Top 10 Harlan Ellison Short Stories
The total amount of insanity in a person is directly proportionate to the number of Harlan Ellison works that they have read. The master of all speculative fiction, Ellison has published hundreds of mind-bending works that obliterate all your comfortably held ideas about sex, science, morality, or any subject you choose. We've been reading him since the age of ten, when our father made the questionable but much appreciated move of pointing us to "A Boy and His Dog," a postapocalyptic tale of telepathic canines, rape and the role of cinema in society.
By no means can we claim this list is definitive. Merely that it best represents the works we've come across that most affected us. We definitely encourage readers to contribute their favorites in the comments.
10. In Fear of K
A man and a woman are trapped together, forever hating each other and forever needing each other in order to fend off an unspeakable monster known as K. Little do they know that K means them no real harm, he simply feeds off their animosity, and does his best to provide them with necessities. However, he is growing ever more ravenous, and a final showdown between hunger and hate is imminent.
9. The Discarded
After a virus begins causing horrific mutations, the infected are exiled from Earth in a spaceship. The exile doesn't stop the spread of the virus, though, and Earth comes begging to the ship for blood samples to create a cure. What follows is a tense battle of wills between those who wish to return home and those who are convinced the plea of Earth is a trap.
We slipped this story into our Geek explanations for Christmas questions you might get from your kids, though we left out all the blood, mind parasites and death by prolonged boinking. Ellison's Santa is the ultimate spy and assassin, using his polar base as a mere ruse for when he has to come to the aid of the world against alien invasions. Pulpy, wonderful fun.
7. Run for the Stars
Benno Tallant was a cowardly junkie on Deald's World when the alien Kyben attacked. Kidnapped off the street by the planet's last human soldiers, they used him in a desperate attempt to escape. Their plan? Place the most powerful bomb in the universe in his stomach, and set him to run from the Kyben, who seek to vivisect him in order to defuse the bomb. If you thought the Saw movies showed what lengths man will go to to survive, then you've haven't seen anything yet.
6. From A to Z in the Chocolate Alphabet
Twenty-fix short, disturbing visions. One for each letter of the alphabet, and each one a perfectly distinct bit of dark humor and utter madness. Our favorite is...
O is for Ouroboros
Banished from Earth, the great worm coiled ever so tightly and went to sleep. One day he will wake. The moon will rise.
We're always hoping that Asmodeus X will base a song on that one.