Jun 17, 2008

Harlan Ellison short stories

I'm killing two birds with one stone here, since they were Ellison short stories and contained within the same collection that my buddy Jonny loaned me.

"I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream"

I'd really never dipped too far into Ellison land, and now I'm hooked. This was excellent - creepy, hellish, perfectly contained. Four people bearing the eternal punishment brought on ourselves. If we create consciousness, we have to also create a freedom for the personality - no slave stays in chains forever.

"'Repent, Harlequin!' Said the Ticktockman"

I'm slow and a little lazy, and apt to do things at the last second and waste time, so this one hit home pretty well for me. The Harlequin's not a classic hero. He's not so much out to free the world - he's just a guy who likes to let time slide a little.

So, one story about the tyranny of machine over man, and one of man over man. Either way, being controlled by others is hell. Giving up your freedom for the sake of comfort or safety or even profit - we all do it. We all chafe under it. We all dream of escaping it. Well, maybe not "all", but I don't think I want to hang out with the other sort.

final thought: The stories are great, the style is even better. I don't know how I went this long without becoming an Ellison fan, but now is as good a time as any to start.


white rabbit said...

Hank - totally unconnected with your latest post, but I thought of your review of 'America 2014' - now way down in older posts. A little story...

A few weeks ago a youngish woman came to my door.

'Do you read?' she said.

'I write' came the inevitable reply.

She was selling her novella door to door. She had self-published. We had a nice talk and the book was only £4 so I bought a copy, which she signed. I put it aside until today when, as i had a jury out, I could catch up with some reading.


Elementary errors of spelling, punctuation and grammar. As to characterisation, dialogue and plot - words fail me...

It can't have been line edited as it would drive a line editor nuts, just about every single sentence needs pulling apart and putting together again.

But fair play to her. She has put in the hard yards (literally) and -who has sold 12,000 copies and made a £36,000 profit, her or me?

There's a moral somewhere there..

downtown guy said...

Wow, selling a book door to door. Well, that's one way to get it out there. Were I a superhero, I think I would want my power to be Super Editing. I would fly around and stop people about to publish, so I could fix their books and then let them go their merry ways.

Kylie said...

I found these stories online a short while ago. I can't wait to get into them; they sound terrific.

I've been a complete nerd and copied Wikipedia's dystopian list into a spreadsheet so I can mark off which ones I've read and which I own but am yet to read etc.

downtown guy said...

I did the same thing, except I just used the wiki list as a jumping off point, and have added quite a few other books by suggestion. Now it reflects the Big List in my second blog post here.