Last Dangerous Visions Table of Contents

Advance reading copies of Harlan Ellison’s The Last Dangerous Visions anthology are going out and book marketing platform Edelweiss has posted screenshots of the table of contents:

The book goes on sale October 1, 2024 from Blackstone Publishers. The marketing copy says:

An anthology more than half a century in the making, The Last Dangerous Visions is the third and final installment of the legendary science fiction anthology series.

In 1973 celebrated writer and editor Harlan Ellison announced the third and final volume of his unprecedented anthology series, which began with Dangerous Visions and continued with Again, Dangerous Visions. But for reasons undisclosed, The Last Dangerous Visions was never completed.

Now, six years after Ellison’s passing, science fiction’s most famous unpublished book is here. And with it, the heartbreaking true story of the troubled genius behind it.

Provocative and controversial, socially conscious and politically charged, wildly imaginative yet deeply grounded, the thirty-two never-before-published stories, essays, and poems in The Last Dangerous Visions stand as a testament to Ellison’s lifelong pursuit of art, uniting a diverse range of science fiction writers both famous and newly minted, including Max Brooks, Edward Bryant, Cecil Castellucci, James S. A. Corey, Howard Fast, Patricia Hodgell, Dan Simmons, Robert Sheckley, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Mildred Downey Broxon, and Cory Doctorow, among others.

The historic publication of The Last Dangerous Visions completes the long-awaited final chapter in an incredible literary legacy.

J. Michael Straczynski’s vision for The Last Dangerous Visions set in 2021 explains the book that now exists:

…There was no one thing that stands as Harlan’s version of TLDV. It never existed because it was always in a state of flux. It was going to be whatever it was on the day when he finally finished with it. THAT was to be TLDV, not something frozen in amber that only reflected the70s. Which is why he continued buying stories all through the 80s and into the 90s (including from folks like Stephen Dedman) because he saw the book as a living document that would have to grow and change to stay relevant with changing times. It wasn’t supposed to be static until it actually came out…and he was the first to say that some stories would have to be trimmed to make room for ones that were more current.

Further to the point: no publisher in their right mind is going to put out a 700,000 word anthology that follows on books that came out in the 70s. The risk is too great. A reasonable sized book, yes. A behemoth, no. And the whole point of the exercise is to put the work of the best of the original DV writers, and those new voices Harlan wanted to continue to see, out where the mainstream world could see it…not as a limited edition sold to the already-faithful, not as an Ebook or a print-on-demand…but something to be published from a major company that would receive the kind of critical attention in the press that these stories and Harlan’s work deserve….

To carry out his vision Straczysnki pursued new stories by contemporary and marketable authors. James S. A. Corey, Max Brooks, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Cecil Castellucci and Cory Doctorow are in the new book. There is also a story by Kayo Hartenbaum, the winner of a competition Straczynski ran to fill one slot.

COMPARE AND CONTRAST. That said, fans still want to know how the Blackstone anthology resembles the version Ellison projected in the 1970s?

Locus reported in 1979 that Last Dangerous Visions had been sold to Berkley Books and ran a table of contents listing 113 stories. (However, Ellison would acquire several more in the 1980s.[*])

As of mid-2023, at least forty stories purchased for Last Dangerous Visions have been published elsewhere (Wikipedia list).

The Blackstone anthology contains 13 stories that definitely were on the 1979 table of contents. Whether to count two more authors’ work is unclear. D.M. Rowles, who has eight “Intermezzos” in the Blackstone version had a single story by another title on the 1979 table of contents. Also, Howard Fast had a story announced in 1979 but the one in Blackstone has a different title [**]. Fast died in 2003, so whether or not it’s the same story, it would not be one of those commissioned by Straczysnki.  

The following titles in red from Blackstone’s table of contents were on the list announced in 1979:

Last Dangerous Visions – stories per digital ARC:

  • “Assignment No. 1” by Stephen Robinett
  • “Hunger” by Max Brooks
  • “Intermezzo 1: Broken, Beautiful Body on Beach” by D. M. Rowles
  • “None So Deaf” by Richard E. Peck
  • “War Stories” by Edward Bryant
  • “Intermezzo 2: Bedtime Story” by D. M. Rowles
  • “The Great Forest Lawn Clearance Sale—Hurry, Last Days!!” by Stephen Dedman  [*]
  • “Intermezzo 3: Even Beyond Olympus” by D. M. Rowles
  • “After Taste” by Cecil Castellucci
  • “Leveled Best” by Steve Herbst
  • “The Time of the Skin” by A. E. van Vogt
  • “Rundown” by John Morressy
  • “Intermezzo 4: Elemental” by D. M. Rowles
  • “The Weight of a Feather (The Weight of a Heart)” by Cory Doctorow
  • “The Malibu Fault” by Jonathan Fast
  • “The Size of the Problem” by Howard Fast [**]
  • “Intermezzo 5: First Contact” by D. M. Rowles
  • “A Night at the Opera” by Robert Wissner
  • “Goodbye” by Steven Utley
  • “Primordial Follies” by Robert Sheckley
  • “Men in White” by David Brin
  • “Intermezzo 6: Continuity” by D. M. Rowles
  • “The Final Pogrom” by Dan Simmons
  • “Intermezzo 7: The Space Behind the Obvious” by D. M. Rowles
  • “Falling from Grace” by Ward Moore
  • “First Sight” by Adrian Tchaikovsky
  • “Intermezzo 8: Proof” by D. M. Rowles
  • “Binary System” by Kayo Hartenbaum
  • “Dark Threshold” by P. C. Hodgell
  • “The Danann Children Laugh” by Mildred Downey Broxon
  • “Judas Iscariot Didn’t Kill Himself: A Story in Fragments” by James S. A. Corey

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29 thoughts on “Last Dangerous Visions Table of Contents

  1. In a word…WOW!

    I’d never thought I would EVER see this book published in my lifetime…but October 1st IS THE DAY!

    Thank You, PROFUSELY, JMS…

    Very Sincerely,
    Chris B.

  2. So of the roughly one hundred stories that Ellison had bought if I remember correctly, JMS is giving us thirteen? And we’re supposed to satisfied with that number? I think not. This is like expecting to see a full grown tiger and getting a three week old kitten. Only the latter would at least be entertaining. This is not.

  3. @Cat Eldridge

    It could be called Some Of Though Unfortunately Not Necessarily The Most Dangerous Of The Visions followed by Even Safer Visions culiminating in OK This Last Bunch Aren’t Particularly Dangerous At All Visions.

    FWIW I’m glad he was able to publish, and will buy and read it.

  4. I know that Gordy Dickson had a story in the old version called “Greensleeves” that was eventually published in a collection of his own work. Alas, it was neither dangerous nor an artistically worthy vision. Bob Tucker also had something about Gilgamesh that Harlan talked him into placing right before the alleged original deadline. I have no idea what became of it since but it wasn’t published in Tucker’s lifetime.

  5. It’s a shame Russell Bates’ story–“Search Cycle: Beginning and Ending 1. The Last Quest; 2. Fifth and Last Horseman”–didn’t make the cut. He’s Kiowa Native American and, unless I’m missing someone, would have been the ONLY minority voice in this manifestation of the anthology. It hasn’t appeared anywhere else unfortunately. From the title of his story I assume it would have been full on New Wave experimentation….

    I reviewed ALL of his non-franchise short stories on my site last year. I wish he had continued to write SF as he was honing his craft when he moved on to other things.

  6. Bob Tucker once told me that he’d written a story titled “Dick and Jane Go To Mars” which was to appear in TLDV. It’s never been published and I guess it’s probably never going to be published.

  7. @Cat Eldridge: most of the stories Ellison originally bought have since been published elsewhere, and I consider that a good thing, for authors and readers alike. We got to read those stories without having to wait fifty years, and the authors got some money and whatever recognition was due.

    As to the quality of this anthology, I’m reserving judgement until I can read it, but it’s likely that no one but Straczynski could have gotten it published at all.

  8. Rich Lynch says Bob Tucker once told me that he’d written a story titled “Dick and Jane Go To Mars” which was to appear in TLDV. It’s never been published and I guess it’s probably never going to be published.

    If those thirteen were all the original stories unpublished after this time than I could see using new material, but we know that they are not as you clearly show with this story. So why this incomplete TLDV?

    I stand by my analogy that it as about as dangerous as a very young kitten.

  9. @Jim Janney at this time exactly 40 of the TLDV stories have been published, out of more than 100 announced by Ellison, so a good chunk of the stories, but less than half.

    @Cat Eldridge Given that JMS stated he would not reprint already published stories, out of the remainder he had to choose stories that are still worth reading, and whose authors would give permission to publish in TLDV (he stated early on that Connie Willis and Vonda McIntyre’s estate declined permission), I suspect he did as well as possible under the circumstances.
    I am right there with Chris Barkley, it is a minor miracle this book is getting published at all, and I look forward to reading it. Kudos to JMS.

  10. What I called “Greensleeves” above by Gordy Dickson is “Love Song.” I misremembered because the song “Greensleeves” is quoted therein. Obviously I was wrong about the content of Tucker’s story.

    Given the drastic changes in society since the 1970s, I do wonder how “dangerous” the survivors from Harlan’s original list could be.

  11. Despite all the anticipation for this volume, I have to admit that my one thought, after reviewing the table of contents, is: In a table of contents this long, there are only four women? :: sigh ::

  12. Janna Silverstein: a lot of women writers may have preferred not to contribute to a project associated with Harlan Ellison, particularly after the Connie Willis incident. At one point JMS named a number he’d reached out to, but who declined or did not respond.

    I recall Patton Oswalt was supposed to have something in the book, but his name is not in the table of contents.

  13. There’s a bit in the afterword that is just bonkers. He lists eleven “diverse” writers–by name–whom he solicited and who either turned him down or didn’t reply. That is, in and of itself, transparently self-serving (“See! I asked a bunch of ’em!”) and wildly unprofessional. And then he contextualizes it in just this crazy way.

    “As was the case in the 1950s, the 1970s, and now in 2024, writers sometimes exist in perilous times, balancing careers between the tick and tock of Right and Left, when a single misstep or perceived endorsement* can be a terminal mistake. This is not necessarily the time to be dangerous. So yes: I get it; I just wish it wasn’t so, because I would have loved to see what these remarkable talents would have written as their Dangerous Visions.”

    So. “A number of writers have reason to believe that association with this book could be a ‘terminal mistake.’ I herewith associate them with this book.”

    *of the book and of Ellison

  14. It belatedly occurred to me that it was (just barely) within the realm of possibility that Straczynski actually ASKED these eleven authors if he could, well, do what he did here. So I asked some of them and can report that is not the case (at least among those I asked).

  15. The presence of a new-to-me P. C. Hodgell story on this list is the first thing that’s really tempted me to get this.

  16. Chris Barkley writes:

    I’d never thought I would EVER see this book published in my lifetime…but October 1st IS THE DAY!

    Fred Hoyle’s title has never been more apropos:

    October the First Is Too Late

  17. As Mack Reynolds’ sole remaining fan, I am a little saddened that “Ponce de Leon’s Pants” didn’t make the cut. I assume that in JMS’s judgement it was a creaky artifact from half a century ago

  18. Another previously-announced author who’s not in the final table of contents: Neil Gaiman.

  19. I waited 40 years for the last Tom Reamy story, but that showed up in the recent collection Under The Hollywood Sign.

  20. “Ponce de Leon’s Pants” is much much older than a mere half century. It was originally cut from “Science-Fiction Carnival”, edited by Fredric Brown and Reynold himself in 1953. A little later after that Ellison promised it would appear in his fanzine in the mid-50s, but it ceased publication before that could happen. Maybe the story was going to be published in LDV as kind of in-joke, maybe a reference to Ellison’s own early fanzine-editing past as precursor to the DV books, or maybe just a belated holding of faith with Mack Reynolds. Anyway, it would have 20 – 25 years old if Ellison had published LDV when first promised

  21. @Mark S – you are not alone, but whether there’s enough of us to play bridge, dunno

  22. My disappointment is how short most of the stories are. There are only four or so longer than twenty pages. I’d have liked more variety in story length.

  23. @Matthew D – Thank you for the background information on PdLP. I feel so much better knowing that the story’s inclusion in TLDV was about teenage Harlan’s fannish sense of obligation rather than the final word on People’s Capitalism from the days when Mack was JWC Jr’s tame socialist.

  24. It may be too late now to have anyone see this (especially JMS, in case he reads any of these), but I had to toss this suggestion out into the world to fend for itself (as I don’t have any social media accounts such as X, Instagram, LinkedIn or anything else, Luddite that I am).

    What I would really love to see is one more volume that is nonfiction, called “Dangerous Visions: Coda”. This final volume would contain any and all available intros / outros that Harlan Ellison originally prepared for his version of TLDV that never were used for any of the stories never published or withdrawn and published elsewhere (along with bibliographic information as to where to find those otherwise published stories) as well as any correspondence between Harlan and any of the authors who submitted or withdrew stories to TLDV. This would create an archive to document all the changes to the contents over the years, as well as be a one-stop location where future scholars can go to get an overview of the series and all the [fill in your own description] surrounding the trilogy.

    Alas, such a project may not able to be done within my lifetime or in this universe, but it would be a wonder to behold.

  25. I will be happy to be proven wrong, but my expectations are very, very low … looks like a collection of mostly unwanted scraps and leftovers. I can’t imagine that this would be a publishable volume if it weren’t for the Ellison credit and the title “The Last Dangerous Visions”.

  26. This final volume would contain any and all available intros / outros that Harlan Ellison originally prepared for his version of TLDV that never were used for any of the stories

    My extremely third-hand, highly unreliable, impression is that there are few, if any of those. That was part of the stalling out.

    I’m entirely open to correction if I have this wrong.

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