Gerard Conway

The Last Dangerous Visions

The Last Dangerous Visions was planned to be a sequel to the science fiction short story anthologies Dangerous Visions and Again, Dangerous Visions, originally published in 1967 and 1972 respectively. It is edited by Harlan Ellison.

The projected third collection was started but controversially never finished. It has become something of a legend in science fiction as the genre's most famous unpublished book. It was originally announced for publication in 1973, but other work demanded Ellison's attention and the anthology has not seen print to date. He has come under criticism for his treatment of some writers who submitted their stories to him, whom some estimate to number nearly 150 (and many of whom have died in the ensuing three decades since the anthology was first announced).

Various difficulties delayed publication many times. As recently as May 2007, Ellison has said that he still wants to get the book out .

British author Christopher Priest, whose story "An Infinite Summer" had been accepted for the collection, wrote a lengthy critique of Ellison's failure to complete the project, published as "The Last Deadloss Visions" in the UK and, in book form, as The Book on the Edge of Forever (an allusion to the Ellison-written Star Trek episode The City on the Edge of Forever) by Fantagraphics Books in the US. The essay was once available online, but Priest has since requested the essay be withdrawn from the Internet.

1979 Contents List

It was announced in the April 1979 issue of Locus that the anthology had been sold to Berkley, who would publish the 700,000 words of fiction in three volumes. These tables of content were published in the June 1979 issue of Locus. Story titles are followed by an approximate word count. Also note that the totals given for each book do not exactly match the published list.

BOOK ONE (34 authors, 35 stories, 214,250 words)

BOOK TWO (32 authors, 40 stories, 216,527 words)

BOOK THREE (36 authors, 38 stories, 214,200 words)

Note that these stories were either omitted from the listing in error or were pulled from the anthology before the listing was published:

  • "Where Are They Now?" by Steven Bryan Bieler (Sold to LDV in 1984, withdrawn in 1988)
  • "The Great Forest Lawn Clearance Sale: Hurry Last Days!" by Stephen Dedman (According to the author's website)
  • "Squad D" by Stephen King (Submitted to LDV, but possibly not accepted)
  • "How Dobbstown Was Saved" by Bob Leman (Sold to LDV in 1981)
  • "The Swastika Setup" by Michael Moorcock (Withdrawn and replaced by "The Murderer's Song")
  • "An Infinite Summer" by Christopher Priest (Withdrawn in 1976)
  • "The Isle of Sinbad" by Thomas N. Scortia (Listed in Alien Critic #7, 1973, but not in the Locus 1979 list)

Alternative publication of stories intended for the book

Several stories purchased for Last Dangerous Visions were eventually published elsewhere. Perhaps the first was Christopher Priest's "An Infinite Summer", which appeared in Andromeda 1, edited by Peter Weston and published in 1976.

Michael Bishop's story "Dogs' Lives" was published in the Spring 1984 issue of The Missouri Review. It was subsequently reprinted in the 1985 edition of Best American Short Stories.

"Himself in Anachron" by Cordwainer Smith (died 1966), was published in the 1993 collection of Smith's short fiction, The Rediscovery of Man. Ellison threatened to sue New England Science Fiction Association (NESFA) for publishing Himself in Anachron, sold to Ellison for the book by his widow, but later reached an amicable settlement.

Nelson Bond's contribution, "Pipeline to Paradise," saw publication in 1995 in the anthology Wheel of Fortune, edited by Roger Zelazny. It was reprinted in 2002 in Bond's second Arkham House collection, The Far Side of Nowhere. Ellison has publicly acknowledged soliciting the story from Bond, who at the time had retired from writing.

In 1999, DAW Books published an original anthology entitled "Prom Night," edited by Nancy Springer (and Martin H. Greenberg, uncredited), which contains Fred Saberhagen's LDV story, "The Senior Prom." And in 2004, Haffner Press published a coffee-table retrospective of the works of Jack Williamson, Seventy-Five: The Diamond Anniversary of a Science Fiction Pioneer, which contains his LDV story, "Previews of Hell."

John Varley's "The Bellman", which was published in Asimov's Science Fiction magazine in 2003 and has since been reprinted; and Joe Haldeman's "Fantasy for Six Electrodes and One Adrenaline Drip", which Haldeman had believed lost until finding an old carbon copy of the manuscript and which was finally published in his 2006 collection A Separate War and Other Stories.

In 2005 Haffner Press published a large reprint collection of Edmond Hamilton's two "Star Kings" novels and Leigh Brackett's three stories starring Eric Stark, called Stark and the Star Kings. The title story is the long-lost tale by both writers which should have been published in Last Dangerous Visions.

Steven Bryan Bieler's story "Where Are They Now?" appeared in the Spring 2008 (Volume VII, Issue 4) online magazine "Slow Trains" .

In 2008, Orson Scott Card published "Geriatric Ward" in his collection of short fiction, Keeper of Dreams. He wanted to see the story published in The Last Dangerous Visions, as Dangerous Visions and Again, Dangerous Visions had essentially taught him the art of writing speculative fiction, but he felt that, after so many decades, it would never happen.

At the time of this writing, these stories have also been published:

References

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