I confess, I’m a sucker when it comes to anything with Harlan Ellison’s name on it. Growing up as a teen on what I like to call the ABC’s (Asimov, Bradbury, Clarke) of science fiction it wasn’t until I discovered Harlan Ellison that my reading path took a real turn into new areas. Over the decades since, I’ve always found him to be entertaining and never disagreed with the various position he takes – and if you know anything about Ellison he stands up for his beliefs and is not shy in telling the world what he thinks. The intros/prefaces and background pieces Ellison writes are often as entertaining as his actual work.
So some weeks back when I was browsing the sci-fi section of a local used bookstore I was surprised to find this book and learn Ellison had lent his name to a series of novels by up-and-coming authors. But when I read it this past weekend I wasn’t impressed. It’s not that it was bad in any way that I as an average reader (or amateur/pretend critic who mostly only knows what he likes) could explain. It’s just that it wasn’t very good at grabbing my attention or making me want to find out what happens next. What is basically a 188 page hard science/mystery/action novel set in the not-so-distant future (1996) doesn’t turn into “sci-fi” (or speculative fiction – excuse me Harlan) until page 162.
There was one other recently read novel where sci-fi was only part of the story that was (for me) a real page turner – ‘The Eskimo Invasion’ by Hayden Howard. It’s an interesting exploration of an over-populated, dystopian future with what may be an alien/outsider influence. I recommend it.