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A Boy and His Dog by Harlan Ellison

A Cautionary Tale of Post Atomic War. A film based on the Harlan Ellison short story.

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Ellison at his nastiest, Don Johnson at his best

  • Jun 22, 2009
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For those of you who don't follow classic scifi, Harlan Ellison is one of the major writers of the 50s, 60s and 70s.  He is short (5'3"), abrasive, intense and very creative.  He was also the only Jewish boy in Painesville, Ohio when he was a child, and has written about being beaten up 5 days a week after school.  Is it any wonder that he is somewhat bitter?  This lovely little tale involves a telepathic dog, a boy who actually was born after the atomic war so he knows nothing of history except what Blood (the telepathic dog) tells him.  Vic (the boy) is uh......horny (sorry, that's what he is) and Blood can find a woman for him.  (Women are rare in the world after the bomb).  He finds a woman who lives "down under" in an underground civilization that resembles a scary simplistic idea of what they think life was like before the war.  I'm going to stop here because if I tell much more, I'll give the whole thing away, and I don't want to do that.  There is the Ellison novelette, available in the major Ellison omnibus.  I do recommend that you read it.  There is also a graphic novel, which includes not only A Boy and His Dog, but also two other stories concerning Vic and Blood.  Finally, there is a movie, starring a very young Don Johnson.  Even though I was never a Don Johnson fan, I have to highly recommend this movie as well.  In a very strange happenstance, the story is exactly the same for all three media.  Yeah, someone in Hollywood actually read Ellison's story and created a screenplay that was actually based on the story and even included some of Ellison's dialog as well.  Amazing, huh?  Hollywood screenwriters that actually READ???  How unusual.  Ellison said, back in the 70s, that he was going to write an entire novel, titled "Blood's a Rover".  He never finished it, and that's a real shame.  I really enjoyed this story in all three media.  One caveat, though.  I have yet to meet a woman who really liked the story in any way.  If you read it, or watch it, you will undoubtedly see why.  Sorry Ladies.  I do recommend this charming (?) and heartwarming(?) and tender(?) tale of a boy and his dog, though.  It will warm the cockles of your heart.  (If your cockles get too warm, you can always rub them with dry ice).

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June 23, 2009
Well I met several at the World Con who liked it enough to vote for it for Best Dramatic Presentation although I think it lost.
June 23, 2009
Have you seen it? Most women hate this movie, and if you see it, you will probably see why. IT has to do with taste. Personally, I loved it.
June 23, 2009
I take that back, it won the Hugo in 1976. I used to own the VHS. Yeah it did lack a certain amount of taste. The first time I saw it was when they showed it at World Con. It was okay. It'll never go down (if you'll forgive the expression) as one of my favorite films though.
June 23, 2009
Hey, Blood is my hero. I wish they had also made either films or perhaps even shorts of the other two episodes Ellison actually wrote. In the third episode, Vic dies, leaving Blood alone. Not sure whether that was to be the end of the novel or not, though, since the supposed title was BLOOD'S A ROVER and Blood was still alive. It is a very bitter film,but then, Ellison's stories are always bitter. Do you recall DEMON WITH A GLASS HAND from the old series "Outer Limits"? That was also Ellison.
June 23, 2009
Of course. That was one of the classic episodes that's always written about or talked about when it comes to that show. "Djin No Chaser" wasn't that bitter.
June 23, 2009
Another brilliant bit from Ellison. Are you also familiar with the show BABYLON 5? Ellison was a "technical contributer" to that show.
June 23, 2009
June 23, 2009
Only the original show was any good, and it was great. Again, the Ellison touch
June 23, 2009
You mean the one with Lorne Greene?
June 23, 2009
No, that's Battlestar Gallactica. Babylon 5 was Bruce Boxleitner. A gritty, bitter show but so well done.
June 23, 2009
Of course. Sorry my brain went out there for a second. I DO know the difference, honestly I do.
June 23, 2009
I believe you. Babylon 5 had the best first 4 seasons of any TV series I have ever seen. However, the 5th season was thrown together after the network decided to renew at the very last minute. It did not live up to the first 4.
June 23, 2009
I was just remembering this little 10 or 15 minute show that Harlan used to have on the SciFi channel. He'd spend a lot of time ragging on other authors etc. One person he used to pick on in particular was a filk singer who finally got a few of her books published. They were typical fantasy things filled with unicorns and stuff and boy did Harlan hate that! He attached not only her books and and her as a writer, but he couldn't resist catty little personal comments either. Then one day he came on his show and talked about how there had been some sort of disaster at his house. I forget what it was--flood, fire, tornado, anyhow a lot of damage had been done and the first person there to help was this woman he had been ragging on and she brought a lot of her friends and they helped him get everything back in order. You wouldn't have believed it if you had seen it! Harlan was practically penitent! Apologizing for all the terrible things he had said about her personally and going on and on. I wonder how long after that he remained a changed man?
June 23, 2009
I actually met him once when he came to Yellow Springs for a master course in writing with Rod Serling. He was cocky and agressive, but he was actually pretty nice to those of us in the class. He simply says what he thinks, and then sometimes regrets it later. He has apologized lots of times but you know he will do it again with someone else. He was so abused, not by his parents but by other kids, first for being subsized, adn then for being the only Jewish family in Painesville, Ohio. A double whammy that he never really outgrew.
June 23, 2009
Spielberg tells almost the same story. His was the only Jewish family in Arizona or New Mexico but at least he was a couple of inches taller than Harlan. My son in law is Chinese from Indonesia although he doesn't even remember the 1 year he spent in Australia muc less Indonesia--he's the all American boy, my daughter had to teach him how to eat with chopsticks. On a good day in shoes with lots of hair gel Rob still doesn't make 5'3". He only got in one fight in his whole life when some guys gave him grief at a stop light and he just launched out of the car and went after them. But he's always been such a great guy that nobody ever picked on him.
June 23, 2009
Ellison, I think, was probably a smart ass and made his own enemies. You can tell that he is very intelligent and his work shows that he is very creative, but he has also had 5 wives (at last count) and several other shorter term relationships, so he does have some serious personal relationship difficulties. Fellow writers always defend him, but even the writers he worked with in PARTNERS IN WONDER only agreed to write with him if they did it long distance. He is just to demanding of everyone, including himself.
June 23, 2009
I think he's always been the kind of person who dares people to like him and that's what's caused all the conflict in his life--and probably a lot of those fights in school too. Rob on the other hand is almost impossible not to like and the result is nobody ever beat him up. Alex looks just like Rob did as a kid--a tiny little person with a huge head. Fortunately everybody seems to love him too because he's never going to make it anywhere near average height which is always rough for guys.
June 23, 2009
I'm only 5'6" myself. I was lucky, though. I made friends from every social group in high school, so I had someone to defend me most of the time. I only had one fight, in 6th grade, and he beat the crap out of me rather quickly. Yeah, Ellison was hard to like, but easy to respect. That's a hard way to be in high school.
June 23, 2009
I don't imagine that he got a lot of respect in high school. There you only get respect if you play football or basketball. My daughter hopes that Alex will make 5'5" but I think he's going to be Rob's height. His twin may well make it to 5'7" though! Considering neither of his parents is over 5'3" that's pretty good.
June 23, 2009
I got some respect because I played in musical groups in high school, and I was active in drama. It surprised me that even the "hoods" seemed to be okay with me because of the music and drama. Respect, though? Yeah, only the jocks
June 23, 2009
Music'll work unless you're a "band geek" (marching band only from what I can deduce) and theater usually goes over pretty well. But its always the jocks at the top of the food chain. I was in an experimental calss when I started junior high--it was the first gifted program in the state and the idea was to really push us and see what we could do. Talk about the BOTTOM of the food chain!
June 24, 2009
Yeah, I can imagine. I played piano and bass in a doo wop rock band that was really fairly popular in the city. That is probably what saved me most
June 25, 2009
That'll do it! Much better than marching band!
About the reviewer
John O'Connor ()
Ranked #85
I am retired military. I served 6 years of Navy, nearly 6 years of Air Force, and just over 22 years of Air National Guard. I also was a full time technician for the Air Guard for just over 21 years. … more
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A Boy and His Dog is a 1974 movie adaptation based on a short story written by science fiction author Harlan Ellison in 1969. The post-apocalyptic science fiction film was directed by L. Q. Jones working in collaboration with Harlan Ellison in 1974. The film was also distributed after the initial run under the names Psycho Boy and His Killer Dog, Mad Don, and Apocalypse: 2024, among other titles.

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Genre: Sci-Fi, Fantasy

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