Christopher Priest’s essay on the history of the promised third of Harlan Ellison’s Dangerous Visions anthologies was published in fanzine form, in book form, and online, and was then removed from the web (at the request of both Priest and Ellison), all before I had ever used the internet. It remains not obviously available, which I, being used to the power of the Streisand effect these days, find remarkable.
But the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine caught it…
This is the full text of THE LAST DEADLOSS VISIONS, an essay I wrote in
1987 and published at my own expense in a fanzine called Deadloss. It was an attempt to bring journalistic techniques to a subject that from the point of view of anyone outside the sf world might seem an odd one for enquiry: the non-publication of a book.
Of course, the book was Harlan Ellison’s anthology ‘The Last Dangerous Visions’, a title surrounded from the beginning by so much hype, exaggeration and persistent invisibility that it has been a subject of
interest to a generation (literally) of sf writers and fans.
– Christopher Priest, from the Internet Archive’s archive of the Lysator archive of Last Deadloss Visions
This is all ancient history now: the essay was taken offline back in about 1997-98, judging from the link chronology on the Harlan Ellison links page. And the whole TLDV business has been quiet for ages. Priest still mentions it, as in his 2005 Worldcon speech. Ellison has been much quieter in recent years. Maybe the essay had an effect; probably just the passage of time has worn down his enthusiasm and restrained his hyperbole. Wikipedia points me at this 2007 article, in which Ellison refers (unprompted) to TLDV as a project which he would like to finish, but with rather less passion than in his heyday.
That same Links page is another testament to internet history.
Just after Midnight, 08/29/95:
Here is the problem with looking for Harlan Ellison Links. He was, as you know, involved with a little thing called Babylon 5 (and aside from mentioning the Bab 5 Support Page this is the ONLY link you’ll see here to it!), and since he is a Respected Author and what-not, every dork with a Babylon 5 Toaster Oven homepage has to mention his name. In fact, if you run a Lycos Search on “harlan ellison” (and why would you run any other kind of search?), right now, you’ll get 117 hits (actual mileage may vary). If you run a Lycos Search on “harlan ellison babylon” you’ll get 43. Get the picture?
Editor’s Note: these numbers are now (10/20/95) 242 and 70, respectively. Time waits for no man.
Anyway, save your eyeballs and mouse button and just read on. Trust me, everything worth looking at (except maybe some notes on how Ellison personally styles the hair of every cast member on Babylon 5) is here. If you’re a glutton for punishment, click on those Lycos searches above.
Remember when Lycos was to the Internet as, er, Google is to the Internet? Remember when it was possible to search for a name (let alone a famous name) and get only 242 hits? And that a third of them being irrelevant was annoying levels of dilution? And when you could be sure that you had seen everything worth looking at? I don’t.
Harlan Ellison is now 75. I don’t think he will ever finish The Last Dangerous Visions. Christopher Priest was right, more than twenty years ago, when he declared that the project had got too large to handle. But maybe something can be salvaged, posthumously, when Ellison’s pride is no longer resting on it so heavily. I would like to see that.