Posted in: Books, Pop Culture | Tagged: dangerous visions, harlan ellison, jms, joe michael straczynski, michael moorcock, new wave, new worlds, science fiction, science fiction anthology, susan ellison, the last dangerous visions
The Last Dangerous Visions: JMS Prepares "Lost" Harlan Ellison Book
Screenwriter, novelist, and comics creator Joe Michael Straczynski announced on his Patreon that he is preparing the late Harlan Ellison's anthology The Last Dangerous Visions for publication in Spring 2021. JMS is the executor of Harlan and Susan Ellison's literary estate, and part of that job is to prepare Ellison's work for republication and keep it in print.
Dangerous Visions is the legendary Science Fiction anthology edited by Harlan Ellison that heralded the New Wave alongside Michael Moorcock's New Worlds that updated the genre in the 1960s to a more contemporary feel before the Cyberpunk movement in the 1980s evolved it even further. It was followed by a second volume Again, Dangerous Visions, and Ellison promised for years that a third and final volume, The Last Dangerous Visions, would be out. That dragged on and on, and The Last Dangerous Visions stayed in limbo even after Ellison passed away.
You can read JMS' full statement from his Patreon below and visit the page itself to support it.
On Finishing The Last Dangerous Visions
Dangerous Visions, published in 1967, and Again, Dangerous Visions, which debuted in 1972, both edited by Harlan Ellison, have long been viewed by critics, scholars, and fans as two of the most important and influential anthologies ever published in the field of science fiction. They overturned the tropes of the form, created careers for many newer writers, and birthed the New Wave Science Fiction movement that forever changed the genre.
The final entry, The Last Dangerous Visions, was announced in 1973 and scheduled to appear in 1974.
It was never completed.
For forty-six years.
No public explanation was ever given.
In a genre noted for mysteries as much as for visionary writing, two questions – When is The Last Dangerous Visions coming out? and Why the delay? – have evolved into the greatest mystery in the field of science fiction. What single cause could explain delaying the completion of a book for nearly five decades?
But there is a reason that no explanation for the delay was ever articulated, a story known only to a very few people.
For that, you will have to wait a little longer.
But not too long, because after nearly five decades, The Last Dangerous Visions is going to be completed.
The Last Dangerous Visions will consist of three key elements.
1) The Original Stories
Over a hundred stories written in the early 1970s were slated to be part of TLDV. As the years passed, a number of them were withdrawn by the writers and published elsewhere, and it makes no sense to republish stories that are otherwise available. Some of the remaining stories have been overtaken by real-world events, rendering them less relevant or timely, and regrettably will be omitted, but many more are as innovative, fresh, and, in some ways, even more, relevant now than when they were first written. These are rich, compelling stories by some of the best-known science fiction and fantasy writers to work in the genre that deserves to be seen by the world.
The rights to the few stories from the original batch that will not be included in this volume will be freely and formally returned to the writers and/or their estates so that they can be allowed to see the light of day elsewhere.
Previously unseen artwork by the phenomenal Tim Kirk commissioned for the original volume to go with these stories will also be included in this volume.
2) Today's Heavy Hitters
The Dangerous Visions anthologies have always been about facing the future in order to illuminate the present, allowing heavy-hitters in the genre to go places where they could not otherwise travel, challenging the limits of the genre. True to that tradition, some of the most well-known and respected writers working today have agreed to contribute stories to The Last Dangerous Visionsto mark the importance of its completion. Their names will be announced the deeper we go into this process, with more still being added at this time.
3) New Voices
The Dangerous Visions books also have a long, rich history of launching new voices and new talents, as well as helping solidify the careers of those on the cusp of larger success. So The Last Dangerous Visions will present stories by a diverse range of young, new writers from around the world who are telling stories that look beyond today's horizon to what's on the other side.
In addition, for one day, as the editing process wraps up, one last slot will be opened up for submissions from unknown and unpublished writers. One day, one writer, one new voice, one last chance to make it into The Last Dangerous Visions.
The final stories will be organized by topic, interweaving original, heavy-hitter, and new writers into a narrative flow.
There is one last, significant work by Harlan that has never been published, that has been seen by only a handful of people. A work that ties directly into the reason why The Last Dangerous Visions has taken so long to come to light. That piece will be included in this volume to close off the last of Harlan's major unpublished works.
Rather than seeking a publisher first and potentially compromise a book designed to be challenging and daring or asking writers to wait until the book is sold to be paid, I will cover the cost of paying for all of the stories up front (about which more in a bit). Once all the stories are in place, we will take the book to market around March/April 2021. Given the unique place in science fiction history occupied by Dangerous Visions in general and this book in particular, and some of the authors who have already agreed to participate, several major publishers have already expressed significant interest in picking up the book upon completion.
Looking Back to Look Forward
In addition to ensuring that the original authors whose stories will be used in The Last Dangerous Visions will finally have the chance to see their stories published where they were always intended to be seen, we will also formally revert the rights to any original stories not used in TLDV to their respective writers, so they can be sold and seen elsewhere. This is long overdue.
Similarly, all the writers who contributed stories to the previous two volumes will be given non-exclusive rights to publish their stories elsewhere, something many of them have requested over the years. And even though Tim Kirk's artwork was commissioned as a work-for-hire, and is thus technically owned by the Kilimanjaro Corporation along with the underlying rights, any of his pieces that are not used in TLDV will be reverted back to him, along with the underlying rights, along with all of the original art included in the book so that he can profit from them.
With that, balance will be returned to the Force, and the saga of The Last Dangerous Visions will finally reach its conclusion, setting the stage for –
The Harlan and Susan Ellison Memorial Library
In accordance with their wishes, the aesthetic marvel that is Ellison Wonderland will be preserved in all its marvelousness and converted into the Harlan and Susan Ellison Memorial Library, a place where lovers of art, architecture, and comics can come in small groups for tours, and academics can study decades of correspondence between Harlan and some of the most famous writers in and out of the SF genre, along with his original manuscripts and drafts. We are also working toward having the house declared a Cultural Landmark, possibly in association with a local university.
Consequently, all royalties from the sales of The Last Dangerous Visions will go to the Trust to help ensure that the Library will continue for many, many years.
After being appointed Executor of the Ellison Estate, my immediate task was to ensure that ongoing bills and payments were made, as well as seeing to all the legal fees that go with transitioning an estate into a Trust. With bureaucracy and red tape slowing the process of turning over the previous accounts – a process that is still ongoing and may drag on for many months to come – I volunteered to cover all costs personally: property taxes, fees paid to estate lawyers, affidavits, and corporate paperwork required to latchkey the Kilimanjaro Corporation, notaries, creditors, court documents, improvements to the residence, and the lengthy process of setting up a Trust that will continue to look after the Ellison legacy long after I have gone to dust. Covering the development costs on The Last Dangerous Visions will add considerably to that figure. All in, we're talking tens of thousands of dollars.
So if there are any fans of Harlan's work or SF in general who would like to help defray some of those costs in return for the exclusive opportunity to see The Last Dangerous Visions come together in real-time, there is a tier here that will only remain online for five months, through April, when the book is slated to be completed.
Patrons will be the first to know the names of the authors contributing to TLDV, first to see partial manuscripts and story excerpts before the book is published, and will be given peeks at Tim Kirk's amazing art. Beat by beat, they (and other Patrons operating at that level or above) will be a part of the process of finishing one of the most discussed and eagerly anticipated books in the history of modern science fiction.
It starts right here, right now, today.
After forty-six years of anticipation, we are finally bringing this beast in for a landing.