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text 2018-06-30 14:16
Harlan Ellison 1934 -2018

One of my all time favorite authors died this past week. Harlan Ellison was 84 years old he has written thousands of short stories, written numerous screenplays and use to have a regular segment on the show Sci Fi Buzz on the Sci Fi Channel back in the early nineties. 


This is where I discovered Harlan, I loved his commentaries and how he had no fear in criticizing anyone who annoyed him. From there I started buying some of his short story collections such as Deathbird Stories, The Harlan Ellison Hornbook, Ellison Wonderland and The Essential Harlan Ellison. The Essential Harlan Ellison is over 1ooo pages long and is the book I spent the most time reading without stopping. On one Saturday afternoon in College I got through 200 pages of the book in one sitting. When you read something from a great author you don't like to take breaks and Ellison was great.


As good as his writing was it was more fun hearing him rant about things. If you look on you tube you can still find his segments from the Sci Fi Channel along with several interviews he did with Tom Snyder on his old talk shows. Harlan was one of a kind and if you never heard him speak you are missing out.


I was lucky enough to meet Harlan Ellison twice at comic conventions in the early 1990's and despite his reputation he was very nice. When I first walked up to him he was talking about how he didn't like The Shadow from 1994. As he was talking I said I thought it was better than the Tim Burton Batman movies. He responded by saying he enjoyed the Tim Burton movies, he just felt The Shadow wasn't close enough to the original work. Harlan didn't only have a passion for writing he was passionate about reading, authors and comics. That day Harlan spoke in front of a huge crowd of enthusiastic fans and sold quite a few books.


The next year I saw him at a Chicago comic convention, this time he was there to promote his work on the great Science Fiction series Babylon 5. Harlan had just had triple bypass heart surgery and wasn't as spry as he was at the previous convention but he still took time to speak to fans and sign books. As we waited for him to speak in one convention hall I noticed the first thing he did was check to see what books everyone in the hall was reading, the man was passionate about books. 


Once again I had the honor to talk to him, I knew he had written The City On The Edge Of Forever for Star Trek and helped keep Star Trek on the air in the 1960s. I also knew that he wasn't happy with the final product of The City On The Edge of Forever and grew to hate Star Trek. Being a fan of Star Trek at the time I asked him if he ever watched Star Trek. He said he only watched his episode and it broke his heart and he never watched again. Harlan took his work seriously and didn't take kindly to people trying to change his vision.


Another story I have of Harlan was when a friend and I were waiting in line to get books signed by him. After being in line for awhile Harlan said he wasn't feeling well and would return later. He then said that he would let any young kid cut in line and sign for them first. To this my friend wined, Harlan heard it and  yelled "Don't wine I'm always going to sign for kids before adults." When we were watching him speak later he told the story of the wining adult causing my friend to shrink down in his seat as the crowed laughed.


What was most important for Harlan Ellison was that he wanted to remembered for his work. In one of his Sci Fi segments after his heart attack he said "Whatever you do don't forget me." Harlan never had kids, his books were like his kids. So do yourself a favor look Harlan Ellison up on you tube and listen to some of his rants. Watch Babylon 5, Watch City On The Edge Of Forever his Outer Limits episodes and the movie version of A Boy And His Dog. Most importantly read his books.





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text 2018-06-29 06:50
Harlan Ellison, R.I.P.
The Essential Ellison: A 50 Year Retrospective - Harlan Ellison,Terry Dowling

When I was growing up, there was nothing I enjoyed reading more than science fiction. I read dozens of books by a variety of authors, yet short story collections predominated. I don't know why they did, but in retrospect they were a far more prevalent part of my reading diet than the novels in the genre.


And of all the short stories I read, none of them made a more enduring impression than those of Harlan Ellison. While he was popularly associated with the "New Wave" SF of the 1960s (not the least because of his seminal 1967 anthology Dangerous Visions), I always associated him in my mind more with the "golden age," at least in part because of the Middle America nostalgia woven through so many of his stories. That was just one element of them, however, which typically mixed sci-fi, fantasy, horror, and social commentary into stories that were never less than forceful in their prose, packing more of a punch in a few pages than most authors could achieve in entire novels.


Nothing illustrated this better for me than the memories of reading his works that flooded back for me as I read news of his death yesterday at the age of 84. The obituaries reflect the outsized impact he made on American culture, not just through his short stories but his novels, essays, and scripts as well. In addition to his books he wrote for several television shows, including two of the all-time best episodes of the original Outer Limits series (which he later alleged was the basis of the original Terminator, a claim that led to him receiving acknowledgment in the credits), and the best Star Trek episode from the original series, "City on the Edge of Forever." The latter was famously rewritten by Gene Roddenberry much to Ellison's displeasure, though to be fair Roddenberry was far from the only one to incur it. Ellison was famously cantankerous, often suing to ensure due credit and using the pseudonym "Cordwainer Bird" when he didn't want it. Between this and his five marriages he seems to have been a difficult person in life, but he will be more likely to be judged by his words rather than his personality. By that measure he deserves to be regarded as one of the seminal writers of postwar America, one whose writings deserve every bit the acclaim given to authors such as Vonnegut and Bradbury. We are unlikely ever to see his like again.

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text 2018-06-22 13:30
A Lit Fuse: The Provocative Life of Harlan Ellison - Nat Segaloff

"Robin Williams comes and plays Transformers with me in my living room!"


This may be the most amazing sentence I've ever read.   Imagine Harlan Ellison and Robin Williams playing Transformers.   That's just great.

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text 2018-06-21 16:53
WASP versus Jews?
A Lit Fuse: The Provocative Life of Harlan Ellison - Nat Segaloff

"At another, the network insisted that a WASP lawyer be added to the cast to counteract all the Jews."


This is just gross - and something Ellison would have fought against, I think.

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text 2018-06-21 16:46
Why people think Ellison is cranky?
A Lit Fuse: The Provocative Life of Harlan Ellison - Nat Segaloff

"...said of the six-year-old contestants on theWorld’s “Our Little Miss” Variety Pageant, “Mother of god, they all look like hookers!”"


Yeah, that is Ellison.

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