[Click the cover below to check it out! If you don’t see a book cover below it’s probably ad-blocker settings]
[This is one of the better ways to read the Vic and Blood stories, if you click on the link above it’ll show you some of the others too]
“The cycle begins with “Eggsucker,” which chronicles the early years of the association between fourteen‑year‑old loner Vic and his brilliant, telepathic dog in a post-apocalyptic world. The saga continues and expands in “A Boy and His Dog,” in which Blood shows just how much smarter he is than Vic, and Vic shows how loyal he can be. The story continues in “Run, Spot, Run,” the first part of Ellison’s promised novel of the cycle, Blood’s a Rover. Here Vic and Blood find surprising new ways to get into trouble—but getting out of it may be beyond even their combined talents. “
For two years in a row this gift was on the wishlists of two different people, and it made me realize that while I had definitely read at least the main story of Vic and Blood in the past, I hadn’t read any of the additions that had been written later by Harlan [and in this version].
That plus the combination of Harlan’s recent-ish death, made me decide I wanted to re-read the original as well as the new parts.
Despite that Ellison is a very talented writer, and has never been one to censor himself or pull any punches… I remembered why I think I purposely forgot I had read the original.
It’s the post-apocalypse. There have been four World Wars at this point, and it’s left the planet pretty fucked. There are spiders big enough to eat people, telepathic dogs, and a separation between above and below ground people. But also, women are a dying species due to war brutalities, current and post. Women that are found outside the underground safety bunkers are essentially raped to death or captured and sold off to be used as sex slaves until they die.
The main human character, Vic, repeatedly makes his telepathic dog partner Blood, smell out women so he can rape them.
This is a pretty big aspect of the story, in addition to the bond between man and dog.
The view of women in these kinds of settings, unfortunately can be deemed ‘realistic’ since we already see situations like this in past and current day wars [and even outside of wars depending on the country], but it doesn’t make it any less awful and nauseating. Especially how the main character’s actions against women are directly in line with this, and on one main female character in particular.
It does sort of make me conflicted though, because a lot of the theme of the stories are ‘what would you do to save your pets/human kind’s best friends?’ and I know I’d sure as Hell do anything it took to save my cats.
All of this being said, Ellison was also well known for his misogyny both in person as well as his portrayal of women in his stories. There’s a whole intro of this book of him arguing against ‘Politically Correct’ people for pointing out the misogyny of his stories as a whole, but this one in particular. [And even more so the movie rendition which I guess is made to be especially misogynist and rapey, even moreso than the book itself]
So. Are the Vic and Blood stories good? Yes. Is the writing good? Yes. Is it also really awful content? Yes. At the least it is very short.
Lots of content warnings there, and a ‘if you’re going to read this and have any sorts of sensitivity towards rape and/or violence against women… steel your nerves.’ [There’s also mentions of rape of under-age boys, too.]
I give Vic and Blood Stories 3/5 Frilly Pink Dress-Wearing Ghosts
“I was seeing and feeling and maybe dying of fright of nothing but phantoms of from Vic’s mind swamp.”