Dangerous Visions

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Dangerous Visions
Central Theme:
Synopsis: A collection of short works that were, at the time, too controversial to publish in any other medium.
Genre(s): Science fiction
First published: 1967
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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 is happy to).

Tropes used in Dangerous Visions include:

Tropes Associated with the Anthology Itself

"Isaac...was too uncharacteristically and idiotically humble to write a story for the book, on the wholly bogus grounds that he was a geezer, couldn't write "the new thing," and didn't want to embarrass himself."

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.

"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!"

Harlan's story is a sequel to "A Toy for Juliette". So Bloch writes the profile of Harlan preceding the story...

  • "Lord Randy, My Son" by Joe L. Hensley

Harlan's introduction to Joe L. Hensley is one giant rollicking ride of undistilled hilarity.

  • A Pair of Bunch: "Incident in Moderan" and "The Escaping" by David R. Bunch
  • "The Doll-House" by James Cross

"[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..."

"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."