Top 10 Harlan Ellison Short Stories

Categories: Books
ellison4.jpg
5. I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream

In one of Ellison's most famous works, the last five humans on Earth are continuously tortured by the insane AI that destroyed the world in a final, massive nuclear exchange. Believe it or not, they actually made a video game out of this story, with Ellison himself voicing the computer and co-authoring the adapted universe. That's right, he wasn't satisfied with just writing about a murderous predecessor of GLaDOS, he wanted to freakin' become one.


4. "Repent, Harlequin!" Said the Ticktockman

In the future, your lifespan is known to the second, and every time you're late, a master control deducts time from your life. Excessive tardiness leads to a final switch-off of the heart. Only the laughing vigilante Harlequin stands up to the villainous Ticktockman, attacking the system with whimsy, jelly beans and a desire to be free.


ellison3.jpg
3. Jefty Is Five

One of the sadder stories in the Ellison lexicon. Jefty is a boy who never grows up. For Jefty, there are new episodes of The Shadow on each week, candy that has long gone out of stock is readily available, and comic books are still carrying on in the Golden Age. His parents fear their strange son, but for his adult best friend he is a link to an innocent youth.


2. Shoppe Keeper

The mysterious shop that sells wonders then vanishes is a staple of fiction, but have you ever wondered about the people that actually work there? Ellison did, and unveils the terrifying, hopeless struggle against tyrannical artistic suppression against a backdrop explaining how Charles Manson gained his hypnotic hold on others.


1. Worlds to Kill

No name brings more fear and hatred in the universe than that of Jared, a mercenary able to conquer any world for a price. His work has killed millions of beings, but underneath it all there is a plan for a lasting peace.


Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help
10 comments
Saturnrose2
Saturnrose2

With all The Great Ellison has put out there, such a roomful of work, well, if From A to Z the Chocolate Alphabet, is a Top 10-er, he's in trouble.  As are we all.  Get real.  'Chocolate Alphabet is insanely, incredibly creative, very innovative for its time, but I could spit the same type of thing out in 45 minutes, and all that's stopping it from winning a Hugo, is the jaded America we now live in, and the fact that my name isn't Harlan Jaye Ellison!

Remove.  Replace with Croatoan.  It sickens me and it angers me, but it's better than 'Chocolate Alphabet.  Leagues better.

Gregory Feeley
Gregory Feeley

I don't think that Ellison's most popular stories (or his award winners) accord very closely with what will prove to be his most memorable ones.  Underrated Ellison stories include "At the Mouse Circus" and "One Life, Furnished in Early Poverty."  Overrated Ellison stories include "A Boy and His Dog" and "Jeffty is Five" (a later, longer, less taut, and finally sentimental version of the theme he treated in the more affecting "One Life").

Karl Krogmann
Karl Krogmann

One Life Furnished in Early Poverty is a masterpiece... so is All the Lies That Are My Life.

skot
skot

Looks like I have more to add to the ole ever-growing Reading List.

Fulmer
Fulmer

A good list to be sure. I would add A Boy & His Dog, but it's more of a novella. Also his script for the Star Trek episode: City on the Edge of Forever (1967) is one of the finest the original series ever produced.

fuzzyscribble
fuzzyscribble

Paladin of the Lost Hour.  Broken Glass gave me nightmares.  And I love "Laugh Track."  Honestly... there's very little Ellison I don't like... though some is more memorable...

MadMac
MadMac

Check out Ms. Koenig's list of fall shows. You'll find all kinds of reading time.

Jef With One F
Jef With One F

Boy and His Dog has kind of paled for me over the years. Maybe it's just overexposure to it. I keep meaning to read that Star Trek script.

Beckett
Beckett

Jef, do read it.  It's truly epic Ellison and totally different from the episode because the story was rewritten by DC Fontana.

Now Trending

Houston Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

General

Health & Beauty

Loading...