Last Dangerous Visions Will Be Submitted to Publishers in 2021

J. Michael Straczynski dropped the fifth of his attention-grabbing “data packets” this afternoon with the biggest payload of all:

The Last Dangerous Visions, was announced in 1973 and scheduled to appear in 1974, but of course it didn’t. Even now the volume which will bear that name will be quite different from what it would have been like fifty years ago, as Straczynski explains in an open Patreon post.

  • The Last Dangerous Visions will not republish the stories originally accepted for the anthology that have in the intervening years been withdrawn and published elsewhere.
  • Some of the remaining stories that “have been overtaken by real-world events, rendering them less relevant or timely” will be omitted. (The rights to those stories will be returned to the authors.)
  • Of the remaining stories JMS says “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 deserve to be seen by the world.”
  • Tim Kirk’s artwork commissioned for the original volume will also be included.
  • Additional stories are being contributed by “some of the most well-known and respected writers working today… Their names will be announced the deeper we go into this process, with more still being added at this time.”
  • Also, 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.”
  • Plus, one last slot will be opened up for submissions from unknown and unpublished writers, giving “one new voice, one last chance to make it into The Last Dangerous Visions.”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.

Adding to the suspense, Straczynski says, “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 That piece will be included in this volume to close off the last of Harlan’s major unpublished works.”

Once all the stories are in place, the book will be taken to market around March/April 2021. Several major publishers have already expressed significant interest in picking up the book upon completion.

The Harlan and Susan Ellison Memorial Library. Straczynski also reports that the Ellison home will become 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.”

Royalties from The Last Dangerous Visions will go into the Trust that supports the Library.

Patreon. A lot of expenses for the LDV story rights, legal work on the trust, etc., are being fronted by JMS, “tens of thousands of dollars” (see his post for specifics). He invites 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 to subscribe to his Patreon.

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.

36 thoughts on “Last Dangerous Visions Will Be Submitted to Publishers in 2021

  1. I thought the second Dangerous Visions was the last one, but I was wrong. Which is great! I’d like to see a new Dangerous Visions book with both stories that were originally intended for it as well as new stories by a newer generation of authors. With a mix of stories such as those it will reflect both the anthology’s time of its original planning stage and today’s era. And I think it’s really neat that they’re going to make the Ellison property into a library!

  2. Camestros Felapton: So it just needs a few more stories and a bit more editing and it will be finished but it is basically done?

    *snort*

  3. So this won’t be the anthology Harlan Ellison planned to release in 1974, nor the remains of that lineup still extent when he died more than four decades later, but some largely pointless Frankenstein’s Creature featuring material Ellison never saw?

    Sorry, but include me out.

  4. So it just needs a few more stories and a bit more editing and it will be finished but it is basically done?

    Fair. But when J. Michael Straczynski, the man who got five years of Babylon 5 in the can on time and under budget, says it, I believe him.

  5. I remember thinking, when I read The Book at the Edge of Forever, that the most likely outcome was that we’d wait for Ellison to die, and then his literary executor would sort it all out… and it seems that’s exactly what’s happened. Though JMS’s “just a few more stories” bit is… worrying. Let’s hope we don’t wind up waiting for his literary executor….

  6. Does JMS have the rights to the stories? I remember reading that Ellison’s publication rights had lapsed sometime in the eighties, but memory may be wrong.

    Also, I believe one contributor has simply disappeared.

  7. So, the news wasn’t that great, after all, with all the meddling. It should be obvious to publish it as it stands or not at all, this is a bit like dancing on ol’ Harlan’s grave for no apparent reason at all, twisting history to fit J. Michael Straczynski and not Harlan’s point of view. Sorry, no deal

  8. Well… Harlan Ellison could’ve prioritised the work in the forty+ years between announcement and death. Given that it was never finished, and how many of the rights wouldn’t be available for whatever reason, it was never going to wholly and solely Ellison’s anthology. And I daresay the anthology of 1974 would’ve been different from the anthology of 1984, which would’ve been different from the anthology in 1994, which would’ve been different from the anthology of 2004; times changed quite a bit over the decades. But this anthology could still be cool and worth a look, and will likely still reflect much of the work Ellison did do over the (many) years he had it on the back-burner.

    (Full disclosure: I missed the boat on being fannish about Ellison, what with being born a decade and change after his heyday, and first becoming aware of him through certain unflattering public revelations about his actions and character rather than his work. I didn’t know him, and I don’t have any emotional attachment to his legacy. But I like short fiction an awful lot, and I’ve heard enough older-than-me fen rave about Dangerous Visions and what the two anthologies meant to science fiction when they were published to at least be curious. To me, mixing the older stuff up with some modern works seems eminently sensible and, at least based on what I’ve read of the behind the scenes, very similar to Ellison’s own approach. What finer tribute?)

  9. The following makes me skeptical about the “Spring 2021” timeline:

    • Additional stories are being contributed by “some of the most well-known and respected writers working today… Their names will be announced the deeper we go into this process, with more still being added at this time.”
    • Also, 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.”
    • Plus, one last slot will be opened up for submissions from unknown and unpublished writers, giving “one new voice, one last chance to make it into The Last Dangerous Visions.”

    I would love to be proven wrong, though!

  10. I enjoyed this tweet I just read (originally in Russian) —

    I was naive and optimistic in the assumption that Jay Michael would finish the damn book first BEFORE promising it.

  11. And where is Tim Kirk’s artwork for all the stories? Finished, never used, never published, and no mention of it in this post. All Tim’s work apparently missing from these publication plans. Talk about getting screwed…

  12. Andy, Tim Kirk’s artwork IS being used and IS mentioned in the post — the fourth bullet point.

  13. Also from the linked Patreon post:

    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

  14. I wonder if Ellison’s introductions will precede the stories he actually purchased. They were some of his most entertaining writing!

  15. I submitted a question to JMS about Ellison’s introductions. Perhaps I’ll get an answer.

    I do wonder whether it’s significant that they aren’t mentioned in this publicity release along with the rest of the legacy material.

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  17. The Last Dangerous Visions, was announced in 1973 and scheduled to appear in 1974

    It was announced in 1972 in the introduction to Again, Dangerous Visions, with a publication date of “God willing, approximately six months after this book.”

  18. I suspect this was always in Ellison’s mind, that publishing a nostalgia-trip anthology of stories that were decades out of date was simply uninteresting to him and that’s why, after a certain point, he felt the book-as-was couldn’t be released and in his older years he didn’t want to face the immense task of reorganising the book with new stories and keeping it up-to-date.

    Straczynski is one of the very, very few people Ellison trusted (there’s a reason he was his choice as executor after Susan) and it seems inconceivable they did not discuss the project over the years and ideas for its transformation. Ellison just wasn’t capable of doing it himself.

    It definitely won’t be the LDV that Ellison was thinking of in 1974, but I think he had very different conceptions of what the book was going to be at different points in his life. The Platonic ideal version of the book is unachievable and what we get will always be some kind of variation on what Ellison would have done.

  19. Coming Real Soon Now – the Penguin Classics unexpurgated edition of The Necronomicon, with S. T. Joshi’s introduction.

    (I suspect The Last Dangerous Visions has appeared as an arcane tome in someone’s dungeon … )

  20. Do we even know for sure if he ever actually wrote the introductions for them to be included? (Mind you they didn’t just say “no” so presumably at least some of them exist.)

    I was naive and optimistic in the assumption that Jay Michael would finish the damn book first BEFORE promising it.

    As Is Tradition..? 🙂

  21. David Langford: It was announced in 1972 in the introduction to Again, Dangerous Visions, with a publication date of “God willing, approximately six months after this book.”

    I’m disappointed in the Wikipedia article that seems to be the source for the 1973 date — The Last Dangerous Visions says “It was originally announced for publication in 1973” — (but I picked it up from Straczynski’s Patreon post).

    On the other hand, Christopher Priest in Last Deadloss Visions dates the first announcement to “6 May 1971”. I kid you not. However, he also documents a news item in the June 1972 Locus about a purchase of the paperback rights to all three Dangerous Visions anthologies, quoted as saying “The paperback of ‘The Last Dangerous Visions’ will be published by NAL sometime after the hardcover has been released.”

    So the 1972 “announcement” date is valid in the sense of being linked to a publishing business transaction, therefore more accurate.

  22. LOCUS got irked by Ellison’s constant cheerleading and refused to publish the list of contents after running it a few times.

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