Saturday, January 19, 2013

Slippage: Review

I love Harlan Ellison. Every-in-your-face, cocky, let's turn what you think upside-down and inside-out word of him.  The man can write.  He can write so darn well that he can tell you about his bypass surgery and make you think it's freakin' awesome.  He can spin a tale about living through an earthquake on a mountain top and make you wish you had been there.  And that's just in the introduction, folks.  Haven't even made it to the "real" short stories yet.

I've said it before (back when I read his collection of stories in Shatterday)--Harlan Ellison is not for everybody.  He can run the entire gamut of fiction from dark comedy to ghost story to time travel to gangster occult to straight science fiction to the nightmare tales that you thought nobody knew but you.  He's a manic, multi-personality storyteller who switches gears faster than you can turn the page. Not everyone's cup of tea.  But he's fantastic in every genre he tries.

In Slippage, he seems to switch up his genres even more than usual--following the theme of tectonic shift that springs from the shifts in his life--from learning he's not immortal (thanks to the bypass surgery) to having his home dismantled by mother nature's own destruction team (a la earthquake).  We find ourselves facing long-forgotten gods and killers we thought buried in the legends of time.  We are given three stories where criminals are given their just desserts--but we have to question the justice of the third.  We learn the power of thought and the power of love.  We are reminded how dependent we've become on technology and just how much of our life's energy those electronic beasts may be draining away.  And he introduces us to the opposite of Santa Claus and teaches us to be careful what we imagine....because it just might come true.

These are cautionary matter how fantastic the story, Ellison is doing what he does best--writing about human nature in all of its terrible baseness and horrible possibility.  But he also gives us humanity with all its hope and incredible glory.  Just shy of the quality of Shatterday at 4 1/2 stars.

My favorites:
"Darkness Upon the Face of the Deep"
"The Lingering Scent of Woodsmoke" 
"Go Toward the Light"
"Sensible City"

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