Eyewitnesses to Ellison’s Recovery

Many friends of Harlan Ellison visited him in the hospital on October 13 and say he’s faring well after his recent stroke.

Harlan Ellison and Josh Olson at Cinefamily in 2011.

Harlan Ellison and Josh Olson at Cinefamily in 2011.

Josh Olson told The Harlan Ellison Facebook Fanclub:

I just got back from the hospital. Harlan was in fine form, and being visited by Mark Evanier, Alan Brennert, David Gerrold and Kim and Kanye. A damn fine group of folks.

I mentioned that all over the interwebs, people were wishing him well, and offering to send him prayers and good wishes, and he suggested that instead of that, they all go to http://www.harlanellisonbooks.com and buy some of his fucking books.

Patton Oswalt’s ears were still echoing Ellison’s farewell:

“I gotta go do some physical therapy on my stupid fucking arm.” — actual quote from when I spoke to Harlan Ellison earlier. He’ll be fine.

Harlan Ellison and Patton Oswalt in 2013. Photo by John King Tarpinian.

Harlan Ellison and Patton Oswalt in 2013. Photo by John King Tarpinian.

Mark Evanier tweeted:

Visited Harlan Ellison at the hospital after his minor stroke. More energy and wit than most folks who haven’t had a stroke.

And Evanier blogged Alan Brennert’s Facebook account of their visit:

So today my pal Mark Evanier and I went to see my old friend and colleague Harlan Ellison, who is recovering from a stroke he suffered last week. This was without a doubt the cheeriest, often laugh-out-loud funniest, hospital visit I’ve ever paid. Harlan’s right arm and leg may be paralyzed, but his mind and wit definitely are not. He kept answering the phone, “Hello, Just This Side of Death, how can I help you?” and continued in his futile attempts to explain who Vera Hruba Ralston was to the very efficient, very nice, very young doctors and nurses caring for him.

Mark and I showed up as Harlan was finishing his physical therapy, and we were soon joined by David Gerrold and Josh Olson and his wife Nancy Himmel. There was much more comedy, but we’ll be releasing the entire session on CD and iTunes as Harlan: Live From the Stroke Ward on the Edgeworks label. No, I made that up, but we could have. It was great to see Harlan in such fine form after what could have been such a debilitating injury.

Dennis C. saw Ellison the previous day, October 12, and left these encouraging observations at Ellison’s forum:

His mind is as sharp as ever, his speech is fine, his energy is volcanic as always. He’s going to have physical therapy for those limbs not currently in total control. But Harlan has a will of titanium so I do not doubt that he will win this battle.

I just want everyone to know that he’s our Harlan. No change. Mind moving at FTL speed. He out-talked us for an hour and entertained us with stories, even though we were the ones supposed to be entertaining him. It was a good visit.

The mainstream media also has started to cover this story – at least its more sf savvy members, like Douglas Perry of The Oregonian who ran Dennis C.’s quote and followed up with a personal insight.

This is exactly what anyone who knows Ellison would expect from him. He’s one of the last of a unique American breed: the larger-than-life writer — from Ernest Hemingway to Norman Mailer — who believed it was part of his job to live a big, civically engaged, adventure-filled life. How else could he write big, civically engaged, adventure-filled stories?

Bradbury Farewell Roundup

Makeshift memorial for Ray Bradbury at Mystery & Imagination Bookshop in Glendale, CA. Photo by John King Tarpinian.

Tributes to the late Ray Bradbury are being posted everywhere today.

Mark Evanier
News From Me
Ray Bradbury, R.I.P.

Before we left, he quietly took me aside and invited me to come back without my friends. They were nice kids and all but they didn’t have my commitment to writing so he had “a couple of things” he wanted to say to me and me alone.

Me and me alone went back a week later and he must have spent three hours slathering me with advice. Absolutely none of it was about story content. He didn’t talk about plot or character motivation or plot structure. He talked about being a writer…about living like one, working like one, thinking like one. A lot of it was very pragmatic, about how to not fantasize the profession into something it was not. It was not, for example, a profession where visions pop into your genius brain and you just type them up, send them in and get hailed as brilliant. He had worked damn hard to become Ray Bradbury and every day, he worked damn harder to stay Ray Bradbury.

He did not make me want to become a writer. I was already there. What he did, I suppose, was make me think as follows: Ray Bradbury gave me all that time and encouragement. I can’t waste that.

Io9
R.I.P. Ray Bradbury, Author of Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles:

His grandson, Danny Karapetian, shared these words with io9 about his grandfather’s passing: “If I had to make any statement, it would be how much I love and miss him, and I look forward to hearing everyone’s memories about him. He influenced so many artists, writers, teachers, scientists, and it’s always really touching and comforting to hear their stories. Your stories. His legacy lives on in his monumental body of books, film, television and theater, but more importantly, in the minds and hearts of anyone who read him, because to read him was to know him. He was the biggest kid I know.”

Lynell George
Los Angeles Times
Sci-fi pioneer Ray Bradbury dies at 91

Bradbury’s poetically drawn and atmospheric fictions—horror, fantasy, shadowy American gothics—explored life’s secret corners: what was hidden in the margins of the official family narrative, or the white noise whirring uncomfortably just below the placid surface. He offered a set of metaphors and life puzzles to ponder for the rocket age and beyond, and has influenced a wide swath of popular culture–from children’s writer R.L. Stine and singer Elton John (who penned his hit “Rocket Man” as an homage), to architect Jon Jerde who enlisted Bradbury to consider and offer suggestions about reimagining public spaces.

She also extensively quoted Gregory Benford’s thoughts about Bradbury’s appeal:

“Nostalgia is eternal. And Americans are often displaced from their origins and carry an anxious memory of it, of losing their origins. Bradbury reminds us of what we were and of what we could be,” Benford said.

“Like most creative people, he was still a child, His stories tell us: Hold on to your childhood. You don’t get another one. I don’t think he ever put that away.”

Gerald Jonas
New York Times
‘Idea Writer’ and Lyrical Master of Science Fiction

An unathletic child who suffered from bad dreams, he relished the tales of the Brothers Grimm and the Oz stories of L. Frank Baum, which his mother read to him. An aunt, Neva Bradbury, took him to his first stage plays, dressed him in monster costumes for Halloween and introduced him to Poe’s stories. He discovered the science-fiction pulps and began collecting the comic-strip adventures of Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon. A conversation with a carnival magician named Mr. Electrico that touched on immortality gave the 12-year-old Bradbury the impetus to become a writer.

In 1934 the family moved to Los Angeles, where Mr. Bradbury became a movie buff, sneaking into theaters as often as nine times a week. Encouraged by a high school English teacher and the professional writers he met at the Los Angeles chapter of the Science Fiction League, he began a lifelong routine of turning out at least a thousand words a day on his typewriter.

Locus Online
Ray Bradbury (1920-2012)

Ray Douglas Bradbury was born August 22, 1920 in Waukegan, Illinois.  He moved with his family to Los Angeles in 1934, at age 13, and in 1937 discovered the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society. Through that organization he met Forrest J Ackerman, Hannes Bok, Edmond Hamilton, Ray Harryhausen, Robert A. Heinlein, Henry Kuttner, and many other friends who would go on to become SF luminaries.

Gene Seymour
CNN
Bradbury was a writer of perils, possibilities and wonder

Bradbury’s more intelligent and incisive readers found greater resonance in his writing than his deceptively simple approach evoked on the surface.

One such fan was the Argentine fabulist and poet Jorge Luis-Borges, who in his introduction to his Spanish-language translation of “The Martian Chronicles, asked: “What has this man from Illinois done, I ask myself when I close the pages of his book, that episodes from the conquest of another planet fill me with horror and loneliness?”

Alan Duke
CNN
Sci-fi legend Ray Bradbury dies

“For many Americans, the news of Ray Bradbury’s death immediately brought to mind images from his work, imprinted in our minds, often from a young age,” President Obama said. “His gift for storytelling reshaped our culture and expanded our world. But Ray also understood that our imaginations could be used as a tool for better understanding, a vehicle for change, and an expression of our most cherished values. There is no doubt that Ray will continue to inspire many more generations with his writing, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.”

“He was my muse for the better part of my sci-fi career,” director Steven Spielberg said. “He lives on through his legion of fans. In the world of science fiction and fantasy and imagination he is immortal.”

“Ray Bradbury wrote three great novels and 300 great stories,” author Stephen King said. “One of the latter was called ‘A Sound of Thunder.’ The sound I hear today is the thunder of a giant’s footsteps fading away. But the novels and stories remain, in all their resonance and strange beauty.”

Jerry Pournelle
Chaos Manor
R.I.P. Ray Bradbury

Ray affected writing more than he intended to: he made short stories look much easier than they are. A lot of new writers fell for that. In the early days Ray was a fantasy writer in a science fiction world – it’s hard to remember that science fiction used to sell much better than fantasy – but he could do science fiction as well, witness Fahrenheit 451. At one time the whole genre was dominated by “ABC”, Asimov, Bradbury, and Clarke, although usually someone would quickly add Robert Heinlein. Now the Big Four are gone. They will all be missed.

It’s A Most Wonderful Time of the Year

You know the holidays are here because decorations are going up, traditional music is playing, fans are sending each other carefully nonsectarian greeting cards with pictures of snowflakes or animals that live in the Arctic circle – and friends online are reminding each other to read their favorite humorous and heartwarming blog posts.   

The entire internet tilted to one side yesterday morning as people rushed over to Whatever and read the repost of John Scalzi’s ever-popular “The 10 Least Successful Christmas Holiday Specials of All Time”. It was the first time I’d seen it and is it ever funny.

If you remember what the Mercury Theater did for Halloween you may be surprised to hear what Orson Welles did before the next big holiday:

Listeners of radio’s Columbia Broadcasting System who tuned in to hear a Christmas Eve rendition of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol were shocked when they heard what appeared to be a newscast from the north pole, reporting that Santa’s Workshop had been overrun in a blitzkrieg by Finnish proxies of the Nazi German government.

Today, Facebook users are being prompted to read Mark Evanier’s great anecote about Mel Torme, whose memory is evergreen because he co-wrote and recorded the classic carol which begins “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…” There’s a whole encounter which ends:

Then the gent I’d briefed said, “You know, you’re not a bad singer.”  He actually said that to Mel Tormé.

Mel chuckled.  He realized that these four young folks hadn’t the velvet-foggiest notion who he was…

Help Rebuild Len Wein’s Comic Collection

Rebuild Len Wein's Comic Collection

When Len Wein and Christine Valada’s home burned on April 6, as Craig Miller explained, “The master bedroom and bath were burned out. The walls still stand but everything inside, including the ceiling, is gone. Nearby rooms had extreme heat and smoke damage and smoke damage runs throughout. DVDs, artwork, awards, etc. are gone forever.”

Wein’s friend Mark Evanier realized that even though insurance should provide the money to restore the house, many things, including Wein’s comics, were not covered.  Evanier thought it was a particular shame that Wein had lost the collection of comics he himself had worked on – and Evanier knew that, at least, could be fixed:

Some of us thought it would be grand if his friends and fans pitched in to help him recreate those shelves of the comic books he’s worked on.

So the crusade as been launched. At the “Let’s Rebuild Len Wein’s Comic Book Collection Project” site there is a frequently-updated PDF list of what they want, with lineouts of what’s been received. It looks as if half of the needed titles have already been secured, but dozens more are still being sought.

[Thanks to David Klaus for the link.]