This review is from: Dangerous Visions (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
Harlan Ellison collected these thirty-two stories to familiarize readers with the "new" voice in 1960's science fiction which broke taboos, flouted conventions, and challenged assumptions. He solicited stories which had something to say. "Each story is almost obstinately entertaining. But each one is filled with ideas as well. Not merely run-of-the-pulps ideas you've read a hundred times before, but fresh and daring ideas."
Here are seven that seemed a little better than the others:
- Frederik Pohl's "The Day After the Day the Martians Came" - When the Martians arrive there is worldwide excitement. Then the wonder wears off and everybody starts talking about them.
- Miriam deFord's "The Malley System" - A new method of punishing violent criminals reduces the recidivism rate dramatically. But not the rehabilitation rate.
- Larry Niven's "The Jigsaw Man" - In the future there is strong public support for an organ donation program integrated with the driving licensing process. What possible harm?
- James Cross's "The Doll-House" - This is more of a three-wishes-from-a-genie fantasy story than it is science fiction. The moral: Treat your genie well.
- John Brunner's "Judas" - This story reenacts an important New Testament lesson.
- Norman Spinrad's "Carcinoma Angels" - A man who has achieved everything is diagnosed with cancer. He fights and wins his last battle. Alone.
- Samuel Delany's "Aye, and Gomorrah..." - Explores relationships between asexual Spacers, who are neutered before puberty, and frelk, who are attracted to them.
This anthology and its second volume, Again, Dangerous Visions, are important landmarks in science fiction history and contain some innovative and provocative ideas. There is a noticeable, but not off-putting air of adolescence about the way many of the stories jump in the reader's face. You can get a feel for this from two of the shorter stories. Henry Slesar's "Ersatz" delivers a sexual shock (to 1960's sensibilities) without having much else to say. Damon Knight's "Shall the Dust Praise Thee?" makes similar gratuitous use of a religious topic. It's a sixties thing.
Nevertheless, there are some good stories that are worth reading.