2007 - DREAM CORRIDOR Volume 2

The SPIDER Symposion: in-depth discussion of specific Ellison stories and works.

Moderators: Moderator, Jan, Duane

User avatar
Jan
Posts: 1817
Joined: Thu Aug 19, 2004 2:25 pm
Location: Köln

2007 - DREAM CORRIDOR Volume 2

Postby Jan » Wed Apr 04, 2007 12:51 pm

Image

HARLAN ELLISON'S DREAM CORRIDOR Volume Two

Ten years! Ten years of pain and gnashing of teeth! Ten years of deprivation and desolation! But the wait is over--at last! Yes, it is the ultimate, spectacular, senses-shattering, clobbering-time final damn volume of the Dream Corridor, hosted by the ever charming and irascible Harlan Ellison, and you can finally kiss those ten years of torment good-bye! At long last, see Harlan crucified! See Harlan disemboweled! See Harlan used as target practice and served up in stew! Pour yourself an otherworldly cocktail, with a pinch of Geritol for all those years, and snuggle down into the Dream Corridor! (from back cover)

Image

This book is in print: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Harlan-Ellisons-Dream-Corridor-Volume-2/Harlan-Ellison/e/9781593074944/?itm=2

The Dorman T. Shindler review: http://subterraneanpress.com/index.php/magazine/spring2007/review-harlan-ellisons-dream-corridor-volume-2/
The Byran Kerman review: http://www.playbackstl.com/content/view/6575/167/

Harlan introducing the series on the SciFi Channel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g5WqhBYw70I
Harlan's Newsarama interview: now offline.

This one's for any opinions, first impressions etc. about the second volume of HARLAN ELLISON'S DREAM CORRIDOR (2007) including the stories "Goodbye to All That" and "The Lingering Scent of Woodsmoke." While we're reading it, perhaps we can all leave the occasional comment.

_______

My first reactions:

I was looking forward to the Interstitial Framing Sequences and read them first, leaving most of the comic adaptions for later. The sequences will always be my favorite bits in the books, perhaps because they are original to the volumes and Harlan wrote them specifically for the medium. They were done by Shanower in both volumes.

ONE LIFE, FURNISHED IN EARLY POVERTY is very well done, particularly the first page. Paul Chadwick sure looks good in color. After having read the story twice and having seen the TZ version, there was nothing left to discover, though. I still like the original version best.

Still, there is no doubt that some readers ARE discovering these stories for the first time, and I have yet to make up my mind if they are the target audience, or if we are.

The copyright year of GOODBYE TO ALL THAT is given as 2007 - did Harlan revise the story? Upon first reading, I suppose the story is about the search for meaning in a world in which we are bombarded with "truths", truisms, explanations and fashions from all sides.

I'm okay with there being no new story material here because it would only be duplicated in the next collection again.

The quality of the printing is amazing. I guess that by now almost everyone's printing their more expensive stuff in China.

The text on the back cover was more obvisouly written by Harlan himself. He's wrong of course, it's been more than ten years, but the additional delay was out of his control, I suppose. The front cover I dislike. They have always put paintings of Harlan on his books, so why the switch to photorealism on the cover of a graphic collection? The title "Dream Corridor" suggests a whole number of approaches to the cover art, but certainly not this. Not that it's bad, but it could have been much more exciting.
Last edited by Jan on Thu Dec 18, 2008 6:27 am, edited 16 times in total.

Carstonio
Posts: 286
Joined: Sat Jul 22, 2006 6:50 am

Postby Carstonio » Wed Apr 04, 2007 8:48 pm

I have the first Dream Corridor, the five newsstand comics, and the Quarterly Vol. 1. The new one is on the way from Amazon. Am I correct in guessing that the new publication is a mix of old and new adaptions?

I've always been impressed by Harlan finding inspiration in visual art for stories. The newsstand comics each had a story inspired by that month's cover painting, and most of those stories later appeared in Slippage. The visual inspiration sounded to me like a good response to the idiot question "Where do you get your ideas?"

WashPost columnist Gene Weingarten gets asked that question as well:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/co ... 00851.html

So in Gene's online chat, I relayed to him Harlan's strategy:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/co ... 00427.html

"Where do you get your ideas": Writer Harlan Ellison used to answer that idiotic question by saying that he subscribes to an idea service in Schenectady or Poughkeepsie. Some people, missing the point of the joke, then ask him for the address of the service.

Gene Weingarten: Excellent.

Carstonio
Posts: 286
Joined: Sat Jul 22, 2006 6:50 am

Postby Carstonio » Mon Apr 09, 2007 9:03 am

Jan wrote:The front cover I dislike. They have always put paintings of Harlan on his books, so why the switch to photorealism on the cover of a graphic novel?


Harlan looks angrier in the photorealistic cover than in the actual photo, which I've seen elsewhere.

Did Harlan approach the writers and artists for the Dream Corridor collections? Did some of them approach him? Or was it some of both?

I'll post some more thoughts when I finish the volume.

User avatar
Ezra Lb.
Posts: 4547
Joined: Wed Sep 01, 2004 8:02 am
Location: Washington, DC

Postby Ezra Lb. » Tue Apr 10, 2007 2:33 pm

DREAM CORRIDOR V2 contains one of my all time faves, titled here Opposites Attract although apparently it has gone under the name Mad Bomber I think.

I love its cheerful anarchism and have always thought it would make a helluva movie. One of our senior actors could take the part and eat it up.

Did anybody but me notice the recurring theme of corrupt building contractors throughout the collection?

User avatar
Jan
Posts: 1817
Joined: Thu Aug 19, 2004 2:25 pm
Location: Köln

Postby Jan » Fri May 04, 2007 12:31 pm

Today I read THE SILVER CORRIDOR. I suppose the adaptation was done in the 90's, at least one could derive as much from the introduction. It sure looks spectacular. I wonder if it was the writers (Waid and Templeton) or the artist (Gene Ha) that was reponsible for updating the story in visual terms. No trace of the 50's. For example, the chess pieces look like they're being held together by force fields (well, it's all unreal anyway). Everything looks cool, with much attention to detail.

Adventure story about bickering, probably inspired by the arguments in SF fandom? Like ONE LIFE, it suffers from dialogue being edited out, so, again, I like the story itself better. Makes just a tad more sense, gives you a little more time. I wouldn't blame Waid and Templeton because this must have been written for the regular comic line, with obvious space limitations. It still manages to be impressive in this form, and the point certainly comes across. Perhaps I should stop comparing the adaptations to the stories?

BTW, did anyone notice that there is no mention of the book being Volume 2 anywhere on the outside? Maybe it's because people supposedly hate sequels.

User avatar
Jan
Posts: 1817
Joined: Thu Aug 19, 2004 2:25 pm
Location: Köln

Postby Jan » Mon May 07, 2007 10:37 am

I've made some more progress (leaving the best for last, I believe). I think there are too many stories with twist endings in the volume. You tend not to get very much out of them other than a chuckle.

Opposites Attract: I remember the story, this one was well done, well drawn, reminds me a bit of the Franco-Belgian comics we have here (clean lines, unpretentious, slightly comic drawing style). Twist ending.

Djinn, No Chaser: Surprise ending. This one I didn't remember, but I thought there was more to it because the story is mentioned often. Hm.

The Voice in the Garden: A joke. Surprise ending, but one of the best ones ever. I remembered this, but not the ending. I have no idea why Harlan sort of apologizes for it.

Gnomebody: Surprise ending. So-so story, but some funny graphics.

The Man in the Juice Wagon: This one is cool - nice dialogue, great low-life antagonists, lots of action. The adaptation, while condensing the story slightly, adds something worthwhile here and there (like the ending, hehe).

User avatar
Jan
Posts: 1817
Joined: Thu Aug 19, 2004 2:25 pm
Location: Köln

Postby Jan » Tue May 08, 2007 11:03 am

I didn't know Dorothy Parker was such a hottie.

Did anybody but me notice the recurring theme of corrupt building contractors throughout the collection?

Yeah, it makes me wonder what Harlan's beef is with those poor people.

MOONLIGHTING: Definitely the best visuals in the book (by Gene Colan). The story, well, entertaining in the same way JUICE WAGON is... perhaps a bit short, and yes, it has a surprise ending. It's kind of like a good Columbo with the middle cut out. (Which begs the question how Harlan would have handled a Columbo... I think he would have been the right guy for an episode or two. Given all the people he wants to kill, he can put himself into a murderers mind, and he has the right humor to capture the inspector.) The characters are a bit dumb and one-dimensional, and like all the stories it seems a bit too accelerated. It's all bare story, no leisure (you know - like the second act of a Columbo).

Given the choice between the bare illustrations, the full color version, and printing both, I would have gone for either one of the first two. It's educational to have both, but one b/w page would have been enough. It takes you out of the story.

When Harlan says Colan illustrated his favorite Batman story, would that be the Detective Comic #401 (which Colan didn't do as good a job on)?
Last edited by Jan on Wed Apr 30, 2008 1:07 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Jan
Posts: 1817
Joined: Thu Aug 19, 2004 2:25 pm
Location: Köln

Postby Jan » Thu May 10, 2007 9:30 am

ROCK GOD: Of course, this story would deserve a thread in its on right. It's from DEATHBIRD STORIES and I wonder if it came before or after THE DEATHBIRD seeing that it's written in a similar mode. It spans millennia, and Harlan makes himself sound like he wrote it sometime B.C. I wonder exactly what the style is patterned on - perhaps somebody has an idea? It sounds like a translation from another language that was enhanced to sound good, like the Bible. I appreciate how the bad guy this time isn't being driven off in a police car but DIES, hehe. That's the way it should be. I also would marry any of the women Neal Adams uses as models. The use of Stonehenge is interesting and could have been the root of the story, apart from a desire to deal with Gods and legend. This one actually reads like it was directly intended for a comic book because of the scope, the dark anger and preposterousness of it all. It's a ride. It does have a sort of surprize ending, too, but this time it's perfect - it comes across not as a joke but an explanation. It's a good ending on the same level as the rest of the story.

ARE YOU LISTENING?: An insightful commentary on modern life. Perhaps not strong enough and a little bit too obvious, old-fashioned as a story. Since these kinds of stories have been done to death since the original publication, I would have left it out. It hasn't aged well. I also think the adaptation isn't all that hot. For example, when the house appears for the second time, it doesn't look much like it did on the inside. Same goes for the wife and Mr. Rames. I wasn't sure who the protagonist was knocking down because the coloring of Rames clothes changed slightly. It makes sense those two would be the same guy, but I don't want to stop and wonder. The bottom of page 145 also gave me a little bit of trouble. On the other hand, I like the fact that the period of publication was reflected in the illustrations, which helps.

(Addendum 12/07: For a later review of the story itself go to the thread for THE BEAST THAT SHOUTED LOVE...)
Last edited by Jan on Sun Dec 30, 2007 10:02 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
David Loftus
Posts: 3182
Joined: Fri Aug 20, 2004 2:15 pm
Location: Portland, Oregon
Contact:

Postby David Loftus » Thu May 10, 2007 11:22 am

Jan wrote:ROCK GOD: Of course, this story would deserve a thread in its on right. It's from DEATHBIRD STORIES and I wonder if it came before or after THE DEATHBIRD seeing that it's written in a similar mode.

Quite a bit before: 1969. See my summary in the Deathbird Stories report on Webderland:

http://harlanellison.com/review/deathbird.htm#rock

User avatar
Jan
Posts: 1817
Joined: Thu Aug 19, 2004 2:25 pm
Location: Köln

Postby Jan » Fri May 11, 2007 11:59 am

THE DISCARDED: Hmmm... I said in the review of the story that it's showing its age. The adaptation has done nothing about it. In fact, it's not much of an adaptation at all. Unlike most of the stories in the collection which lose something when you cut out chunks of dialogue and text, this one could have done without a lot of the prose that remains. Especially in comics you should say things only once, or, if possible, show them. No such luck here. While the final spread is quite excellent, most of what came before was mediocre at best, and, of course, partially the somewhat pedestrian beginning of the story is to blame. I feel that at least the comic should have started with the appearance of the ambassador. They could have used the extra space to make a little more out of it in terms of visual storytelling. This is not a comic adaptation, it's "The Illustrated Harlan Ellison", which I think was not the point of DREAM CORRIDOR. What's worse, I think they went overboard where the discards are concerned. They're all supposed to be humans, right? It doesn't work with what could well be aliens. It's also a dark story, and I think it would have worked much better with a reduced color palette. In short, less words, more shadows. Even the spaceships are boring, inside and outside.

OVERALL IMPRESSION OF DC2: Apart from the educational value of having so many artists side by side, DC2 has turned out to be somewhat disappointing. This is minor Ellison. All the stories are old. What's the matter? Where is SLIPPAGE represented? ANGRY CANDY? SHATTERDAY? For the collection Harlan didn't let the writers and artists come anywhere near his best work, his most intelligent work, his recent work that's in tune with the times. We get a trip down memory lane that doesn't even pretend to feature Harlan's most interesting or his most daring work. It makes you wonder if Harlan knows the world has moved on since the fifties - how else to explain the selection of stories? Why else would a writer, who was at the top of his game in SLIPPAGE, move all this old material back into publication like this? Is the comic book art form not up to doing justice to the more complex pieces? Where are the major challenges for the writers and artists?

The fact that a lot of the book was prepared in the 90s would explain why SLIPPAGE is not represented, but even allowing for that, the selection of stories leaves something to be desired. (Note what I said during the last few days about story types being similar.)

Too bad Neil Gaiman didn't do one; I assume he was asked. Most of the artists were afraid to take matters in their own hands, probably due to their (justified) awe of Harlan and as a result of his years of bitching about art-by-committee and unauthorized rewrites. Where the writers were correct in remaining extremely close to the source material (such as ONE LIFE), one wonders: "Why do we need this adaptation? What does this add to the story we've read?" ONE LIFE and DISCARDED both were better as stories. This is surely not moving the art form ahead.

When DC2 is at its best, as in the case of ROCK GOD and JUICE WAGON, others have been there before. In 2007, it's just solid work. Twenty years ago it may have been a different matter. The constant in the book that doesn't give me a sense of deja vu and which works completely are the INSTERSTITIAL FRAMING SEQUENCES. They always have a few surprises in store, they look wonderful, and Harlan's comments are enjoyable and informative. They make you wish Harlan had had the time to write a story/script specifically tailored to the comic book. It's clear that his priority is prose. DC is a little fun something he did on the side, with other people doing most of the work (apart from the prose pieces).

The framing scenes implicitly stress the educational value of the book, which shouldn't be neglected. I learned something from seeing all those people, whom Harlan introduces, side by side. I'm sure fans of Curt Swan and Gene Colan will appreciate the tributes to them.

Still, strictly considered as a part of Harlan's oevre, in my opinion DC2 ended up as not much more than a nice little primer for new, young readers. The inclusion of two stories is nice (first time I read GOODBYE), except for the fact that WOODSMOKE has by now been released in SLIPPAGE (sans painting). In terms of original, new material DC2 leaves fans with only one story (though previously released), MOONLIGHTING (sort of), and the framing scenes.

How DC1 hold up next to this, I'm not sure because it's been a while since I read it. I think they're about on the same level, both interesting but minor Ellison, apart from the prose (of which there were five pieces in the first one).

User avatar
Jan
Posts: 1817
Joined: Thu Aug 19, 2004 2:25 pm
Location: Köln

Postby Jan » Mon May 14, 2007 7:31 am

By now I've figured out that a large number of the stories in DC2 are reprints from the two QUARTERLIES. Does anyone know which ones are completely original to this volume?

Had I known there were stories in the quarterlies not contained in DC1, I'd have bought them, but I never did.

Were all of the prose stories published in the various DC's based on paintings, or just these two? I didn't consider that when I wrote my comments about MIDNIGHT IN THE SUNKEN CATHEDRAL.

A LINGERING SCENT OF WOODSMOKE: I tend to remember the stories I write about much better then the ones I don't write about. So I'm not sure how often Harlan has written about Nazi criminals, but he did have them show up in BOULEVARD OF BROKEN DREAMS, and I'm pretty sure he thinks about Nazi atrocities from time to time. We all know that not every high ranking Nazi got the punishment they deserved, for various reasons. For example, there were rumors that Bormann had fled to Argentine until it was determined (in 1973) that he died in Germany right after the war. The idea of justice was on Harlan's mind while he wrote this. Of course, the Nazi is a carricature for the sake of the story - he's practically begging for his comeuppance. His age makes it impossible to punish him in the usual sense. The surprising elements of romanticism or magic realism feel unnecessary to me - the story seemed to work quite well without them. In fact, when the woman says, she's not there for the Jews but for the wood, well, I was let down somewhat. I thought it could have been a better story if it wouldn't read like simple wish-fulfilment.

User avatar
markabaddon
Posts: 1790
Joined: Tue Mar 14, 2006 3:24 pm

Postby markabaddon » Mon May 14, 2007 10:25 am

Jan,

Your detailed comments inspired me to do re-read Dream Corridor. here are some of my thoughts and overall impressions:

The Silver Corridor: Not sure if I agree with your thoughts about the inspiration being the type of arguments in the SF community. To me, I see this more of a corollary to a piece like Driving in the Spikes. Harlan is acutely aware of both his strengths and weaknesses and this story I feel is a much a comment on Harlan's inability to let go of something as the aforementioned Driving. While his tenacity is a quality that has served him well in many aspects of his life, in this story I feel he is exploring the darker consequences of his convictions.

Opposites Attract: Fun, well paced story about two lonely people who find each other. Along with Djinn, No Chaser, one of Harlan's best and most optimistic stories about the quest for love. In this case, the implication that everyone can find someone, even if you are an elderly serial killer.

Djinn, No Chaser: I love this story (and not just for the inspired insult of "May a hundred thousand syphilitic camels puke in your couscous"). The artwork is certainly different, and adds a lot more focus on the character's expressions. The story is perhaps Harlan's most optimistic one about relationships. The essence of the story can be encapsulated when Connie says

"I married you because I knew you'd be able to handle things when I couldn't. It works the same in reverse. This was my turn to score. The next one will be yours. Maybe. Okay?"

If anybody has a better definition on how a relationship is supposed to work I would love to hear it. I do not know when this story was originally written, but knowing a small bit of Harlan's history as I do, I find it incredible that he was able to write a story about marriage that optimistic before meeting Susan.

Moonlighting: Agreed, great visual (although there is one story I like better, more on that later). One aspect of the artwork that I thought was a nice touch was having the pencil version next to the inked version. Just made a nice contrast in styles. I do agree with you that the story is pretty stripped down. The characters are not very formed and the pace of the story does not allow much time for development. Fun read, though.

Rock God: Visually this story just kicked ass. The way the women in the story are presented, the closeup on Steadman's sweaty face, and of Dis rising from the earth, just were magnificent. In some ways, similar to Moonlighting and Juice Wagon in that it is a fast paced story of violence, having a surprise ending, with the main character being a less than honorable construction worker (still unsure of the meaning behind that thematic element). David, in your comments on this story you called it a pedestrian effort and would disagree. I would define it more as a moody atmospheric story that touches on the consequences of unbridled desire, in some ways not too dissimilar to Grail. The overall story is not anywhere near the same level as Grail, which I consider one of Ellison's best, but it does have some similar themes.

Just realized how much I have written. Considering all of the layoffs here, I probably should get back to work, if I hope to have a job in the morning.

More later,

Mark

User avatar
David Loftus
Posts: 3182
Joined: Fri Aug 20, 2004 2:15 pm
Location: Portland, Oregon
Contact:

Postby David Loftus » Mon May 14, 2007 11:09 am

markabaddon wrote:"I married you because I knew you'd be able to handle things when I couldn't. It works the same in reverse. This was my turn to score. The next one will be yours. Maybe. Okay?"

If anybody has a better definition on how a relationship is supposed to work I would love to hear it. I do not know when this story was originally written, but knowing a small bit of Harlan's history as I do, I find it incredible that he was able to write a story about marriage that optimistic before meeting Susan.



The tale was first collected in Stalking the Nightmare (1982), and was undoubtedly published in a magazine before that, so it must, indeed, predate Susan.

Knowing what you need and value doesn't mean you have it yet.

User avatar
markabaddon
Posts: 1790
Joined: Tue Mar 14, 2006 3:24 pm

Postby markabaddon » Mon May 14, 2007 1:00 pm

"Knowing what you need and value doesn't mean you have it yet."

Absolutely true and I will not argue the point. Where I am amazed is that, after going through 4 divorces (depending on when the story was written, could have only been 3), he was still able to have enough faith to write so beautifully about the nature of marriage.

Hell, I am only going through my first one and I can say that my thoughts on marriage and relationships ain't nearly so positive

User avatar
Jan
Posts: 1817
Joined: Thu Aug 19, 2004 2:25 pm
Location: Köln

Postby Jan » Mon May 14, 2007 1:29 pm

and this story I feel is a much a comment on Harlan's inability to let go of something as the aforementioned Driving.

Hm. That hadn't occured to me. I still get the feeling from the way the story is written that it was inspired by something he has seen, not something that he was aware of taking part in. It reads like a typical SF allegory and seems to predate his more consciously personal SF writing. The debate is a purely intellectual one, and the characters are spiteful, so I don't see Ellison in there, althought there may or may not be parallels to his life (what did he not let go of?). After I wrote my comment I also found this by K.C. Locke (on Webderland), which also rings true:
Written as it was, in 1956, near the author's adventures in the U.S. Army, so soon after the Korean War and the HUAC debacle, and the chilliest part of the "Cold War," "The Silver Corridor" is a plea on a number of different levels, mostly in aid of the proposition that we (Humanity) must learn to open our minds to other ideas; that we can work together; and that if we refuse to find some common ground, none of us will have a place to stand.


OPPOSITES ATTRACT: It's also interesting to note the absence of moral judgments in the storytelling - in fact, the moral world is turned upside down. The bad guy is the protagonist and gets his happy ending. Hold this next to PALADIN OF THE LOST HOUR, and one gets an idea what versatility is. I can see a clear similarity to FOOTSTEPS, though, in that everyone can find someone.

DJINN: Well, if you look at DJINN as a story about marriage, I can see your point, even if the story (at least in this form) does little for me. That's a decent moment you mention, but nothing that stands out to me. Everyone knows relationships are about love, trust and exchange, and the fact that the woman accomplished something behind his back hardly seems Earth-shattering for a story from the 80's. The ending still seems the only major point to me. Which is fine, it's one of those little amusements.

ROCK GOD: One to be proud of.

Regarding GOODBYE TO ALL THAT again, we should mention that Robert Graves titled his autobiography so (Good-Bye to All That). Upon finding this out I realized I hadn't taken the title into consideration at all. While I haven't read the Graves tome, it occurs to me that the story is really talking about both change and disillusionment, central themes in a lot of Harlan's later work (JEFFTY and, in particular, GRAIL come to mind).

The way the discovery is handled both in terms of tone and the protagonist's actions, I think perhaps the story signals that Harlan has come to terms with the times we live in. The protagonist doesn't break down and cry, nor does he attack anyone, he sort of deals with it by chuckling to himself.


Return to “Literary Symposium”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest