SF Masterwork of the Week: Dangerous Visions

Dangerous Visions is widely regarded as being the most influential anthology of all time. It helped define the New Wave movement in the United States, and its contents page reads like a Who’s Who of science fiction in the ’60s:

Evensong by Lester del Rey
Flies by Robert Silverberg
The Day After the Day the Martians Came by Frederik Pohl
Riders of the Purple Wage by Philip José Farmer
The Malley System by Miriam Allen deFord
A Toy for Juliette by Robert Bloch
The Prowler in the City at the Edge of the World by Harlan Ellison
The Night That All Time Broke Out by Brian W. Aldiss
The Man Who Went to the Moon — Twice by Howard Rodman
Faith of Our Fathers by Philip K. Dick
The Jigsaw Man by Larry Niven
Gonna Roll the Bones by Fritz Leiber
Lord Randy, My Son by Joe L. Hensley
Eutopia by Poul Anderson
Incident in Moderan and The Escaping by David R. Bunch
The Doll-House by James Cross
Sex and/or Mr. Morrison by Carol Emshwiller
Shall the Dust Praise Thee? by Damon Knight
If All Men Were Brothers, Would You Let One Marry Your Sister? by Theodore Sturgeon
What Happened to Auguste Clarot? by Larry Eisenberg
Ersatz by Henry Slesar
Go, Go, Go, Said the Bird by Sonya Dorman
The Happy Breed by John Sladek
Encounter with a Hick by Jonathan Brand
From the Government Printing Office by Kris Neville
Land of the Great Horses by R. A. Lafferty
The Recognition by J. G. Ballard
Judas by John Brunner
Test to Destruction by Keith Laumer
Carcinoma Angels by Norman Spinrad
Auto-da-Fé by Roger Zelazny
Aye, and Gomorrah by Samuel R. Delany

These are stories of lasting worth and interest, despite that the taboos they set out to break two years before the lunar landing have, in the second decade of the twenty-first century, been well and truly colonised by the mainstream. It is an important collection because it was an important collection and because of the ferociously high quality of its stories – which dominated the SF awards of the time, with multiple nominations and wins.

As Adam Roberts say in his introduction:

“This remains one of the most celebrated collections of original fiction ever published in the field of science fiction; and its stories, and meta-stories, explore many aspects of danger. And however dangerous these visions did or did not prove to its editor, it would be a cowardly reader who elected not to risk them.”