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Can & Can'tankerous

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  164 ratings  ·  50 reviews
The great English writer Michael Moorcock—and if his name does not leave you dumbstruck with awe, you should move on—called Ellison a “fox in the sf hen-coop” whose presence will “produce a brighter, faster hen, with improved survival characteristics, laying a tastier, more nourishing egg” and went on to say Ellison was “a brave and lively little beast, who makes a great ...more
Kindle Edition, 193 pages
Published December 31st 2015 by Subterranean Press (first published December 1st 2015)
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Jan 02, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Harlan Ellison either made me weird or made me grow up. I still cant figure out which one it is.

I was a normal but nerdy kid in my teens. I played the clarinet in the high school band, read voraciously, and sneaked peeks at horror movies on TV and scary comics when my parents weren't watching. I also discovered science fiction when I was eleven years old . The school and community library mainly had books by Heinlein, Clarke, Norton and Asimov, the nerdy boy's sci-fi drugs of choice. At 16, I
DNF @30%

Harlan Ellison used to be one of my favorite writers, and he's written so many classics that are near the top of my all-time favorites list.

I'm not sure what happened, if my old age or HIS old age got in the way, but I can't read this one. The stories that I finished made absolutely no sense, had no purpose that I could find.

I hate when that happens, it's so disappointing.
Stewart Tame
Apr 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A collection of new stories from Harlan Ellison is always a joyful occasion. I’ve been a fan of the man’s work for so long that it's impossible for me to be objective about it. The stories are brilliant and wonderful. They're always brilliant and wonderful. His output may have diminished over the years, but he writes as well as ever. Some highlights:

“How Interesting: A Tiny Man” is as fine as anything he’s ever written.

“From A to Z, in the Sarsaparilla Alphabet” echoes the format of “From A to
James Adams
May 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am an Ellison fan, and have been for almost twenty years, so I bought this book once I learned of it's existence. I was two years late, sorry.
The main reason for this purchase was "From A to Z in the Sarsaparilla Alphabet", spiritual sequel to "... Chocolate Alphabet", one of my favorite novellas ever. This one was quite good, but not quite on the level of the earlier piece.
That's a running theme here; there are echoes of earlier works all over this book, and if the stories don't live up to
The first book by Harlan Ellison I read was Angry Candy about 20 years ago, so I was curious to read this one, published in 2015. Ellison can get too "far out" for me, as can Terry Pratchett--but they both are special to Neil Gaiman, and for that alone, I wanted to try this one, published a year after Ellison had a stroke. It's a collection of writings that weren't published, and some are better than others. But as the last lines of the blurb on the back cover say: "Strokes be damned! Ellison's ...more
James Swenson
In the Afterword to "Goodbye to All That," the author writes, "All I'm saying is that this is a great short story...," with the emphasis in the original. One paragraph later, an introductory note begins with the sentence, "`He Who Grew Up Reading Sherlock Holmes' is -- I think -- an important story."

Harlan Ellison is a famous name, and I'd like to admire his stories, but there seems to be no chance I'll ever admire them as much as he does.
Steve Klemz
Jul 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The last collection of short stories published before Harlan's death. Certainly a couple of classics that will land in best of anthologies down the road. Time to pull out a few more volumes, his short stories are addictive.
Jun 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
I love Harlan Ellison. As far back as I can remember, I've always loved Harlan Ellison. I have a photograph of him speaking at a Star Trek convention some time back in the '80's. (FYI, it was not as cool back then to say you went to a con. Now that shit is conventional. Then, you were just weird. I dragged my dad to many many Star Trek conventions. I was super, extra-special weird.) I have two whole bookshelves filled with his books. I used to peruse the used bookstores in Chicago to find used ...more
Ralph Blackburn
Nov 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Can & Can'tankerous by Harlan Ellison- A police officer finds a hundred-year old body dead but also viably pregnant. A strange fortune cookie script sends a curious man on cosmic investigation. Such are the musings and wonderment of a Harlan Ellison short story collection. This is his latest and collects most, if not all, of his recent output plus some "lost" manuscripts from the past coming to the light, some for the first time. The stories are a mixed bag but the intro and afterword for ...more
Tim Hicks
Mar 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was going to give this four stars as I started, but then I thought, "Why not five?"
It doesn't break through the walls of SF/F as Ellison has so often done; as the notes mention, he's mellowed a bit. There isn't the shivering "ewww!" of I Have No Mouth or Repent, Harlequin. There is no sign of the curmudgeonly Harlan, although I don't remember that ever showing in his work anyway.

Just a solid book of clever, engaging, intelligent and interesting short stories, deftly told with his usual classy
Sep 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Harlan Ellison’s latest story collection has a loose overall theme of encounters with gods or godlike beings. These 10 stories showcase the sheer range of Ellison’s capabilities as a writer, combining elements of fantasy, science fiction, mystery, horror, and humor, depending on the needs of the story. The stories and interstitial introductions, afterwords and anecdotes work remarkably well together, creating a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. In particular, this collection ...more
Sep 03, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This collection of Harlan Ellison has some familiar favorites (Incognita Inc. specifically, although Never Send to Know for Whome the Lettuce Wilts is also absurdly fun), and a couple stories I hadn't run into before. I don't think I had seen the Sarsaparilla Alphabet in its complete form, or Goodbye to All That. None of the stories new to me are going to rank in his best, and you get a sense from Ellison's forewords and afterwords that he knew he was coming to the end of his writing days with ...more
Steven Middaugh
Oct 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Typically Cantankerous

The stories are excellent as always. There are a multitude of genres to choose from, science fiction, fantasy, horror, mystery/suspense, magical realism, fantastique, whatever. It's difficult to figure which story to recommend. I'd recommend all of them. However, the last three, the reader will have to use brain muscle, to get the electro-chemistry to circulate thru this big grey cell commonly called a brain, to figure what Ellison called "a Chinese puzzle box" stories. If
Jul 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018-read, kindle
I have long worshiped at Ellison's alter. I read most of my large Ellisonian collection between high school and college and sporadically since then. People have always said my vocabulary is good but compared with Ellison my vocabulary has regressed to that of a preschooler. This is not a bad thing, he makes me work harder. But these were not his best stories. They were good, interesting, unfortunately, at the end of most of the them I wasn't disquieted, I was confused. This isn't to say there ...more
Craig Childs
Jul 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Can & Can’tankerous is Harlan Ellison’s first collection of new material since Slippage (1997). That’s not to say he wasn’t busy over the last 19 years. He published 31 books, after all, but they were retrospectives, reprints (sometimes with updated material), collections of obscure stories and screenplays from the 1950’s-1970’s, and graphic novel adaptations of previously published work.

On the whole, this is a strong collection—with a Nebula award-winner and a Bram Stoker nominee--that
David Allen
A decent final book by Ellison collecting his 21st century output. I'd say two-thirds of the stories are entertaining, one-third weak. (I could have done without the Sarsaparilla Alphabet.) I don't know if Ellison was self-publishing for monetary or control reasons or because nobody wanted to work with him, but either way, it's a little sad that a writer of his stature was reduced to releasing this oddly sized, print-on-demand book. All that said, it's an envoi to a long, remarkable career.
Apr 08, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is Ellison's final volume of short stories before his death. In between stories, he talks a little about the stroke he had. Most of these stories are pretty entertaining, especially "The Toad Prince...". The only story that I didn't find interesting (and skipped after reading the entry for "B") was the Abcderian "From A to Z in the Sasparilla Alphabet".
Mary Spickler
Jan 30, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This collection of short stories is really hit-or-miss. I enjoyed some of the stories and others were so awful I wished I could regain the time wasted reading them. This author was recommended to me by a friend after discussing literary interests, and I plan on giving him a chance, reading some other of his books, but this one just wasn’t for me.
Steven Witt
Feb 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Harlan Ellison, in his seventh decade as one of the finest speculative fiction writers, is at his acerbic and Cantankerous best. This is a wonderful collection of his recent short stories, all lots-o-fun! If you haven't read Harlan before, this would be a great place to start. Find his books and stories.
Dec 03, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebooks, unfinished
Apparently I'm not much of a fan of Ellison's short fiction. Didn't finish.
Philip Athans
Aug 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Later, mostly satirical stories, this collection reads like a farewell.

Farewell, sir.
May 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: quirky, interesting
An interesting collection of short stories that really shine with a feast of obscure and well-chosen words.
Jun 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good collection of late (but not The Late) Ellison. Weird, funny, and usually pretty esoteric.
May 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Incognita, Inc. is my favorite but there are many close seconds...
This is one of those cases where it'd be a 3.5 if goodreads let us give half-stars.
Aug 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: humble-bundle
I've somehow managed to read virtually no Harlan Ellison before which seems crazy. I need to find a recommended reading order somewhere and try more.
Steve  Williams
Mar 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Short Stories as required reading.

This collection of short stories provided a complex journey of required readings. The stories include a preview and postscript that heightened the reading experience.
Jun 30, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
How Interesting: A Tiny Man ***oo
Never Send to Know for Whom the Lettuce Wilts **ooo
Objects of Desire in the Mirror Are Closer than They Appear **ooo
Loose Cannon (or, Rubber Duckies from Space) *000
From A-Z, in the Sarsparilla Alphabet *oooo
Weariness **ooo
The Toad Prince (or, Sex Queen of the Martian Pleasure-Domes) *000o
Incognita, Inc. **ooo
Goodbye to All That *oooo
He Who Grew Up Reading Sherlock Holmes **ooo

While I enjoyed Mr Ellison's works when I was much younger I see his later work as just
Feb 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
An interesting assortment of short stories by Harlan Ellison. Some of Ellison's work I am not very fond of, but this collection of stories is pretty good.
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Chaos Reading: Harlan Ellison's latest 2 21 Nov 24, 2015 10:10PM  

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Harlan Jay Ellison was a prolific American writer of short stories, novellas, teleplays, essays, and criticism.

His literary and television work has received many awards. He wrote for the original series of both The Outer Limits and Star Trek as well as The Alfred Hitchcock Hour; edited the multiple-award-winning short story anthology series Dangerous Visions; and served as creative
“(Awesome is the word one uses for Eleanor Roosevelt, Mt. Kilimanjaro, and pitching a no-hit no-run ballgame. Not available for the crappy cheese quesadilla you had this afternoon, nor for anybody who Dances with the Stars. With or without a wooden leg.)” 0 likes
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