Harlan Ellison’s “Strange Wine”

“Strange Wine” is a very short story, but it’s a great example of Ellison’s measured style. Originally published in 1976 in Amazing Stories, it’s about a guy with a really shitty life who believes that he’s an alien trapped in a human body. Also, he believes his being on Earth has to do with something he did in his alien past that resulted in his embodied imprisonment. The story features a relativist narrative with a twist at the end tied in a bow. It reflects the mid-1970s American experience on several levels involving incidental characters and intentionally mentioned comments by the narrator. It’s a quick read, and would probably be suitable as a subversive bedtime story. You can find the story in The Essential Ellison and The Norton Book of Science Fiction.

Published by Jason W. Ellis

I am an Associate Professor of English at the New York City College of Technology, CUNY whose teaching includes composition and technical communication, and research focuses on science fiction, neuroscience, and digital technology. Also, I coordinate the City Tech Science Fiction Collection, which holds more than 600 linear feet of magazines, anthologies, novels, and research publications.