Mike Lancaster's Reviews > Deathbird Stories

Deathbird Stories by Harlan Ellison
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's review
Sep 21, 2010

it was amazing

Harlan Ellison provides us with a pantheon of new gods for the modern age and - after we have been assaulted, kicked, lectured at, enlightened, kicked some more (this time when we're down), astounded, offended, unsettled, dazzled, and kicked again - we realise that there are good stories, there are great stories, and then there are Harlan Ellison stories.

Ellison's gods are, perhaps, the ones we deserve in this modern world of ours. Gods of random violence, of social alienation, of war crimes, of electrical appliances, of road rage, of fruit machines, of revenge, of recreational drug use, of pollution. You are left unsure of whether Ellison is providing an analysis of modern life, an autopsy of the human race, or is trying to read an augury from the stinking guts of the human condition. Maybe he's doing all three. And more.

Love him or hate him, it is hard to deny the power, eloquence, erudition and sheer beauty of these highly polished gems, even if they are so often polished with bile. When Harlan is angry, his stories soar, and with Deathbird Stories he hits some of his loftiest heights.

They are far from easy reading. These stories resound through you like a series of perfectly targeted punches. It's like we are suddenly being shown the world and its people as they really are, without the sugar coating, without the lies we tell ourselves so we can remain sane and functional in a world that seems to make increasingly less sense every day.

I sit in awe of HE for this volume. It might pale in comparison to my favourite Ellison collection, Angry Candy, but that's because in Angry Candy he takes on the subject of death. As a result, that one just slays me every time.

And every time I find myself thanking him for it.


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