A Boy and His Dog  

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A Boy and His Dog is a cycle of narratives by author Harlan Ellison. The cycle tells the story of a boy (Vic) and his telepathic dog (Blood), who work together as a team to survive in the post-apocalyptic world after a nuclear war. The original 1969 novella was adapted into the 1975 film A Boy and His Dog directed by L.Q. Jones. Both the story and the film were well received by critics and science fiction fans, but the movie was not successful commercially. The original novella was followed by short stories and a graphic novel.


A Boy and His Dog


Vic, aged 15, was born in and scavenges throughout the wasteland of the former southwestern United States as a "solo" (as opposed to a member of a "roverpack" gang). Vic is most concerned with food and sex. Having lost both of his parents, he has no formal education and does not understand ethics or morality. He is accompanied by a well-read, misanthropic, telepathic dog named Blood, who helps him locate women, in return for food. Blood cannot forage for himself, due to the same genetic engineering that granted him telepathy. The two steal for a living, evading "roverpacks" (gangs) and mutants. Blood and Vic have an occasionally antagonistic relationship, though they realize that they need each other.

At a movie house, Blood claims to smell a woman, and the pair track her to an abandoned YMCA building. There, they meet Quilla June Holmes, a teenaged girl from "Downunder", a society located in a large underground nuclear vault. Before Vic can rape her, Blood informs the pair that a roverpack has tracked them to the building and they have to fight them off. After killing a number of them, the trio hides in a boiler and set the structure on fire.

Vic finally has sex with Quilla June, and though she protests at first, she begins to come on to him. Blood takes an instant disliking to her, but Vic ignores him. Vic and Quilla June have sex repeatedly but eventually she attacks him and takes off to return to her underground community. Vic, furious at her deception, follows her, despite Blood's warnings. Blood remains at the portal on the surface.

Downunder has an artificial biosphere complete with forests and underground cities. One, named Topeka after the ruins of the city it lies beneath, is fashioned in a surreal mockery of 1950s rural innocence. Vic is captured by the ruling council (the Better Business Bureau). They confess that Quilla June was sent to the surface in order to lure a man to Downunder. The population of Topeka is becoming sterile, and the babies that are born are usually female. They feel that Vic, despite his crudeness and savage behavior, will be able to reinvigorate that male population. Vic is first elated to learn that he is to impregnate the female population, but he quickly grows jaded of his surroundings and plots his escape.

Quilla June is reunited with Vic and they plan to escape together. Vic uses the fact that Quilla June's father secretly desires sex with her as a distraction, incapacitating him so that they can escape.

On the surface, Vic and Quilla June discover that Blood is starving and near death, having been attacked by radioactive insects and other "things". Quilla June tries to get Vic to leave Blood and take off with her. Knowing he will never survive without Blood's guidance and, more importantly, that Blood will not survive without care and food, Vic faces a difficult situation. It is implied that he kills his new love and cooks her flesh to save Blood's life. The novella ends with Vic remembering her question as Blood eats: "Do you know what love is?" and he concludes, "Sure I know. A boy loves his dog."


The novella won the Nebula Award for Best Novella upon its release in 1969 and was also nominated for the 1970 Hugo Award for Best Novella.

Film adaptation

The 1975 science fiction film directed by L.Q. Jones was controversial for alleged misogyny; the script included lines that were not in Ellison's original stories and that authors such as Joanna Russ found to be objectionable. The film's final line is from Blood: "Well, I'd say she certainly had marvelous judgement, Albert, if not particularly good taste." Ellison disavowed this addition as a "moronic, hateful chauvinist last line, which I despise. Ellison did, however, accept that the ending remained popular with fans, saying: "I would have kept the original last line from the original story, which I think is much more human and beguiling than the sort of punchline that L.Q. Jones used. But L.Q. knew what he was doing in terms of the market, I suppose." On the other hand, Harlan also loved the movie (as stated in an interview conversation with L.Q. Jones on the Shout Factory Blu Ray); after Jones screened it to him, he said it was exactly what the story was supposed to be on screen. It was a few days after he brought up his problems, mostly concerning the way Blood talked about the girl during the locker room scene when they first meet.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "A Boy and His Dog" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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