In a prolific career spanning more than 50 years, Harlan Ellison has been the acclaimed master of speculative fiction. In fact, a 1999 Locus poll named him the all-time best writer of short fiction as well as the editor of the all-time best anthology (Dangerous Visions). In addition to his dozens of Hugo, Nebula, and Locus Awards, Ellison has won two Edgar Awards from the Mystery Writers of America, and multiple Bram Stoker Awards from the Horror Writers Association (including the Lifetime Achievement Award). As an audiobook narrator, he's twice won Audie Awards and been nominated for a Grammy Award.
The Deathbird & Other Stories presents, for the first time in audio, 13 of Ellison’s classic stories:
"The Deathbird" (Hugo & Locus winner; Nebula nominee)
"The Creation of Water"
"Run for the Stars"
"Croatoan" (Hugo nominee)
"The Beast Who Shouted Love at the Heart of the World" (Hugo winner)
"On the Slab"
"The Man Who Rowed Christopher Columbus Ashore" (Nebula nominee)
"The Dreams a Nightmare Dreams"
"The Whimper of Whipped Dogs"
"Count the Clock That Tells the Time" (Locus winner; Hugo nominee)
"How Interesting: A Tiny Man" (Nebula winner)
“Ellison Wonderland” © 1994 by The Kilimanjaro Corporation. “The Deathbird” © 1973 by Harlan Ellison. Renewed 2001 by The Kilimanjaro Corporation. “The Creation of Water” © 1994 by The Kilimanjaro Corporation. “Run for the Stars”© 1957 by Harlan Ellison. Renewed 1985 by The Kilimanjaro Corporation. “Croatoan”© 1975 by Harlan Ellison. Renewed 2003 by The Kilimanjaro Corporation. “The Beast That Shouted Love at the Heart of the World” © 1968 by Harlan Ellison. Renewed 1996 by The Kilimanjaro Corporation. “On the Slab”© 1981 by The Kilimanjaro Corporation. “The Man Who Rowed Christopher Columbus Ashore”© 1991 by The Kilimanjaro Corporation. “The Dreams a Nightmare Dreams”© 1994 by The Kilimanjaro Corporation. “The Whimper of Whipped Dogs” © 1973 by Harlan Ellison. Renewed 2001 by The Kilimanjaro Corporation. “Killing Bernstein” © 1976 by Harlan Ellison. Renewed 2004 by The Kilimanjaro Corporation. “Count the Clock That Tells the Time” © 1978 by Harlan Ellison. Renewed 2006 by The Kilimanjaro Corporation. “How Interesting: A Tiny Man” © 2010 by Harlan Ellison. All stories written by Harlan Ellison. All rights reserved.
©2011 The Kilimanjaro Corporation. (P)2011 Audible, Inc.
"All the narrators are wonderful...However, Ellison as narrator surpasses them all. Once you have heard Ellison read his ownwork, it is impossible to imagine it spoken by anyone else. It’s not simply that Ellison is a terrific voice actor; it’s that he inhabits his writing like a hand wears a glove. If you love Ellison, you have to have this. Highly recommended." (Locus)
A collection of 13 stories mostly dating from around 1974 and after, and most are read by H. Ellison. The standouts are the later "magical realism"-style and fragmented stories that Ellison was mastering in the '70s through the '80s, "The Deathbird" and particularly "The Man Who Rowed Christopher Columbus To Shore" (both award winners).
I feel Ellison's reading style tends to oversell the language and the emotions (he tends to lapse into dialects too) and can be a bit distracting in his emphatic delivery, particularly in "Killing Bernstein" here in which he is making sure it reads "funny" and "How Interesting: A Tiny Man" which has been added a layer of "outrage" but the 2 above, "Deathbird" and "Man who Rowed" are read more quietly by 2 readers who have fantastic voices (I believe Deathbird is read by Theodore Bikel) and are quite powerful for letting the words do the talking without Ellison's hyperactivity. "The Deathbird" was notoriously hard for me to follow on the page and having heard it here I really appreciated its subtle powers.
Later stories like "On The Slab" and "Croatoan" and "The Whimper of Whipped Dogs" are firmly of the era in which most of HE's protagonists are doomed and adrift in an unfriendly universe, forced to negotiate with evil forces and impulses that have been brought to light through their own (often inadvertent) actions. There are seldom happy endings in Ellison's stories but rather, there are realizations of our own duplicity, our own limitations, our own willingness to live with hurt and damage if we can survive another day.
Some of the later pieces included ("Ellison Wonderland" (1994, after the Jacek Yerka painting), "The Creation of Water", "The Dreams A Nightmare Dreams") are shorter poetic exercises less plotted stories than mood pieces. Ellison's language always has a muscular force and the increasingly poetic turns of phrase and metaphors lend themselves well to aloud reading. The collection also includes HE's "Run For The Stars" a long late '50s SF tale that is the most dated piece here and is ultimately unremarkable yet seems to be one of HE's favorites as it is constantly being reprinted and recycled for his collections.
This is a great way to hear some of HE's famous stories read almost as if they were meant to be enjoyed that way.
Ellison Wonderland, The Creation of Water, Run For the Stars, Beast Who Shouted..., On The Slab, The Dreams A Nightmare Dreams, The Whimper..., Killing Bernstein, and How Interesting A Tiny Man are all read by Ellison.
The Deathbird, Croatoan, The Man Who Rowed..., and Count the Clock That Tells The Time are read by other readers in the collection.
Killing Bernstein was best story, then probably Whimper of Whipped Dogs.
But Whipped Dogs is a good story to point out where he goes wrong so often. It is a very good story until near the end, and then he doesn't trust his writing enough to let the story stand on its own and expose society's ills and individual actions within that world, he has to bring in the supernatural element. It totally dilutes the power of the story.
sorry but Deathbird was a mess and Croatoan is too Lovecraftian (another "classic" writer who is woefully poor). All Croatoan did for me was make me yearn to have Pynchon's V on audio.
you can only get so far with outlandish description and grotesquery and the Bosch-ian surrealism, at some point the stories have to make sense or at least stay true to their own internal logic/world.
and you can only get so far telling me to be scared when the writing doesn't warrant it, as will be seen in V5 story Flop Sweat, which he insists in his again lengthy (& Unnecessary) intro, scared the s*** out of people. I have to laugh; nothing scary nor hair-raising in it.
to sum up prior to finishing V5, this collection could have been boiled down to a best of and done in one volume without his intros as well. leave all the intros and lesser stories to a separate volume for Ellison-philes. At the very least present the stories individually to allow people to get the "best" one at a time and see if they want to get more. I am getting through to the end mainly for the supposed "classic" and award winners so that I can see what all the hoopla is about, but for me at least it will not be worth it by the end.
when there are far better stylists out there and more intellectually interesting and important writers for the SF field like Delany and Bester who can't seem to get on audio I can't help but be disappointed when they don't show. & on the strength of Strugatsky's Roadside Picnic, I'd rather see more of theirs show up.
Dr. Nils Rasmussen
It's rare nowadays to find a piece of fiction that can smack me two days of Sunday but this collection of Ellison's short stories did just that...
The story in particular that has stuck with me since I finished this collection is "The Deathbird". It was the obvious choice to pick for lending its name as a representation for this entire volume. The Deathbird, although only a short story, packs more punch than 99.99% of GOOD novels do. I finished this with a genuine feeling of inspiration. I write science fiction as a hobby in my spare time and, once again, I cannot stress it enough, how humbling of a listen this was for me. I would die a happy man if I ended up writing a story that was even a tenth as good as Deathbird. One of Ellison's main talents as a writer, and what I believe his fans find so addictive, is his unabashed refusal to follow any rules as far as what one might expect from an author of his caliber. He doesn't just break the rules, he shreds them, burns them, kicks them into the gutter, spits on them, and then spends the following week spreading horrible rumors about whichever rule he has just destroyed.
Do yourself a huge favor and buy this NOW.
9.89 / 10.00
I didn' t like the 1st story about the "Death-Bird" at all. In fact, my mind kept drifting to the low rating and scathing review that I was soon to submit. Then, goaded by a particurlarly annoying section, I angrily pushed the advance to next section button. Still, fuming about the good money I wasted, the 2nd story starting getting my attention. It wasn't bad at all so I kept listening. I liked all of the rest of the stories, and in fact, listened through to the end in one sitting. So, I'm thinking that maybe I was wrong about the "Deathbird" too. No, not wrong; as a story it stinks. It may work as a poem in some academic setting; where students assign alternative meanings to black and white. But, it was not what I wanted to hear; and frankly, the authors depiction of a giant "one-eyed-death-bird" is a little weird.
"An eclectic collection"
No, I didn't really enjoy this collection of short stories. They have not aged well, I understand that this is usually the case with collected stories from the body of an authors work but in this case i found it to be particularly jarring.
I really could not get into many or the stories but I guess hearing the authors reflections on his early work and it's shortfalls was at least interesting. However it did not make up for the content in my opinion.
Can't really see it these days although it's reminiscent of old outer limits and twilight zone.
I was disappointed because I bought this after reading Neil Gaiman's American gods. He said he'd spent a lot of time reading and rereading this book before he wrote it and I was interested to get an insight into its genesis. To be fair this isn't the books fault, it is what it is. I just found that after a few stories I was no longer really interested in it.
"Ellison epitomizes originality"
Expect the best of original story telling. Put all your preconceived ideas of what 'short-story' is. Ellison has always operated on a whole different level to the rest--and that goes for Stephen King, as well. Beautifully written (and read), The Deathbird collection is only volume 4 in a wonderful series from the master of, 'I never saw THAT coming'-fiction. Twilight Zone? Outer Limits? Enjoy.
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