The Essential Ellison: A 50 Year Retrospective

by Harlan Ellison
Reviewed date: 2005 Dec 11
1234 pages
cover art

One thousand two hundred and thirty four pages of Harlan Ellison. He is perhaps the most talented writer of short fiction. This 84-story collection is far from complete, but it is a representative sample of Ellison's work. I highly recommend it. Harlan Ellison is not a science fiction author, although he is often pigeon-holed as one. He does write some science fiction, but he writes fantasy, horror, and whatever else strikes his fancy.

"There are writers who like being called science fiction writers... They're entitled to call themselves or their work whatever they please. By the same token, I should be permitted to call what I write what I choose to call it, which is Harlan Ellison stories."

The importance of titles: Ellison's story titles just scream out that they must be read.

  • Punky and the Yale Men
  • I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream
  • The Very Last Day of a Good Woman
  • Face-Down in Gloria Swanson's Swimming Pool
  • One Life, Furnished in Early Poverty
  • Daniel White for the Greater Good
  • Neither Your Jenny Nor Mine
  • "Repent, Harlequin!" Said the Ticktockman
  • Objects of Desire in the Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear
  • The Man Who Was Heavily Into Revenge

Harlan Ellison has an abrasive personality and it shows through in his fiction and his non-fiction pieces. Chances are he will offend you at some point during the thousand-plus pages of this omnibus (he has particularly little patience for religion, racism, and stupid people) but his excellent writing makes it worthwhile.

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