Read an Excerpt
LATEST BREAKING NEWS: THE KID AND THE POOCH
"It's probably not productive to codify civilization in terms of how many fire hydrants it has."
"Into each life a little Vic must fall."
I am nuts about "buddy" movies. And that's what Vic & Blood is.
This is the first-time publication for the prose versions of this material as linked with the graphic interpretations. The stories (the tiniest sections of the full novel, BLOOD'S A ROVER) have all seen print since Michael Moorcock asked me for a contribution to his magazine New Worlds, in England, April 1969. I was writing the novel at the time, and what I thought was the first section, "A Boy and His Dog," had just come off my typewriter. It read well as a stand-alone, so I sent the slightly abbreviated version (15,600 words) to Mike, without the vaguest idea that its appearance would mean more than the modest fee New Worlds was than paying.
The novella appeared in general circulation in America in July of 1969, in my story collection THE BEAST THAT SHOUTED LOVE AT THE HEART OF THE WORLD. It was published at its full length, as it appears here, 18,000 words.
I could not have been more wrong, what the response would be to that partial section of an intended 150,000-word novel. If, in fifty years as a professional writer, I have had anything approaching a "universal hit," among the four or five contenders would have to be "A Boy and His Dog," It won me a Nebula for Best Novella from the Science Fiction Writers of America; it has been reprinted endlessly; it has been translated into nineteen languages; it was bought for a TVseries, though never produced; it has been pirated repeatedly in Russia; and in 1975 that madcap director L.Q. Jones made a movie of it, starring a young Don Johnson, Jason Robards, Jr., and a nifty little dog named Tiger. Blood's telepathic voice was the late Tim McIntire, whom you would know best as the actor who portrayed deejay Alan Freed in American Hot Wax.
The problem for me has been this.
The film version of "A Boy and His Dog" had a more than slightly misogynistic tone. Not the story, the movie. I have no trouble placing the blame on that sexist loon Jones (see: "Huck and Tom, The Bizarre Liaison of Ellison and Jones" in Outré magazine, issue #309, Fall 2002). He was brung up in Texas, and as a good ole boy he is pretty much beyond retraining.
But I catch the flak. I've had to go to universities where they've screened the movie (it being one of the most popular campus films perennially, and constantly available in one of another unauthorized knock-off video version) and I've had to try to explain to Politically Correct nitwits that I didn't write the damned film-which I happen to like a lot, except for that idiotic last line, which I despise-I wrote the original story; so I won't accept the blame for what they perceive as a "woman-hating tone" in the film.
And I say to them READ THE DAMNED STORY! In the story (not to give too much away for those few of you who don't know this material), as in the film...
VIC NEVER TOUCHES THE MEAT!
There is a very nice college professor (whose name escapes me for the moment) who uses A Boy and His Dog, the film, to teach some cinema class or other, and he shows them the movie and then tells them to go to my website (www.harlanellison.com) and ask for clarification of any questions their viewing of the film might have raised.
And, oh gawd, do they ever! They ask the dumbest questions you can imagine, and they make assumptions about me you wouldn't believe. They do not perceive that I am not a misogynist, that I am a misanthrope ... I treat male and female with equal monstrousness in this work. They also seem blissfully unaware of history (well, duh) and what happens after a decimating war in which food, weapons, shelter and women become valuable chattel. Clearly, I am showing in these stories that it's a brutal, amoral way of living; not a Good Thing. But the nitwits are products of the American Educational System, and looking beyond the surface of a work of fiction seems anathema to them since it requires ratiocination and cannot be abetted by binge-drinking.
I show my real attitude toward these matters by making Vic little more than a beast, while Blood represents culture, wit, intellect, savvy, and civilization at its best. By reversing the roles, I hope to uplift the intellectual level of the entire population of the United States. And Guam. Or at least those who can properly pronounce the word nuclear.
So here we are, Vic, Blood, you, me, 34 years after I wrote that first section (which turned out to be the second section, actually). Twenty-eight years after the film of "A Boy and His Dog" won me a Hugo at the 34th World Science Fiction Convention. And I've written the rest of the book, BLOOD'S A ROVER. The final, longest section is in screenplay form-and they're bidding here in Hollywood, once again, for the feature film aand tv rights-and one of these days before I go through that final door, I'll translate it into elegant prose, and the full novel will appear.