Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Ex Libris: Harlan Ellison's "Angry Candy"

Why do people keep insisting that I join the 21st Century? I LIVE in the 21st Century! I just don't want to be bothered by the shitheads on the internet! Harlan Ellison

Vivid. That's the only way I can describe Harlan Ellison's writings.

I first discovered Ellison's writings through this incredible essay, The 3 Most Important Things in Life, found on the The Harlan Ellison Webderland.

Here, in several anecdotes about his life, I found everything that one could seek in any story: excitement, suspense, comedy-- and all in Ellison's rough tone that I can almost hear in my head. Afterwards, I was on the lookout for all of his stories.

(Actually, I surmise that Ellison is almost as prolific as noted SF writer Ray Bradbury in producing short stories-- though with a sharper edge. But I digress.)

In Angry Candy, Ellison writes about death and all of its costs. The stories in this collection range from urban horror to surreal pulpy SF to something out of the Twilight Zone (actually, it was written for Twilight Zone) to outright plain weird.

True, some of the tales are uneven. However, most of them will stay in your mind and leave burning footprints. And through it all, Ellison knows how to tell his stories. Hell, Ellison's writings make you feel like he is looking you in the eye and daring you to call him a liar to his face.

It makes me think that the Gods of Speculative Fiction were getting nervous about the rise of Literature Fiction when they decided to create in Ellison someone who can champion SFF against the literati.

The man can write, goddamit.

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