INTRODUCTION: YEAR 2002
by Harlan Ellison
What a long, strange, jam-packed eventful trip it has been, I said to Mike Moorcock the other day. It wasn't d�j� vu, not exactly; but it was resonant of the days in London when we strolled from Ladbroke Grove to the tandoori restaurant we frequented. "What a long, strange, jam-packed eventful trip it has been," I said to Mike as we walked along like Mutt and Jeff, that huge bearded talent who had almost singlehandedly created what was to become known as the New Wave in fantastic literature, and the 5'5" upstart Yank just coming into his Warholian 15 minutes of Fame. That was more than thirty years ago. And the other day I said the same thing to Mike.
All so strange and exhausting, this journey. So filled with good and evil, friends and enemies, achievements and failures, deadlines met and deadlines missed (some by decades).
Friends still--like Mike and Bob Silverberg and Carol Emshwiller and Norman Spinrad and Phil Farmer, to name just a few to be found in this book and still in this world as I sit here writing on my Olympia manual typewriter--and friends so heartbreakingly gone--Bob Bloch and Roger Zelazny and Ted Sturgeon and Henry Slesar and Lester and Phil, Howard, John and John, Kris, dear old Fritz and Ray Lafferty and Damon, Poul and all the others who were smiling and writing and kicking ass when I first said what I said to Mike on Portobello Road. More than thirty years ago.
This book is one of the successes. It was a dream I'd had long before I actually did the job. A dream I had offered to another anthologist, when I was editing a line of paperbacks in Evanston, Illinois in 1961 ... and she had shined it on. Same dream I discussed with Norman in my treehouse in Beverly Glen in 1965; same dream I saw coming through the anal constriction of the genre like the Super Chief in amber, as Mike and his compatriots kicked out the chocks with New Worlds. A dream of "our thing" standing crystal mountain tall beside mimetic, naturalistic fiction, proffering visions and answers and what-ifs that no Faulkner or James Gould Cozzens or Edna Ferber ever thought possible. Oh, that was a great deal taller than a 5'5" dream.
And had I known how tough a job it would be, had I known the vast shitstorms that would gulleywash me, I have no doubt that I'd have done it anyway. Not because I'd be any dopier or foolhardy than has been my style all these years, but because this dream is now celebrating its thirty-fifth anniversary, and it is still the all-time bestselling anthology of speculative fiction ever produced. It has been in print continuously since 1967, and the awards and individual story reprints it has amassed are unparalleled. So the opprobrium has been worth it.
For those of you who came into the movie late, you'll turn a page or three and find the original Forewords to the book written by Isaac (who was too uncharacteristically and idiotically humble to write a story for the book, on the wholly bogus grounds that he was a geezer, couldn't write "the new thing," and didn't want to embarrass himself) (of all the people I've known in my strange, long, jam-packed life, I can't think of any I adored more than my pal Isaac, but I tell you--as I told him--the demur was horseshit), and there--after you'll find my own original, long-winded Introduction. You'll know what's what and understand DV's place in the literary landscape by the time you emerge on the other side. Then begins the book. This terrific book.
This dream, this success, was intended to be a miracle; and it came to pass. Then. And now. And thirty-five years in between. Many of the boys and girls who first read it in high school are now, themselves, stars of the genre of the phantasmagoric. To those kids, the name DANGEROUS VISIONS has the snap, crackle & pop of the sense of wonder about which we all prattle.
Muhammad Ali once quieted the rabble chiding him for his braggadocio by smiling and telling them, "Ain't no brag if you can go out there and do it!"
If this 21st Century intro to a watershed literary event of the 20th seems surfeited with an asphyxiating hubris, well, I admit to not doing humility very well, yet nonetheless there are things in one's life that are enshrineable, and even the most flatulent braggart may be permitted a hoot or two when speaking of such peaks of greatness. Ain't no brag.
I once met John Steinbeck. I don't think we exchanged a word, I was a kid, he was a god; but I met him. I marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. from Selma to Montgomery in one of the pivotal events of Our Time, and though I was a mere molecule in that wave, I am eternally proud because I was there. I can count among my closest friends Asimov, Leiber and Bloch, three of the most wonderful men who ever walked this earth, and they liked me. In this way I know I am worth-while, if not righteous. Such men would not be friends with a creep.