More Christopher Priest; this time, germane to the (I didn't realize how ethically sketchy) third, unpublished volume of 'Dangerous Visions', the anthology Harlan Ellison started back in '67. Priest writes a cruel chronicle of how Ellison shanghaied the material of at least ninety-one authors and has held their work in legal limbo as bought-and-paid-for but yet-to-be-published. That's nearly a hundred people, many of whom don't have the legal right to publish and/or re-solicit the purchased work. Many are now dead.
What a moral sinkhole.
This is identity theft at its most eccentric-- a library of purchased manuscripts no-one but Ellison and his closest associates have access to, a wealth of fiction denied to the world because of an overreaching ego, and a source of irritation for everyone that would very easily end if only Ellison could bring himself to admit defeat, if not wrongdoing. That, or publish the damn thing. It's been thirty-four years since the initial announcement. Surely some of the material has dated, but would it really be so much of a disappointment to see the work in print after having been strung along for so long? If anything, it would a vindication, all but erasing the pall of the nigh unto criminal fibbing he's indulged in for nearly one third of his life.
Imagine that: lying to almost everyone you know, several thousand of whom are your most adroit, adoring fans, bearing your standard throughout everything they do. Lying for thirty-four years and no-one bringing you to court for it, no-one but your detractors taking you to task. Going to bed knowing that some thirty people you counted among your friends submitted work to you, to be published in a forthcoming sequel to a celebrated, award-winning anthology (which remains in print to this day), only you never came through and now they're deceased. Not even a galley copy, just a big damn enormous box of file folders gathering dust in your study, looking more and more like the vulture eye from 'the Tell-Tale Heart', accusing you, and there you are, pushing eighty, touring the country, continuing to capitalize-- albeit meagerly, book sales being what they are --off the contrarian stance of maintaining rigorous control over your own intellectual property, and championing creator's rights all the while. Imagine being your own worst enemy.
What's saddest is, it's a great story. And Ellison refuses to tell it.