The Deathbird & Other Stories by Harlan Ellison
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Oh lordy, these stories were so good. I feel like the last person on earth to have discovered Harlan Ellison or something. As if I had some really good idea why I should have avoided his stories or something. I mean, I've only been hearing about all these all my life, and yet, the only reason I didn't read them was that they were SHORT.
So. Stupid. Of. Me.
So here I go, choosing this collection mainly because I already know he blends horror in with fantasy and science fiction in really fantastic ways and the whole "Deathbird" in the title seemed just about perfect for an October read. And I was right. :)
The Deathbird was pretty freaking amazing, adding a whole sympathy for the devil thing and an endless stream of reincarnations and a wickedly cool ending. Hello, God and the Devil. Only this is an epic rendition full of dead dogs and pain and the whole Ademic treatment all rolled into a burning bush. :) Loved it.
Most of the stories were simply fantastic, but a few were outstanding. This is Harlan, don't you know. Quicksilver, dirty as hell, sharp as a seat full of tacks you just sat on, and desperately wicked.
Run for the Stars might have just been an SF adventure with TONS of dead Earthlings, a death switch sun-bomb, revenge and bloodshed, but I love this antihero stuff.
Croatoan did the whole alligators in the sewers in a REALLY nicely twisted way. :)
My personal favorite might be The Beast Who Shouted Love at the Heart of the World because, hey, let's face it... I love twisted as hell stories that let all the imagination hang out. :)
I'm skipping a quick review a whole bunch not because they aren't good but because I can't do them justice, but The Whimper of Whipped Dogs really made me wish I was worshipping dark gods in dirty cities. :)
Killing Bernstein was a wickedly funny love story... of a sort. :)
But the Count the Clock That Tells the Time was a great 4th Dimensional romp that does a ton of justice to the whole Wasting Time trope. :)
How Interesting: A Tiny Man was just plain harsh. :)
Do I recommend Harlan? HELL YES. Brilliant writer. Ascerbic, cruel, freaking intelligent, very knowledgeable, deep, heartfelt, and quicksilver. These have got to be some of the very best short stories I've ever read.
Or at least, while I'm reading them, they have a certain quality to drive out all thoughts of any other kind of work until they start leaking from my ears, having eaten all other stories like slavering dogs inside my skull.
Just. Wow. :)
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