As Nabokov said, “I think it is all a matter of love; the more you love a memory the stronger and stranger it becomes.”
It was sometime in the mid-nineties at Dangerous Visions Bookstore in Sherman Oaks, when a seismic shift altered the foundations of the room. It wasn’t the Northridge quake, but it was certainly a force of nature—in walked Harlan, the man who had written “Pretty Maggie Moneyeyes” and “Repent Harlequin. . . .” and “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream.” In walked the man who had met Bruce Lee, mouthed off to Sinatra, marched in Selma, had lived through the insanities of Hollywood producers . . . and, oh, so much more. Something had happened to the crowd, as if they had fallen into the path of a McCormick thresher—husks torn away to reveal something essential in their awe-struck silence.
I knew all too well how meeting one’s heroes can turn out badly (as it had for some of Harlan’s fans), but I was indefatigable in my youth and I told him what I thought of his work and he smiled and shook my hand and we talked for a while. I had told him my dream of putting together an anthology someday, with a table of contents that included some of the very writers in this book. “That’s a pretty nifty list,” Harlan said. “Do it, kiddo.”
As the years passed, I went on to write for Nature Magazine and became a contributing editor at Locus, and the dream kind of fell by the wayside, but Harlan never let me forget.
And though I wish Harlan could see it, the dream is finally here—a book full of memories and love—thirty-three international contributors who have joined together to celebrate his life. It’s strong and strange in ways I never expected, full of inspired ideas, anecdotes and stories of Harlan. Of course, to include everyone influenced by Harlan and the work he celebrated would more than fill The Lost Aztec Temple of Mars.
And without further ado . . .
I’d like to share a few excerpts from THE UNQUIET DREAMER — Preston Grassmann
THE FIRST OF MANY SHUDDERS
by Kaaron Warren
The evicted drifted back to see the place, sift through the rubble.
Some of them had watched the demolition of their homes from across the road, belongings in garbage bags around their feet, because until then they really didn’t believe it was going to happen. Or they thought; they’ll stick up the condemned signs and we’ll move back in, because that had happened before, blocks of flats considered derelict but still livable if you had nowhere else to go.
But the place was reduced to rubble and every day the rubble shifted, formed into something else, made of memories, good and bad.
ON AN OLD MAN’S CONTEMPLATION OF AN ARCHWAY SEALED WITH STONES
by Adam Troy Castro
His name is Stick. He is an old man. He is not feeble. He is not confused. He is young in aspect because such is his nature. It is impossible to consider him old. But he is old, very old; old enough to remember when times were green. He knows that he does not have much time left. He avoids the end as best he can, as we all do. In the meantime, he does what he has always done, visit the worlds that he finds through the portals from the Gray.
A THIN SILVER LINE
FOR HARLAN ELLISON
by Steve Rasnic Tem
A thin silver line: color of moonlight, or morning fog, the highlight on your grandmother’s lips. The fading borders of the dream just before you discover it is morning. It’s a separation keeping you from the dream, the day from the night, and the fantasy from nightmare. The division is less substantial than mist; you can cross it and not even know.
THE WAY YOU CAME IN MAY NOT BE THE BEST WAY OUT
by Paul Di Filippo
The first time Sal Broome heard a Rigellian play the gnostic flute, he was ruined for all other music. His mind shattered into myriad tiny mirrored fragments, his soul melted down into a puddle of honeyed whey, and his gut suddenly hosted a whirling maelstrom that made the vortex that Arthur Gordon Pym encountered look like a bathtub drain.
by Peter Crowther
The waiting area was cramped but William found a seat. He eased himself between a man wearing a tweed jacket and an old woman whose spectacle lenses were so thick that there didn’t seem to be eyes behind them.
He looked at the table alongside and scanned the books, magazines and newspapers. Several copies of Readers’ Digest, the morning’s Independent with what looked to be the word ‘sugary’ (although William decided it must have been ‘surgery’) scribbled above the masthead, a couple of well-thumbed copies of National Geographic (one which proclaimed “we are not alone” in large blue letters written on an interstellar gaseous cloud) and a coffee-ring stained Beano Book showing all of the comic’s characters in a bus whose side boldly proclaimed ‘Christmas Or Bust’. He opted for a Readers’ Digest that boasted a story about clairvoyant pets.
THE LAST SHOUT OF THE BEAST
by Bruce Sterling
To witness the end of the world was a nightmare. Professor Echo knew he wasn’t dreaming, though; the end of the world smelled worse than any dream ever could.
The Mogul’s rocket-base stank of decomposing plastics, dead topsoils, arctic methane, and the ill-winds from bomb-cratered cities. Space-rockets towered on the desert horizon. Each colossal, gleaming missile had a sharp nose and four big hollow fins. They were ranked as neatly as literary awards.
THE RE-EVOLUTION OF CLOUD 9
They’re out there, friends. They are out there with their quadrophobes and their capsules of rotten time and their Eye-rooms. They say and we lousy mugs do. Their fingers are in your pie, Sunny Jim. So, what you gonna to do? Sit there with a stupid expression on your Happy Frank while Little Miss Eyeball and her bugs peel open your dreams like bananas? What’s this rotten egg they’ve sold you, Bubba? Why are things in the shitty state they are in? I mean, you can wave your anti-matter cyclons and your peace signs and your anti-retrovirals, but what you going to do? The clocks have stopped. Time is doing the geriatric tango and still you working for the Man. We have one great Age to duck and weave in kids, from the dinosaurs to the apocky-clips, and still you pumping checks for Daddy God and the great white picket fence in the sky…..
Artist Biography: Yoshika Nagata
Yoshika Nagata was born in 1977, and lives in Tokyo. After graduating from Tama Art University in 2000, she began working for a CM editing company, but left her job in 2003 to pursue her art full time. Her illustrations and paintings have appeared in various art galleries around the world. She currently illustrates for books and performs in live-painting events.
Editor Biography: Preston Grassmann
Preston Grassmann was born in California and educated at U.C. Berkeley. He began working for Locus in 1998, returning as a contributing editor after a hiatus in Egypt and the UK. His most recent work has been published in Nature Magazine, Shoreline of Infinity, and “Futures 2” (Tor). He is a regular contributor to Nature and writes a feature for Locus called “The Cosmic Village”. He currently lives in Japan, where he enjoys hiking, watercolor painting, and performing at live events throughout Tokyo.