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Literature / Dangerous Visions

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"What you hold in your hands is more than a book. If we are lucky, it is a revolution."
— From "Introduction: Thirty-Two Soothsayers" (1967), Harlan Ellison

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.

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 didn't like to talk about it (though Christopher Priest (novelist) is happy to).


Tropes Associated with the Anthology Itself:

  • Divided for Publication:
    • The Berkley Medallion reprints of Dangerous Visions from 1969 are three paperback volumes. The same division was used by Sphere for British publication.
    • David Bruce And Watson reprinted Dangerous Visions for the British market, and divided it into two volumes.
    • The German translation of Dangerous Visions by Heyne are two paperback volumes (with the titles 15 Science Fiction-Stories and 15 Science Fiction-Stories II).
    • The Signet/New American Library paperback reprints divided Again, Dangerous Visions into two volumes. This division was reused by Pan Books for release in England.
  • Door Stopper:
    • Dangerous Visions: This book was originally released with 520 pages. It is frequently Divided for Publication in reprints, split into two-three volumes.
    • Again, Dangerous Visions: This book was originally released with 760 pages. It is usually reprinted in two volumes
    • The Last Dangerous Visions: If it had ever been released, it would've included over 100 stories of varying length. (Based on the June 1979 issue of Locus.)
  • New Wave Science Fiction: The collection helped crystalize the New Wave movement as an international thing, rather than a primarily British movement as it had been up till then.
  • Unconventional Formatting: In one of the introductions, Harlan Ellison complains about the author creating an unconventional layout for the story they submitted. That original manuscript was rejected, but Ellison did accept a different one. Entire pages of the first submission went something like:
    They tramped on through the day.
    They tramped on through the night.

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.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


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