J. Michael Straczynski is a storied name in the halls of media science fiction. So much so that I feel I’m wasting space by even mentioning that he’s worked on Twilight Zone, created Babylon 5, and has written, directed, produced, Hugo and other award winning properties.
Of greatest import however is the fact that he not only worked with Harlan Ellison, he was a FOE (Friend of Ellison). The reason the two hit it off, I’m guessing, is the fact that JMS has exhibited similar defense of the art of writing to that displayed by Harlan: the story should not be fiddled with by suits whose only expression of writing and creativity is the signing of checks to underwrite the real work.
I was quite pleased when it was announced that JM was the literary executor for the Ellison estate, believing, as I still do, that he is probably the best choice, with similar experiences to Harlan’s and similar attitudes. In other words, I think J. Michael Straczynski will do Harlan (and Susan) right.
As was recently announced, work has begun on a Last Dangerous Visions project. As explained in FB posts and the author’s Patreon account, this will not be the original LDV as worked on by Harlan. Some stories have already been turned back over to their authors and published elsewhere. Other stories have become too dated for inclusion (rights will be reverted) and an opportunity for contemporary authors to have a story published in a DV volume will be offered.
Additionally, the Tim Kirk illustrations will be included (every story had one of these accompanying it) (rights will also be returned to the artist) and a previously unpublished Ellison story, that JMS states is related to the reason that the third volume of DV was never produced, will be included, along with an explanation of Harlan’s reasons for not completing the project.
You can read JMS’ own explanation of his plan for this book here.
I support this effort. I’ve signed on to the Patreon Tier that will provide me with advance information on the stories that will be included in this edition of LDV. I’m personally interested to see if the story solicited by Harlan from A. Bertram Chandler (True Believers) will make the cut. (It’s Chandler’s last unpublished piece of fiction. The author died in 1984. A memorial publication – From Sea to Shining Star from Dreamstone Publishing – posthumously published several new stories; Jack Dann included the last (known) Grimes story in his anthology Dreaming Again, where I get some cred for helping out. True Believers – which I have tried to get access to from Harlan for many years – is the last.)
Whether the stories remain “groundbreaking” is one thing, but this anthology represents far more than just a collection of taboo-breaking fiction. There is no doubt much to still be learned about both the book and Harlan, and I believe JMS will handle its production with love.
To help support the project, why not sign up for the Patreon?
As I learn more, I’ll summarize here (have asked JMS for permission to reprint his Patreon stuff following a sufficient moratorium. Still waiting to hear back).