Masterpieces of myth and terror about modern gods from technology to drugs to materialism—“fantasy at its most bizarre and unsettling” (The New York Times).
As Earth approaches Armageddon, a man embarks on a quest to confront God in the Hugo Award–winning novelette, “The Deathbird.”
In New York City, a brutal act of violence summons a malevolent spirit and a growing congregation of desensitized worshippers in “The Whimper of Whipped Dogs,” an Edgar Award winner influenced by the real-life murder of Queens resident Kitty Genovese in 1964.
In “Paingod,” the deity tasked with inflicting pain and suffering on every living being in the universe questions the purpose of its cruel existence.
Deathbird Stories collects these and sixteen more provocative tales exploring the futility of faith in a faithless world. A legendary author of speculative fiction whose best-known works include A Boy and His Dog and I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream—and whose major awards and nominations number in the dozens, Harlan Ellison strips away convention and hypocrisy and lays bare the human condition in modern society as ancient gods fade and new deities rise to appease the masses—gods of technology, drugs, gambling, materialism—that are as insubstantial as the beliefs of those who venerate them.
In addition to his Nebula, Hugo, World Fantasy, Bram Stoker, Edgar, and other awards, Ellison was called “one of the great living American short story writers” by the Washington Post—and this collection makes it clear why he has earned such an extraordinary assortment of accolades.
“Introduction: Oblations at Alien Altars”
“The Whimper of Whipped Dogs”
“Along the Scenic Route”
“On the Downhill Side”
“O Ye of Little Faith”
“Pretty Maggie Moneyeyes”
“Shattered Like a Glass Goblin”
“Delusion for a Dragon Slayer”
“The Face of Helene Bournouw”
“At the Mouse Circus”
“The Place with No Name”
“Ernest and the Machine God”
“Adrift Just Off the Islets of Langerhans: Latitude 38° 54' N, Longitude 77° 00' 13" W”
This expanded edition of Ellison's most reprinted collection includes three new myths of "the new gods, the new devils... the gods of the freeway, of the ghetto blacks, of the coaxial cable; the paingod and the rock god and the god of neon; the god of legal tender...." "From A to Z, in the Sarsaparilla Alphabet" is an encyclopedia of dead and buried gods. In "Scartaris, June 28th," an ancient god struggles with the corrupt modern world. In the 20 reprints, still thematically relevant 35 years after their original publication, we meet the god of "not my problem" ("The Whimper of Whipped Dogs"), gods worshipping their own creations ("The Face of Helene Bournouw"), and the god of hurt and suffering ("Paingod"). Strong, sometimes crude language and emotionally striking themes pervade these stories, and Ellison's unique and highly intellectual writing style require careful, slow, and thoughtful reading.