stories) and an author list that reads like a who’s who of 1960s SF authors, including Philip K. Dick, Philip Jose Farmer, Roger Zelazny, Samuel R. Delany and many, many more.

Over the years some of the stories have lost their edge, what made them dangerous to start with (although Sturgeon’s If All Men Were Brothers, Would You Let One of The Marry Your Sister or Delany’s Aye, and Gomorrah… still bite today) but it’s still an excellent collection with many outstanding stories. I’m glad that I’ve read it, not just for itself but as a piece of SF history.

Book details

ISBN: 9780743452618
Publisher: iBooks
Year of publication: 1967

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