A review by reasie
Again, Dangerous Visions by James B. Hemesath, Joanna Russ, Harlan Ellison, Ken McCullough, Ray Faraday Nelson, Gahan Wilson, Kate Wilhelm, Robin Scott, T.L. Sherred, Ursula K. Le Guin, A. Parra, David Gerrold, M. John Harrison, Burt K. Filer, Andrew Weiner, Chad Oliver, Lee Hoffman, Piers Anthony, Judith Ann Lawrence, James Blish, Gregory Benford, Leonard Tushnet, Gene Wolfe, Andrew J. Offutt, Edward Bryant, Ben Bova, Kurt Vonnegut, Richard A. Lupoff, Joan Bernott, H.H. Hollis, Barry N. Malzberg, Terry Carr, Evelyn Lief, David Kerr, John Heidenry, Josephine Saxton, Bernard Wolfe, Richard Hill, Dean Koontz, James Sallis, Ross Rocklynne, Ray Bradbury, Thomas M. Disch, James Tiptree Jr.


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.