I think I m might be in a minority on this book It has had many good reviews on many venues and was a bookclub pick by one of our adventurous members.While this may not be my cup of tea there are a couple of things specifically that bothered me about the book.1 Many of the stories are firmly set in their era the book was published in 1975 and you can tell by all of his branded references Maybe this would be cool if you were reading it in 1975 and you could relate to the brands and trends, but reading it in 2007 and having lived through the brands and trends of 1975 if felt tired and cliche White wine or chardonnay could easily have been substituted for Almaden gin tonic could have been substituted to Tanqueray tonic and thus kept the stories in present or even future time In 1975 my mom was drinking Almaden though I m not sure you can even buy it now and I was drinking Tanqueray tonic or TT as we called it but I sure don t hear it ordered in bars today at least not like in the 70 s the TT was to the 70 s what the Cosmopolitan was to the turn of the millennium Firmly set in it s time.The first story in particular was set in the New York City of the 1970 s dirty, dangerous, filled with paranoia and neuroses It is not the fresh and exciting New York of today The city has clearly cast off it s slimy mantle of danger and become the place to be If not for the branding that occurs in the story, we could have read it to be a New York of the future something that it still can be, rather than something it was so long ago the story was tired.2 I understand the theme was about gods and death but for the most part, I could not suspend my disbelief for long enough to buy into the premise for most of the stories that is, for those I read, because I must confess, that after getting a bit than halfway through the book, I stopped reading it There are so many other books I want to read Some of the characters drew me in and I began to care for them but then they just died and entered one of many eternal abysses because, really, the stories were what happened after one becomes less than human either by death or by submission to the ruling evil I just don t buy it. i remember when this came in the mail from the science fiction book club when i was twelve it was like having someone tear out my stomach. Harlan Ellison S Masterwork Of Myth And Terror As He Seduces All Innocence On A Mind Freezing Odyssey Into The Darkest Reaches Of Mortal Terror And The Most Dazzling Heights Of Olympian Hell In His Finest CollectionDeathbird Stories Is A Collection Of Of Harlan Ellison S Best Stories, Including Edgar And Hugo Winners, Originally Published Between And The Collection Contains Some Of Ellison S Best Stories From Earlier Collections And Is Judged By Some To Be His Most Consistently High Quality Collection Of Short Fiction The Theme Of The Collection Can Be Loosely Defined As God, Or Gods Sometimes They Re Dead Or Dying, Some Of Them Are As Brand New As Today S Technology Unlike Some Of Ellison S Collections, The Introductory Notes To Each Story Can Be As Short As A Phrase And Rarely Run Than A Sentence Or Two One Story Took A Locus Poll Award, The Two Final Ones Both Garnered Hugo Awards And Locus Poll Awards, And The Final One Also Received A Jupiter Award From The Instructors Of Science Fiction In Higher Education Discontinued In When The Collection Was Published In Britain, It Won The British Science Fiction Award For Short FictionHis Stories Will Rivet You To The Floor And Change Your Heartbeatas Unforgettable A Chamber Of Horror, Fantasy And Reality As You Ll Ever Experience Gallery Brutally And Flamboyantly Shocking, Frequently Brilliant, And Always Irresistibly Mesmerizing Richmond Times Dispatch Vernon Lestig was caught by Viet cong, tortured until he talked, lost foot and eyesight, brought before a court martial for treason, and returned home only to face his home in Kansas where nobody understood or accepted what happened in the face of public media Full review at my blogMerged review Selena, a beautiful woman and a master manipulator, has a car accident in some lost town of North Carolina An odd young man magically fixes it Full review at my blogMerged review In an inversion of Christian and Jewish mythology, humanity s alien protector helps the reincarnated Adam in the final confrontation of a mad god and an anthropomorphized Earth s assisted suicide Full review at my blogMerged review I ve outsourced reviews of short stories to my blog If you re curious, read it there or just follow the review links belowSummary Ellison linked 19 stories, which were previously published between 1960 and 1974, with a common topic new gods of our modern society, like for city neighborhoods or cars, need to be worshipped or drop out of existence The stories worked as a standalone narrations but must be interpreted differently in this new context It is not a thematic link like Bradbury s The Martian Chronicles but a common idea The stories were considered so important that even a generation later, you find echoes in works like Neil Gaiman s American Gods Strong language, vivid imagery, and emotionally striking themes pervade these stories The theme is not obvious in every story which range from magical realism to science fiction and horror The nature of gods is sometimes benevolent like the snake in Deathbird , but most often malevolent like the urban god feeding of violence in The Whimper of Whipped Dogs Often, moral tests define the relationship between gods and men, like in Delusion for a Dragon Slayer where a dying man is transported to a fantasy world to earn the Heaven he desires.Ellison isn t bound to a specific subgenre but draws freely on speculative and non speculative elements within any single story Most strinkingly this is the case for Adrift Just Off the Islets of Langerhans which merges genres and works from Kafka, Melville, Asimov, Shelley and others Sometimes it is Fantasy like in Delusion of a Dragon Slayer , seldom pure SF like Along the Scenic Route The best way to characterize his stories would be magical realism or simply speculative fiction , most often merged with psychological, or morale theological topics, and set in contemporary U.S at the edge to mimetic fiction.He isn t a novelist but a master of short works with several hundreds of short stories His natural form seems to be novella and novelette which are short enough to bind his impatience but long enough to develop character and background.So, if you ve got bored of plain story telling, then up your narrative diet with Ellison s brilliant fiction Not all of the stories are great, but they are certainly different some of those you ll like, some you won t, depending on your openness to unusual narrative voices and willingness to dig into a short story.Just do yourself a favour and don t read it in one session Ellison himself recommended to digest this collection slowly.My favourite stories were The Whimper of Whipped Dogs Basilisk Pretty Maggie Moneyeyes Adrift Just Off the Islets of Langerhans Latitude 38 54 N, Longitude 77 00 13 W The Deathbird Weakest or stories Bleeding Stones Corpse At the Mouse Circus The Place with no Name Contents The Whimper of Whipped Dogs 1973 the god of not my problem magical realism, Kitty Genovese in New York review Along the Scenic Route 1969 the god of speed Near SF car battle review On the Downhill Side 1972 two ghosts in New Orleans react to the god of love s demands review O Ye of Little Faith 1968 Jerry Niven escapes both the questions of his paramour about their relationship and a Minotaur that he suddenly faces after entering a Mexican bookshop A strong start with the Minotaur but then it only replays the introductory questions about gods For 9 pages it doesn t need to say much 1 2 Neon 1973 the gods of neon light enlighten the world review Basilisk 1972 Mars, the god of war, sends a monster to a vietnam vet review Pretty Maggie Moneyeyes 1967 The god of slot machines grants jackpots review 1 2 Corpse 1972 More Americans die at the wheel than in military uniform Are cars sentient, do they kill men on purpose Weakest story in the collection so far with much philosophizing and an abrupt and unmotivated ending Shattered Like a Glass Goblin 1968 review Delusion for a Dragon Slayer 1966 review The Face of Helene Bournouw 1968 Helene Bournouw is beautiful beyond perfection She ruins the lifes of a business man, an artist, and a priest A heavy handed story ending in a fairy tale Even God needs good rolling stock to get things done Bleeding Stones 1973 industrial pollution awaken the NYC cathedral gargoyles to life It ends in a splatter movie like havoc because they purge the threat of what they are made to protect Repulsive, explicit violence including raping a nun with a stop sign At least, it is the shortest story with only a handful pages At the Mouse Circus 1971 a highly surreal story of Charlie, the King of Tibet, travelling from Manhattan to Ohia in his cadillac, meeting witches, dinosaurs, and a Mickey Mouse who was as confused as I am after that story At the end, a crowd eats his car The Place with No Name 1969 Cocain addicted pimp Norman flees the police, ending in a shop where he is magically transported to a jungle He meets the bound Prometheus there The climax is predictable, the rest completely confusing, leaving too many loose ends Paingod 1965 the god of pain immerses his subject s feelings review Ernest and the Machine God 1968 Selena has a car accident review Rock God 1969 An old Stonehenge god is about to awaken in a NYC skyscraper review Adrift Just Off the Islets of Langerhans Latitude 38 54 N, Longitude 77 00 13 W 1974 pastiches from Kafka, Melville, Asimove, Shelley, and Siodmak review The Deathbird 1973 Adam gives the needle review I ve read a few of these stories before, but never like this No, every story in this book is meant to be read this way, not just a story here and there over the years Read em all back to back, start to finish He warns you not to do that in the intro, but he s just goading you to do it It s a different, powerful experience I think that SF has two phases Before Harlan Ellison and After Harlan Ellison He s a visceral guy He doesn t do gentle, folks He screams his straight from the guts stories in your face.Everyone s read The Deathbird You can t fool around with SF and not read it It s obviously the best in the book But here are a few of my favorites that I hadn t read before Along the Scenic Route Wow That s some Death Race 2000 stuff right there I love the idiot slang terms that kids in the future use, and I love how it turns out to be a futuristic western in the end Neon Quite the accidental love story To say would be to ruin it Pretty Maggie Moneyeyes That s a haunting story about a, er, well Read it Paingod What happens when the God of Pain takes an interest in humanity In a human sculptor in particular It s not what you d think would happen I m almost certain Warren Ellis has read that one, and Paingod got stuck to his brain stem Ernest and the Machine God A very manipulative woman in a precarious situation accidentally drives off a cliff and finds herself in a strange town with a very unusual mechanic The ending is pretty horrifying, but I kind of wonder what happens with Ernest next.This is a great collection If you haven t read it, you need to get to it immediately. 6.0 stars Another superb collection of short stories by the greatest short story writer of all time While all of the stories in this collection are excellent, I would mention The Whimper of Whipped Dogs as one that particularly affected me when I read it HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION Winner British Science Fiction Award for Best Collection 1979 Nominee World Fantasy Award for Best Collection 1976 Nominee Locus Award for Best Collection 1976 Voted to the Locus List of All Time Best Collections 6th 3.5 starsDEATHBIRD STORIES, by Harlan Ellison is a collection of some of his varied short stories I do love Ellison s literary style and writing in general however, as in most story collections, some of the themes of the individual stories worked for me much so than others In general, I found that I prefered his horror and supernatural style stories over those that reached into the fantasy and to a lesser extent the science fiction areas.The writing is brilliant all throughout, in my opinion Each of these stories is so widely ranged that there really is something for everyone in this collection Certainly a book worthwhile to add to my shelves, just for the ones I enjoyed the most.Two of my personal favorites that were actually quite different from each other were Pretty Maggie Moneyeyes a supernatural story involving a casino gambler, and a very discerning slot machine This one simply hit me emotionally, and the ending packed a lasting punch.Perhaps my absolute favorite in the book was Basilisk Outwardly, this is a story about a war veteran who is ironically condemned by others for wanting to live I found the inner meaning much potent and powerful as a social commentary of sorts Often, those that condemn the loudest have never been in the face of a war themselves It s so easy to blame others when you know nothing about what they have gone through.Recommended to those who love reading various themes and genres I won this book in a Goodread s Giveaway Thank you for me this books represents one of those rare moments in life where you can point to a single instant and say, that moment changed me.i was around thirteen years old, and, as a lot of young teenagers, really struggling with Christianity, social expectations, parental smothering, etc and so on lets just say the box was feeling particularly small and i was feeling the squeeze enter a fateful trip to the local flea market second hand emporium.imagine a flea market booth so full of worthless items that it looks like you and a few of your best friends and a few of your friends friends decided, on graduation day, to cram all of your college furniture into a single tomb and seal it off forever the smell and rough economic worth of this tomb puts you in the neighborhood of this sad stall of course, to me, it looked like a treasure chest.now imagine a box of books under a rotting futon lurid westerns mixed in with lurid romance novels, their colors as bright and superficial as the red paint on a whorehouse imagine buried deep in the box, almost at the bottom, a book so out of place it might as well be as from another world its cover a stark, black and white watercolor of a mournful bird draping its wings around a dying sun imagine school, parents, family, flea markets and all the rest disappearing as you read the first page of something that is so utterly unlike anything you have ever known that you dont notice you have broken into a sweat, that one page has turned into twenty, and suddenly your legs are tired and your neck hurts because you havent moved a single inch in 15 minutes imagine that when you look up, your world is no longer the same.that was my introduction to death bird stories. I somehow discovered this book when I was a kid As dark and violent as it was, I found it weirdly hopeful Finally, I thought, an adult who won t fucking lie to you, someone who will just say yes, everything sucks and people are screwed up and the only thing you can do in the face of all this misery is fight, even though you ll probably fail Fight, and remember that everyone else is in pain, and never lose your outrage or your compassion Not to pile melodrama onto this paragraph, but it probably saved my life Twenty years later, I still found it strange, lovely, and compelling It appears to be out of print, which is a shame A whole generation is missing out on this great american master of weird fiction. When I was in high school, this book was banned from our library So naturally I made a pilgrimage to the public library, checked it out, read it, and basically this is the book that made me want to be a writer Because it was the first time I realized books had the power to make parents lose their shit I later bought Harlan s first typewriter, a 1938 Remington Noiseless Portable forged in the fires of Mt Doom Thanks, Harlan Give my love to Susan.