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Harlan Ellison

Winner of more awards in the assorted genres of imaginative literature than any other living author, Harlan Ellison has written 75 books, including a 50-year retrospective, The Essential Ellison (Morpheus International, $24.95). Here he selects six great “lost” modern novels of fantasy.

The Mountain Made of Light by Edward Myers (Roc/New American Library, $4.99). Emotionally bludgeoned by World War I, Jesse O’Keefe comes to the Peruvian Andes seeking the most dizzyingly dangerous peaks for his destiny, the reclamation of his humanity, and a people known as the Rixtirra. How good is this 1992 saga? I had it with me when I had my quadruple bypass operation.

The Far Arena by Richard Ben Sapir (Seaview, out of print). Oil riggers drilling in Arctic ice nick the thigh of Roman gladiator Lucius Aurelius Eugenianus. Nature and circumstance have cryonically preserved Eugeni, and now an international team has brought him back to life. This utterly mesmerizing novel is a small masterpiece of commentary on the human condition and on the proposition that history is not social movements, but individuals.

Song of Kali by Dan Simmons (Tor, $13.95). A few years back, 100 outstanding writers of fantasy were asked to do a brief essay on “their favorite horror or fantasy novel.” Sixteen of them wound up in a fistfight over who would get to laud this one. If you can read the 20-line preface to this paralyzingly frightening novel and not plunge ahead, foolish mortal, I will give you $8.2 million. Creepy!

Fade by Robert Cormier (Dell, $4.50). Thirteen-year-old Paul Moreaux is intrigued by the enigma contained in an old photograph of his family. “The mystery? In the space that was supposed to have been occupied by my Uncle Adelard, at the end of the top row, next to my father, there is simply a blank space. Nothing. My Uncle Adelard had disappeared at the moment the camera clicked and the shutter opened.” Unforgettable, powerful, and compassionate.

If I Never Get Back by Darryl Brock (Crown, out of print). A present-day Amtrak train makes an unscheduled stop west of Cleveland, and Sam Fowler steps off to stretch his feet… into the year 1869. Mark Twain, Boss Tweed, intrigue, romance, and Sam becomes a member of the original Cincinnati Red Stockings. This one will make your shoelaces unwind.

Our Lady of Darkness by Fritz Leiber (Putnam, out of print). No ghoulies, no dopey vampires, no reeking violence. This one deals—are you ready?—with megapolisomancy, the occult science of cities, black magicians, urban design, and “paramental entities.” It will creep you out genuinely, absent all the horse doody of blairwitchcrap. Leiber rules!

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