Literature: Dangerous Visions
Harlan Ellison doesn't think small. The fact that the above page-quote—the first paragraph of his original introduction to the book—is, if anything, an understatement
, says a helluva lot.
For those of you who came into the movie late, I'll bring you up to speed: in the 1960s, Harlan Ellison
had the idea of putting together a science-fiction anthology. But not just any ordinary anthology—his mad scheme was to collect stories from the best writers in the field. And not just ANY stories—he wanted stories that were, well, too dangerous
to get printed anywhere else.
To cite just one example, from Damon Knight
's afterword to "Shall the Dust Praise Thee?":
"This story was written some years ago, and all I remember about it is that my then agent returned it with loathing, and told me I might possibly sell it to the Atheist Journal
in Moscow, but nowhere else."
It also features introductions to each story by Harlan, who talks about the writer, and an afterword by the writer about the story. This gives the reader an immense feeling of the community surrounding science-fiction, and was part of why the anthology was so well-received.Dangerous Visions
(1967) won a truckload of awards, and Harlan got a special citation at the 26th World SF Convention for editing "the most significant and controversial
SF book published in 1967". And it's gone on to be perhaps the most influential science-fiction anthology of all time
It had a sequel anthology, Again, Dangerous Visions
(1971), and there were and sometimes apparently are
plans for The Last Dangerous Visions
, but... well, Harlan doesn't like to talk about it
(though Christopher Priest (novelist)
is happy to
Tropes Associated with the Anthology Itself:
Tropes found in the Stories in Dangerous Visions:
The tropes found in each story (as well as in the introductions and afterwords) are listed under the story in question.
- "Evensong" by Lester Del Rey.
"But—" Words were useless, but the bitterness inside him forced the words to come from him. "But why? I am God!"
For a moment, something akin to sadness and pity was in the eyes of the Usurper. Then it passed and the answer came. "I know. But I am Man. Come!"
- "Flies" by Robert Silverberg.
- "The Day After the Day the Martians Came" by Frederik Pohl
- "Riders of the Purple Wage" by Philip Jose Farmer (Hugo Award for best novella)
- Awesome McCoolname: Having one of these is a requirement for being in the story.
- Freudian Excuse: Introduced, subverted, parodied to hell and back, all at the same time.
- Freudian Slip: See 'Freudian excuse'.
- Literary Allusion Title: SO many of the section-titles are these. To name just a few: "Sing, O Mews, of Uncle Sam", "The Ancient Marinator", "Sexual Implications of The Charge Of The Light Brigade", "The Mad P Party"...
- Pungeon Master: Farmer himself, but also some of the characters in the story.
- Shout-Out: The number of literary allusions and puns in this story is simply staggering.
- Word Association Test: A lot of it, but "Sexual Implications of the Charge Of The Light Brigade" is pretty much straight-up pseudo-Freudian verbal diarrhea.
- World of Pun: This story is actually almost a stream-of-consciousness of amazing puns and literary references.
- "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 (got both the Hugo Award and Nebula Award for Best Novelette)
- "Lord Randy, My Son" by Joe L. Hensley
- "Eutopia" by Poul Anderson
- A Pair of Bunch: "Incident in Moderan" and "The Escaping" by David R. Bunch
- "The Doll-House" by James Cross
- "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
"[Jonathan Brand] was lying there propped on his elbows, a blade of grass in his mouth, watching half a dozen of the older, more sophistocated giants of the science fiction field dousing each other with beer from quart bottles on the lawn of Damon Knight's home.
"Kindness forbids my explaining why Jim Blish, Ted Thomas, Damon and Gordy Dickson were cavorting in such an unseemly manner..."
- "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
"We've been slaves to our tools since the first caveman made the first knife to help him get his supper. After that there was no going back, and we built till our machines were ten million times more powerful than ourselves. We gave ourselves cars when we might have learned to run; we made airplanes when we might have grown wings; and then the inevitable. We made a machine our God."
- "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)