Thursday, January 15, 2015

"Shattered Like a Glass Goblin" by Harlan Ellison

First Publication:  1968
Cover Artist:  Paul Lehr

Deal Me In Short Story Challenge
42 Challenge 2015
The 2015 Sci-Fi Experience
Vintage Sci-Fi Challenge

First Line: "So it was there, eight months later, that Rudy found her; in that huge and ugly house off Western Avenue n Los Angeles;  living with them, all of them;  not just Jonah, but all of them."

"Shattered Like a Glass Goblin", on the surface, is about a man named Rudy who gets out of the army on a medical discharge.  He goes in search of the woman he is to marry.  Meanwhile, Kris has moved to a house filled with drugged out people.  Kris will not leave so Rudy joins the group.  The rest of the story graphically describes Rudy's descent.  Are the people strung out on drugs...or are they something else?

My thoughts are that Ellison is very outspoken against the drug culture of the sixties.  He very graphically depicts a depraved environment and ruins everything that comes in contact with it.  The final fate of the characters is not a pretty one.

If you are weak of heart, avoid this story at all costs.  Ellison does not pull any punches.  It is a depressing story with a sad ending.

Is it well written?  Despite hitting you over the head with the message, the author's skill stands out.  He is an excellent writer with a good command of how to craft a story.  But if you only like traditional science fiction and fantasy stories, stay away from "Shattered Like a Glass Goblin".  It is deeply rooted in the New Wave style.

I always enjoy Paul Lehr's covers.  Mostly I remember him from doing book covers in the seventies.

Other authors in this collection include:

Kate Wilhelm (an excellent writer and wife of the editor)
Charles L. Harness (a writer I have enjoyed-see my review of "The Rose")
R. A. Lafferty (one of the more unique writers in the field)
Robert Silverberg (with "Passengers")


Carl V. Anderson said...

I've read a handful of Ellison stories and have been impressed...which is more than I can say about the way I feel about him as a person.

I love Paul Lehr's work, and the Orbit covers are great. I've picked up a couple of these hardcover collections at used bookstores just because of Lehr's covers.

Anonymous said...

Never heard of this story before, and you're right - it does seem to be a departure from the type of stories Ellison's known for.

Dr. Edwin Thomasson said...

"bibliophilica said...
Never heard of this story before, and you're right - it does seem to be a departure from the type of stories Ellison's known for." This is precisely what Ellison does best, and as always he has the finesse and the sublimity of Atomic Weapons, but his tender insight into human nature and the conflict of the every-man to granted somewhat unusual stress is unmatched. Read it, Love it, Live it...