Monday, October 26, 2009

"Would you do it for a Penny" by Harlan Ellison and Haskell Barkin

I have to say, I recommend anyone who hasn't read Harlan Ellison before to go out and pick up a copy of the Shatterday anthology right now, if only for his brilliant introductions to each piece. It's okay, I'll wait. . .
. . I say that the intros alone make it worth it specifically for stories like this one. In the into, Ellison explains how this collaboration with Haskell Barkin is what finally got him published in Playboy, which, at the time of the publication of this story, was one of the highest paying markets for fiction (and what does that say about the state of modern society?). It's an entertaining anecdote to say the least, and it helps illustrate a bit about how author collaborations come to be.

As for the story itself, it's funny enough. The main character, Arlo, a self-styled "Great White Hunter" of women, is oddly endearing despite being incredibly slimy, and his "prey", a woman named "Anastasia" is wonderfully witty and sarcastic as well. It also includes the best string of explicatives ever put to page. I won't ruin it to you, but, if you have the Tachyon edition of the anthology, skip to the bottom of page 84 to find out.

What I don't like, however, is how the story turns out. I won't ruin it, but, suffice to say, it's very Playboy, so you can guess where it goes. Somehow, I expected a little more from Ellison and Barkin in this respect, especially since every other aspect of the story excels.

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