Book Review: Slippage by Harlan Ellison

Slippage: Previously Uncollected, Precariously Poised Stories - Harlan Ellison

The Basics


Slippage is a short story collection, which shouldn’t surprise any Ellison fans. Many of his collections have a theme, and this one has to be the saddest of all. At the time, he’d been through the wringer, and this was his last collection of new material. The term “slippage” is one he uses to emphasize a life being pushed in a direction it never wanted to go. A bad one.


My Thoughts


I’ll start out by saying that this has to be one of my favorites of his collections. There is so much strong work here. It’s extra depressing to know that because of health problems, he had to drop his heavy work schedule, and while he has done some writing since, he’s nowhere near as prolific as he once was. There’s not a weak spot among these stories. They are all worthy of attention, and some of them are definitely worth some large praise.


"Mefisto in Onyx." What do I even say about a story that blew me away like this one did? It should be a movie, though Ellison has some understandable reservations (that’s an understatement) about Hollywood that would make that kind of impossible. A better way to put it is it deserves to be a movie. A really good movie with all the bells and whistles. If I were to list a top five of his favorite stories, this would easily be in it. I don’t want to give anything about it away. Just know it needs to be read by everyone.


"The Museum on Cyclops Avenue" is another that needs to be gushed about. It’s one of those where the idea is just so good, so exciting and apt to make you grin, that it could ride on that alone and be great. But it does even more. Ellison has to be one of the only writers I’ve ever read who writes first person narratives and actually has a different voice for each one. He’d not writing as himself every time. That really shines here.


Lastly, “The Few, The Proud.” I say “lastly” because we’d be here all day if I didn’t limit myself to three stories to vomit praise all over. Trust me, choosing three from a collection this strong is no small task. In the case of “The Few, The Proud” it brought back around the story of the war with the Kyben. This time from the perspective of a deserting soldier on our side. So not only was it a chance to revisit a universe I found really interesting, but it was also a really fantastic anti-war story.


Those are just the tip of the iceberg. I think in making it my personal mission to read every collection I can get my hands on, I’ve inadvertently made it my personal mission to urge everyone who reads these reviews to check out Ellison’s work. So go on. Stop reading this and go read that.


Final Rating