Ranking Harlan as a short story writer

General discussions of interest to readers and fans of Harlan Ellison.

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Rudiger Treehorn
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Ranking Harlan as a short story writer

Postby Rudiger Treehorn » Thu May 18, 2006 5:21 am

Among writers of fantasy, sf, horror/dark fantasy and suspense, my list be the below. While he'd be on the low end of 'best 100 short story writers in any genre of all time', he'd be in the top ten of living short story writers any genre.


Short story writers -- fantasy, sf, horror/dark fantasy and suspense

1. Jorge Luis Borges
2. Gabriel Garcia Marquez
3. Franz Kafka
4. Fritz Leiber
5. Ray Bradbury
6. Roald Dahl
7. Edgar Allan Poe
8. Harlan Ellison
9. John Collier
10.Theodore Sturgeon

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Postby Moderator » Thu May 18, 2006 8:45 am

Okay, I'm game. I'll admit to some surprise on your list, with the height and inclusion of Marquez and Collier, but it's an individual choice (and it could change daily).

1. Edgar Allan Poe
2. Ray Bradbury
3. Harlan Ellison
4. Kurt Vonnegut
5. Arthur C. Clarke
6. Stephen King
7. Isaac Asimov
8. Larry Niven
9. Jorge Luis Borges
10. Raold Dahl
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Postby Moderator » Thu May 18, 2006 8:49 am

Roald Dahl.

Looked wrong, but my mental spellcheck (for Roald? didn't kick in until I'd posted...
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Postby Rudiger Treehorn » Thu May 18, 2006 8:54 am

Given the lack of people in the world with the name 'Roald,' it's perfectly natural.

Garcia Marquez's stories are terrific -- "The Very Old Man with Enormous Wings" is probably the only short story to ever be referenced in a Peter Straub story and a Pearl Jam song.

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Postby DVG » Thu May 18, 2006 9:45 am

Jorge Luis Borges
Edgar Allen Poe
Franz Kafka—The Hunger Artist
Italo Calvino—Invisible Cities
Shirley Jackson—The Demon Lover
Truman Capote--Miriam
H.P. Lovecraft—The Shadow Over Innsmouth
Harlan Ellison—The Prowler in the City at the Edge of the World
Angela Carter—The Company of Wolves
Thomas Ligotti

Probably several others would be jostling for the lower positions but I can't bring them to mind at the moment.

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Postby David Loftus » Thu May 18, 2006 10:03 am

Rudiger Treehorn wrote:Garcia Marquez's stories are terrific -- "The Very Old Man with Enormous Wings" is probably the only short story to ever be referenced in a Peter Straub story and a Pearl Jam song.



That's interesting. Maybe four years ago I was invited to join an array of vastly more experienced stage actors than myself for a reading of tales of "magic realism" -- they read from De Bernieres, Allende, and Rushdie. I picked both Marquez and Cortazar (we were doing two performances, and I felt like reading different things at each), and read collections by both.

I had never read or heard of "The Very Old Man" before, and picked it out of the blue. After my reading, one of the other actors -- a longtime stage director, too -- said I instantly became her favorite reader after she heard me do that story.

None of Marquez's other short tales stick with me, save for the odd one about the growing rock.
War is, at first, the hope that one will be better off; next, the expectation that the other fellow will be worse off; then, the satisfaction that he isn't any better off; and, finally, the surprise at everyone's being worse off. - Karl Kraus

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Postby Moderator » Thu May 18, 2006 10:43 am

[quote="David Loftus] None of Marquez's other short tales stick with me, save for the odd one about the growing rock.[/quote]


Okay, now I'm going to have to go back and read a few. The "not sticking with me" is one of my rationales for not picking him -- and Kafka would fit into my "wider world" definition, but this was limited to SF, Fantasy and Horror for all intents and purposes, and while he's written a few he's not a genre writer IMHO.
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Postby Steve Evil » Thu May 18, 2006 12:52 pm

I knew I wasn't the only one who read John Collier!

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Postby David Loftus » Thu May 18, 2006 2:58 pm

Steve Evil wrote:I knew I wasn't the only one who read John Collier!



Actually, I've read him a couple times, and performed several stories aloud, although I admit I learned about him on the recommendation of Ellison or somebody else in these environs several years ago.

I've been considering doing a whole hour of just Collier for "Story Time for Grownups."
War is, at first, the hope that one will be better off; next, the expectation that the other fellow will be worse off; then, the satisfaction that he isn't any better off; and, finally, the surprise at everyone's being worse off. - Karl Kraus

rich

Postby rich » Thu May 18, 2006 3:11 pm

There are 100 short story writers??

I've got a couple of books by Marquez that I bought at a library sale, but just haven't gotten around to reading them. I need to recitfy that. (hee-hee, I said "RECT-ify")

Speaking of short story writers...I've noticed that the majority of the lists reveal a lack of current short story writers. I mean, most of 'em listed had their best years behind them.

Is the short story dead? I've been writing consistently now for almost a year and haven't sold anything to any magazine, online or hard copy. (And I refuse to believe it's because my writing sucks. I mean, it's a possibility, but I refuse to believe it.) However, I've managed to get two stories accepted by two different book anthologies. You will be geting more details as I get them so I can beg you to buy 'em, and prostitute myself in as many demeaning wasy as possible, but...

Is the short story dead?

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Postby Moderator » Thu May 18, 2006 3:50 pm

rich -
(First off, thank you for the very, very kind comment in the Pavilion. You've made my day.)

Secondly: I'm not sure the Short Story is dead, but the markets for them are in a coma and/or undergoing radical surgery. I don't have reliable circulation figures, but several sources (not the ABC, the accepted circulation experts) indicate that F&SF, Analog and Asimov's have a collective paid circulation of less than 100K. In the mid-seventies the circulation was three times the current rate.

From a study published in 2000: http://www.scifan.com/logs/jim/jh042400.asp

And that's just SF and genre.

Story Magazine is also suffering (in fact, I can't quickly verify it's even still being published). And of the "major" markets, less and less editorial space is being devoted to fiction. (New Yorker, Atlantic, Playboy, etc.)

Not sure if the number of anthologies is up or down, and what the number of copies sold equates to.

Kind of funny that in this age of MTV and Internet shortening of attention spans, it's the short form of fiction that's being hit harder than the novel.

Go figure.


(And thanks again, rich.)
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A New Place To Peddle Stuff

Postby Duane » Thu May 18, 2006 4:09 pm

Orson Scott Card has an online magazine out now -- Uncle Orson's Intergalactic Medicine Show. I BELIEVE he actually pays cash for short stories, and considering his reputation, will probably have constructive comments for stories he doesn't accept.

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Postby FrankChurch » Thu May 18, 2006 6:10 pm

I would put him a bit higher on the list, but you may be right. I do like his essays better, because his personality comes out in them, but I do adore his stories, as well.

Sherwood Anderson would be on my list.

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Postby Tony Rabig » Thu May 18, 2006 6:28 pm

Wouldn't care to try to rank the short story writers, but if the areas under consideration include suspense, we gotta find room for Stanley Ellin.

And add one more enthusiastic cheer for John Collier. First ran across him in high school, when the lit textbooks included more tasty items like Collier's "Thus I Refute Beelzy," Bradbury's "The Pedestrian," and Jack Finney's "Of Missing Persons." Bantam had a mass market edition of Fancies and Goodnights available then. Anyone who can read Collier's "Over Insurance" and not laugh his backside off at the last sentence is made of far sterner stuff than I am.

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Postby Douglas Harrison » Fri May 19, 2006 12:13 am

I prefer not to rank or rate creative folk and their endeavours, but I do enjoy reading others' lists to see what I've been missing. Sounds like John Collier is worth checking out.

I will recommend W.P. Kinsella's short fiction without reservation. (Look for The Alligator Report.) Most know him for the novel Shoeless Joe, the basis of the movie Field of Dreams.

D.


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