A Boy and His Dog • 1969 • Post-apocalyptic novella by Harlan Ellison

★★★★★

Synopsis:  In a post WWIV world of 2024, fifteen year old Vic roams the post-apocalyptic world together with his telepathic, intelligent dog Blood, who sniffs food and girls for Vic. During a skin flick, Blood detects a girl Quilla June in the movie theater, and Vic follows her in order to rape her. Vic gets parted from Blood when he tries to find out about the girl’s origin in the sterile happiness of underground Topeka.

Review: The vivid pictures in this novella have been most influential in the building of popular imagination of a gritty, post-apocalyptic world: More than the movie adaption of the novella it influenced the visuals of Mad Max movies and contemporary computer game series Fallout, just to name a few samples. Ellison’s clear, and graphical visions of fights and a rape scene are necessary components for the story’s ending. Central to the story is the question “do you know what love is?” The answer is expected and surprising at the same time, they lead to a very satisfying conclusion of the relationship between nature, intellect, and community, each represented by one of the three main characters. All of them are drawn authentically and believable with their range of emotions, loyalities, and reactions to complex situations. At the same time, the story is very easily accessible and doesn’t provide analysis headaches like many of Ellison’s more experimental forms of fiction.

Meta: isfdb. This novella appeared April 1969 in New Worlds. I’ve read it in German in his collection Ich muss schreien und habe keinen Mund. It won the 1970 Nebula award and was nominated for the Hugo award.

 

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