Deathbird Storiesby Harlan Ellison
Masterpieces of myth and terror about modern gods from technology to drugs to materialism—“fantasy at its most bizarre and unsettling” (The New York Times). As Earth approaches Armageddon, a man embarks on a quest to confront God in the Hugo Award–winning novelette, “The Deathbird.” In New/b>/i>
Masterpieces of myth and terror about modern gods from technology to drugs to materialism—“fantasy at its most bizarre and unsettling” (The New York Times). As Earth approaches Armageddon, a man embarks on a quest to confront God in the Hugo Award–winning novelette, “The Deathbird.” In New York City, a brutal act of violence summons a malevolent spirit and a growing congregation of desensitized worshippers in “The Whimper of Whipped Dogs,” an Edgar Award winner influenced by the real-life murder of Queens resident Kitty Genovese in 1964. In “Paingod,” the deity tasked with inflicting pain and suffering on every living being in the universe questions the purpose of its cruel existence. Deathbird Stories collects these and sixteen more provocative tales exploring the futility of faith in a faithless world. A legendary author of speculative fiction whose best-known works include A Boy and His Dog and I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream—and whose major awards and nominations number in the dozens, Harlan Ellison strips away convention and hypocrisy and lays bare the human condition in modern society as ancient gods fade and new deities rise to appease the masses—gods of technology, drugs, gambling, materialism—that are as insubstantial as the beliefs of those who venerate them. In addition to his Nebula, Hugo, World Fantasy, Bram Stoker, Edgar, and other awards, Ellison was called “one of the great living American short story writers” by the Washington Post—and this collection makes it clear why he has earned such an extraordinary assortment of accolades. Stories include: “Introduction: Oblations at Alien Altars” “The Whimper of Whipped Dogs” “Along the Scenic Route” “On the Downhill Side” “O Ye of Little Faith” “Neon” “Basilisk” “Pretty Maggie Moneyeyes” “Corpse” “Shattered Like a Glass Goblin” “Delusion for a Dragon Slayer” “The Face of Helene Bournouw” “Bleeding Stones” “At the Mouse Circus” “The Place with No Name” “Paingod” “Ernest and the Machine God” “Rock God” “Adrift Just Off the Islets of Langerhans: Latitude 38° 54' N, Longitude 77° 00' 13" W” “The Deathbird”
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Read an Excerpt
Gods can do anything. They fear nothing: they are gods. But there is one rule, one Seal of Solomon that can confound a god, and to which all gods pay service, to the letter:
When belief in a god dies, the god dies.
When the last acolyte renounces his faith and turns to another deity, the god ceases to be.
They know the terrible simplicity of that truth, the mightiest and the mingiest of gods. They have seen their fellow gods go down to obscurity and banishment for lack of believers. They saw Achelï¿½us wither when the cornucopia was ripped from his head by Heracles; they saw the twelve Aesir and their Asgardian heaven-home turned to mist when the Vikings took up the cross; they saw Ahriman dwindle and die when the ancient Persian empire was overrun; they saw Alaghom Naom, the "Mother of Mind," lost to men when the Conquistadores brutalized the Mayan religion; they saw Ama-Terasu, the Japanese sun goddess, go up in a nova of light brighter than the sun from which she took her name, on a special day in Hiroshima; and Amen-Ra, and Anaï¿½tis, and Anath, and Anshar (and Kishar), and Anu, and Anubis, and Apollo ... all of them shimmered and became insubstantial as their temples were reduced to rubble.
Volume after volume of sacred books of gods.
And that's only into the "A's."
As the time passes for men and women, so does it pass for gods, for they are made viable and substantial only through the massed beliefs of masses of men and women. And when puny mortals no longer worship at their altars, the gods die.
To be replaced by newer,more relevant gods.
Meet the Author
Harlan Ellison has been called “one of the great living American short story writers” by the Washington Post. In a career spanning more than fifty years, he has won more awards than any other living fantasist. Ellison has written or edited one hundred fourteen books; more than seventeen hundred stories, essays, articles, and newspaper columns; two dozen teleplays; and a dozen motion pictures. He has won the Hugo Award eight and a half times (shared once); the Nebula Award three times; the Bram Stoker Award, presented by the Horror Writers Association, five times (including the Lifetime Achievement Award in 1996); the Edgar Award of the Mystery Writers of America twice; the Georges Melies Fantasy Film Award twice; and two Audie Awards (for the best in audio recordings); and he was awarded the Silver Pen for Journalism by PEN, the international writers’ union. He was presented with the first Living Legend Award by the International Horror Critics at the 1995 World Horror Convention. Ellison is the only author in Hollywood ever to win the Writers Guild of America award for Outstanding Teleplay (solo work) four times, most recently for “Paladin of the Lost Hour,” his Twilight Zone episode that was Danny Kaye’s final role, in 1987. In 2006, Ellison was awarded the prestigious title of Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Dreams With Sharp Teeth, the documentary chronicling his life and works, was released on DVD in May 2009.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Dark fantasy short stories, mostly dealing with aspects of deities and 1970's personalities and mindsets interacting with them.
Harland ellison is truly a master story teller..he wrote for star trek and the outerlimits and also for his film " a boy and his dog". his works are extreamly cynical and dark but with a major helping of humor thown in.every one who has read his works has been touched. his writing is unforgetable.try starting out with "demon with a glass hand" it will stick with you. if you are a science fiction fan..you love this.
Harlan has a way of opening your eyes to new possibilities, and new ideas. Even if you don't agree (which I don't a lot of the time), it is wonderful to get a new perspective on some things. If you are into fluff stories, Harlan is not for you. He is hard to take in big chunks, but totally worthwhile if you enjoy stretching your brain.