Deathbird Stories

Deathbird Stories

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by Harlan Ellison
     
 

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“Men rarely (if ever) manage to dream up a god superior to themselves. Most gods have the manners and morals of a spoiled child.” —Robert Heinlein, 1973
 
A masterwork of myth and terror, Deathbird Stories collects nineteen of Harlan Ellison’s best stories written over the course of a decade. In it, ancient gods fade

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Overview

“Men rarely (if ever) manage to dream up a god superior to themselves. Most gods have the manners and morals of a spoiled child.” —Robert Heinlein, 1973
 
A masterwork of myth and terror, Deathbird Stories collects nineteen of Harlan Ellison’s best stories written over the course of a decade. In it, ancient gods fade as modern society creates new deities to worship—gods of technology, drugs, gambling. Revolutionary when first published, the short stories contained here have won multiple honors, including the prestigious Hugo and British Science Fiction Awards. They have inspired a generation of readers and other authors to reexamine blind faith and fight against crumbling institutions. Stark and often angry, this collection strips away convention and hypocrisy and lays bare the human condition. After all, the gods we invent contain all too much of their inventors. 

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This expanded edition of Ellison's most reprinted collection includes three new myths of "the new gods, the new devils... the gods of the freeway, of the ghetto blacks, of the coaxial cable; the paingod and the rock god and the god of neon; the god of legal tender...." "From A to Z, in the Sarsaparilla Alphabet" is an encyclopedia of dead and buried gods. In "Scartaris, June 28th," an ancient god struggles with the corrupt modern world. In the 20 reprints, still thematically relevant 35 years after their original publication, we meet the god of "not my problem" ("The Whimper of Whipped Dogs"), gods worshipping their own creations ("The Face of Helene Bournouw"), and the god of hurt and suffering ("Paingod"). Strong, sometimes crude language and emotionally striking themes pervade these stories, and Ellison's unique and highly intellectual writing style require careful, slow, and thoughtful reading. (Dec.)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780020283614
Publisher:
Macmillan Publishing Company, Incorporated
Publication date:
04/01/1990
Series:
Collier Nucleus Fantasy and Science Fiction Ser.
Edition description:
1st Collier books ed
Pages:
352

Read an Excerpt

FOREWORD:

Oblations at Alien Altars

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 Achel�us 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 Ana�tis, 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.

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