Originally published in 1962 and updated in later decades with a new introduction, Ellison Wonderland contains 16 masterful stories from the author's early career.
This collection shows a vibrant young writer with a wide-ranging imagination, ferocious creative energy, devastating wit, and an eye for the wonderful and terrifying and tragic. Among the gems are "All the Sounds of Fear", "The Sky Is Burning", "The Very Last Day of a Good Woman", and "In Lonely Lands". Though they stand tall on their own merits, they also point the way to the sublime stories that followed soon after and continue to come even now, more than 50 years later.
©1962, 1974, 1990, 2002 Harlan Ellison (P)2015 Blackstone Audio, Inc., and Skyboat Media, Inc.
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"There are no stories.. just rambling"
I thought this was a collection of stories. But its just an introduction to nothing that lasts forever...
"Your Audio Guide to Ellison Wonderland"
For me any new Harlan Ellison audiobook is a cause for celebration. If you’re a fan, this 2015 edition of Ellison Wonderland includes a lengthy new introduction and a new story within the introduction section.
If you haven’t read Ellison before these are earlier works and you may first want to check out his Edge in My Voice collections, which include many of his best stories. He also reads/performs many of the stories in the collection, which I prefer. The other performers are also very good.
Ellison Wonderland is fun and the new material makes it worth your while if you’ve previously read the book.
Here is a breakdown of the contents:
• GO THOU AND DO LIKEWISE: AN APPRECIATION OF HARLAN ELLISON by J. Michael Straczynski
• Author’s Introduction: THE MAN ON THE MUSHROOM (1974/1984)
• Author’s new Introduction: DON’T LOOK BEHIND YOU: THE LAST DANGEROUS INTRODUCTION TO ELLISON WONDERLAND (2013)
• COMMUTER’S PROBLEM
• DO-IT-YOURSELF (Written in collaboration with Joe L. Hensley)
• THE SILVER CORRIDOR
• ALL THE SOUNDS OF FEAR
• THE SKY IS BURNING
• THE VERY LAST DAY OF A GOOD WOMAN
• DEAL FROM THE BOTTOM
• THE WIND BEYOND THE MOUNTAINS
• ARE YOU LISTENING? (AKA, THE FORCES THAT CRUSH)
• NOTHING FOR MY NOON MEAL
• RAIN, RAIN, GO AWAY
• IN LONELY LANDS
• BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARDS
• AFTERWORD by Josh Olson
This is very early Ellison. So I would recommend this book to fans of his, but would not really recommend it to people who weren't fans. Ellison was just getting started, and the stories, particularly the endings, are a little bit... well the endings are just a lot of "let me explain what the ending is!" (Tell instead of show.)
If Ellison wrote novels, and selected a single narrator or narrated them himself then I would select one of those to read. I like full cast productions but I don't think it works as well for a short story collection such as this. I had to switch gears so much in terms of narrators.
I enjoyed the narrators, except for Alex Hyde-White, whose voice just didn't work for me. He was not a bad narrator, his voice was just VERY deep and resonated in a way that almost hurt my ears. But overall they were good, and handled the different voices well. There weren't as many characters to differentiate because the stories were short etc. Harlan also narrates all of the nonfiction he wrote for inclusion in this new edition, as well as the introductions to each story, and a few of the stories. Ellison is a great narrator, and is the best narrator for his work.
The afterword by Josh Olson mentioned a documentary Dreams With Sharp Teeth and I am going to get the documentary.
I am spoiled. This is my third Ellison collection. I have previously read Slippage and Hard Candy, which were very formative for me. This is in one way a disadvantage because I didn't follow Harlan from the beginning but in one way an advantage because I saw his later, more complex stories. Some things of note about the collection: There is one woman who narrates and she narrates one story (the story with a woman as protagonist, which Ellison co-wrote.) This means that it was very notable to me that other stories didn't have women as protagonists. Ellison is known for his introductions and essays as well--often giving writers permission, simply, for self-respect. If the advice doesn't apply to you the kinds of things he writes in these pieces might seem overblown in some ways. There are about 5 and a half of these essays in the beginning of the book. I love Harlan's attitude on writing, but these are a little bit repetitive, i.e. they were letters to people in publishing which he had saved and then dissected in an essay. It's writer geek stuff.
J Michael Straczynsky (Babylon 5) writes the foreward and Josh Olson (A History of Violence) writes the afterword.
"OK stories - Horrible comments from the author"
Not from Ellison. This book includes his very early work from the late 50's and early 60's. So, you get the usual SF/fantasy themes from that era -simplistic and kind of quaint. OK stuff, but not particularly memorable. Ellison has admittedly written great stories in the years since, but he comes off as a self-important jerk when he rants (and I use that word intentionally) about his real life heros and villians. In spite of the fawning postscript from Mr. Olson, I feel sorry for the people who have different viewpoints or are just trying to do their job, and wind up getting targeted as villains by this schmuck.
Skip the first hour+ of the recording. Just listen to the stories. You will come away with a much better opinion of the author.
The entire first section made up of six extended asides.
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