Harlan Ellison Tribute Roundup

Acclaimed speculative fiction writer Harlan Ellison died today at the age of 84. Here is a selection of tributes and reactions posted in social media immediately following the announcement.

Stephen King

Samuel Delany on Facebook

Here’s the guy who started the notable part of my career. At the Tricon, he ran up to me and demand a story: I wrote it at the upcoming Milford–Aye and Gomorrah, which won the following year’s Nebula Award.

Patton Oswalt

Arthur Cover on Facebook

As most of the planet knows, Harlan Ellison passed away in his sleep last night. I am seriously bummed. Little did I know when I bought the first volume of the paperback edition on Dangerous Visions when I was a sophomore at Tech did those two words would have such a profound impact on my life. Harlan was responsible for my first sale, to the mythical Last Dangerous Visions, at a Clarion Workshop.

He became a big brother figure to me, and I stayed at Ellison Wonderland on and off during the many times when I was *ahem* between places in LA. I knew his dog Abu, who used to sneak out of the house to get some Hungarian Goulash from a couple down the street. I knew his maid Yosondua, a wonderful person. And I missed meeting his mother by a couple of weeks. There’s so much to remember about him that I can barely stand it.

I met a whole bunch of interesting people thanks to him. Forget the famous ones like Erica Jong; thanks to him, I met Pam Zoline, author of “The Heat Death of the Universe.” We saw Borges together. Thanks to him, I discovered Mahler and Bruckner. I turned him on to Kalinnikov. We both read comics and he liked to impersonate the Hulk with the voice of Ronald Coleman. (Try it.) He tried to set me up with young women; usually I ignored them, thus driving him stinking bonkers. And that was just the 70s.

Then there’s that Dangerous Visions thing – a whole bunch of autograph parties just for starters. (And let’s not forget the time he streaked A Change of Hobbit.) He was immensely supportive throughout the entire frustrating, rewarding enterprise. True, he had his faults; usually I ignored them too. But the exception of my family and friends from Tazewell, I wouldn’t know any of you today were it not for his generosity and friendship. He was a helluva guy, and I have been proud to be his friend forever.

Barbara Hambly on Facebook

Just got word that my friend Harlan Ellison passed away last night. An amazing man to know. I knew he was very ill – he’d never really recovered from a stroke a couple of years ago. So I feel no surprise. Just very, very sad.

Michael Cassutt on Facebook

A talented writer for sure, a self-made writer for absolutely sure…. I so remember “Repent, Harlequin” and “On the Downhill Side” and THE CITY ON THE EDGE OF FOREVER… and his columns that became THE GLASS TEAT, which sent me here to LA…. and more, the friendship that developed in the past decade or so, where I would pop up to Ellison Wonderland and have coffee with HE in his kitchen…. telling tales of George O. Smith and who else. I am actually bawling right now…..Harlan was my big brother and while his passing now, given his stroke three years back, is not a surprise…. it’ s still a shock.

Jaym Gates on Facebook

Harlan Ellison has died. My sympathies to those who will miss him. His voice was powerful, sometimes for good.

As a woman, I am not sad that there will be one less person who thinks it is funny to grope a woman on stage, and who was often used as a smoke screen for bad behavior by creative men.

Wil Wheaton on Twitter

Rest in Peace, Harlan. You always treated me like I was a person whose voice mattered, and I will cherish that memory for the rest of my life.

David Gerrold on Facebook

Harlan didn’t drink. I rarely drink.

Today I will drink.

Today I will toast a man who was a role model, a mentor, a critic, a friend — and ultimately my big brother.

He knew how much I loved him. I told him more than once.

The one thing he said about me that I cherish the most was shortly after I adopted Sean. He said, introducing me to someone else, “David Gerrold is the most courageous man I know.” Actually, it was Sean who needed the courage, but I understood what he was saying. He was acknowledging that I had finally grown up.

Harlan had a great public persona — but it was the private soul I loved the most. And goddammit, I’m going to miss that man.

Charles de Lint on Facebook

I’m very sad to have to write this but Harlan Ellison has passed away. He was a voice of reason, if somewhat contrary, and one of the best short story writers this field, or really any field, has known. He wore his “angry young man” persona lost after he was a young man but behind that bluster was a kind and generous man who would do anything for a friend. He will be greatly missed.

Cory Doctorow on Boing Boing

Ellison’s voice was infectious and has a tendency to creep into his fans’ writing. When I was 19, I attended a writing workshop at a local convention taught by Ann Crispin, who told me that I would be pretty good writer once I stopped trying to write like Harlan Ellison (I went on to sell that very Ellisonian story to Pulphouse).

Harlan was one of my Clarion instructors in 1992. He taught us remotely, by speakerphone, from his hospital bed in LA where he was recovering from angioplasty. I had attended that year because I couldn’t miss the opportunity to learn from Harlan Ellison, whom I held in highest regard (“hero worship” is not too strong a phrase to use here).

Ellison was not a good teacher (that year, at least). In fact, I think it’s safe to say that his instructional methods, which involved a combination of performative bullying and favorite-playing, were viewed as a disaster by all of my classmates, at least in hindsight.

Confronting the very real foibles of the object of my hero-worship was the beginning of a very important, long-running lesson whose curriculum I’m still working through: the ability to separate artists from art and the ability to understand the sins of people who’ve done wonderful things.

John Scalzi in the Los Angeles Times

…My second Harlan Ellison story was from 2011, the last time he was a finalist for the Nebula Award, given out by SFWA. Traditionally, SFWA contacts the Nebula finalists by phone to see if they’ll accept being on the ballot, and knowing of Harlan’s sometimes irascible phone manners, I was the one to call.

Harlan was not irascible. He wept into the phone. He had been ill, he said, and he wondered if what he was writing now still resonated and still mattered to people. To have his professional peers nominate him for one of the field’s most significant awards, he said, meant everything to him.

In that moment he wasn’t a giant of the field, a figure equally loved and loathed, a man about whom everyone had a story, or an opinion, about. He was simply a writer, happy to be in the company of, and remembered by, other writers.

Jeff VanderMeer on Facebook

He was a monumental personality who was influential in his day and to some extent today. He dove into the style and issues of his times with vigor, which sometimes makes his work feel dated but also resulted in classics that feel timeless. As an anthologist, he pushed boundaries in ways that, like his fiction, risked looking silly or actively terrible to modern audiences, but because of that also published a ton of innovative material and furthered the careers of writers who were quite experimental.

In erratic and sporadic fashion Ellison tended to be immensely helpful to some beginning writers and actively not helpful to others for no particular reason. Sometimes, I think, because he was too caught up in his mythology. Sometimes because he had a chip on his shoulder and was mercurial. I have mixed feelings about him for that reason, not to mention others, but there’s no denying he was a protean creative talent. I did learn to take risks in my writing from him, while also learning who I did not want to be as a teacher.

Richard Pini on Facebook

There are no words. He used them all anyway, and far better than most.

Robert Crais on Facebook

We lost Harlan Ellison today. The dedication to THE FIRST RULE reads as follows: “For my friend, Harlan Ellison, whose work, more than any other, brought me to this place.”. He cannot be replaced. He was a giant. He mattered.

David Brin on Facebook

Harlan was wickedly witty, profanely-provocative, yet generous to a fault. His penchant for skewering all authority would have got him strangled in any other human civilization, yet in this one he lived – honored – to 84… decades longer than he swore he would, much to our benefit with startling, rambunctious stories that will echo for ages.

John Hertz

I can’t remember who first remarked that “H.E.” stood equally for Harlan Ellison and High Explosive.

It also stands for His Excellency. Our H.E. being a whole-souled egalitarian would never have stood for that. But if one can break from the bonds of aristocratic associations – which in principle he was always for – it’s true.

I’m glad, not I hope without humility, that what pushed down the Montaigne piece was your notice of Brother Ellison’s death. Although Montaigne and the nature of zeal were two topics I never discussed with him, he might – and he did this sometimes – have approved.

David Doering

I feel a strong sense of loss with his passing. While he and I shared few opinions in common, I always appreciated his ability to stir up discussion.

To be clear, I did not have much personal interaction with Harlan over the years. The first tho was at a Worldcon in the 80s when he asked a large audience who had read a particular book he appreciated. Turned out that only he and I had done so. We chatted for a minute sharing comments, and, as a first encounter, I found him pleasant despite his reputation.

The other time was when Ray Bradbury suggested I call “his friend Harlan” about serving as a guest to LTUE. I can just imagine what must have gone through Harlan’s mind when he got a call from Utah, and from very Mormon BYU at that, asking about being a guest. (Had it happened, it would certainly have stirred things up here!) He was polite, straightforward, and nothing like his public “persona”. I came away appreciating him much more.

The last time was at a LASFS meeting at the old “Hooverville” building. He looked tired, but came to be with fen and seemed to have a good time. I’ll keep that image in my mind as I remember him.

Deadline.com“Harlan Ellison Dead: Legendary ‘Star Trek’, ‘A Boy And His Dog’ Sci-Fi Writer was 84”

Along with the Star Trek episode, Ellison’s 1964 Outer Limits installment “Demon with a Glass Hand” is widely considered among the best of its series. The bizarre, uncanny episode starred Robert Culp as a man who wakes with no memory but an apparently all-knowing glass hand. For years, rumors persisted that “Demon” inspired Terminator, though Ellison was quoted to have said, “Terminator was not stolen from ‘Demon with a Glass Hand,’ it was a ripoff of my OTHER Outer Limits script, ‘Soldier.’” According to a 1991 Los Angeles Times article, Ellison once again sued and settled.

ComicBook.comSci-Fi Writer Harlan Ellison Dies At 84

…Ellison also crafted a script for the Batman ’66 television series that would’ve introduced Two-Face into the show’s canon, but it was never shot. The story recently was turned into a comic titled Batman ’66: The Lost Episode, which officially brings the character into the series.

Variety Harlan Ellison Dead: Sci-Fi Writer Was 84

…When he dealt with Hollywood, he fearlessly said exactly what he thought again and again — often causing fallout as a result. In the wake of the 1977 release of “Star Wars,” a Warner Bros. executive asked Ellison to adapt Isaac Asimov’s short story collection “I, Robot” for the bigscreen.

Ellison penned a script and met with studio chief Robert Shapiro to discuss it; when the author concluded that the executive was commenting on his work without having read it, Ellison claimed to have said to Shapiro that he had “the intellectual capacity of an artichoke.” Needless to say, Ellison was dropped from the project. Ellison’s work was ultimately published with permission of the studio, but the 2004 Will Smith film “I, Robot” was not based on the material Ellison wrote.

Perhaps Ellison’s most famous story not adapted for the screen was 1965’s “Repent, Harlequin! Said the Ticktockman,” which celebrates civil disobedience against a repressive establishment. “Repent” is one of the most reprinted stories ever.

Shawn Crosby

[Editor’s note: The evil done to Harlan Ellison’s television scripts by cigar-chomping producers has long been part of his legend. In some of the worst cases he refused to have his name appear in the credits, and they aired with his pseudonym Cordwainer Bird shouldering the blame.]

Harlan’s death is accompanied by the passing of Cordwainer Bird, his writing partner of many years, described as “a short, choleric, self-possessed writer of mystery stories and science-fiction for television”, who “has no compunction about punching directors and producers two foot taller than himself right in the mouth.” Bird’s parents were Jason Bird and Rhonda Rassendyll, and he is nephew to The Shadow and a descendent of Leopold Bloom. As a member of the Wold Newton Family himself, Bird’s illustrious heritage has made him something of a fighter for justice in his own right.

Godspeed, gentlemen…

Mark Barsotti

A great voice silenced.

Until you pick up one of his books…

 

Pixel Scroll 11/20 Some people call me the Pixel Cowboy, some call me the Pompatus of Scrolls

(1) Richard Powers has been inducted into the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame reports Irene Gallo on Tor.com.

Science fiction artist Richard Powers is among the Society of Illustrators’ newest Hall of Fame inductees, along with Beatrix Potter, Peter de Seve, Marshall Arisman, Guy Billout, Rolf Armstrong, and William Glackens. Since 1958, the Society of Illustrators has elected to its Hall of Fame artists recognized for their “distinguished achievement in the art of illustration.”

Richard Powers was a hugely influential science fiction illustrator throughout the 1950s and ’60s…

Powers was dedicated to a fine art career alongside of his commercial work—the influences of modern art were clear throughout his illustration. While trends switched towards more literal and rendered illustration in the ’80s to ’90s, Powers is still beloved today. This year’s World Fantasy Convention mounted a special exhibit of nearly 90 Powers paintings and collages.

 

Paperback covers by Richard Powers.

Paperback covers by Richard Powers.

(2) There are many shots of the Richard Powers exhibit in John Davis’ photos from the 2015 World Fantasy Convention.

Andrew Porter, who sent the link, hopes you will also appreciate the five paintings and the other Powers material he contributed to the show.

(3) Gallo’s post “Twelve Tor.com Story Illustrations Make it Into Society of Illustrators Awards” features all 12 images.

We talk a lot of about writers and stories on Tor.com but we always strive to give equal attention to our visual presentation. We are indebted to the artists who work tirelessly to make us, and our stories, look good and connect to readers. With that in mind, I’m sure you can appreciate how delighted and honored I am that 12 illustrations for Tor.com Publishing have been selected for this year’s Society of Illustrators annual exhibition.

(4) Simon Spanton, associate publisher at Gollancz, left Orion on November 20. Orion said Spanton was leaving the publisher after 19 years “by mutual agreement.”

Spanton joined Orion in 1996, having started out as a bookseller in 1986 and after a spell at Macmillan UK.

He first worked on Orion’s Millennium imprint in a wide role encompassing fiction, sports books, military history and children’s fiction before it was bought by Cassell in 1999, after which he became co-editorial director for Gollancz with Jo Fletcher. Spanton was promoted to the position of associate publisher at the sci-fi and fantasy imprint in May 2013, tasked with responsibility for “innovative acquisitions and Gollancz’s social media and community engagement, as well as continuing to publish his award-winning list to its full potential”.

(5) N. K. Jemisin’s newest fan is a reader who had given up on fantasy – but is back now.

There does seem to be a theme running through a lot of the fanmail I get, along these lines: people who’d stopped reading fantasy for whatever reason have been reading my work and then feeling pulled back into the genre. And that’s awesome. I love that my audience contains so many “non-traditional” fantasy fans. But this is the kind of thing that shouldn’t be happening just because of my fiction. There’s plenty of fantasy out there with “no wizards or orcs or rangers or elves”… and while I think there isn’t nearly enough fantasy out there starring middle-aged mothers of color (or biracial polyamorous proto-goddesses, or blind black women, or Asian male ex-gods with daddy issues, or gay black male assassins, or shy black female healers, or…), there’s some other stories like that out there, too. So what’s happening here, that so many ex-fantasy readers — readers who really just need one non-formulaic book to bring them back into the fold — aren’t aware that there’s stuff here they might enjoy?

(6) Pam Uphoff rides to the rescue of NaNoWriMo participants who are out of gas, in her post at Mad Genius Club.

Welcome to the last third of NaNoWriMo, where we all despair! Let me throw out some ideas that might help you get going again.

Finished? Ha! Go back a make a searchable mark (I use ///) everyplace where you told us about something instead of showing us, instead of pulling us into the situation.

Then go back to the start and search those out. Rewrite them. Use lots of dialog. Don’t be stiff and terse. Have some fun. Have your hero call something pink. Have your heroine disagree. “Don’t be silly! It’s obviously a soft dusty salmon.” “It’s a fish?” Or flip the genders on it. He’s an artist, he sees these colors. Make the reader laugh. Or cry. Or get mad.

Then go to the next mark and rewrite that bit. Do them all.

(7) A local Spokane man was in court November 16, charged with attacking his neighbor with a Klingon bat’leth, a bladed weapon, reports  TV station KREM.

Carlo Morris Cerutti was in court Monday, accused of attacking his neighbor for putting trash in his trash can on Saturday. Court documents Cerutti, 50, is charged with Assault after swinging a Klingon sword at his neighbor.

Documents said Cerutti’s wife, Joyce, had accused their neighbor of putting trash in their trash can. The neighbor told police he had gotten into argument with the wife about the trash.

“Our next door neighbor was evicted and he was throwing his stuff in our garbage can so I took it put it in a bag, took it to him and said Jr. will you please not put your stuff in our garbage can,” said Joyce.

Joyce said the incident only escalated from there.

“I turned around and he chucked the bag at me and hit me in the back and then he started throwing garbage all over my yard,” said Joyce.

The neighbor said after the argument, Cerutti came rushing out of his house with a weapon that had multiple blades and started swinging. Court documents said the neighbor put his hands up and blocked the blade from striking him. The neighbor said he was able to pull the weapon away from Cerrutti and in the process, he fell backwards off the porch. The neighbor then called 911. Documents said when police arrived on scene Cerrutti was taken into custody for Assault and was later booked into the Spokane County Jail.

Joyce said that her husband never attacked the neighbor with a sword.  She said her husband did grab the Klingon sword off the wall and said he did swing it at the neighbor. She said he only did this after he barged into their home.

(8) Neal Stephenson will be at George R. R. Martin’s Jean Cocteau Theatre in Santa Fe to discuss Seveneves next Friday at 3:30 p.m.

Neal Stephenson

Neal Stephenson

(9) While I don’t think Brian Clegg’s “A Strange Relationship” for the SFWA Blog is heretical, surely somebody will.

Although definitions of science fiction are tricky, it surely specializes in “What if?” – placing humans (or aliens) in an imagined scenario that has an element of science or technology in its set-up and seeing how they react. This is why Jules Verne got it so wrong about H. G. Wells when comparing their fictional voyages to the Moon. Verne remarked “It occurs to me that his stories do not repose on a very scientific basis… I make use of physics.” Yet in reality, Wells did the better job. He took an admittedly fictional means of travel, but then followed it through logically in its impact on humans. Verne took an existing technology – the cannon – and used it in a totally illogical fashion, firing his astronauts into space with a g force that would have left them as soup.

It is far more important in science fiction for the follow-through of the “what if” to be realistic and logical than it is for the setup to make a clear prediction of scientific possibility.

(10) Cheezburger is letting people vote on whether “H.P. Lovecraft Looks Totally Like Woodrow Wilson”.

And you wonder why I don’t link more often to Cheezburger…

(11) Michael G. Gross, who designed the Ghostbusters logo and a famous/infamous magazine cover died November 16 at the age of 70.

Gross is perhaps best remembered at National Lampoon for the 1973 “Death” issue, whose cover featured the words “If You Don’t Buy This Magazine, We’ll Kill This Dog” emblazoned over an image of a dog with a gun to its head. “This very talented comedian named Ed Bluestone came to the office in 1972 with the line,” Beard told Splitsider in 2012. “The next day Michael found a dog who would turn its eyes away from a pistol with a little prodding. I saw this picture and simply couldn’t believe it. And it was like with a wave of his left hand. Magic.”

(12) Mike Hale finds many good things to say about Netflix’ new Jessica Jones in his review at the New York Times.

Jessica Jones,” the second of Netflix’s original series based on Marvel comic books (after “Daredevil”), is reluctantly superheroic. Created by Melissa Rosenberg, the screenwriter of five “Twilight” movies as well as a writer on TV shows including “Dexter,” and starring the acerbic Krysten Ritter of “Don’t Trust the B____ in Apartment 23,” it’s a clever 21st-century take on film noir, featuring a heroine who hides her superstrength because it’s at the root of her extreme emotional vulnerability and fear. There’s a tricky balancing act going on — crossing a moody detective show with both a comic action thriller and a woman-in-peril psychological drama — but Ms. Rosenberg proves to be mostly up to the task.

(13) M.I.T. researchers’ haste to open a time capsule addressed to the year 2957, found during construction, led the media to kid them about their deficient counting skills.

(14) Hunger Games‘ heroine Katniss Everdeen (played by comedian Whitney Avalon) and Harry Potter‘s Hermione Granger (played by actress Molly C. Quinn) are facing off in an epic edition of Princess Rap Battles.

[Thanks to Brian Z., John King Tarpinian, Steven H Silver, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day JJ .]

Elfquest Archive Goes To Columbia

Richard and Wendy Pini have donated the archive of Elfquest, the popular comic book they created 1978, to Columbia University Libraries/Information Services’ Rare Book and Manuscript Library.  

Columbia is getting every piece of original art from ElfQuest, including original art boards and pages from the comic book series, which was largely self-published by the Pinis. 

Richard Pini explains why they did not follow the trend of many other artists and sell their original pages —

At first, the decision to hang on to every page of Wendy’s Elfquest art was mostly a commercial one; we never knew when we might need the original boards for reprinting.  There was also an emotional component. I remembered the long hours Wendy put in, the editorial debates we had, the shared joy of seeing exactly the right expression on a character’s face. Now that we have high-quality digital scans of it all, we’re honored to donate the entire archive to Columbia.

The Pinis’ archives also include original art from an unrealized animated adaptation of Michael Moorcock’s fantasy novel Stormbringer and from a graphic novel adaptation of The Masque of the Red Death; drafts of scripts and novelizations; copies of each edition of the ElfQuest graphic novels; fanzines created by both the Pinis and their fans; correspondence, contracts, and legal records; and the design for Wendy Pini’s Red Sonja cosplay costume.

[Thanks to Michael J. Walsh for the story.]