Though his reputation rests primarily with the short story, Harlan Ellison has abundantly produced novels, essays, anthologies, and scripts for the motion-picture industry and television. Two highly influential anthologies, Dangerous Visions (1967) and Again, Dangerous Visions (1972), critique his own work and that of others. He contributed scripts to many popular television series in the 1960’s and 1970’s and adapted his story “A Boy and His Dog” for film in 1975. His essays, which comment on a broad range of social issues, have been collected in a number of volumes, including The Glass Teat: Essays of Opinion on the Subject of Television (1969), An Edge in My Voice (1986), Harlan Ellison’s Watching (1989), and The Harlan Ellison Hornbook (1990). He also published I, Robot: The Illustrated Screenplay, an adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s novel, in 1994.
As the author of more than thirteen hundred published pieces and more than forty-five volumes, Harlan Ellison was perhaps the most influential writer of science fiction and fantasy to emerge in the 1960’s. His stories have won numerous Nebula and Hugo awards and a Writers Guild of America award for a television script. Acclaimed as a leader of the New Wave writers who sought greater sophistication for science fiction—a movement that he has hotly rejected as nonexistent—Ellison nevertheless brought “crossover” qualities to genre fiction, winning new audiences and exploring new literary possibilities. His talent most definitely lies in the short story. As an artist, he is a risk taker, seeking out a preposterous central image vital enough to contain his moral outrage and screaming rhetoric. When he succeeds—and he has succeeded often enough to contribute several of the best modern stories—then he casts a memorable metaphor, “do you remember the story in which ?” When he fails, as risk takers often do, he comes up empty and shrill.
Adams, Stephen. “The Heroic and Mock-Heroic in Harlan Ellison’s ‘Harlequin.’” Extrapolation 26 (1985): 285-289. The often-anthologized “‘Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman” is convincingly viewed as a mock-heroic epic, parodying epic conventions through the central character and the narrator: “They both upset established rules (social or literary) and interject spontaneous, anarchic humor into an otherwise joyless, predictable, over-regulated world.”
Atheling, William Jr. More Issues at Hand. Chicago: Advent, 1970. An early view of Ellison’s impact upon science fiction, especially concerning the anthology Dangerous Visions, its significance being that it consisted entirely of literary experiments then called “New Wave.” Ellison is highly (but skeptically) praised: “a born writer, almost entirely without taste and control but with so much fire, originality and drive, as well as compassion, that he makes the conventional virtues of the artist seem almost irrelevant.”
De Los Santos, Oscar. “Clogging up the (In)human Works: Harlan Ellison’s Apocalyptic Postmodern Visions.” Extrapolation 40 (Spring, 1999): 5-20. An overview of apocalyptic themes in Ellison’s writing, concluding that while Ellison’s vision is bleak, his protagonists battle on.
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