[These reviews were placed by readers on Amazon.com, from which extracts have been taken.]
* MEANSPIRITED JEALOUSY. This isn’t a book, it’s a character assassination. It was written (as those who admire Ellison’s work know) by a minor English writer whose submission to Ellison’s anthology was rejected. Apparently, the rejection so enraged Priest that he became obsessed with defaming and humiliating Ellison. For years he self-published the screed and sold it hand-to-hand like a fishmonger at UK science fiction conventions. Then he joined up with a long-time adversary of Ellison’s, Gary Groth, who was one of the founders of a hate group calling itself Enemies of Ellison. Now this bitter, meanspirited act of jealousy-on-paper puts money into the pockets of these two scandalmongers using Ellison’s worldwide reputation as cachet. Anyone buying this chapbook should know it casts Harlan Ellison in a bad light, and every fact or truth included is recast to make Ellison look like a liar, hypocrite, or worse. If Ellison’s reputation as an editor of significant achievements – Dangerous Visions, Medea, and Again, Dangerous Visions – has remained bright for thirty-five years, it explains the ferocity of the outcast Priest’s attack on him. This is a miserable book. Save your money. – “A reader” (October 28, 2002)
***** This is a very specialized non-fiction book (booklet? pamphlet? it is very short) dealing with the sad history of the much awaited but never realized publication of The Last Dangerous Visions anthology by Harlan Ellison. The author, Christopher Priest, did his research, cited all of his sources, and pretty much just relates the facts of what Ellison has said and when he said it verses what he has actually done. The biggest fact one can add to this book is that it is now 2005, over thirty years after the project began and eight years since Priest wrote his history/analysis of its non-occurrence, and LDV still has not come out nor shown any sign of ever coming out. And with each passing year, the stories age even further and, except for the handful of authors who took their stories back and had them published elsewhere, more of the included authors pass on with their stories unseen and unread in their lifetime. Some of the other reviewers who have castigated Priest apparently didn’t bother to do their research. One implies that Priest is being vindictive because his own story was rejected for LDV, which is not true (that was a completely different author, John Shirley). Another reveals his ignorance of Priest’s publishing history, accusing him of riding the coattails of an American comic book author of the same name, when in fact the British author Priest has been around longer, published more and in fact has the real claim to the name since the comic book author apparently changed his name. This book is interesting and invaluable if you’re at all curious about this much talked-about but never seen anthology. Harlan Ellison is one of the truly great writers of speculative fiction and has earned his place of honor in its history. But even great men have their foibles and failures, and sadly LDV looks to be his. – September 23, 2005)
**** I was in college in the mid-1970s when I was introduced to Harlan Ellison’s anthologies, Dangerous Visions and Again, Dangerous Visions. The third and final book in the trilogy, The Last Dangerous Visions was imminent and eagerly awaited by everyone who had any contact with the sci-fi/fantasy subculture. Now, almost a generation later, the book still hasn’t appeared. Neither has it been cancelled; there have been periodic announcements that it is about to be released. What happened? What’s going on? I bought Christopher Priest’s book on a whim, curious to re-open this question that we once kicked around at the college coffeehouset’s a short book, 56 pages. You can read it in an hour. It’s a strange, absurd tale. A simple anthology has somehow turned into a never-ending black hole, sucking in the work of a generation of science fiction writers. Christopher Priest delivers the story with drama and dry wit. I enjoyed it a lot. I’m glad I read it; it gives me some sense of closure. – “A reader” (April 15, 1999)
**** Christopher Priest’s The Book on the Edge of Forever makes great strides forward in explaining what events have taken place concerning this volume of sf history. Is it an Atlantis that sank into a publisher’s ocean, or a noose holding a weight around Ellison’s editorial neck? While this slim volume cannot adequately explain why the book remains in purgatory, it does chart the small amount of progress made over the past two decades, proposes ways the book could be made available (should Ellison make the effort), and gives a better understanding of what happened to this once profound and influential series of books. The only thing missing is direct comment from Ellison himself, though Priest posts letters and comments from Ellison which are damning, to say the least. It’s unlikely that The Last Dangerous Visions will ever see print. The Book on the Edge of Forever is your only chance to find out about this lost chapter of sf history.”- “R. Plath” (“captainfurry” of Indiana, USA – July 13, 2000)
**** Mr Priest collects enough evidence both of Ellison’s mercurial personality and inconsistency regarding this volume to paint a pretty damning portrait. – “moderan” (of Chicago, Illinois – October 6, 2000)
**** … a fascinating account of one of the most famous non-books ever not-published–indeed, Last Dangerous Visions is the science fiction genre’s equivalent to Truman Capote’s notoriously unwritten “masterpiece,” Answered Prayers: the same kind of endless public promises from the author/editor; the same kind of total, unexplained non-delivery. (In his late-career megalomania, as well as his tendency to play fast and loose with facts, Ellison does uncannily resemble Capote – there is an MA thesis here for some enterprising graduate student.) Christopher Priest has put together his short (too short) essay masterfully, letting Ellison’s words hoist him on his own petard; no one who reads this book objectively can be left in any doubt that Ellison has seriously mistreated any number of writers over this project, and that Last Dangerous Visions has become some sort of unscaleable Kilimanjaro for him, one that he will never climb but which it would be too humiliating to publicly abandon. (Priest’s book is) refreshingly honest and a needed corrective to the fawning versions of Ellison so often found in fanzines (and in his own self-congratulatory essays). In a strange way, The Book on the Edge of Forever presents the most human Ellison ever seen in print. For those (few?) who can read it objectively, Priest’s essay will be a revelation. – “A reader” (March 31, 2001)
***** After reading this I have to say that Ellison is no better than the Hollywood executives who sit on properties so no one can buy them. Imagine all of the great stories we will never see because Ellison won’t publish this 3-volume anthology. I hope that I am proven wrong. But I have to say it’s a crime that we never got to see the stories in this book. Ellison if you are reading I say put up or shut up and get this book out before it’s too late!