Critical Overview

(Short Stories for Students)

Critics consider Ellison an important contributor to science fiction, despite his stance that he is not a science fiction writer. A prolific author and editor, Ellison is praised for his contributions to the genre and for his work in elevating it in the eyes of the reading public. Thomas Dillingham of Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume Eight: Twentieth- Century American Science Fiction Writers comments,

There can be little doubt ... that Ellison has been an important force in the field, publicizing good writing, insisting on the dignity of his own and his colleagues’ work, and writing some very fine stories himself.

In St. James Guide to Science Fiction Writers, a contributor observes that Ellison’s body of work ‘‘is more multifaceted than that of perhaps any other science-fiction author, and because of the variety of things he does ... he continues to be an important force in science fiction.’’

‘‘A Boy and His Dog’’ is ranked as one of Ellison’s strongest and most memorable stories. In Extrapolation, John Crow and Richard Erlich describe it as a ‘‘cautionary fable employing satire and mythic patterns to define a future world that in some respects may already be with us.’’ Commentators often address the story’s violence, characterization, and setting. George Edgar Slusser of Science Fiction Writers notes that in this and other stories, ‘‘man, as the victim both of oppression and of his own violent instincts, is condemned to hopeless struggle.’’ Commenting on...

(The entire section is 654 words.)