Customer Review

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique, challenging and compelling, 19 Dec 2002
This review is from: Paingod and other delusions (Paperback)
Ellison, for the most part, has been out of print for the past twenty years, and that, in my opinion, is a bad thing. A very bad thing! During the 60s and 70s, he was not only the best writer of the New Wave of science-fiction, he was also the most original short story writer around. It can be said that he wrote like no one else. His style is vigorous, compelling and lucid. He grabs you by the scruff of your neck and makes you see what he wants you to see. No one else can hold a candle to him. A prolific writer, he wrote something like 700 stories, starting from the 50s and continuing through to the early 80s. The stories in this collection are from the 60s, and what a wonderful collection it is too.
'"Repent, Harlequin" said the Tick Tock Man' is a story every bit as good as it's title - and I think that the title is a real peach. In about 3000 words he describes a dystopia where society is ruthlessly regimented by the clock. If you are five minutes late for an appointment, you lose five minutes off your life. The Tick Tock Man (or the Master Timekeeper, to call him by his official title) rules with a ruthless efficiency, and relentlessly tracks down the Harlequin, the ultimate non-conformist who refuses to be on time and who ingeniously disrupts the smooth running of this soulless society. If you have read 1984, you will know what happens- but there is a lovely twist at the end, which I won't spoil by giving away. The story may sound daft but it works and works beautifully. His imagination is unique. His aim is true. In Paingod, another classic, he tries to explain why there is so much pain in the world and why it is so necessary. There are other glories here: 'The Discarded', 'The Crackpots' and 'Deeper Than Darkness.' All worth your perusal. Each story is preceded by a short introduction that is as readable, entertaining and lively as the stories.
Ellison is a wonderful writer who doesn't deserve the neglect that has befallen him. Buy this book and maybe -yes, just maybe! - it will encourage some enterprising publisher to reprint such essential collections as Strange Wine, Deathbird Stories, Alone Against Tomorrow, and Approaching Oblivion. Why Ellison isn't one of the most popular men of American letters utterly baffles me. He is as good as the best and better than most.
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