I generally enjoy Harlan Ellison's work, and this one has some great stories in it. And some not-so-great ones.
"i have no mouth and i must scream" is excellent sci-fi writing, as is "'Repent, Harlequin!' said the Ticktockman." I think "A Boy and His Dog" made a better movie than a prose story, but I loved "Laugh Track" and "Paladin of the Lost Hour" is excellent if heart-rending. Some of the others, not so much.
The problem I had was Harlan Ellison as the narrator of his own stories. Ellison does a lot of radio and TV and he does have a great voice. But he overacts some of the stories and so at TIMES he is SHOUTING THE DIALOGUE with the next section of narraton getting softer and softer until it is TIME...TO SHOUT AGAIN. I really felt my eardrums were in danger.
I realize it's generally a good thing to have a narrator who really gets into his work, and these are some of Ellison's favorite offspring, but I think this is a case where it got overdone. Also, something funny was done with the recording of "'Repent, Harlequin!'", as if it got recorded at one speed and then played back a few percent faster---you can still hear everything, but it sounds like Ellison was breathing in a partial-helium atmosphere while he was reading it.
I'd rate the writing as 4-to-5 stars (some stories are 5-star stories, others are 4-ish). Call it 4.5 for the writing, but I'm dropping it to 4 because of the narration. A more professional narrator might have raised it up.
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