Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Dangerous Visions

Dangerous Visions

Rate this book
The most honored anthology of fantastic fiction ever published, featuring the works of such luminaries as Isaac Asimov, Robert Silverberg, Philip Jose Farmer, Robert Bloch, Philip K. Dick, Larry Niven, Fritz Leiber, Poul Anderson, Damon Knight, J.G. Ballard, John Brunner, Frederik Pohl, Roger Zelazny and Samuel Delany.

xi • Foreword: Year 2002 (Dangerous Visions 35th Anniversary Edition) • (2002) • essay by Michael Moorcock
xiii • Introduction: Year 2002 (Dangerous Visions 35th Anniversary Edition • (2002) • essay by Harlan Ellison
xxiii • Foreword 1-The Second Revolution • (1967) • essay by Isaac Asimov
xxxiii • Introduction: Thirty-Two Soothsayers • (1967) • essay by Harlan Ellison (variant of Thirty-Two Soothsayers)
xxxix • Foreword 2-Harlan and I • (1967) • essay by Isaac Asimov
1 • Evensong • (1967) • shortstory by Lester del Rey
9 • Flies • (1967) • shortstory by Robert Silverberg
21 • The Day After the Day the Martians Came • (1967) • shortstory by Frederik Pohl (variant of The Day the Martians Came)
30 • Riders of the Purple Wage • (1967) • novella by Philip José Farmer
105 • The Malley System • (1967) • shortstory by Miriam Allen deFord
115 • A Toy for Juliette • (1967) • shortstory by Robert Bloch
128 • The Prowler in the City at the Edge of the World • (1967) • novelette by Harlan Ellison
154 • The Night That All Time Broke Out • (1967) • shortstory by Brian W. Aldiss
169 • The Man Who Went to the Moon - Twice • (1967) • shortstory by Howard Rodman
181 • Faith of Our Fathers • (1967) • novelette by Philip K. Dick
216 • The Jigsaw Man • [Known Space] • (1967) • shortstory by Larry Niven
231 • Gonna Roll the Bones • (1967) • novelette by Fritz Leiber
256 • Lord Randy, My Son • (1967) • shortstory by Joe L. Hensley
272 • Eutopia • (1967) • novelette by Poul Anderson
295 • Incident in Moderan • [Moderan] • (1967) • shortstory by David R. Bunch
299 • The Escaping • (1967) • shortstory by David R. Bunch
305 • The Doll-House • (1967) • shortstory by James Cross
326 • Sex and/or Mr. Morrison • (1967) • shortstory by Carol Emshwiller
338 • Shall the Dust Praise Thee? • (1967) • shortstory by Damon Knight
344 • If All Men Were Brothers, Would You Let One Marry Your Sister? • (1967) • novella by Theodore Sturgeon
390 • What Happened to Auguste Clarot? • (1967) • shortstory by Larry Eisenberg
396 • Ersatz • (1967) • shortstory by Henry Slesar
404 • Go, Go, Go, Said the Bird • (1967) • shortstory by Sonya Dorman
412 • The Happy Breed • (1967) • shortstory by John Sladek [as by John T. Sladek ]
433 • Encounter with a Hick • (1967) • shortstory by Jonathan Brand
439 • From the Government Printing Office • (1967) • shortstory by Kris Neville
447 • Land of the Great Horses • (1967) • shortstory by R. A. Lafferty
458 • The Recognition • (1967) • shortstory by J. G. Ballard
472 • Judas • (1967) • shortstory by John Brunner
483 • Test to Destruction • (1967) • novelette by Keith Laumer
510 • Carcinoma Angels • (1967) • shortstory by Norman Spinrad
523 • Auto-da-Fé • (1967) • shortstory by Roger Zelazny
532 • Aye, and Gomorrah . . . • (1967) • shortstory by Samuel R. Delany

592 pages, Paperback

First published October 1, 1967

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Harlan Ellison

986 books2,092 followers
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 consultant/writer to the science fiction TV series The New Twilight Zone and Babylon 5.

Several of his short fiction pieces have been made into movies, such as the classic "The Boy and His Dog".


Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
4,022 (44%)
4 stars
3,027 (33%)
3 stars
1,490 (16%)
2 stars
311 (3%)
1 star
105 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 372 reviews
Profile Image for Kevin Kelsey.
405 reviews2,197 followers
May 25, 2018
Posted at Heradas

Something clicked in my head when I turned thirty; I started devouring older science fiction stories. I was an avid reader during my teens, but I read very little during my twenties for whatever reason. I think I suddenly realized how many valuable novels and stories and how much interesting history and perspective I missed out on throughout my twenties. Catching up for lost time became a real priority in my thirties.

The Golden Age science fiction stories of the thirties, forties and fifties were a little less focused on stylistic prose or quality writing, and a little too culturally and scientifically removed from my era to interest me. Instead of beginning there, I jumped forward to the New Wave era that hit in the mid sixties. Story-wise, New Wave was much more inwardly focused, and valued style and prose as much as the Golden Age valued grand ideas and outward exploration. This was the beginning of what a lot of folks today call "Literary Science Fiction" or "Speculative Fiction". It was a concerted effort spearheaded by Harlan Ellison® (yes, his name actually has a ® in it) to bring Sci-Fi out of the pulps and show the world the literary value of speculation in fiction.

Dangerous Visions is the defining Speculative Fiction anthology of the New Wave era. Released in 1967, this anthology announced New Wave SF to the world. It contains 35 stories, each never before published. When assembling the anthology, Ellison had each author write a story that they thought explored a dangerous vision or concept. There are some excellent stories here, a few decent ones, and some real stinkers that are terribly trite and not at all dangerous or visionary. Then again, it's hard to read these within the context of the time in which they were written. Free love, the civil rights movement, women's lib, etc. Considering all of this, I was surprised by how misogynistic and backward some of these stories were. There has been a lot of progress since the sixties.

Harlan Ellison® writes an introduction to every story, and the author has a brief afterword. The introductions quickly became my least favorite part of the book, as Ellison gushes and extols endlessly about each author. It became a little tedious, like an advertisement by a stakeholder for their project right experiencing the project itself. I eventually began skipping the introductions, only coming back to read them if I wanted more background about an author or story. I would much rather let each work speak for itself than hear the editor of the anthology tell me why it was valuable.

Some of these stories may have been dangerous visions in the late sixties. Now? Mostly not so much. I still immensely enjoyed the anthology, and there is a huge wealth of knowledge and historical perspective to be gained by reading it. I rated each story individually, with the average rating for the whole collection being 3 out of 5, rounded up.


Individual reviews:
Evensong, Lester del Rey: 4/5
A desperate God on the run from Man's vengeance. The idea of man slowly becoming more and more powerful, until God must fear Man. Very nice prose.

Flies, Robert Silverberg: 1/5
Robert Silverberg completely botches the definition of empathy in the most pseudo-intellectual manner imaginable. I get what he was trying to say, but he failed miserably.

The Day After the Day After the Martians Came, Fredrick Pohl: 3/5
Probably really great in '67, but it relied very heavily on cultural jokes that everyone at the time would've been familiar with; I've never heard any of them. Still a cool little story.

Riders of the Purple Wage, Philip Jose Farmer: 1/5
Nearly incoherent misogynistic rambling about a future where everyone is mentally deficient. He almost had an idea, but gets distracted by how women are fat liars and just want to have abortions all of the time. This is Ellison's favorite story in the collection, which is uh... okay dude.

The Malley System, Miriam Allen deFord: 2/5
A future in which violent crimes are punished in unique ways. It didn't really resonate with me.

A Toy for Juliette, Robert Bloch: 5/5
Terrific. Sadistic and disturbing, but written very well and with a nice cyclical tone.

The Prowler in the City at the Edge of the World, Harlan Ellison: 2/5
A sequel to the previous story. Started out strong, but devolved rather rapidly. I find myself disliking Ellison more and more as I go on.

The Night That All Time Broke Out, Brian W. Aldiss: 3/5
Cool premise, uneven execution.

The Man who Went to the Moon Twice, Howard Rodman: 4/5
Not speculative fiction at all, but I really liked it.

Faith of our Fathers, Philip K. Dick: 3/5
This one had a lot going for it; a little let down by the ending.

The Jigsaw Man, Larry Niven: 3/5
Tackles the problem of organ shortages in a world were immortality is in reach…for some.

Gonna Roll The Bones, Fritz Leiber: 4/5
I nearly didn't read this one after suffering through its terribly heavy handed first sentence. I'm glad I did. Like most old science fiction, it was too misogynistic for my liking, but the storytelling and prose eventually won me over.

Lord Randy, My Son, Joe L. Hensley: 5/5
My favorite so far. Great characters, and a captivating, sad story.

Eutopia, Poul Anderson: 4/5
Inter dimensional anthropology. I liked this one, although the language was a bit too 'fantasy' for my personal tastes.

Incident in Moderan, David R. Bunch: 5/5
Happy warmonger robots. Awesome.

The Escaping, David R. Bunch: 0/5
Terrible. Total gibberish.

The Doll-House, James Cross: 3/5
Like a twilight zone episode. One of those cautionary tales.

Sex and/or Mr Morrison, Carol Emshwiller: 3/5
I like her writing style. I didn't quite get the story but the prose was beautiful.

Shall The Dust Praise Thee?, Damon Knight: 3/5
God's vengeance may have been a little bit more than he bargained for. It seems that man could only take so much torment. This could've been executed a lot better, but I liked the concept.

If All Men Were Brothers, Would You Let One Marry Your Sister?, Theodore Sturgeon: 5/5
So far, the only story that I would actually consider a 'Dangerous Vision'. It's disturbing, and pokes at deeply held moral and cultural constructs. It also really weirded me out. Disturbing.

What Happens To Auguste Clarot?, Larry Eisenberg: 1/5

Ersatz, Henry Slesar: 2/5
Slightly less meh.

Go, Go, Go, Said The Bird, Sonya Dorman: 2/5
Post apocalyptic cannibals.

The Happy Breed, John T. Sladek: 4/5
People slowly turning their happiness over to machines. A really solid little cautionary tale, born of a fear of technology. It's even more interesting thinking about how much more we depend on technology these days.

Encounter With a Hick, Jonathan Brand: 3/5
A fun little biblical/evolution bar conversation recounted to an authority.

From the Government Printing Office, Kris Neville: 1/5
Told from the POV of a 3.5 year old in the future. Boring.

Land of the Great Horses, R. A. Lafferty: 4/5
Cool little story about the origin of Gypsies.

The Recognition, J.G. Ballard: 3/5
Terrific writing, not speculative fiction at all. Not particularly dangerous either—maybe in the 60s—in the 2010s it’s a bit trite.

Judas, John Brunner: 5/5
Okay, I have to read more John Brunner. This story was incredible and exactly the type of thing I was looking for in this book. Solid solid solid.

Test to Destruction, Keith Laumer: 4/5
Political usurping, tyrany, sentient hive mind aliens, testing people's limits and morality.

Carcinoma Angels, Norman Spinrad: 3/5
An overachiever sets his sights on cancer; takes it one step too far. This one is kind of quirky/fun.

AUTO-DA-FÉ, Roger Zelazny: 3/5
Man vs machine, told in a matador vs bull analogy. I liked it. It felt like a fairytale or half remembered dream of a mechanic.

Aye, and Gomorrah…, Samuel R. Delany: 1/5
A story about attraction between earth bound people, and neutered space dwelling people. Interesting concept, bad execution. It didn’t flow well, and was hard to follow.
Profile Image for Paul Bryant.
2,194 reviews9,454 followers
September 15, 2019
A masochistic box-ticking exercise for me, I just had to find out what this big monster was all about. It was designed to be ultra-controversial, radical, taboo-busting and revolutionary, printing all the bad-ass stories no respectable sf editors would touch with the nosecone of their grandmother’s old rocket. Described by one critic as :

Without a doubt the best and most important single anthology of original sf work ever to appear

I found two great stories ("The Jigsaw Man" by Larry Niven and "The Escaping" by David R Bunch, a new (old) name for me, must investigate him) and a whole lot of borderline unreadable stuff and a fair amount of actually unreadable stuff including "Riders of the Purple Wage", 70 pages of sf for people who have heard of Finnegans Wake – no thank you. Also I got way more incest than I’m used to, in a story called "If all men were brothers, would you let one marry your sister?" by Theodore Sturgeon. This was a thought experiment all about a planet colonised by humans where the taboo about incest doesn’t exist and the whole of society turns into a virtual paradise. Recommended for anyone wishing to dislocate their jaw. Genuinely radical, as so many of the other stories really weren’t. But that didn’t make it good. Not even slightly.

And because of the remarkable braggadocio of Harlan Ellison, the carnival barker at the edge of the universe, the big bad wolf huffing and puffing at the door of the house of science fiction, as well as the stories I also got

A Foreword
An introduction
Another foreword
A third foreword
A second introduction
An introduction to each of the stories
An author comment at the end of each story

The effect was like the old World War Two sergeant’s approach to training new recruits : first I tells ‘em what I’m going to tell ‘em, then I tells ‘em, then I tells ‘em what I told ‘em. The other effect was to have TOO MUCH of Harlan Ellison banging on about his ex wife, the great times he had in San Francisco, getting stopped by the cops in Indiana, and so forth and so on.

Oh well, it’s done now.

Profile Image for Glenn Russell.
1,356 reviews11.8k followers
April 15, 2022

If any anthology of short stories written by multiple authors qualifies as a classic, it is Harlan Ellison's 1967 Dangerous Visions, a collection of 33 previously unpublished, highly swingin' 60s original, high dangerous to the status quo tales from what has since become widely known as New Wave Science Fiction with such authors as Philip K. Dick, J.G. Ballard, Samuel R. Delany, Theodore Sturgeon, and Brian W. Aldiss.

The updated 2011 SF Masterworks edition is the one to read since it not only includes Harlan Ellison's original Introduction but Harlan's more recent 2002 Introduction, a Forward by Michael Moorcock and an introductory essay by Adam Roberts.

I so wish I could share a write-up on every single story within this collection but since I'm writing a book review not a book, I'll contain myself and offer a few words on four of my favorites:

Mr. Mandala runs his Florida motel near Cape Kennedy and must deal with all those damn reporters and newshounds crowding his motel lobby prior to racing off to catch the latest scoop on the Martians brought back by American astronauts. He yells at Ernest, his colored bellmen (author’s language), to clear out the back room so more cots can be set up. Ernest raises his voice above the crowd and lets Mr. Mandala know there simply isn’t a square inch of empty space and, besides which, there are no more cots. Mr. Mandala shouts: “You’re arguing with me, Ernest. I told you to quit arguing with me.”

Meanwhile the newsmen (all men, no women since this is the mid-1960s) are sitting around tables playing poker and exchanging Martian jokes, jokes usually featuring degraded sex and Martian stupidity. An official from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration comes on the TV and says that from an initial examination of the Martians it appears they are vertebrate, warm-blooded and make sounds that are some sort of language.

Mr. Mandala asks everyone to hold down their voices since it is early morning and some people in his motel are still sleeping. The newsmen ignore him and keep on telling Martian jokes, throwing in even more references to Catholics, Irish and women while one of the intellectual types, a pipe smoker, says he heard those Martians really stink.

Mr. Mandala judges all this Martian stuff as sheer nonsense and wonders why people are interested and even care about creatures who craw on long, weak limbs, gasp heavily in Earth gravity and stare out at TV cameras with their long, dull Martian eyes. Frustrated at all the hullabaloo in his usually quiet motel, he lashes out once again at Ernest, insisting he come out and do some more clean up.

Mr. Mandala then steps outside to clear his head. Shortly thereafter the newsmen pile into their cars and head off to Cape Kennedy for the next official briefing. Mr. Mandala goes back in, grabs a couple of cold bottles of Coke and makes his way to the back to find Ernest. The two men kick back and relax. Mr. Mandala admits it has been a rough night for both of them and tells Ernest that he thinks six months from now nobody will remember anything about those Martian and how their coming to our planet will not make a nickel’s worth of difference. Ernest replies mildly that he hates to disagree but “I don’t think so. Going to make a difference to some people. Going to make a damn big difference to me.”

In the tale's Afterword, Frederik Pohl states it is his conviction that a story speak for itself. But he does relay how he had a most revealing conversation with a Alabama minister in the weeks after he wrote the story, a minister who said he encourages his congregation to read science fiction for two reasons: 1) they might worry about green-skinned Martians instead of black-skinned Americans, and 2) that all men are brothers in a universe where there are probably other creatures out there who are not human.

"The Day of Wrath arrived. The sky pealed with trumpets, agonized, summoning. Everywhere the dry rocks rose, groaning, and fell back in rubble. Then the sky split, and in the dazzle appeared a throne of white fire, in a rainbow that burned green." So begins this short parable-like tale where the Lord God Jehovah returns to Earth with his host of angels. Proclamations are made. The Earth shakes. But what the Lord God Jehovah and his angels discover in England on the wall of a chamber buried in a deep pit serves as the ultimate surprise.

In the tale's Afterward, Damon Knight recounts how his agent returned this story to him with loathing and said it might be possible to sell such a story to one and only one publication: Moscow's Atheist Journal. Damon acknowledges the question asked in the story is a frivolous one, at least for him, since he doesn't believe in Jehovah; however, for someone who does believe in such a God, the question raised in the story is an important one.

As Harlan Ellison said, Larry Eisenberg should be put away for submitting such a story to him for inclusion in a collection of science fiction. And he himself as editor should be put away for accepting such a story to be part of his Dangerous Visions. Furthermore, as Harlan goes on to say, any reader who makes it to the end of What Happened to Auguste Clarot? should likewise be put away. Since I made it to the end of the story, even reading Eisenberg's Afterward, should I, in fact, be put away? If anybody cares to read this story and offer a suggestion, please feel free.

CARCINOMA ANGELS by Norman Spinrad
As a kid, Harrison Wintergreen made a potful of money by collecting baseball cards. In high school he became expert at test-taking and won seven college scholarships. Once in college, he was big man on campus - all the beautiful girls loved him but he soon became bored with school and decided to become rich by first writing a string of sex novels, then trading in sports cars, then wheeling and dealing in Las Vegas and finally investing in hot properties. By the age of twenty-five Harrison was not only rich but filthy rich.

As a kind of 1960s version of Bill Gates, Harrison first engaged in all sorts of charity around the globe then expanded his worldwide influence by inventing timesaving gadgets and writing best selling novels. Thus our all-American wiz kid did it all and was counted as among the greatest men alive. But, then, horror of horrors, at age forty, Harrison Wintergreen was informed he had an incurable case of cancer.

Receiving the news you have the big C is never good news but back in the 1960s being diagnosed with cancer was a death sentence. Lung cancer was among the biggest culprits where men and women who smoked cigarettes dropped like flies. Carcinoma is a cancer that starts in tissue cells that line the inner or outer surfaces of the body and once those cancer cells get going - watch out! They multiple, turn fierce and can soon overwhelm the entire body.

As an absolute last resort, Harrison Wintergreen takes powerful drugs, including illegal hallucinogens to enter his own body and do battle with those death dealing cancer cells directly. Curiously, back in 1967 in high school, a teacher told the story of someone taking LSD and entering his own body. I took this story as truth at the time. I wonder if that teacher read or heard of this Norman Spinrad tale. Hmmm. . . perhaps such LSD induced internal travel was a common cultural myth at the time.

The decade of the 60s was the heyday for California Hell's Angels motorcycle gang, the ultimate symbol of defiance to the safety of middle class America. Norman Spinrad's linking Hell's Angels to cancer cells was a stroke of literary genius. Once the hallucinogens kick in and he is in his body, Harrison faces off against his deadly adversary: "Black the cycle. Black the riding leathers. Black, dull black, the face of the rider save for two glowing blood-red eyes. And emblazoned across the front and back of the black motorcycle jacket in shining scarlet studs the legend: "Carcinoma Angels.""

It's a battle to the end. To find out if Harrison lives or dies, you will have to read for yourself.

Literary bad boy Harlan Ellison (1934-2018) was expelled from Ohio State University for punching a professor who slammed his writing. Thereafter, any time Harlan had a work published over his long career, he sent a copy to the professor.
Profile Image for Stephen.
1,516 reviews11k followers
July 10, 2011
6.0 stars. This is one case in which THE HYPE DON'T LIE and the HUGENORMOUS helpings of hallelujahs heaped on Harlan (Ellison) have hardly been hyperbole. Sorry about that, but it was fun to write. Seriously though, this book's Andre the Giant-sized reputation of amazing had me thinking there was no way for me to end up anywhere but disappointmentville. Uh...I was WRONG. This anthology is every bit as delicious as its press would have you believe.

It's fair to say that this collection has reached “legendary” status within the realm of speculative short fiction and certainly is a cornerstone in the mystique of Harlan Ellison as THE agent provocateur of the genre. I am still working my way through the book so this review will only cover the stories listed below (the first half of the book). These stories are evocative enough for me that I am reading them a few at a time to avoiding becoming emotionally catatonic.

There are a few stories that I would say are only “good” and one story that I just did not like, probably because its brilliance was just over my head...I will take full blame for that one. However, the vast majority of the stories are not just great but EXTRAORDINARY and will stay with you long after you finish. HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION!!!


Evensong by Lester Del Rey (6.0 stars): What a way to set the tone for a collection. This superb nugget is an allegory dealing with the "capture" by man of a powerful alien (his identity is part of the big reveal…though you can probably guess) in the end game of a galactic power struggle. Powerful, insightful and very original. Everything that short speculative fiction should be.

Flies by Robert Silverberg (6.0 stars): One of my early favorites in the collection. An alien race tries to reconstruct a horribly wounded man, but they decide to make one or two minor “alterations” while they're at it. Inspired by the line from King Lear: "As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods. They kill us for their sport." VERY graphic, VERY disturbing and VERY, VERY good.

The Day After the Day the Martians Came by Frederic Pohl (4.0 stars): This is a good, but not great, story which illustrates man’s unfortunate ability to ridicule and hate any minority group (including those not from this planet). I would have liked this story more if the tone had not been so “tongue in cheek” as I think the seriousness of the theme would have been better addressed in a straight forward manner.

Riders of the Purple Wage by Philip Jose Farmer (2.0 stars): This is the story I mentioned above that is the only one that I really didn’t like and I am more then willing to believe that it is because it just went over my head. On one hand, this is probably the most ORIGINAL story in the entire collection as far as the prose, the narrative style and even the subject matter. On the other hand, except for some very funny moments and some clever phrasing, reading the story itself was more a chore than a pleasure. I may give this a re-read in the future but upon first inspection, this one just did not work for me.

The Malley System by Miriam Allen deFord (6.0 stars): Another absolutely fantastic story about a very unique method of dealing with homicidal criminals. A MUST READ!!

A Toy for Juliette by Robert Bloch (6.0 stars): Another candidate for best story. This incredible story revolves around Jack “the Ripper” being pulled into a dystopic future by a sadistic femme fatale and her mysterious grandfather. I know I probably sound like a broken record regarding how good most of these stories are (but that is just how good most of these stories are).

The Prowler in the City at the Edge of the World by Harlan Ellison (6.0 stars): Written as a follow-up to "A Toy for Juliette" in which Jack the Ripper finds himself in a sterile futuristic metropolis where people are free to do WHATEVER they want and finds the experience less than pleasurable. An amazing story by THE MASTER himself.

The Night That All Time Broke Out by Brian W. Aldiss (3.0 stars): Quirky and very imaginative story about "time" going haywire. The story was interesting but it felt out of place in the collection of dark, disturbing, boundary stretching stories. One of the few that I can not say is great.

The Man Who Went to the Moon — Twice by Howard Rodman (5.0 stars): This is a great example of tone and prose being used to disguise the underlying power of the narrative. This seemingly simple, pastoral story is really an emotionally powerful lesson on the need people have to connect with other people and feel a part of life. I have thought about this story a lot in the time since I first read it over a year ago.

Faith of Our Fathers by Philip K. Dick (5.0 stars): Set in a dystopian future where Chinese style communism has taken over the world, this classic story is one in which Philip Dick pulls no punches in a scathing full frontal assault on faith, religion and God. Very disturbing, but among the best PKD pieces I have ever read.


Profile Image for Rachel (Kalanadi).
722 reviews1,406 followers
April 9, 2019
I have few positive things to say about this anthology. So here goes.

I don't like Harlan Ellison at all; I ended up skipping most of the story introductions (they were unnecessary anyway). Everything I had ever heard about the man made it sound like he was an egotistical, arrogant, vicious little asshole, who wrote good stuff but will be remembered mostly for being a vicious little asshole. (And that is sad and regrettable). And I'm only writing this in a public place because I feel safe doing so with the knowledge that he is now dead, and can't come after me personally, which is apparently not an uncommon feeling, especially for those people who got actual death threats and lawsuits from him. ... Then I actually read words that Harlan Ellison wrote for the first time in this anthology and immediately wanted him to shut up, get to the point, and let the writers do their thing without him inserting himself at every turn. But, ugh, no, he writes an introduction to every story (except his own, but don't worry, he has his own afterword) and somehow makes it all about...him.

So, moving on.

The majority of the stories I disliked, frequently because the "dangerous" content was off-putting, seemingly for shock value, or just extremely dated. I don't think younger generations can really ever experience these stories in their original and ground-breaking context. And because this anthology *was* so influential, a lot of the stories seem very familiar: what is now well-worn territory.

What I objected too, especially in the first third or so, was the misogyny and some really graphic depictions of violence towards women. Yeah, sure, it's "dangerous" because the stories are about sex, politics, religion, drugs...but also let's just casually beat up ex-wives and slice and dice prostitutes. (I'm looking at you, Silverberg, Bloch, and Ellison.) Oh, and child rape and child abuse.


I did, however, enjoy reading up on the history of the anthology itself and its sequels. That's far more interesting today than the actual stories, IMO. Especially the saga of the never published TLDV.

But did I actually like anything in this enough to recommend it? No. Don't bother unless you make a point of reading such things for historical education. Find some free reprints of "Faith of Our Fathers", "Eutopia", "Go, Go, Go, Said the Bird", "The Recognition", "Carcinoma Angels", and "Aye, and Gomorrah". Then call it a day.
Profile Image for FotisK.
355 reviews157 followers
August 15, 2020
Δύσκολο -αν όχι αδύνατο- μια συλλογή διηγημάτων που κυκλοφόρησε τη δεκαετία του 60 να παραμείνει…επικίνδυνη. Πρόκειται βέβαια για ιστορική συλλογή, η οποία καθόρισε τη σύγχρονη ΕΦ και συγκεκριμένα το λεγόμενο New Wave – εν ολίγοις την προσπάθεια του είδους να ενηλικιωθεί τόσο στιλιστικά όσο και θεματικά, τροφοδοτούμενη από τα σύγχρονα λογοτεχνικά ρεύματα.

Διαβάζοντάς τη τώρα, βρήκα πολλά από τα διηγήματα που εκείνη την εποχή επιχείρησαν να καινοτομήσουν ξεπερασμένα και μάλλον αδιάφορα (κάπως σαν τον Γκοντάρ και μερίδα σκηνοθετών της Nouvelle Vague), ακριβώς γιατί η αγωνία τους να διαφοροποιηθούν τους κόστισε σε βάθος χρόνου (το κλασικό πρόβλημα των πρωτοποριών). Ενδεικτικό παράδειγμα το διήγημα του Farmer, το οποίο προσπάθησε να φέρει τον Τζόυς στην ΕΦ, με φαιδρά -κατά τη γνώμη μου- αποτελέσματα.
Τουναντίον, κάποιες ιστορίες που ενδιαφέρθηκαν να κρατήσουν την εσωτερική τους συνοχή, να παραμείνουν πρώτιστα ενδιαφέρουσες ιστορίες ΕΦ και δευτερευόντως "σοβαρή" λογοτεχνία, διαβάζονται με περίσσιο ε��διαφέρον.

Όλα αυτά είναι όμως περιττά, καθότι όποιος αγαπάει το είδος της speculative fiction και θαυμάζει τα Ιερά Τέρατα που συνεισέφεραν στον τόμο αυτόν, ήδη έχει άποψη και δεν περιμένει τη δική μου γκρίνια.
Profile Image for Bill.
308 reviews312 followers
January 22, 2012
The best sf anthology ever. And I mean ever!

so it's been 45 years since this book was first published. i don't remember whether i read this when it came out in 1967 or whether it was a few years later. it doesn't really matter, all i know is the book had a massive impact on me and got me seriously interested in sf. in any event, it was a long time ago when i was just a teenager.

after i read this book, i read sf almost exclusively for quite a long time...maybe 15 years or so. then i gradually strayed away from it for various reasons, and eventually stopped reading sf altogether. just in the last year or so, i have been getting back into it, and really enjoying it for the most part, reading both classic sf from long ago, and finding out that there are some really great new sf authors that i was completely unfamiliar with.

so then i decided i would go back to the book that started it all for me and re-read Dangerous Visions.keep in mind that this book is regarded by many (including me) as the finest sf anthology ever published. it has garnered many honors, and been in print constantly for over 40 years. all of the stories were, at the time, considered to be truly ground-breaking and cutting edge stuff.

so it was with some trepidation that i started reading it again. keep in mind that most of the authors in this anthology are now dead. in fact ellison himself is almost 80 years old. so i was considerably worried that the stories would seem dated, and not have anywhere near the impact on me that they did the first time around. i needn't have worried, the stories were all just as fresh and cutting edge as if they had been written in the last year instead of 45 years ago.

so, it's still the best sf anthology ever written, and if i was going to be marooned on an island and was only allowed one book, this would be it. it's that good.

and by the way, the sequel Again, Dangerous Visions is very close to being just as good. Unfortunately, it would appear that the infamous last dangerous visions is never going to appear, as it was first going to be published in 1973 and has yet to see the light of day.

so, if you haven't read this book and you are even remotely a fan of sf, i strongly urge you to rush out, buy it, and read it immediately. i promise you won't be disappointed. and if you have never tried sf, you should definitely read it as well. you may well find it opens whole new worlds for you, like it did for me.
Profile Image for Manny.
Author 29 books13.6k followers
January 9, 2011
This daring, ground-breaking, iconoclastic anthology, edited by the great Harlan Ellison, came out in 1967. He encouraged the contributors to push the boundaries, expand the envelope, think the unthinkable and mention sex, religion, politics, sex, sex, and things like that. You know, the kind of stuff you wouldn't normally find in a short story that had passed John W. Campbell's desk on its way to a million pimply teenage SF fans. (Disclaimer: I was one of those fans, even though I wasn't quite a teenager yet).

So, here's one of the shocking, out-of-the-box stories in the collection. It's called Eutopia, and it's a parallel world yarn in which the classical Greeks kept their role as the dominant society on Earth. The hero is this classical Greek guy who's visiting a primitive outpost, and he's got himself into trouble by sleeping with someone he shouldn't have. He's running for his life, making for his time machine or portal or whatever it is so that he can get back home, and thinking that he ought to have had more sense. Why ever did he get involved with this backwoods hick when his lovely Nikki was there at home patiently waiting for him? Now, you'll have guessed there's a twist, and what a twist it is! Wait for it... are you ready... it turns out that Nikki is... A BOY!!! Gasp! Well, those classical Greeks were like that, don't you know?

I thought of this story several times this week while reading Marguerite Yourcenar's Mémoires d'Hadrien, a meticulously accurate reconstruction of the Emperor Hadrian's life which came out sixteen years before Dangerous Visions was published. Yourcenar takes it for granted that Hadrian, like pretty much everyone else of his class and era, was bisexual. She somehow pulls off the amazing feat of presenting his feelings for beautiful young boys in his own terms, without in any way judging him by twentieth century standards. The affair with Antinoüs is one of the most moving sequences in the book.

I can't help feeling there's a moral here. Any suggestions?
Profile Image for George Kaslov.
99 reviews132 followers
March 19, 2020
Harlan Ellison (trademarked) managed to create something special here with his wish to break SF out of the 50s and into the 60s and onward.

Just like with any other anthology, there will be good stories, bad stories, excellent stories and terrible stories, but this anthology deserves its cult status with the larger number of good stories. With this collection of Authors it was kind of inevitable. Unfortunately not all of them aged very well, or better yet some of them are nothing special now (that is a success for the genre actually). Now, love it or hate it Ellison also introduced every Author and story like a carnival exhibit and try to hype you up for the shock you are inevitably to witness. Luckily he let the Authors leave some message after their stories, otherwise that would be just too much Harlan Ellison... I was in the love it category.

My personal favorite was Faith of Our Fathers by Philip K. Dick. In my opinion his was the only story that managed to withstand the test of time.
Profile Image for Lisa (Harmonybites).
1,834 reviews331 followers
April 5, 2012
I bought this collection of 33 science fiction stories because it was recommended in A Reader's Guide to Science Fiction on its "5 Parsec Shelf" of the best books in the genre. Here's what it said about the book: Anthologies, no matter how excellent, have seldom had enough impact to be "classics." But the first Dangerous Visions, edited by Ellison, was not only a wonderful sampling of the writers working in the exciting late '60s, it revolutionized science fiction in the matter of attacking more controversial subject matter. It further claimed the book "revived the moribund science fiction short story as a form" by publishing "stories considered unpublishable by the American magazines." In his introduction, Harlan Ellison, said his purpose was to publish "taboo" stories, "all new stories, controversial, too fierce for magazines to buy... a canvas for new writing styles, bold departures, unpopular thoughts." In other words, dangerous visions, particularly dealing with religion, politics, violence or sex.

I've been a huge science fiction fan since childhood--especially of the science fiction short story, because at its best it's mind-expanding. I looked at the night sky with fresh awe after reading Isaac Asimov's "Nightfall;" his "The Dead Past" made me see the very nature of time in a new way. Stories such as Vernor Vinge's "The Ungoverned" made me think about the limits of freedom. Did any of the stories in this anthology work the same magic for me? Decidedly not. Maybe these stories were shocking or groundbreaking in 1967 when they were published. But in 2012? Even for 1967, I thought very few of these stories were innovative or thought-provoking. About a good third of the stories I couldn't for the life of me see what could have ever been controversial. Several stories such as Larry Niven's "Jigsaw Man," Henry Slesar's "Ersatz" and John Sladek's "The Happy Breed" seemed ridiculous to me, all the more for the sober afterwords of Niven and Sladek insisting this could be our near future. After 45 years, I'd say the near future has arrived--and doesn't look anything like what they feared.

Take the first seven stories that comprise about a quarter of the book. Lester del Rey's "Evensong" opens the anthology and tackles religion. I thought frankly Arthur C. Clarke's "The Star" published in Infinity Science Fiction in 1955 and C.L. Moore's "Fruit of Knowledge" published in Unknown in 1940 are both more provocative, more subversive--and much more memorable. (Ditto regarding almost all the other stories with religious themes such as Damon Knight's "Shall the Dust Praise Thee," Jonathan Brand's "Encounter With a Hick," and John Brunner's "Judas.") Robert Silverberg's "Flies" has some gut-wrenching misogynist violence that I could see making it hard to place with a magazine editor, but I didn't think the story had enough payoff to justify the content. Frederik Pohl's "The Day After the Martians Came" examined the potentially explosive issue of race--puerilely. Ray Bradbury's "Way in the Middle of the Air" published in Other Worlds in 1950 and later included in The Martian Chronicles is much more incisive and provocative on the subject. The next story is Philip Jose Farmer's "Riders of the Purple Wage." In his introduction to the story Ellison said this is not just the longest story in the anthology at over 30,000 words, but the "best" and the "finest." So, I started the first few paragraphs. And reread. And reread. Really trying to comprehend what I was reading. And by and large failing. Yet increasingly suspecting Farmer was trying to imitate James Joyce. This was solidified when I turned the page to read more. I flipped towards the end of the story and saw its last chapter was titled "Winnegan's Fake." You know, I really hated James Joyce's Ulysses, but at least I could respect it as innovative, original, and erudite. But when you're copying a style rolled out in 1922 in a 1967 story, as unpopular as the style might be, you're not being "new" or "bold." I skipped the rest of that story, because I hated the style fiercely. Thus what Ellison pointed to as the best story in the book would be the first I left unfinished. Not a good sign. Then the next story, Miriam Allen deFord's "The Malley System" didn't so much shock me as nauseate me with its depiction of child rape. The next two stories by Robert Bloch and Harlan Ellison inspired by Marquis de Sade and Jack the Ripper also hit my ewwwww spot. My reactions to these stories encapsulated my reaction to most of the book--a so-what shrug or a gag reflex or a huh???--at times evoked simultaneously in the same story.

I'm not impressed by writers trying to shock for its own sake. Reading many of these I was struck that "censorship" or "taboo" is often just another word for good taste, and if some of these stories couldn't find homes in magazines, it's to their editors credit. And it's science fiction's optimistic inspiring side that hooked me, not this dark, depressing strand. Many of the stories were more horror than science fiction. Nor am I a fan of the '60s counterculture or by and large of modernist literary techniques. But the hell of it is given this is an anthology comprised of different authors, I didn't feel I could just drop it after 50 to 100 pages as I would have were it a novel. I kept hoping for stories to love, especially since there were authors (including Farmer) on the contents page who had written stories or novels I'd enjoyed. For what it's worth, these were for me the standout stories in the order they appeared:

Philip Dick, "Faith of Our Fathers" - one of the few stories dealing with a religious theme that felt fresh and not predictable. It was more than a bit chilling in a horror story way.
Fritz Leiber, "Gonna Roll the Bones" - a truly chilling horror story well-told--but with more than a dollop of black humor--and humor was rare in this collection. I couldn't see what would be controversial about it though.
Poul Anderson, "Eutopia" - the ending I saw a long way off--but this not only had style but an intriguing set of alternate universes it would have been fun to explore further.
James Cross, "The Doll-House" - a horror story that would have made Poe or Hawthorne proud. Though another where I'm missing what makes it "edgy" in any way.
Keith Laumer, "Test to Destruction" - I liked the ironic twist in the tale at the end. Again, not getting what would have made this at all controversial.
Norman Spinrad, "Carcinoma Angels" - I thought it started off both infodumpy and Marty Stu--but it surprised me in the end. A horror tale I could see Stephen King proudly owning, yet another I can hardly see as shocking or controversial.
Samuel Delany, "Aye, and Gomorrah..." - Delany in the afterword called it essentially a horror story--but one I found rather poignant in a way I found rare in this anthology. And hey, it takes genius to invent a new sexual perversion!

Worth my buying and keeping the book on my shelves for those seven stories? I don't think so. Incidentally, I often found Ellison's introductions to stories off-putting and over-lengthy (in one case I noted it was longer than the story it was introducing) so about midway I started skipping them. They often seemed more about him than the story, and about sucking up to the authors when he wasn't being condescending. In particular, were I Miriam deFord, I'd have wanted to beat Ellison over the head with the book--the hardcover version.
Profile Image for Werner.
Author 3 books580 followers
Shelved as 'started-and-not-finished'
April 2, 2020
Note, April 2, 2020: Usually, I don't do any significant editing of a review that already has "likes." In this case, however, I decided it was necessary. My evaluations of the merits of the book and the individual stories remain the same; but I've come to feel that they were sometimes expressed in language that was unkind. I've edited the review below to express the same opinions more kindly.

This was a book I started reading about a decade ago, at a time when I was interested in possibly developing a college-level course in science fiction. When that project fell through, I didn't have enough interest in this particular anthology to finish reading it; I was distinctly underwhelmed with most of the selections I did read (and with several more that I just skimmed or read partially). In keeping with some of the comments I exchanged recently with my friend Joy, though, I've decided that a statement of why I didn't finish might be helpful to some readers; and while I won't presume to rate the book or review parts I didn't fully read, this can serve as a "review" of the stories I DID read (not all of which were disappointing, by any means!).

Both avid fans of this book (among them some of my Goodreads friends!) and its most hostile detractors agree that it's an epochal work in the history of the science-fiction genre; in particular, it served more than any other single book to launch the "New Wave" movement to dominance in the genre. (Where they differ, of course, is over whether or not this was a good thing.) One can't, IMO, really understand this book without understanding that movement; and like most movements, it can't be fully understood except in relation to its historical and cultural context.

Early modern SF in the U.S., like the other speculative fiction genres at the time that the publishing industry first saw them as "genres," was shunted off into a literary ghetto in the pulp magazines, where it developed a small and insular fandom. Critics despised and ignored it. World War II, however, demonstrated that two staples of pulp SF --atomic energy and rocketry-- previously viewed as the delusions of cranks, were, lo and behold, sober scientific reality. This prompted not only a boom in the genre's popular appeal, but a re-evaluation of its merits by some critics. Suddenly, the Holy Grail of critical establishment respect and acceptance appeared reachable to SF writers. But there were still barriers to that acceptance. While both groups were largely made up of men (women in either group weren't numerous) of the secular Left, the SF ghetto in its heyday preserved the older, pre-World War I leftist tradition of populism, technophilic optimism and faith in Progress. SF editors like Gernsback and Campbell and their writers also were interested in plotted fiction with accessible elements that appealed to the average person in the general public, from which base their fans were drawn, and they weren't particularly interested in pushing things like obscenity, blasphemy and violence to their outer limits in order to achieve shock value for its own sake. The academic/critical community, over the same years, had increasingly been dominated by the Left's pessimistic, elitist wing, which had lost all faith in Progress and the Common Man, was committed to drastic cultural iconoclasm as a perceived intellectual virtue, and usually regarded accessibility and traditional plotting as disgusting literary flaws that marked their writers and readers as pathetic and juvenile. The New Wave movement, then, is probably best understood as basically the attempt of a second generation of SF writers (who came of age in the postwar period) to adapt the genre conventions to meet these kinds of critical expectations. Secondary trends that were going on at the same time, which also influenced some New Wave writers and are thought of sometimes as characteristic of it (though I wouldn't see them as core characteristics) are suspicion of political authority and militarism bred by the Vietnam War; New Left/flower-child socio-political ideas; openness to the drug culture; greater openness to women writers and concern with female perspectives; and a shift from "hard" to "soft" SF as the dominant strand of the genre. (Not all of these secondary trends were wholly negative, and some were positive.) It should also be noted that many writers associated with New Wave SF didn't write in that style all of the time; I've read works from the pen of Samuel R. Delaney, Norman Spinrad, and Theodore Sturgeon that are well-written masterpieces in the genre's best tradition. (They just aren't the selections those writers are represented with here.)

All of the selections here were originally written for this book. Not all the writers represented, nor all the stories included, are actually from the New Wave; Ellison included writers like Poul Anderson and Frederik Pohl here to give greater cachet to the anthology. All of the stories are claimed to be in some way edgy or "dangerous" in the sense of incorporating challenging or subversive ideas; but of course, they don't incorporate anything that would actually challenge or subvert elite orthodoxy in any direct way. Anderson's alternate-world gem "Eutopia" is included because it uses a story element that was still taboo in 1968 --but the story's intended effect and message is based on moral disapproval of the behavior being depicted, a fine point that probably escaped Ellison's notice. :-) Though it was written before his religious awakening, and treats God in an unconventional fashion, Dick's "Faith of Our Fathers" takes the existence of God seriously and undercuts atheism; rightly interpreted, it has a different kind of message altogether than Lester del Rey's "Evensong" or Jonathan Brand's "Encounter With a Hick," two selections which simply attack traditional religion. (Atheists or agnostics who just regard theism as misguided don't generally brim with hatred for the idea of God, because you can only hate something you consider real. That raises interesting questions about the psychology behind fiction like that of the del Rey story, which has to treat God as "real" in some sense so that He can be dethroned and imprisoned, since you can only do those things to someone who actually exists.) Some of the other good stories here are the Pohl selection, "The Day After the Day the Martians Came;" R. A. Lafferty's "Land of the Great Horses;" and Keith Laumer's "Test to Destruction" (a grim meditation on Lord Acton's dictum about absolute power). I'm glad to have read these; but I didn't think the chance of finding more treasures was worth the effort of sifting any further through as much material as there is here which consists simply of stridently written, message-driven tracts aiming mostly at shock value.
Profile Image for Oleksandr Zholud.
1,079 reviews108 followers
February 3, 2020
This is an anthology of all-new (as for 1967) short works of speculative fiction, one of the most prominent collections in SF. The editor, Harlan Ellison, asked a lot of famous and not-so-famous authors to send him their stories, too ‘dangerous’ to be published in magazines I read is as a part of monthly reading in January 2020 at The Evolution of Science Fiction group.

There is the list of works with concise notion what was assumed dangerous about them and slightly longer reviews of more prominent pieces. All stories have intros by Ellison where he tries to joke about them or write accolades. For a ghetto genre it was the first semi-serious introduction of many authors, usually known only by their works

Evensong by Lester del Rey sacrilege
Flies by Robert Silverberg sacrilege
The Day After the Day the Martians Came by Frederik Pohl a nice funny piece about almost instinctive segregation and denigration of the Other
Riders of the Purple Wage by Philip José Farmer the longest work, novella that won Hugo in 1968. Maybe the most serious early attempt to construct a future universal income and a great interest in art. Actively tries to shock reader e.g. with artists painting with their penises… extremely stylish and thus hard to read for a non-native speaker
The Malley System by Miriam Allen deFord changing criminals with psychology, but much weaker than idea in A Clockwork Orange.
A Toy for Juliette by Robert Bloch a story spoilered by the intro.
The Prowler in the City at the Edge of the World by Harlan Ellison the response to the previous one.
The Night That All Time Broke Out by Brian W. Aldiss an interesting world where time is supplied like gas. Weird in a good way
The Man Who Went to the Moon – Twice by Howard Rodman a nostalgy piece, not dangerous but nice.
Faith of our Fathers by Philip K. Dick acid trip in Chinese dictatorship future, PKD style
The Jigsaw Man by Larry Niven when transplantation is ubiquitous but a deficit of bodies, nominated for Hugo
Gonna Roll the Bones by Fritz Leiber SF stylization of ‘original American story’, won Hugo and Nebula for best novelette
Lord Randy, My Son by Joe L. Hensley a version of the present day Christ
Eutopia by Poul Anderson taboo, a traveler between dimensions is prosecuted for a crime that is normal in his world
Incident in Moderan by David R. Bunch a false hope for mercy in merciless world
The Escaping by David R. Bunch a flow of consciousness
The Doll-House by James Cross a horror story of monkey paw variety
Sex and/or Mr Morrison by Carol Emshwiller taboo, why we hide our ‘private parts’, aren’t they beautiful?
Shall the Dust Praise Thee? by Damon Knight sacrilege, no need for the apocalypse after the H-bomb
If All Men Were Brothers, Would You Let One Marry Your Sister? by Theodore Sturgeon, taboo, Nebula nominee, a planet were sex with everyone is ok
What Happened to Auguste Clarot? by Larry Eisenberg a witty pseudo-mystery
Ersatz by Henry Slesar, taboo, a tired warrior needs a woman
Go, Go, Go, Said the Bird by Sonya Dorman, taboo, cannibalism
The Happy Breed by John T. Sladek, a horror of world without pain and unhappiness
Encounter With A Hick by Jonathan Brand, sacrilege
From the Government Printing Office by Kris Neville a world from POV of a 3-year old, nurtured in line with psychiatric theories
Land of the Great Horses by R.A. Lafferty all Roma finally return home
The Recognition by J.G. Ballard a misanthropic depressing piece
Judas by John Brunner an android wants to be a god
Test to Destruction by Keith Laumer power struggle on Earth happens just when aliens attept to invade, power corrupts story
Carcinoma Angels by Norman Spinrad a very nice piece about fighting cancer
Auto-Da-Fé by Roger Zelazny a florid version of corrida with cars
Aye, and Gomorrah … by Samuel R. Delany an interesting allusion to non-hetero ‘normal’ sexuality
Profile Image for Simona B.
892 reviews2,985 followers
July 14, 2021
"I'm scared liverless of this country that changes. When a mirage turns solid it's time to quit."

More than an SF anthology worthy to be read for its own literary or entertainment value, I'd say we could think of Dangerous Visions as an informal roundtable of prominent personalities in the world of SF--or better yet, as a sort of work night out where everyone is sharing inside jokes and amicable insults. We, the readers, are spectators to this chaotic conversation taking place over multiple introductions and prefaces to the whole volume, the single introductions that Ellison writes for each story, and the afterwords that each author writes for his or her own contribution. It's endlessly funny and incredibly interesting from so many points of view; I recommend this anthology even just for the opportunity to savour this peculiar atmosphere. It might feel a bit nostalgic to the contemporary reader, I imagine, but that's part of its charm.

And speaking of contemporary readers, I'm convinced it is close to impossible for us to truly get a sense of how actual readers received this anthology, back when it was first published in 1967. Almost none of its 'visions' are so dangerous anymore, and I suspect that quite a few weren't as dangerous as Ellison purported them to be even then. But it's an experience nonetheless.
Profile Image for Jim.
Author 7 books2,027 followers
October 23, 2014
Harlan Ellison is one of the best SF short story writers around. He's also a very good editor & seems to know everyone in the field. Here he's collected the best of the best. He introduces every story quickly, concisely & often humorously. He's also included an afterword for each story by the author. I don't know that I've ever seen that before. It really works & between them, I got a lot more out of each story.
Profile Image for Ron.
Author 1 book139 followers
September 28, 2018
(Adjusted rating down, Sep 28, 2018)

Typical 70s drivel: pro-drug, pro-sex, pro-anarchy, anti-establishment, anti-Christian, anti-military. Not science fiction so much as speculative fiction.

It all seemed so new and relevant then; now it seems like cold spit.

If you do read it, skip the introductions to each story. It's mostly Ellison sucking up to his buddies. DO READ the authors' afterwords. Several of them are insightful.
Profile Image for Papaphilly.
267 reviews68 followers
January 10, 2020
What a great read. Dangerous Visions is one of the must reads for well read Science Fiction fans. Harlan Ellison created a masterpiece at the beginning of the 1960's Science Fiction revolution and this collection was one of the great achievements of the period. 33 stories and not one is a miss. 7 of the stories are Hugo and Nebula winners and 13 of them are nominated. The tying vision is that the author wrote a story for the anthology that is somehow dangerous as the author sees it. Harlan Ellison writes an introduction for each author and the author writes an afterword. Well worth the time with truly magnificent works.
Profile Image for Scott.
517 reviews
September 2, 2018
Some of these stories might still be considered dangerous today in religious circles--but then what isn't? I'd have been happy if they were simply interesting.

There are stories in here of such rambling incoherency that I'm thankful I missed the sixties. Some are reactionary, some are silly. Larry Niven is afraid that if organ transplants become common practice, people will be given the death penalty for minor, petty crimes in order to augment resources. Sturgeon's story takes thirty pages to get to the point, where it suddenly turns into a biology lecture. There's a story written from the point-of-view of a toddler that should be read in Stewie Griffin's voice for full effect. Stories about God are always good for a punchline at least.

Of the better stories:

Philip K. Dick spins a paranoid fable about a world in which communist China has taken over. Robert Silverberg has aliens experimenting on a rescued spaceman in order to learn about humanity, but getting it horribly wrong (the aliens, not the author.) Robert Bloch transports Jack the Ripper into a decadent future where he's meant to serve as the plaything for a sadistic young woman. Ellison himself follows it up with his own entry. J.G. Ballard tells a riddle of a story about a decrepit traveling carnival where the animals are strangely elusive.

Overall, I'd say about half the stories in this collection are okay, while reading the rest was a chore. Maybe I was born too late to appreciate the style.
Profile Image for Stuart.
718 reviews267 followers
June 17, 2013
Definitely required reading for those seeking to understand or at least sample the zeitgeist of the late 60's New Wave SF movement. Reading this as a teen in the 80's was a bit unfortunate. Wish I could have read it at the height of its time, when these stories really were Dangerous Visions.
Profile Image for Leo Robertson.
Author 38 books435 followers
March 1, 2016
While there are amazing stories within (Philip Jose Farmer's was my favourite- makes me want to say something corny about Joyce and acid. Then something meta-cutesy about Joyce being Joyce on acid), the real joy is found in the intros and outros. Especially the outros, because a lot of these stories are pretty incomprehensible, and it's cool at the end to have the author say 'I was thinking about ABC so I had to write this story' and you're like 'Ohhhh... You shoulda just said that!'

[If you're wondering why all my reviews are so short recently, all my good sentences and thought-energy are going in my fiction atm (in theory.) Though I also just had a really unsuccessful nap. Lol I know words, though, honest. I have the best words.]
Profile Image for Nelson.
213 reviews13 followers
March 30, 2015
3.5 out 5

This is a great anthology, there are some really amazing stories in here. but sadly, most of them haven't aged well at all. Some of the stories are very experimental, that makes them kind of difficult to read sometimes, at least for me. I got lost several times.


-The Man Who Went to the Moon — Twice
-Lord Randy, My Son
-Faith of Our Fathers
-Land of the Great Horses
Profile Image for Adam.
340 reviews21 followers
July 26, 2021
I was so excited to read this collection that even after a full book of introductions I almost had some excitement left. Well, there are a few great stories in here but Ellison just kills all enthusiasm for reading and it took me nearly a month to finish this monster.

Harlan’s smug and condescending hubris injected throughout this book in the form of flatulent commentary is repulsive. The book is edited by Ellison, but really it’s more like a fire hydrant he peed on; no one but Him could have pulled off this project; no one but Him is amazing enough to be friends with all these amazing writers; no but Him understands what these stories really mean - trust me, every story in this collection is incredible and earth shattering and if you don’t think so it’s just because you’re too stupid to understand.

Well, I’m too stupid, because a lot of these stories are flat out awful and forgettable. Maybe at the date of publishing it was different? But overall this collection was a disappointment.

Evensong by Lester Del Ray ** An allegory about the God and Man creation myth. Not that interesting.

Flies by Robert Silverberg **** A group of advanced aliens have re-constructed the remnants of a man, and enhanced him with excessive sensory abilities. Their plan is to return him to Earth and have his experiences transmitted back to them to gather information. Unfortunately their ‘upgrades’ don’t exactly go as planned. The story is dark and disturbing and an excellent example of impactful short fiction.

The Day After the Day the Martians Came by Frederick Pohl ** A story about how people find ways to hate on each other. Sad and true and not that well delivered.

Riders of the Purple Wage by Philip Jose Farmer * DNF. I couldn’t stand the writing style, I felt like a lemming throwing myself off a cliff just to flee this story. It’s a shame because I read the Wikipedia after and there are a lot of fascinating ideas presented, apparently. Personally I enjoyed the Wiki article much more than the actual story.

The Malley System by Miriam Allen deFord **** deFord’s writing is disturbing and convincing from the perspective of various criminals. The idea of a future where criminals of the worst sort have to relive their crimes every day as a form of punishment is fascinating. It reminds me of the kid caught smoking a cigarette by his parents and is then forced to smoke the whole pack. The ramifications of this experimental treatment is fascinating.

A Toy for Juliette by Robert Bloch **** A disturbing story about Jack the Ripper out of time and place, that’s really more about the remnants of a future utopian society and what dark pleasures their boredom leads them toward. Clever twist at the end; a very well written story.

A Prowler in the City at the End of the World by Harlan Ellison ** No surprise here that the story meant in tribute to another is less impressive than the original. Ellison’s continuation of Bloch’s short story is longer and less effective, a well written and overdone story.

The Night That All Time Broke Out by Brian Aldiss ** A somewhat interesting science fiction idea about harnessing time like a natural gas explored in a silly and unimpactful way.

The Man Who Went to the Moon - Twice by Howard Rodman *** A quaint telling of the loss of wonder and of growing old and forgotten. It’s fairy tale type style makes it stand out in this collection.

Faith of our Fathers by Philip K. Dick ***** Ahhh, I missed PKD! It’s all here: people who aren’t who they say they are; disturbing truths behind a faulty, perceived reality; delusions and paranoia; secret plots; and a story that morphs from something similar to 1984 into cosmic horror, wild, horrifying, and transcendent. What can I say? I just love PKD. This story could best be described by Dick himself with the following two quotes: “What if, through psychedelic drugs, the religious experience becomes commonplace in the life of intellectuals?” and “We do not know what God is. God Himself does not know what He is because He is not anything. Literally God is not, because He transcends being.” Deep right? Human beings that believe we are created in God’s image reeks of hubris, similar to how ancient astronomers believed Earth to be the center of the universe. All PKD does here is to explore the possibility of God as something terrifying and impossible to comprehend. I do truly appreciate Dick’s zaniness and depth of paranoid imagination, and while most critics don’t seem to glow over his prose, I dig his style. Actually my favorite part of this story comes from the following short paragraph which described a sexual act in the most delightfully unsexual manner: “He tugged her against him, then, doing what she asked, and what he wanted to do. She was neat; she was swiftly active; she was successful and she did her part. They did not bother to speak until at last she said, ‘Oh!’ And then she relaxed.” Haha! Fantastic.

The Jigsaw Man by Larry Niven ** A premise about criminals being executed for petty crimes because of how valuable their organs are. Didn’t age well.

Gonna Roll the Bones by Fritz Lieber **** A man plays craps with Death. Not sure what the point of this story is, but it’s incredibly evocative and one of the few stories in this collection that really stuck with me.

Lord Randy, My Son by Joe L. Hensley *** Not bad, but it was done better by Jerome Bixby in It’s a Good Life.

Eutopia by Poul Anderson ** Definitely science fiction; not a particularly interesting story involving time travel and alternate timelines. I guess it was shocking because the protagonist’s lover was a young boy? Meh.

Incident in Moderan by David R. Bunch ** Interesting concept of a plastic coated world ruled by war mongering cyborgs, but just not enough here.

The Escaping by David R. Bunch ** See above.

The Doll-House by James Cross **** I enjoyed this short yarn about a man in desperate financial straits that turns to a tiny diving prophet living in a doll-house. The prophet will answer any question you ask, if you treat her nicely. But the answers are open to interpretation.

Sex and/or Mr. Morrison by Carol Emshwiller *** Disturbing story from the point of a view of a female stalking a fat male neighbor. Or is he an alien!? Does it matter?

Shall the Dust Praise Thee? By Damon Knight ** God returns to Earth to find humanity gone. They murdered each other already. Oops! I think it’s about God? Not for me.

If All Men Were Brothers, Would You Let One Marry Your Sister? By Theodore Sturgeon *** Some really interesting concepts here, other than the main one: sorry but incest is not nearly the most repulsive thing human’s are capable of.

What Happened to Auguste Clarot? By Larry Eisenberg * Did I read this? I’ve forgotten it already, and I just finished it.

Ersatz by Henry Slesar * Haha. What. Is. This. Am I supposed to equate homosexuals or transsexuals with the apocalypse? Oh boy.

Go, Go, Go, Said the Bird by Sonya Dorman * Forgettable.
The Happy Breed by John T. Sladek *** A not bad allegory about how easy and safe living breeds weakness.

Encounter With a Hick by Jonathan Brand * Two of my least favorite themes combined: academia and religion. Yay!

From the Government Printing Office by Kris Neville * Nope.

Land of the Great Horses by R.A. Lafferty *** Semi interesting explanation of Gypsies as people who have had their land stolen by aliens.

The Recognition by J.G. Ballard *** Incredible mood created here. And that’s all. Unless you want to pretend there’s more there, be my guest.

Judas by John Brunner * More religion! *Gasps. *Gurgles. *Dies slowly.

Test to Destruction by Keith Laumer **** Astonishing action. Feels like reading The Bourne Identity. I like the theme too, about the strengths and resiliency of humans pushed to the brinks of their survival instincts.

Carcinoma Angels by Norman Spinrad *** The guy from the Dos Equis commercial mixed with Fantastic Voyage. Neat stuff.

Auto-Da-Fe by Roger Zelazny *** Fun story about future humans?robots? that fight sentient cars instead of bulls.

Aye, and Gomorrah… by Samuel R. Delany **** A story about relationships, desires, sexual fetishes. A story about spacers. What are spacers? I’m not sure. They used to be humans, but they’ve been modified for space travel. That means, I think, no genitals, and no sexual urges. So they’re eunuchs in space? And they have a dedicated sect of space eunuch groupies called Frelks. Weird. Interesting. Neat.

Stories-6, Language-7, Ideas-8, Characters-6, Enjoyment-7, Overall-6.8
88 reviews4 followers
September 24, 2011
This is Ellison’s self-proclaimed revolution in SF, comprising 30-odd original stories by the big names, and big-names-to-be, in the field. The 35th anniversary edition (2002) begins with five written pieces of front matter—a fair sign of the importance attached to this volume, at least by Ellison. The first is a brief, useful if a bit overly congratulatory foreword by Michael Moorcock. The last is Ellison’s original introduction, which is a breezy, entertaining read. It is certainly far superior to the ludicrous upchuck of megalomania that constitutes Ellison’s intro to the new edition. Ellison obviously (and explicitly) devalues humility, but where that cannot be had, one might hope for at least a little perspective by the time a man gets to a certain age. The other two forewords are Isaac Asimov’s, to the original edition, and it’s disappointing that even Asimov, perhaps infected by Ellison, cannot talk about a book without talking about himself.

In addition to all of this build-up, Ellison favors us with the introductions he wrote in 1967 to each of these stories. These amount to 55 pages’ worth--biographical background, generous appreciation of the authors as writers and as people, and, of course, how important they were personally to Ellison. As if that weren’t enough commentary, Ellison permits each author an “afterword.” Not being Ellison, the authors seem to realize that the less said, the better (exception: Ellison’s afterword to his own story).

Ellison promotes his revolution by allowing contributors to escape the trammels on their imagination enforced by magazine editors worried about sales. The stories included have been chosen to represent breakthroughs in form, style, and treatment of touchy elements like violence, sex, and religion. “Dangerous visions” is thus more than just a snappy title—it states the purpose of the collection, and Ellison alludes to it in his story introductions to explain the inclusion of the works chosen.

I am not well enough schooled in science-fiction to judge whether Ellison effected his revolution (he surely believes he did), but the volume as a whole strikes me as an impressive anthology. The plots are imaginative, the writing a step or two above what I expected (and the copy carefully proofed—not always the case in s-f). There is surprisingly little space opera, though perhaps not surprising, given the lofty purpose. Some stories are not exactly s-f, and I can think of one that is not any kind of speculative fiction.

Except for one 75-page novella, the pieces average about 12 pages, or some 3500 words, in length. This is kinda short to get anything halfway serious going, and it reflects what seems to be the devalued status of this form in s-f. Moreover, even in this avowedly path-breaking collection, many of the writers just can’t seem to resist the conventional s-f practice of throwing a plot twist in at the end. This is not to suggest that all such tricks are just gimmicks, but that, when so often present, they tend to trivialize the art of story-writing, as if novels were serious writing and stories merely exercises in cleverness or cuteness. To a certain extent, I’m willing to forgive this kind of thing. It is science-fiction, after all. It may be good, but it’s not Welty or Cheever or Trevor.

Be that as it may, a number of stories stood out to me as above the run of this decent mill:

“The Escaping” (David R. Bunch), a brief, nebulous tale depicting the state of the imprisoned creative mind on the knife-edge between the joy of resistance or dignity on the one side and the sadness of near-insanity on the other. This would have been a good story in any collection.

“Aye, and Gomorrah . . .” (Samuel R. Delany), the first short story this author wrote and representative of the imagination in his novels, it’s mostly a conversation between a neutered astronaut and a member of a group of sexual iconoclasts who idolize the “spacers” and pay them for romantic trysts.

“The Prowler in the City at the Edge of the World” (Harlan Ellison). Yes, yes, as much as I hate to say it, Ellison’s story is among the best in this volume. In a sequel to one of the other stories (“A Toy for Juliette,” a weak entry by Robert Bloch), Jack the Ripper is transported to a city of the 31st century. Lively characters, literate prose, and a wondrously described future.

“Go, Go, Go, Said the Bird” (Sonya Dorman). In a post-apocalyptic world of hunting and gathering, recurrent famine, and cannibalism, a woman runs and runs, attempting to return to her village. A strong story, very well written, and chilling.

“Gonna Roll the Bones” (Fritz Leiber). A low-class miner goes gambling at craps in a fantastic casino, where he faces off against the spectral Big Gambler. This is as much retold folk tale as science-fiction, but it works well. Leiber’s language hits hard and is up to all the demands on it.

“Riders of the Purple Wage” (Philip José Farmer). A long, rollicking, free-form, chaotic story equal to the chaotic world of the future it describes—one in which there is no need for productive work. A bit didactic at times, but more often challenging and entertaining.

Other good ones: “From the Government Printing Office” (Kris Neville), “Faith of Our Fathers” (Philip K. Dick), “What Happened to Auguste Clarot?” (Larry Eisenberg), “Carcinoma Angels” (Norman Spinrad), “The Night That All Tine Broke Out” (Brian W. Aldiss), “Ersatz” (Henry Slesar).

Coulda done without: “The Malley System” (Miriam Allen DeFord), “Shall the Dust Praise Thee?” (Damon Knight), “Auto-da-Fé” (Roger Zelazny), “If All Men Were Brothers . . .” (Theodore Sturgeon), “The Recognition” (J. G. Ballard), and the aforementioned “Toy for Juliette.”
Profile Image for Tony.
32 reviews12 followers
March 23, 2020
****1/2 All of the criticisms that have been thrown at this book are admittedly legitimate, but as someone who is obsessed with the history of SF this was a fascinating and invaluable read for me. Sure the stories are hit and miss, the “shocking content” is either underwhelming or legitimately still in bad taste, but for a peek at the edgier, more experimental aspects of the SF community of the 1960s this was great. For some the plentitude of intros and afterwords are excessive and some readers may do well to skip them, but I love seeing the personalities of the writers on the page, and Harlan Ellison’s hyperbolic praises, unexpected random insults, and narcissistic flourishes gave me a lot of entertainment, as well as a sense of his relationships with/to the other writers at the time.

Ratings and comments for each individual story below.

* Evensong" by Lester del Rey. ***1/2
* "Flies" by Robert Silverberg. ***1/2
* "The Day After the Day the Martians Came" by Frederik Pohl ****
* "Riders of the Purple Wage" by Philip José Farmer **** confusing, but very entertainingly weird novella. Might have rated it higher, but one very disturbing moment presented as funny kinda put me off)
* "The Malley System" by Miriam Allen deFord **** unsettling at first, but comes together very well.
* "A Toy for Juliette" by Robert Bloch ****1/2 one of the creepier SF stories I read
* "The Prowler in the City at the Edge of the World" by Harlan Ellison *** clever, but not as good as the preceding work it is a sequel to.
* "The Night That All Time Broke Out" by Brian W. Aldiss ***** Mind-bending and hilarious
* "The Man Who Went to the Moon — Twice" by Howard Rodman ***1/2
* "Faith of Our Fathers" by Philip K. Dick ***** when I first read this in college I didn’t really understand it at all. Upon reread it made much more sense. One of PKD’s more frightening works
* "The Jigsaw Man" by Larry Niven ***
* "Gonna Roll the Bones" by Fritz Leiber (Hugoand Nebula awards for Best Novelette) ****1/2 more fantasy then SF with an unnecessary racial slur, but it sure is vivid and exciting
* "Lord Randy, My Son" by Joe L. Hensley ***1/2
* "Eutopia" by Poul Anderson **** What a fascinating world this story creates! The twist/ending is a bit underwhelming though.
* "Incident in Moderan" by David R. Bunch ***** Sad, powerful story
* The Escaping" by David R. Bunch *** beautifully written, but even after reread I can’t really tell what’s going on, aside from someone escaping

* "The Doll-House" by James Cross (pseudonym of Hugh J. Parry) **** seems too traditional for this anthology, but as a story on its own, it’s a good Twilight Zone-ish story
* "Sex and/or Mr. Morrison" by Carol Emshwiller ***** I suppose I should be more creeped out by this story, but I love it. Eerie and somewhat enigmatic
* "Shall the Dust Praise Thee?" by Damon Knight ***1/2 probably hit a lot harder at the time it was published.
* "If All Men Were Brothers, Would You Let One Marry Your Sister?" by Theodore Sturgeon ***1/2 very well written and admittedly thought provoking, but ultimately it’s mostly awkward and uncomfortable
* "What Happened to Auguste Clarot?" by Larry Eisenberg ** seems like just an extended sexist joke without any punchline
* "Ersatz" by Henry Slesar **1/2 kinda clever, but twist is cheap and comes off as kinda bigoted nowadays
* "Go, Go, Go, Said the Bird" by Sonya Dorman **** an unsettling post-apocalyptic story
* "The Happy Breed" by John Sladek ****
* "Encounter with a Hick" by Jonathan Brand ***1/2
* "From the Government Printing Office" by Kris Neville ***1/2
* "Land of the Great Horses" by R. A. Lafferty ***1/2
* "The Recognition" by J. G. Ballard ***1/2 terrific atmosphere, but a surprisingly straightforward and predictable conclusion for a Ballard story
* "Judas" by John Brunner ****
* "Test to Destruction" by Keith Laumer *** found this hard to get into as it had too much emphasis on action and too slow to get to the point for my taste. Once I understood what was going on I was able to appreciate it a little bit more
* "Carcinoma Angels" by Norman Spinrad ***** weird, trippy, wild satire, but also very clever and well-written. Feels almost like the epitome of what this book should be about
* "Auto-da-Fé" by Roger Zelazny ***1/2 silly idea, but beautifully written
* "Aye, and Gomorrah" by Samuel R. Delany(Nebula Award for best short story, 1967) ***** read this a few times before. Sad, haunting, subtly unsettling. I love the intimate approach to a great SF idea. Seems like it could make a great play. Probably the best story in this book, Ellison made the right choice to let it end the volume, as it makes for a strong finish.
Profile Image for Linda Robinson.
Author 4 books134 followers
June 6, 2017
Read this in anticipation of the new biography of Ellison coming soon, and I'm glad I did because now I don't have to buy an early limited edition of it. I was reading sf in 1967, but not this stuff. Speculative perhaps. Dangerous maybe. But the misogynistic, racist, patriarchal, elitist babble was too much all in one book. As near as I can make out, what we could anticipate in 1967 for the near and far future is comeuppance. You like violence? Here's what'll happen if that continues. Revenge fantasy. We humans suck, and we can expect the future to pass judgement in bizarre and bloody ways. We get Jack the Ripper swapping epochs (isn't that a TV show now?) Science fiction is not the reprint of Old Testament sensibilities, but nobody could sort that out from this collection. And behold, he raised his mighty pen. Sunday in the Park with Klaatu. A 1950s sf warning to humankind, that these stories - a decade and change later - take to the next gore level. Including an afterword by the authors puts another nail in the [choose your body part HERE]. These guys mean this. There are only 3 women represented here - Ellison makes it clear in the wordy introduction he did the inviting. No Connie Willis, no Eileen Gunn, no Ursula K. LeGuin, no James Tiptree, Jr., no Octavia Butler were asked, I assume, although all were writing then. We haven't advanced in that ratio. It doesn't take fancy thinking to dismember humans, and indeed some of the best butchery was written by women as well (thinking of Alice Sheldon's "Your Faces, O My Sisters!") It does take some kind of thinking to have so many disassemblies in one book. I need to get this book out of my head: there are authors here I'd rather not have to give up. Maybe Satan can use the n word, but Leiber needn't. I wonder if getting the invite from Ellison had something to do with raising the ante on cynicism and intolerance? There are gems here, but those gems have visible inclusions.
Profile Image for Mike (the Paladin).
3,145 reviews1,812 followers
February 1, 2010
This book was decidedly one of hot and cold. there are stories in it that have remained with me over the entire thirty some years since I first read it. They run the gamut from self destructive anthropologists to strange visions of what we may breed ourselves into in some Science Fiction future.

I will say that I like some and found some quite disturbing. of course some were just "there" and passed almost without notice. I don't remember the anthology as extremely outstanding and let it pass from my collection. Still there are some good stories in it.
Profile Image for Bondama.
318 reviews
September 28, 2009
This book changed the entire direction of science fiction. As you probably know, Ellison wrote to all of his favorite authors, asking them to submit a short story or novella that previously they had not been able to publish (for various reasons . . political as well as erotic) He edited this book and "Again, Dangerous Visions" . The entire speculative fiction genre changed utterly. This is one important and magnificent book.
Profile Image for fromcouchtomoon.
311 reviews64 followers
September 25, 2015
More like Desperate Visions From the Editor's Buddies, But Mostly Deluded Vainglory from the Editor Himself, Though a Few Stories are Pretty Good, Especially Toward the End. And Three Women.

Reading Chris Priest's account of the never-to-be-seen Last Dangerous Visions is most satisfying after slogging through Ellison's introductory spew.
Profile Image for Kogiopsis.
763 reviews1,477 followers
February 2, 2022
Obviously, the definition of what constitutes a 'dangerous vision' changes with the times, and with a few exceptions I didn't find any of these stories particularly revolutionary or boundary-pushing from a modern perspective. It sort of functions as a time capsule, both in that regard and in others - it was kind of wild to read an introduction to Roger Zelazny which predates his Amber books, or one to Larry Niven calling him a promising young writer. But mostly, other than as an historical curiosity, I don't think this book is very worth reading nowadays. Frankly, a lot of the 'dangerous visions' seemed to mostly be 'dangerous' by dint of their preoccupation with sex (and a very male-focused POV on it which I started to think of as "penis-gazing" about halfway through, in which sex exists as a thing that men desire and women, conveniently and without any diversity in perspective, give them).

A few standouts:

The good:
- "Evensong" by Lester Del Rey, which opened the collection with a short, pointed allegory. I caught on to the twist early, but still find it satisfying and well-rendered.
- "The Day After The Day The Martians Came" by Frederick Pohl, which pits earthly prejudice against alien threat; it took me a bit to figure out what Pohl was getting at, but I think he makes his point well.
- "Faith of our Fathers" by Philip K. Dick, which got weird, but ultimately had a very interesting root concept and speaks to the easily corruptible power of fanatical belief.

The bad:
- "Riders of the Purple Wage" by Philip Jose Farmer neatly cured me of any desire to read any of Farmer's other work. It was pretentious, nearly incomprehensible, and had no payoff. By the end of what seemed an interminable slog I no longer cared now notable Farmer was in the genre.
- "If All Men Were Brothers, Would You Let One Marry Your Sister?" by Theodore Sturgeon, which is actually one of the only stories that I think would still qualify as a 'dangerous vision' these days, because its postulate is that incest is so natural that, in fact, resisting the impulse leads to cancer. This story made me uncomfortable, which it was clearly supposed to do, but my discomfort was a bit more... specific, as the description of this utopian-but-for-incest society sounded a little too much like what Moira Greyland, Marion Zimmer Bradley's daughter, described when she spoke up about her abusive childhood. (Warning, her full blog post has a lot of homophobic rhetoric and, obviously, a lot of upsetting content. She's clearly gone through a LOT of trauma.) Sturgeon's afterword in this book was not exactly comforting vis-a-vis whether this story was just a thought experiment or... not.

And I have mixed feelings about "Eutopia" by Poul Anderson, because the multiverse and alternate histories of the Americas it postulated were neat, but the twist was 'hah! this enlightened man is actually GAY!' was... weird and I still can't parse how it was intended.

There's a lot of casual homophobia and transphobia throughout the book, as well as a very flat view of women (obliging Providers Of Sex, always willing when the protagonist wants, very little character beyond that), which is something I'm accustomed to in reading old SFF but still gets exhausting when, over thirty-two stories claiming to offer original perspectives, it's ALL like that. By the way, a whopping three women in that cohort - I suppose I should be glad there were any, but oof.

Also, Ellison's introductions were annoying as hell. Self-referential in the extreme, more about how he's buddy-buddy with all these cool folks than anything about their stories, and made the whole book feel like a self-aggrandizing project.
Profile Image for Mark.
548 reviews155 followers
March 13, 2012
There are some books out there whose reputations often exceed the content of the book itself. Many people, even those who don’t read SF, have heard of Frank Herbert’s Dune, for example, or Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001 (that’s the novel, not the film.)

In SF circles, Dangerous Visions is one of those that many know of by reputation but these days have rarely read. It was the Gone with the Wind of SF anthologies when it was first published in 1967. Like the film Gone with the Wind before its release, there was great speculation in the genre about Dangerous Visions before the book was published. Heralded as the best of cutting edge New Wave SF at the time, the rumours of what Harlan was doing and which authors were included, and perhaps more importantly which ones were not, were rife. Its content was allegedly salacious, sexy, outrageous, exciting, and thought-provoking, at a time when SF was maturing into something beyond the space opera pulp of the 1940’s and 50’s.

Dangerous Visions was the messenger of the New Age, bringing SF to those who had previously spurned its origins.

The eventual list of 33 stories from 32 authors reads like a Who’s Who of SF writers: Philip K Dick, Samuel ‘Chip’ Delany, Robert Bloch, Philip José Farmer, Robert Silverberg, Brian Aldiss, Theodore Sturgeon, JG Ballard, John Brunner, Norman Spinrad, Fritz Lieber, Frederik Pohl, Lester del Rey, Roger Zelazny, and even Isaac Asimov, who amusingly explains in one of his Introductions why he’s not in the collection, other than for the Introduction. Ellison cherry-picked who he saw as the best in the US at the time and the emerging British New Wave at the time.

Jo Walton claims that it is ‘an astonishing anthology’. Harlan himself, with no lack of modesty, declares at the beginning of the collection, “What you hold in your hands is more than a book. If we are lucky it is a revolution.” (page xxxii)

There is an introduction about each author written by Harlan. The authors themselves often provide an Afterword after Ellison’s Introductions. Personally, I always enjoy reading such comments, as I love hearing how authors write. However, they can be very long. The Introductions, from 1967 and 2007, and a new Introduction from Adam Roberts cover 44 pages alone. In the case of Robert Bloch, the Introduction is longer than the story itself, though I did find it entertaining.

At its worst, it can be rather like those DVD extras where people spoil the experience by telling us how great they are, or worse, that the explanation of the mechanics of writing devalue the tale. Some may find it better to ignore such excesses and focus on the stories.

Whilst some of its content feels tame by today’s standards, it can still divide. As an example, Philip José Farmer’s novella, Riders of the Purple Wage, despite its great pun of a title and being tied with Weyr Search by Anne McCaffrey for the Hugo Award for Best Novella in 1968, is still to me overblown posturing about nothing. (It actually put me off reading Farmer for a long time afterwards.) David R Bunch’s two tales (the only author to have two tales in the book) are still as confusing as ever. Carol Emshwiller’s tale of sex (Sex and/or Mr Morrison) is just weird, and no less weird from my first reading.

Others are still great. Gonna Roll the Bones by Fritz Leiber, which also received a Hugo Award and also a Nebula Award for Best Novelette in 1968, and I still think is funny, witty and quirkily odd. Unlike the Farmer, when I first read this one it set me on a course of reading more Leiber, to my mind a much underappreciated writer these days, though he did write the odd clunker.

Of the better known authors there are some surprises. Robert Silverberg’s tale of death (Flies) is still chillingly and sickeningly creepy. Poul Anderson’s tale of homosexuality (Eutopia) is startling in its New-Wave style take from an author whose reputation was by this stage fairly well known as ‘Old-Guard’.

Of the older authors, Lester del Rey’s tale of God versus Humans (Evensong), Frederik Pohl’s comments on racism in The Day After the Day the Martians Came and Larry Niven���s tale of organ-farming, The Jigsaw Man, are all less cutting-edge than they probably were at the time, though have stood the test of time. (And as an aside, the tale of how Larry Niven’s monetary contribution ensured this collection was actually published is an entertaining footnote.)

Robert Bloch’s future Jack the Ripper tale, A Toy for Juliette, an alternative to his Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper, is still unsettling. Harlan’s own sequel to Juliette, The Prowler in the City at the Edge of the World, also shows what a tour de force Harlan was in the 1960’s.

The British end of the New Wave also holds up their own through Brian Aldiss’s tale of terranaut time-altering, The Night that All Time Broke Out and JG Ballard’s bleak circus story The Recognition, as well as John Brunner’s machine-as-God Judas. There’s also a comment by Mike Moorcock, written in 2002, about the context of the collection in 1967, and claiming that Harlan “singlehandedly produced a new benchmark” with this book.

Lastly, Samuel R. Delany’s Aye, and Gomorrah, with its neutering of astronauts, ‘frelking’ and sexual prostitution is still quite a memorable tale that must have been a cautionary tale for SF fans at a time when we hadn’t made it to the Moon. Delany won the 1968 Nebula for Best Short Story for "Aye, and Gomorrah... and in the November 1967 copy of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction Judith Merrill claimed that this, the last story in the book, was by far the best.)

Other Award Winners from this collection: Philip K. Dick's submission "Faith of our Fathers" was a nominee for the 1968 Hugo in the Novelette category, beaten by Leiber. Harlan Ellison himself received a special citation at the 26th World SF Convention for editing ‘the most significant and controversial SF book published in 1967’ although he had his nomination for Fan Writer withdrawn reportedly because he had won a Hugo and Nebula in the past. Clearly there was a lot of love for Harlan at this point.

Like me, you may not like it all. When it works, it works well, where it doesn’t, it can leave you...confused. I still feel, like I did 30 years or so ago, that some of the tales try too hard to shock, and consequently in the end they make their point less. But you must read it, even if it’s to get an idea of what all the fuss was about when first published. Religion, sex, death: all are here.

The effect of Dangerous Visions is still palpable today, though many of the stories here have dated, in some cases badly. Having said that, for a book over 45 years old, there’s more hits than misses, which is impressive. (Although I defy anyone to come up with the same list of likes and dislikes as someone else!) For here lies the hereditary of William Gibson, Dan Simmons, and China Mieville, amongst many others.

Think of it as a primer, to try different authors you may not have heard of before. Then go read more of their work.

There was a second collection published, Again, Dangerous Visions in 1972. But if you want an even more controversial story, look up the one about Harlan’s supposedly last Dangerous Visions anthology, still unpublished after nearly 40 years: The Last Dangerous Visions.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 372 reviews

Join the discussion

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.