The Top of the Volcano: The Award-Winning Stories of Harlan Ellison

Harlan Ellison. Subterranean (www.subterraneanpress.com), $45 (536p) ISBN 978-1-59606-634-2
Ellison (Slippage) has won so many awards over his six-decade career that this hefty collection only includes the short stories that have won the most prestigious prizes. His greatest hits include “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream” (1967), with its viciously omnipotent computer, and “The Deathbird” (1973), a riff on the book of Genesis in sympathy with the snake. His iconoclastic early period is represented by experimental pieces such as “The Region Between” (1969), which includes abstract graphics with its text. But the pleasant surprises are later, more obscure works, such as “The Man Who Rowed Christopher Columbus Ashore” (1991), in which a higher intelligence arbitrarily meddles with the world. The mature wit of late Ellison may surprise those familiar with his earlier nihilism. Ellison’s themes can be repetitive, and his portrayals of women are consistently two-dimensional. The book is, however, up to date, and its most recent story, “How Interesting: A Tiny Man” (2010), has not been collected elsewhere. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 09/22/2014
Release date: 12/01/2014
Genre: Fiction
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