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Paingod and other delusions Paperback – 1 Dec 1999

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 172 pages
  • Publisher: e-reads.com (1 Dec. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0759229945
  • ISBN-13: 978-0759229945
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 816,112 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: 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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Harlan Ellison, born in America 1934, was a prolific sci-fi creator. His work includes a number of short stories, essays, novellas, and writing credits on the television shows The Outer Limits and Star Trek. The short stories found in his collection Paingod and Other Delusions present a good example of the variety of his work; ranging from the fantastic and surreal titular Paingod, which follows the adventure of the deity of pain as it comes to question it's purpose in the universe, to the meticulously scheduled society of Repent, Harlequin, Said the Ticktockman where any tardiness is punished by having the lost time docked from the end your life. Ellison mixes surrealism, science fiction, fantasy, and speculative fiction together with the skills of a gifted artist, and paints his worlds with a brush of social commentary.
This 1965 collection contains eight short stories, each with their own introduction by the author. In addition there are two introductions to the collection, the original introduction plus a newer one written in 1974. In 150 odd pages Ellison conjoures a number of worlds and characters, and takes the reader on journeys and adventures that will stick in your mind like splinters giving you cause to think more carefully about events and situations you may have idly brushed off before.
Despite Repent, Harlequin, Said the Ticktockman being generally considered as one of his finest works, my personal favourite in this collection was The Crackpots, a story that looks at the line between sanity and madness and asks "So which side am I on really?"
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I'm not sure where Harlan Ellison stands in the pantheon of Sci Fi / Fantasy writers these days, but this book of short stories is an absorbing read. His writing style is perhaps a little dated, or at least of its time, but some tales, such as the famous 'Repent Harlequin! Said The Tick Tock Man' still stand to contemporary scrutiny. I think I'll have to get more!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars 18 reviews
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The beginning of the Ellison we've come to know 22 Jan. 2003
By L. Stearns Newburg - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Ellison broke into print back in 1956, and in the ten years that followed, he wrote an extraordinary number of short stories. Yet prolific as he was from the beginning, he didn't start to hit the level of quality we associate with his mature work until the late '50s. Even then, a number of his stories in speculative fiction would contain scenes, images, and ideas that no one else could handle in those days, only to be marred somewhat by immaturity. This shows up in a lot of the pulp-sf appurtenances that he loaded the earlier stories with in this book. Stories like "The Discarded" and to a lesser extent, "Deeper Than the Darkness" touch places in the psyche that evoke genuine pain--then jar us with risible notions of mutants and somewhat puerile descriptions intended to horrify and shock.

Later stories in this book, such as "Bright Eyes" (1964) and "Repent, Harlequin!..." (1965) are more accomplished and controlled in this regard. I can still read them with considerable pleasure. "Deeper Than the Darkness" has a lot that can be said for it, too, but one must look past some of the pulp-sf crudities that I alluded to above.

The title story, "Paingod," is an interesting attempt that I don't think comes off entirely. A pretty good read, nevertheless.

So you get the picture: the book is a mixed bag, but an interesting one. The stories are often moving, because Ellison felt strongly about the issues embodied, and communicated it effectively. And the book is historically interesting, because it points the way to his later fiction.

Is the book up to the level of quality to be found in his later books, such as _Shatterday_ or _Angry Candy_? No, but that doesn't make it bad. If memory serves, Ellison was 31 when _Paingod_ appeared. The late Theodore Sturgeon wrote an appreciative review at the time where he recognized Ellison's promise on the basis of this book. Neither Sturgeon's probity nor his perspicacity are in doubt because of it. :-)

All in all, the book is worth reading if you're an aficionado of speculative fiction. Ten years ago, I might have said that some of these stories had become dated in a bad way. The cycle of world events seems to have swung back around, and the stories seem (to use a very '60s word) _relevant_ again. :-]
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A selection of great SF tales 19 Jun. 2000
By John Peter O'connor - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The stories in this collection were originally published in magazines between 1956 and 1965. Unlike much SF of that era, they have not lost their edge.
In part, this is down to Ellison's literary style which was head and shoulders above the majority of SF at that time. Thus today, when editors demand better writing, these stories can still satisfy. The other reason is that Ellison has an uncanny vision of the future which does not easily get outdated by the events of a few decades.
The stories contain lots of new ideas and the author uses the flexibility of the SF format to good effect.
This highlight must of course be "Repent, Harlequin!" said the Ticktockman which tells of a world rigidly controlled with everyone forced to conduct their affairs to maximise the efficiency of society. I think that this is one of the finest SF shorts ever written and it is certainly the best known of all the stories here.
Having praised that story, I should say that, with the exception of the final tale, "Deeper than the Darkness", I really liked everything here. They range from the sorrowful "Bright Eyes" to the wryly funny story "The Crackpots".
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It can truly be said that Ellison is a writer like no other! 19 Dec. 2002
By Penguin Egg - Published on Amazon.com
Format: 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. 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.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of his best 17 July 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is a strong Ellison collection. Though I'm less impressed with the famous "Repent, Harlequin" than most, it's definitely one of his most celebrated stories. I myself am partial to "Sleeping Dogs," one of his best "hard" SF stories, the very strange "Bright Eyes," "Deeper Than the Darkness," the poignant "Discarded," the celebratory "Crackpots" and the title track, a clear statement of Ellison's pessimistic/romantic world view, elegantly stated even if I don't share Ellison's outlook.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book with a pulse! 26 Feb. 2006
By Kev - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Ellison writes with humanity that you can feel in your gut and an imagination that makes Star Wars look like C-SPAN. On top of all of that there is often a lot of humor and cutting wit weaved into his stories as well. It's science fiction as poetry. Ellison never insults the intellect of his readers (in fact he challenges it) but he also isn't afraid of dealing with science fiction pulp standards like mutants, aliens and spaceships. I'll give you one quick sample line:

"The dead were everywhere, sighing soundlessly with milk-white eyes at a tomorrow that had never come."

(that line is from a story where the main character is an alien riding a giant rat named Thomas carrying a bag of skulls. Yeah...)

Also the short story "Repent Harlequin!", Said the Ticktockman is included in this book, which is one of my personal favorites! The introductions before each story are also great and give you an insight into Ellison's personality, as do the stories themselves. If youre unfamiliar with Ellison this is a good starter or check out The Beast That Shouted Love at the Heart of the World.
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