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Last Dangerous Visions and the Harlan & Susan Ellison Memorial Library

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  • Last Dangerous Visions and the Harlan & Susan Ellison Memorial Library

    So a number of people are aware that JMS was posting 'data packets' this week on Twitter and Facebook. They spelled out:

    The
    Last
    Dangerous
    Visions

    and the fifth packet said that it is going to be completed and ready to send to publishers in the spring of 2021 and a link to his Patreon: https://patreon.com/posts/43848905

    Proceeds will establish and maintain the Harlan & Susan Ellison Memorial Library at Ellison Wonderland (aka the Lost Aztec Temple of Mars).

    I don't think it's breaking the tradition to copy the full text here because this is such amazing news and we can all help.

    NOV 13, 2020 AT 6:27 PM
    On Finishing The Last Dangerous Visions

    Dangerous Visions, published in 1967, and Again, Dangerous Visions, which debuted in 1972, both edited by Harlan Ellison, have long been viewed by critics, scholars and fans as two of the most important and influential anthologies ever published in the field of science fiction. They overturned the tropes of the form, created careers for many newer writers, and birthed the New Wave Science Fiction movement that forever changed the genre.

    The final entry, The Last Dangerous Visions, was announced in 1973 and scheduled to appear in 1974.

    It was never completed.

    For forty-six years.

    No public explanation was ever given.

    In a genre noted for mysteries as much as for visionary writing, two questions – When is The Last Dangerous Visions coming out? and Why the delay? – have evolved into the greatest mystery in the field of science fiction. What single cause could explain delaying the completion of a book for nearly five decades?

    But there is a reason that no explanation for the delay was ever articulated, a story known only to a very few people.

    For that, you will have to wait a little longer.

    But not too long, because after nearly five decades, The Last Dangerous Visions is going to be completed.

    The Book

    The Last Dangerous Visions will consist of three key elements.

    1) The Original Stories

    Over a hundred stories written in the early 1970s were slated to be part of TLDV. As the years passed, a number of them were withdrawn by the writers and published elsewhere, and it makes no sense to republish stories that are otherwise available. Some of the remaining stories have been overtaken by real-world events, rendering them less relevant or timely, and regrettably will be omitted, but many more are as innovative, fresh and, in some ways, even more relevant now than when they were first written. These are rich, compelling stories by some of the best known science fiction and fantasy writers to work in the genre that deserve to be seen by the world.

    The rights to the few stories from the original batch that will not be included in this volume will be freely and formally returned to the writers and/or their estates so that they can be allowed to see the light of day elsewhere.

    Previously unseen artwork by the phenomenal Tim Kirk commissioned for the original volume to go with these stories will also be included in this volume.

    2) Today’s Heavy Hitters

    The Dangerous Visions anthologies have always been about facing the future in order to illuminate the present, allowing heavy-hitters in the genre to go places where they could not otherwise travel, challenging the limits of the genre. True to that tradition, some of the most well-known and respected writers working today have agreed to contribute stories to The Last Dangerous Visionsto mark the importance of its completion. Their names will be announced the deeper we go into this process, with more still being added at this time.

    3) New Voices

    The Dangerous Visions books also have a long, rich history of launching new voices and new talents, as well as helping solidify the careers of those on the cusp of larger success. So The Last Dangerous Visions will present stories by a diverse range of young, new writers from around the world who are telling stories that look beyond today’s horizon to what’s on the other side.

    In addition, for one day, as the editing process wraps up, one last slot will be opened up for submissions from unknown and unpublished writers. One day, one writer, one new voice, one last chance to make it into The Last Dangerous Visions.

    The final stories will be organized by topic, interweaving original, heavy-hitter and new writers into a narrative flow.

    Unfinished business

    There is one last, significant work by Harlan that has never been published, that has been seen by only a handful of people. A work that ties directly into the reason why The Last Dangerous Visions has taken so long to come to light. That piece will be included in this volume to close off the last of Harlan’s major unpublished works.

    The Plan

    Rather than seeking a publisher first, and potentially compromise a book designed to be challenging and daring, or asking writers to wait until the book is sold to be paid, I will cover the cost of paying for all of the stories up front (about which more in a bit). Once all the stories are in place, we will take the book to market around March/April 2021. Given the unique place in science fiction history occupied by Dangerous Visions in general, and this book in particular, and some of the authors who have already agreed to participate, several major publishers have already expressed significant interest in picking up the book upon completion.

    Looking Back to Look Forward

    In addition to ensuring that the original authors whose stories will be used in The Last Dangerous Visions will finally have the chance to see their stories published where they were always intended to be seen, we will also formally revert the rights to any original stories notused in TLDV to their respective writers, so they can be sold and seen elsewhere. This is long overdue.

    Similarly, all the writers who contributed stories to the previous two volumes will be given non-exclusive rights to publish their stories elsewhere, something many of them have requested over the years. And even though Tim Kirk’s artwork was commissioned as a work-for-hire, and is thus technically owned by the Kilimanjaro Corporation along with the underlying rights, any of his pieces that are not used in TLDV will be reverted back to him, along with the underlying rights, along with all of the original art included in the book so that he can profit from them.

    With that, balance will be returned to the Force, and the saga of The Last Dangerous Visions will finally reach its conclusion, setting the stage for –

    The Harlan and Susan Ellison Memorial Library

    In accordance with their wishes, the aesthetic marvel that is Ellison Wonderland will be preserved in all its marvelousness and converted into the Harlan and Susan Ellison Memorial Library, a place where lovers of art, architecture and comics can come in small groups for tours, and academics can study decades of correspondence between Harlan and some of the most famous writers in and out of the SF genre, along with his original manuscripts and drafts. We are also working toward having the house declared a Cultural Landmark, possibly in association with a local university.

    Consequently, all royalties from the sales of The Last Dangerous Visions will go to the Trust to help ensure that the Library will continue for many, many years.

    Patreon

    After being appointed Executor of the Ellison Estate, my immediate task was to ensure that ongoing bills and payments were made, as well as seeing to all the legal fees that go with transitioning an estate into a Trust. With bureaucracy and red tape slowing the process of turning over the previous accounts – a process that is still ongoing and may drag on for many months to come – I volunteered to cover all costs personally: property taxes, fees paid to estate lawyers, affidavits and corporate paperwork required to latchkey the Kilimanjaro Corporation, notaries, creditors, court documents, improvements to the residence, and the lengthy process of setting up a Trust that will continue to look after the Ellison legacy long after I have gone to dust. Covering the development costs on The Last Dangerous Visions will add considerably to that figure. All in, we’re talking tens of thousands of dollars.

    So if there are any fans of Harlan’s work or SF in general who would like to help defray some of those costs in return for the exclusive opportunity to see The Last Dangerous Visions come together in real-time, there is a tier here that will only remain online for five months, through April, when the book is slated to be completed.

    Patrons will be the first to know the names of the authors contributing to TLDV, first to see partial manuscripts and story excerpts before the book is published, and will be given peeks at Tim Kirk’s amazing art. Beat by beat, they (and other Patrons operating at that level or above) will be a part of the process of finishing one of the most discussed and eagerly anticipated books in the history of modern science fiction.

    It starts right here, right now, today.

    After forty-six years of anticipation, we are finally bringing this beast in for a landing.
    "As empathy spreads, civilization spreads. As empathy contracts, civilization contracts...as we're seeing now.

  • #2
    Quick update here. JMS has announced a few of the modern authors whose work will be appearing in TLDV and posted some first pages of stories that had originally been submitted. In addition, there will be a single opening for a new, unpublished story that will be submitted to JMS in a few weeks. Oh - also some great artwork from Tim Kirk has been posted. All on JMS' Patreon.
    "As empathy spreads, civilization spreads. As empathy contracts, civilization contracts...as we're seeing now.

    Comment


    • #3
      JMS has posted the guidelines and release form for the slot reserved for an unpublished author for THE LAST DANGEROUS VISIONS. No Patreon membership required.
      https://www.patreon.com/posts/last-dangerous-49426267

      Originally posted by JMS
      DANGEROUS VISIONS stories are expected to be top-flight, challenging, new, experimental or otherwise daring in scope and vision. They are nominally SF but there's some room to play in there. The most essential part is that they're not about the space battles, or the McGuffin, they're ultimately about what it is to be human...about what William Faulkner called "the human heart in conflict with itself." They can address issues of controversy, be political in nature, or deal with gender, identity, privacy, technology...a story that appears in Dangerous Visions generally does so because it couldn't find a home in more conventional anthologies or magazines. That doesn't mean having gratuitous sex or violence just for shock value. Shock doesn't endure. Good storytelling endures.

      Take us to the horizon and beyond.
      "As empathy spreads, civilization spreads. As empathy contracts, civilization contracts...as we're seeing now.

      Comment


      • #4
        The announcement of the single new, unpublished writer whose story will be included in "The Last Dangerour Visions" has been made. No subscription required to read this post from JMS:
        https://www.patreon.com/posts/last-dangerous-54193650
        "As empathy spreads, civilization spreads. As empathy contracts, civilization contracts...as we're seeing now.

        Comment


        • #5
          Looks like the book's just about ready to send to the agency who'll be helping shepard the book to print.

          Click image for larger version

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          "As empathy spreads, civilization spreads. As empathy contracts, civilization contracts...as we're seeing now.

          Comment


          • #6
            JMS has posted that the completed book has been sent to the agency that will handle getting it sold (or auctioned) to a publisher. I also think the first comment he made is an excellent answer to some who've criticized it without having seen it:

            Author
            J. Michael Straczynski - Hang with JMS
            One thing needs to be pointed out since folks who have never actually seen any of the TLDV stories seem to have very strong opinions about what that book should be, and without seeing what this one is, what it shouldn't be.

            There was no one thing that stands as Harlan's version of TLDV. It never existed because it was always in a state of flux. It was going to be whatever it was on the day when he finally finished with it. THAT was to be TLDV, not something frozen in amber that only reflected the70s. Which is why he continued buying stories all through the 80s and into the 90s (including from folks like Stephen Dedman) because he saw the book as a living document that would have to grow and change to stay relevant with changing times. It wasn't supposed to be static until it actually came out...and he was the first to say that some stories would have to be trimmed to make room for ones that were more current.

            Further to the point: no publisher in their right mind is going to put out a 700,000 word anthology that follows on books that came out in the 70s. The risk is too great. A reasonable sized book, yes. A behemoth, no. And the whole point of the exercise is to put the work of the best of the original DV writers, and those new voices Harlan wanted to continue to see, out where the mainstream world could see it...not as a limited edition sold to the already-faithful, not as an Ebook or a print-on-demand...but something to be published from a major company that would receive the kind of critical attention in the press that these stories and Harlan's work deserve.

            The only way for that to happen is to follow Harlan's lead, pare away any stories that are no longer as relevant as they were, or have been supplanted by real-world events, and focus on the very best of the very best...so the book is lean and mean and strong and utterly bulletproof. (And do bear in mind that over half the original inventory was originally pulled an published elsewhere in any event.)

            To those out there complaining that every single story should be included...if that were done, the book would never be published and nobody would ever see any of it in any credible form. You can have one or the other but you can't have both. The modern publishing business doesn't work that way.

            The now-completed Last Dangerous Visions contains the sharpest, most incisive stories by the leading lights of the last 40 years...the stories Harlan believed were the strongest and the best-of-the-best.

            So...crazy idea for the internet...how about people wait to see what the book actually *is* and what's actually *inside* it before deciding what it actually is and what's actually inside it? And understand that what *you* think the book should be isn't the point...it's what Harlan thought the book should be, which was never one particular thing, because it kept changing over the years. This reflects where all of that thinking finally wound up. This is the book that he would have wanted to see out there so that the writers included (all others have had their stories reverted so they can appear anywhere at the discretion of their estates or themselves) can receive the critical attention that those stories deserve.
            "As empathy spreads, civilization spreads. As empathy contracts, civilization contracts...as we're seeing now.

            Comment


            • #7
              The agency (Janklow & Nesbit Agency (Emma Parry, NY, domestic; Nathaniel Alcaraz-Stapleton, London, foreign)) is now sending TLDV out to publishers. JMS names some of the contributing authors:
              Edward Bryant, Stephen Robinette, Max Brooks, DM Rowles, Dan Simmons, Cecil Castelluci, Cory Doctorow, Stephen Dedman, Patton Oswalt, Jonathan Fast, Howard Fast, Robert Sheckley, Adrian Tchaikovsky and James S.A. Corey

              It's being packaged along with the first two DV books which I think is a great idea!

              More details in this tweet thread: https://twitter.com/straczynski/stat...82259954642945

              Mainly putting this here for reference. There was immediate concern about the number of female authors. JMS responded:

              Connie Willis' story was withdrawn by her because she felt that she had already co-opted a lot of that story in writing her first novel; the Vonda McIntyre estate decided to hold onto her story; DM Rowles is a female writer as is Cecil Castelucci, and there is a non-binary new writer as well; in reaching out to the best and the brightest who would have name value for the book, I personally extended invitations (either directly or through their reps) to a diverse group of top writers including Namwali Serpel, Martha Wells, Ann Leckie, Nneti Okorafor, NK Jemisin, Becky Chambers, Amal El-Mohtar, Marlon James, Charlie Jane Anders, Ta-Nehesi Coates and Walter Mosley. By the time of the deadline, they had either not replied or their reps said they were busy or otherwise not available.
              It's also worth noting that he has not yet listed all of the writers included in the book.

              His easier to read FB post is here: https://www.facebook.com/officialjms...18344489670492
              Last edited by Jan; 10-20-2021, 04:21 AM.
              "As empathy spreads, civilization spreads. As empathy contracts, civilization contracts...as we're seeing now.

              Comment


              • #8
                Latest news on THE LAST DANGEROUS VISIONS:
                J. Michael Straczynski - Hang with JMS

                NEWS: A deal to publish Harlan Ellison's THE LAST DANGEROUS VISIONS, as well as its predecessors, DANGEROUS VISIONS and AGAIN, DANGEROUS VISIONS has been struck with Blackstone Publishers via Emma Parry at the Janklow & Nesbit Agency, and announced at the London Book Fair, slated for '23.

                Blackstone is a major, mainstream publisher, handling such authors as Cory Doctorow, Ben Bova and James Clavell, and has the capacity to get Harlan's work out into brick-and-mortar bookstores as well as online retailers in mass market editions for the first time in many years.

                The books will be published in hardcover, paperback, ebook and audiobook. They will be available for purchase individually and in a separate, unified edition. With TLDV formally finished and scheduled for publication, this completes the DANGEROUS VISION trilogy of anthologies.
                Nice work, JMS!
                "As empathy spreads, civilization spreads. As empathy contracts, civilization contracts...as we're seeing now.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Latest from JMS as posted on the Harlan Ellison Facebook Fan Page. The first comment is because he's chiming in on a thread of opinions about the auctions that people found on their own):

                  J. Michael Straczynski - Hang with JMS
                  This is what happens when folks poke around on websites before the press release (scheduled for this week) goes out to explain what’s going on, why, and what it all means.

                  When I approached the folks at Heritage Auctions (who were friends of Harlan) about doing this auction (about which more in a moment), my requirement was that any auctioned art that was visible to the eye in any room had to be replaced with a high-quality, high-resolution replica indistinguishable from the original, in the same original frame. Everything had to look exactly the same after the auction as it did before. This is being done. No matter how familiar you may be with the house, you will not notice any difference.

                  As to the auction itself: the goal, again, is to transform the house into the Harlan and Susan Ellison Memorial Library. Doing that means (and meant) taking steps to ensure that the house is safe and in proper shape. But there were/are significant problems with the house, which H&S had kind of let slide over the years. Leaks in Harlan’s and Susan’s offices. The heating and aircon systems had to be replaced (a necessity for later tours and academic work, and Sharon continues to work there in the present). Brand new security systems had to be installed because the prior systems had simply been ripped out to make way for work. Since the house is empty most of the time, window and door frames had to be discreetly reinforced and made intruder-proof without doing anything noticeable from inside. The outside perimeter wall was collapsing, and the ground beneath it had to be reinforced to prevent it all from sliding down the hillside.

                  All of that takes money, and I covered all of it out of pocket with some help from the Ellison tier on Patreon, while we fought the banks for access to the Ellison accounts, which in the end came to only about 200K.

                  Still ahead of us: making the house safe for visitors (discreet hand-rails on the stairs up to Harlan’s office, for instance, where he and other guests often tripped and fell), landscaping to create an outdoor space for lectures and other events, fixing the exterior of the roof which does not have a to-code surface, just the black tarry like top and flat boards to walk on to keep from going through the roof; it has already started to go soft in places and could eventually collapse (especially given the weight of the Keep, which also needs some repairs).

                  Restoring the Lost Aztec Temple of Mars just by itself will cost at least $100K, and that figure could double depending on what damage we find on the other side, between the outer and inner walls. Then there are a ton of other maintenance repairs that need to be done.

                  And all that’s just for the house itself so it can pass muster with the state and local codes for a library like this, and we can’t go for a historic/cultural preservation certificate until we can show them what the final version will look like so they know what they’re preserving. It doesn’t include any of the subsequent steps we will be taking down the road.

                  Such as: hiring an archivist (we may be able to get one a bit less expensive by going through a university) to catalog and digitize all of Harlan’s papers and correspondence for easy reference both on-premises and online (the manuscripts are already pretty much all done). Replacing the living room carpet and storing the furniture so we can turn it into a display room for Harlan’s manuscripts, art pieces for rotating themed viewings, rare books and other material, and a display for the urns containing Harlan and Susan’s ashes.

                  I want to wake up the house by installing very small, discreet wireless speakers in various rooms that will, in one room, have him reading his work; in another, speaking at a convention or a party, so the house feels alive; and from upstairs, the sound of typing. Videos (without audio, projected from tiny, invisibly placed projectors rather than installing monitors that would change the look of the room) showing Harlan and Susan will play in the bedroom and the wall leading up to the living room. You will feel his presence, his art and his work on a visceral level, as if he’s just stepped into the other room for a moment.

                  Finally, there are plans to create scholarships in Harlan and Susan’s name for up-and-coming writers graduating high school.

                  All of this takes money. Even without all the repair issues mentioned above, those we’ve consulted with who have turned the estates of other writers, artists or politicians into libraries have insisted that you need at least $1M in hand to start the process; double that would be better.

                  (And please don’t throw Kickstarter at me, I’ve investigated and it’s not viable because nobody can get anything in return, and it wouldn’t provide even a fraction of what’s needed. Everybody always says “Oh, go Kickstarter” which is another way of saying “let somebody else do this” without understanding the limitations.)

                  So it’s very simple: either we auction a very small part of what’s there, replacing it indistinguishably so the look of the house doesn’t change…or none of this can happen, and Harlan’s wishes are not met.

                  Pick one.
                  I'm impressed at that amount of work JMS has had to put into this already and going forward. That's friendship above and beyond duties of Executorship.
                  "As empathy spreads, civilization spreads. As empathy contracts, civilization contracts...as we're seeing now.

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