Again, Dangerous Visions: Stories by Harlan Ellison

reasie's review against another edition

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Wow. I set myself up to read 100 books this year and then give myself this doorstopper in December. Smart, self.

Some day I'll find a copy of "Dangerous Visions" which is what I was recommended to read and why I picked up its sequel. The introductions frequently reference a third volume called "Last Dangerous Visions" but it doesn't appear to have been made, or if made, didn't have that title.

The premise of the collection is "Stories too taboo for traditional markets." And I suppose taboos were pretty tight in 1972 because most of the stories just have a little sex in them and tons of misogyny but I sadly don't think that was taboo in 1972.

There are some gems in here. Joanna Russ' excellent "When It Changed" which is often reprinted, Monitored Dreams & Strategic Cremations"--really two stories by Bernard Wolfe, has a real literary feel, the first "Bisquit Position" is an excellent short play on the horrors on napalm, and I hope in the second story "The Girl With Rapid Eye Movements" the author meant for us to feel the misogyny internalized by said girl that she doesn't realize she's the smartest and most creative person in the story, however the author's afterword was pure bunk about 'the muse'.

"Eye of the Beholder" by Burt K. Filer had a good mix of cool invention and motorcycle chases, plus a female character who is competent at something --shockingly rare-- though of course the two women in the story are both marked for how they can't do something the men do. At this point in the collection I was wondering if men used to only use female characters when they wanted a character to fail at something, because gosh they couldn't bear to see a man do that.

"Moth Race" by Richard Hill was a good classic SF piece. For me it really captures the ineffable joy and madness of sports.

"In Re Glover" by Leonard Tushnet is pure hard sf for lawyers. Reads like a legal brief but fascinating!

"Zero Gee" by Ben Bova has moments of "hey maybe this is toxic masculinity" insight but I felt the ending robbed its meaning.

"With the Bentfin Boomer Boys on Little Old New Alabama" will stay with me but I'm not sure if for good or ill... military SF with New Haiti fighting New Alabama, and the Haitians are written in standard English and the New Alabamans in thick dialect. Problematical things all over the board. Are the Alabaman's being gay meant to be a slur against them or just an example of hypocrisy? Did I lose a character in there? Some of the people run together. It's a long piece and... yeah ok I see why this one is a dangerous vision, if only for all the use of the N-word.

"Ozymandias" by Terry Carr is lovely, one of those stories that says a lot that isn't on the page.

"The Milk of Paradise" is classic Tiptree, so beautiful writing, but the story itself felt a little weak and rapey. Mostly rapey.

Those are the ones I liked. Among the ones I didn't like there were a few that were so awful... I suppose Harlan would be glad to hear that. But not awful in the way he'd think. I love sex and drugs and taboo-breaking. I loathe flat characterizations and lack of structure.

Now about the introductions and afterwords. Like a good completionist, I read them all, and as is usual when I force myself to read things just because I can't bear to skip stuff, I regret almost every single one.

You know what the worst type of wedding toast is? The one that begins "I met Kevin when..." You know this wedding toast. It's a painful ten minutes of personal exposition saying nothing interesting but giving the toaster a chance to talk about himself. Almost all of Harlan's intros are like that. Also, more than half of the afterwards are "Harlan made me write an afterward and I hate afterwards my work should stand on its own." So skim those at will, my friends, or just read the ones for your favorite authors because you want to know more about them.

matosapa's review against another edition

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While I appreciate the purpose of this collection it was a bit too far out in left field for me. I enjoyed some of the stories but most left me flat or confused. I guess I like my sci-fi a bit less nuanced.

jmeyers888's review against another edition

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This book was a little hard for me to follow in the beginning, but slowly I was able to gain a picture of the events that were happening. Overall I liked the story, but I thought it could have been delivered a bit more eloquently. However I would recommend this story, and I look forward to reading more Joanna Russ stories.

eggp's review against another edition

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Mankind is a joke
but animals should be saved
shoot them into spaaaace!

danslalune's review against another edition

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challenging dark tense slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated


bev_reads_mysteries's review against another edition

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Brilliant. Just brilliant. I love Harlan Ellison.

nwhyte's review against another edition

Go to review page[return][return]This is the famous follow-up volume to the even more famous Dangerous Visions; an anthology of 41 stories, mainly by the leading lights of sf as it was in 1972, with vast amounts of prefatory material by editor Harlan Ellison and an afterword from each author, and nice art from Ed Emshwiller introducing each story.[return][return]But what is striking is how unmemorable and self-indulgent most of the stories are (also true of Ellison's long-winded prefaces). The three best are definitely Ursula Le Guin's "The Word for World is Forest", Joanna Russ's "When it Changed", and James Tiptree Jr's "The Milk of Paradise"; interestingly all three have the same basic plot, of an unspoilt planet being wrecked by us humans. Many of the others are just silly, Kurt Vonnegut being particularly proud of Using Rude Words To Be Grown-Up. In fact, the only other one I enjoyed was James Blish's erotic pastiche "Getting Along", which parodies numerous High Gothic writers - I particularly liked his riff on The Moon Pool.[return][return]But four memorable stories out of 41 is a very poor strike rate. I couldn't in all conscience recommend anyone to spend money on this collection, and I am wondering, heretically, if it is really such a shame that the third volume of the series never appeared.

sunnybopeep's review against another edition

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1 self-indulgent foreword, 46 author introductions, and 46 stories later… Being able to mark this book as “read” is one of my greatest accomplishments of the year.

A,DV is a mine packed with diamonds varying in quality, but it has such a good turnout that the curator of these treasures (Harlan Ellison, that lucky bastard. May he be partying it up in Hell.) is extremely enviable. Some of the stories (about a generous 1/2 of them, I’d wager) are incredible feats of literature. There are a few duds, but they are so rare and this anthology is so packed with stories that it’s easy to just forget about them and move on to the next enlightened story by one of the many geniuses featured within A,DV. At this point, this heinously long collection of brilliant stories has pulled me out of a couple of serious reading slumps and pumped me back up with the juice of weird, wacky, controversial fiction writing.

Three cheers to this beautiful behemoth, my final book of 2021!

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bookcrazylady45's review against another edition

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One becomes addicted to Harlan's vision of life. Reading any anthology by Harlan leads you to a wealth of writing and introduction to new writers whose books become necessary reads.

delz's review against another edition

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This was definitely a mixed bag of SF. I really enjoyed The Word for World is Forest by Ursula K Le Guin. It absolutely made you think and kept you thinking. The Big Space Fuck by Kurt Vonnegut had his usual flair of humor and message. The most disturbing story was by Piers Anthony called In the Barn. I’m still thinking about it, like I wish I could scrub it from by brain. If you like eclectic collections of SF this is the book for you.