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Shatterday [Paperback]

Harlan Ellison
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

February 1983
Mercurial, belligerent, passionately in love with language and wild ideas, Harlan Ellison has, for half a century, steadily gathered to himself and his thirty-seven books an undeniably fanatical readership. Winner of more awards for imaginative literature than any other living writer, he is the only scenarist ever to win the Writers Guild of America award three times for outstanding teleplay. Though his contemporary fantasies have been compared favorably with the dark visions of Borges, Barthelme, Poe and Kafka, Ellison resists categorization with a vehemence that alienates critics and reviewers seeking easy pigeonholes for an extraordinary writer. The San Francisco Chronicle writes, "The categories are too small to describe Harlan Ellison. Lyric poet, satirist, explorer of odd psychological corners, moralist, purveyor of pure horror and black comedy; he is all these and more." In this, his thirty-seventh book, setting down as never before the mortal dreads we all share, Harlan Ellison has put together his best work to date: sixteen uncollected stories (half of which are award-winners), totaling a marvel-filled 105,000 words and including a brand-new novella, his longest work in over a dozen years. "Harlan Ellison is the dark prince of American letters, cutting through our corrupted midnight fog with a switchblade prose. He simply must be read." --Pete Hamill "Ellison writes with sensitivity as well as guts--a rare combination." --Leslie Charteris, creator of The Saint
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The Mad Conqueror, Entropy March 16 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Throughout this book Harlan Ellison, in the introductions to the short stories herein, talks about how writers take tours through other people's lives. But you can tell that Ellison usually takes tour through his own life, and brings us along for the ride. That ride can encompass all the emotions you could think of, which can be seen in the highly varied stories in this great collection. Great examples of emotional introspection here include a man wrestling with his own dark side, almost literally, in both "The Fourth Year of the War" and "Shatterday," while a guy's disastrous relations with women over the years come back to haunt him in "All the Birds Come Home to Roost." Loneliness and disconnection are tackled in the highly moving "Count the Clock That Tells the Time," my favorite of the collection.
Ellison's habit of exercising his own demons does, however, lead to some tiresome bitterness in some stories. The overrated "Jeffty is Five" has won awards as a touching treatise on the loss of childhood innocence, but I find it to be little more than a tirade of cranky things-ain't-like-they-used-to-be nostalgia. The novella "The Lies That Are My Life" is little more than Ellison complaining (symbolically, of course) about his poor relations with other hot-headed writers. But despite those two troublesome entries, this collection is still a powerhouse of Ellison's highly unique and biting brand of speculative fiction. Some great not-so-personal selections add to the book's success, such as an unusual take on war and the human spirit in "Django," the bizarre sci-fi comedy "How's the Night Life on Cissalda," and the PKD-like future dystopia tale "The Executioner of the Malformed Children." You can't categorize Ellison, but you can surely be moved by his unique visions. [~doomsdayer520~]
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4.0 out of 5 stars Taking tours in other people's lives Nov. 4 2003
Format:Hardcover
This is a 1980 collection of works culled mostly from magazine sources as well as two pieces that were originally done as live readings for radio and television. It isn't one of Ellison's themed anthologies, so the content is varied.
The book opens with one of his most well-known stories, "Jeffty is Five." It concerns a child who not only stops aging, but who exists in a kind of temporal stasis with regards to his perception of the world. In other words, the world as it was continues on as such, even though it has moved into the future for everyone else. I found it to be largely an exercise in nostalgia.
"How's the Night Life on Cissalda?" is an uncharacteristically silly story about sexually voracious aliens. It is outrageous, hilarious, and merciless in its satire.
"Would You Do It For A Penny?" is a fascinating study of an expert manipulator who plies his psychological trade on vulnerable women.
A radio call-in show becomes a medium for spreading demonic gospel. An man's thirst to right a wrong alters the reality of others, while another's builds gradually, rising to the surface and emerging as a murderous personality, many years later. A man who has wasted his life finds himself in a limbo specially reserved for such sinners. All the women in a man's life return to him one by one, leading to an inevitable and terrifying confrontation. A woman desperately searches for escape from the world. A man who has always given of himself at last learns to take what he needs to truly live. A writer learns that a person's death does not always free you from him. And we finally find out what the deal is with those odd magical curio shops that always turn up in fantasy fiction.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Taking tours in other people's lives Nov. 4 2003
By bonsai chicken - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is a 1980 collection of works culled mostly from magazine sources as well as two pieces that were originally done as live readings for radio and television. It isn't one of Ellison's themed anthologies, so the content is varied.
The book opens with one of his most well-known stories, "Jeffty is Five." It concerns a child who not only stops aging, but who exists in a kind of temporal stasis with regards to his perception of the world. In other words, the world as it was continues on as such, even though it has moved into the future for everyone else. I found it to be largely an exercise in nostalgia.
"How's the Night Life on Cissalda?" is an uncharacteristically silly story about sexually voracious aliens. It is outrageous, hilarious, and merciless in its satire.
"Would You Do It For A Penny?" is a fascinating study of an expert manipulator who plies his psychological trade on vulnerable women.
A radio call-in show becomes a medium for spreading demonic gospel. An man's thirst to right a wrong alters the reality of others, while another's builds gradually, rising to the surface and emerging as a murderous personality, many years later. A man who has wasted his life finds himself in a limbo specially reserved for such sinners. All the women in a man's life return to him one by one, leading to an inevitable and terrifying confrontation. A woman desperately searches for escape from the world. A man who has always given of himself at last learns to take what he needs to truly live. A writer learns that a person's death does not always free you from him. And we finally find out what the deal is with those odd magical curio shops that always turn up in fantasy fiction.
The title story, and the last in this collection, is about a man who finds himself split in two and helpless as his other self gradually takes over his life. I still remember this as the premiere episode of the 1980s Twilight Zone series.
Preceding each entry is an introduction in which Ellison talks about the inspirations and circumstances that led to its creation. While these are always interesting, occasionally they give a little too much away, making parts of some stories seem contrived. Many of them would have been more appropriate as afterwords. I actually would suggest reading the stories first in most cases.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Mad Conqueror, Entropy March 16 2004
By doomsdayer520 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Throughout this book Harlan Ellison, in the introductions to the short stories herein, talks about how writers take tours through other people's lives. But you can tell that Ellison usually takes tour through his own life, and brings us along for the ride. That ride can encompass all the emotions you could think of, which can be seen in the highly varied stories in this great collection. Great examples of emotional introspection here include a man wrestling with his own dark side, almost literally, in both "The Fourth Year of the War" and "Shatterday," while a guy's disastrous relations with women over the years come back to haunt him in "All the Birds Come Home to Roost." Loneliness and disconnection are tackled in the highly moving "Count the Clock That Tells the Time," my favorite of the collection.
Ellison's habit of exercising his own demons does, however, lead to some tiresome bitterness in some stories. The overrated "Jeffty is Five" has won awards as a touching treatise on the loss of childhood innocence, but I find it to be little more than a tirade of cranky things-ain't-like-they-used-to-be nostalgia. The novella "The Lies That Are My Life" is little more than Ellison complaining (symbolically, of course) about his poor relations with other hot-headed writers. But despite those two troublesome entries, this collection is still a powerhouse of Ellison's highly unique and biting brand of speculative fiction. Some great not-so-personal selections add to the book's success, such as an unusual take on war and the human spirit in "Django," the bizarre sci-fi comedy "How's the Night Life on Cissalda," and the PKD-like future dystopia tale "The Executioner of the Malformed Children." You can't categorize Ellison, but you can surely be moved by his unique visions. [~doomsdayer520~]
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SHATTERDAY STORIES FOR SATURDAY April 3 2001
By EMAN NEP - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is the perfect book to read during the weekend. Help yourself to a healthy helping of Harlan, the short story master. Unlike some of his collections (Deathbird Stories, Angry Candy) which deal with certain themes, Shatterday has a nice variety. What's really nice is that each of these stories is prefaced by an introduction, which is both entertaining and informative. Now for my personal favorites: FLOP SWEAT: an impromptu short-story that Harlan wrote in 6 hours appears unedited here. It deals with a radio talk show host and an evil guest. COUNT THE CLOCK THAT TELLS THE TIME: A very moving piece of fiction that shows us the value of LIVING our lives instead of just wasting our time. I believe this one won an award, and rightly so. There were several other stories that I found enjoyable in this book, but the two mentioned above are the ones I like best. These stories certainly make this book worth reading.
5.0 out of 5 stars This book tears me up and makes me stronger afterwards Dec 9 2010
By Scott Rawlings - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is hands down one of my favorite books. I try to read it every year or so. Harlan is at his best when he's dishing out the pathos, and here he puts his characters in some very strange and disturbing settings and situations. I love the title story in this short story collection, I read it whenever I am at a crossroads and there is something I desperately want to change about my life, or when I'm feeling depressed. It reminds me that everyone has the power of self-determination, that there is the possibility of change if we are brave, and stare down the selfish person within. Highly recommended.
5.0 out of 5 stars QUESTION April 20 2009
By Sept - Published on Amazon.com
Hi,

Does anybody know the difference between this 99 cent Kindle version of Shatterday and the $9.99 version (and please don't say $9.00).

Thanks!
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