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Harlan Ellison

Posted: June 29th, 2018, 12:34 am
by Bill Mullins
The news spread today that Harlan Ellison has passed away. Normally, I wouldn't make note of such here unless I could note a magic connection. But he was such an important writer that I'll do it anyway.

He's known for writing what many consider to be the best Star Trek episode, "City on the Edge of Forever" (the one where Kirk kills Alexis Carrington on the streets of Mayberry). But he also wrote what is my favorite Twilight Zone episode, from the 1985 revival: "Paladin of the Lost Hour", with Danny Kaye.

He started writing Science Fiction at the tail end of the pulp era, and may have been the last living writer from the classic EC Comics. He joined a gang for a while, and used the experience to write a novel about juvenile delinquents. He moved to Hollywood and wrote for TV, but chafed at the collaborative process. There's a great story about him a script conference, and during the meeting, he takes out a pistol and disassembles and cleans it, but never says a word about what he's doing, just to keep the producer off balance. He wrote two excellent volumes of TV criticism (The Glass Teat and The Other Glass Teat).

But what he was best at was short speculative fiction. He won 4 Hugos for Best Short Story (no one else has more than 3). He also has won Edgar Awards (from the Mystery Writers of America, co-founded by Clayton Rawson), Nebulas, World Fantasy Awards, and Writers Guild awards. He wrote more than 1700 stories. Not all of them noteworthy, but more than a few were amazing.

I've been reading his stories for more than 40 years. It's sad to know there won't be any more.

Re: Harlan Ellison

Posted: June 29th, 2018, 6:26 am
by Daniel Z
and that memorable ep of Twilight Zone was directed by none other than the great Alan Smithee.

Re: Harlan Ellison

Posted: June 29th, 2018, 8:00 am
by Bob Farmer
I was a big fan of his writing and editing, especially the Dangerous Visions books.

Re: Harlan Ellison

Posted: June 29th, 2018, 8:01 am
by Bob Farmer
Alan Smithee has received credit for many movies and TV shows. A true auteur, his life's work could bear no other name being that his stuff is so bad. It's amazing he continued to get work.

Re: Harlan Ellison

Posted: June 29th, 2018, 12:03 pm
by Tom Frame
What a shame. I've been a big fan of his work since the 70's.

I used to own an album of his on which he read "Shatterday" and "Repent Harlequin Said the Tick-Tock Man." Unfortunately, it mysteriously vanished.

He also wrote the cool, wacky "A Boy and His Dog." It was turned into a film starring the nearly pubescent Don Johnson. The gruff, scruffy dog had the best lines and was the highlight of the film.

Re: Harlan Ellison

Posted: June 29th, 2018, 2:39 pm
by erdnasephile
In addition to the Harlan Ellison works mentioned, I always liked this one too:

Re: Harlan Ellison

Posted: June 29th, 2018, 10:16 pm
by Bill Duncan
Ok, this is my new favorite quote.

Is he dead?

Yes. His is dead.
Do you have... the moist... cloth?

Re: Harlan Ellison

Posted: July 3rd, 2018, 7:41 pm
by erdnasephile
While reading Bill's link to Mark Evanier's tribute to Brian Gillis, I spotted the following Harlan Ellison story: ... son-story/

(If you have not read the Detective Comics issue referenced in the anecdote, I'd recommend hunting it down--it's great!)

Re: Harlan Ellison

Posted: July 4th, 2018, 8:13 am
by Richard Stokes
I remember a short story 'Croatoan' where an aborted human foetus is flushed down a toilet in New York (?) or somewhere similar. This primeval organism somehow survives in the underground sewers and gradually grows into a deadly monster with a thirst for human blood.
A macabre re-working of the 'baby alligator' urban legend.

Re: Harlan Ellison

Posted: July 4th, 2018, 8:25 pm
by Doomo
Sorry but your Croatoan description is way wrong! It was NOT a horror story. There were aborted fetuses and they rode sewer gators. But other than that I won't give more details! Read the story again. Strange Wine collection.