Published in Harlan Ellison’s 1969 short-story collection, The Beast That Shouted Love at the Heart of the World, ‘‘A Boy and His Dog’’ is one of the author’s favorite works. Critics also appreciated the story, and it won the 1969 Nebula Award (awarded by Science Fiction Writers of America) for Best Novella. Six years later, it was adapted as a Hugo Award-winning film, with Don Johnson starring as Vic. ‘‘A Boy and His Dog’’ is considered one of Ellison’s most compelling stories, and the author expanded it into a novel in 1989.
The story takes place in post-apocalyptic America, where Vic and Blood (his telepathic dog) must fight to survive. The story’s violence, explicit sexuality, and coarse language shock many readers, although these elements support Ellison’s harsh presentation of the future world. Set in a bleak environment and carrying dark themes, it is often read as a cautionary tale about what the future may hold.