Christopher Priest
 

The Book on the Edge of Forever

The Book on the Edge of Forever

Published

Fantagraphics Books, 1994. ISBN 1 560 97159 2 [paperback $6.95; pp.56]. Still available in new and s/h copies through Amazon; details below.

What they say

"... a fascinating account of one of the most famous non-books ever not-published." - Amazon.com review.

Award nomination

Hugo Award - Best non-fiction, 1994

Visitors to this page:

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An enquiry into the facts behind the non-appearance of a science fiction anthology called The Last Dangerous Visions, originally announced in 1971 but never in fact published. Hyped and boasted about by its editor, Harlan Ellison, and frequently promised for imminent completion, the incontinently overlength book has been subjected to years of editorial procrastination. As contributors began to ask when their work would be appearing, Mr Ellison announced false publication dates at regular intervals, and produced untrue testimony from hapless acquaintances saying (apparently under duress) that they had seen the completed manuscript. None of this was true, and none of it would in fact matter but for two things. Firstly, a lot of writers have seen their stories held in limbo for several years (and in most cases for decades). Secondly, many writers who tried to recover their work to have it properly published have been treated abusively by Mr Ellison. For this latter reason, and the understandable wish to enjoy a quiet life, most of the contributors have preferred to abandon their stories. Of course, in the thirty years (plus) that this storm in a teacup has been continuing, some of the writers have given up writing altogether and a large number of them have died without seeing their work in print. CP's short book on the subject treated the matter as one of professional concern. He assembled a collection of letters, reports, personal accounts and experiences, and from these mounted a dispassionate account of the rudeness, inefficiency and waste of time that have characterized dealings with Mr Ellison. An attempt at a lawsuit followed -- Mr Ellison is someone who never misses a chance to proclaim his commitment to free speech, except when the freedom is exercised about him. CP's book is the only published critical account of this saga of incompetence and untruths.

In spite of Mr Ellison's attempts to persuade people the book has vanished without trace, it remains in print and is still selling. Indeed, according to Amazon's ranking system it is currently selling better than many of Mr Ellison's own titles. Copies may be ordered from both Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com. The links on this page are to Amazon.co.uk who at date of writing were offering new copies for 3.71 plus postage.

Amazon.com publishes a number of notably partisan reviews, both pro and con the book, and short extracts can be read in the reviews section of this website. One of these (headlined Meanspirited Jealousy) takes partisanship to a new high, or low: signed only as being written by "A reader", it bears all the hallmarks of Mr Ellison's own unmistakable writing style: florid overstatement and a fog of half-truths intended to cloud the issue. Well worth a visit to witness the great man in action, a rare sight. (The whole thing can be read here.)