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Old 06-28-2018, 09:50 PM   #1
crich70
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Harlan ellison dead at 84

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Speculative-fiction writer Harlan Ellison, who penned short stories, novellas and criticism, contributed to TV series including “The Outer Limits,” “Star Trek” and “Babylon 5” and won a notable copyright infringement suit against ABC and Paramount and a settlement in a similar suit over “The Terminator,” has died. He was 84.

Christine Valada tweeted that Ellison’s wife, Susan, had asked her to announce that he died in his sleep Thursday.
A shame. I have read some of his stuff, and his work formed the basis of "The Starlost" t.v. series.
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Old 06-28-2018, 10:49 PM   #2
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I have one of those "first impressions can be hard to change" experiences with Ellison. When I was in college, part of my studies included writing for the school paper. I was given the opportunity to attend a science fiction weekend (probably an early version of a "con") and write a review of the speakers.

Ellison came in looking disheveled and bored. His first comment to all the eager folks who'd come to hear him speak was along the lines of "you fat losers really need to get out of your mother's basements and get lives".

I honestly couldn't tell you what else he talked about, if anything. I was so insulted for the people who'd actually paid to see him!

Up to that time, all I knew of him was that I'd loved his story "A Boy and His Dog". I was never able to read anything else by him after his performance at that gathering, though.
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Old 06-29-2018, 12:19 AM   #3
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I have one of those "first impressions can be hard to change" experiences with Ellison. When I was in college, part of my studies included writing for the school paper. I was given the opportunity to attend a science fiction weekend (probably an early version of a "con") and write a review of the speakers.

Ellison came in looking disheveled and bored. His first comment to all the eager folks who'd come to hear him speak was along the lines of "you fat losers really need to get out of your mother's basements and get lives".

I honestly couldn't tell you what else he talked about, if anything. I was so insulted for the people who'd actually paid to see him!

Up to that time, all I knew of him was that I'd loved his story "A Boy and His Dog". I was never able to read anything else by him after his performance at that gathering, though.
I have heard that he could be difficult to get along with. Never met the man myself.
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Old 06-29-2018, 07:34 AM   #4
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The City on the Edge of Forever is my favorite Star Trek episode.
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Old 06-29-2018, 10:56 AM   #5
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A shame. I have read some of his stuff, and his work formed the basis of "The Starlost" t.v. series.
I guess we aren't likely to see The Last Dangerous Visions after all.

I don't think he'd be happy that The Starlost is how you remembered him
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Ellison grew disenchanted with the budget cuts, details that were changed, and what he characterized as a progressive dumbing down of the story. Ellison's dissatisfaction extended to the new title of the pilot episode; he had titled it "Phoenix Without Ashes" but it was changed to "Voyage of Discovery".
Before the production of the pilot episode was completed, Ellison invoked a clause in his contract to force the producers to use his alternative registered writer's name of "Cordwainer Bird" on the end credits.
I first became aware of Harlan through the movie A Boy and His Dog, a movie I've been meaning to watch again. It's still available free on Amazon Prime.

He also hosted a science fiction talk show called Hour 25 on my local Pacifica station. He might have been a crank, but he was a very smart man.

In the early days of the Sci-Fi Channel, there was a new magazine program called Sci-Fi Buzz. The show wasn't so great, but Ellison did the Andy Rooney-esque opinion pieces at the end of each episode, called Harlan Ellison's Watching. Those videos have been uploaded to YouTube and are worth a watch.

I liked Ellison for his notorious temperament. He wouldn't be taken advantage of. His lawsuit against James Cameron (for swiping Terminator) and rants against book pirates were justified.

By the way, there's a good documentary on Ellison called Dreams With Sharp Teeth. Even if you don't care for Ellison, it's worth checking out for the footage of his house, which he called The Lost Aztec Temple of Mars.

Sorry if this post is a little rambly. I just sort of spit out my thoughts on Ellison as they came. Like Arthur C. Clarke a few years ago, I liked knowing Ellison was around.
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Old 06-29-2018, 11:19 AM   #6
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The Outer Limits episode The Demon with a Glass Hand is phenomenal. But I don't much like his other stuff. He was obviously a talented writer (I have no mouth but I must scream, for example) but I didn't like the dark tone. He never wrote a good novel as far as I know. It was all short stories.

Christopher Priest's (another cranky, talented writer) The Book on the Edge of Forever is a hilarious recounting of Ellison's sitting on a vast anthology worth's of other people's stories for Strange Visions 3. I wonder if it will get released now.
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Old 06-29-2018, 11:23 AM   #7
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I liked Ellison for his notorious temperament. He wouldn't be taken advantage of. His lawsuit against James Cameron (for swiping Terminator) and rants against book pirates were justified.
I saw the OL episode Soldier that Terminator was supposedly drawn from. The sole similarity is a soldier comes back from the future to do a mission. I'm not sure that that merits a law suit. I found the OT episode was actually rather bland. Apparently Ellison also claimed Terminator was based on Demon. Of course, Cameroon is also famously difficult.

Preist, Cameroon, Ellison...So many grumpy writers

Lot of info here:

https://electricliterature.com/was-1...f-27f52272af11


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And yet, for all of his talent and accolades, Ellison is, arguably, equally well-known for his litigious trigger-finger. And if you’re watching the original Terminator this week to get yourself psyched for Terminator: Genisys, you might notice something funny about the final scene of the film when Linda Hamliton’s Sarah Connor drives off into the desert. Up on the screen, before any other credits, are the words “Acknowledgment to the works of Harlan Ellison.” This is not a direct credit explaining that what you’ve just seen was adapted from one of Ellison’s stories or scripts; instead, the film uses the weird state-of-being verb “acknowledgement.” So what gives?

The story goes like this: in or around 1984 someone tells Harlan Ellison that hey think the script for The Terminator sounds similar to his script for an Outer Limits episode called “Soldier,” which Ellison had actually adapted from his own short story, “Soldier Out of Time.” And when we say “similar” we mean that the opening sequences of both The Terminator and “Soldier” are aesthetically close enough to give you pause. Both deal with a guy from the future who ends up on some contemporary 20th century streets. In Terminator, this is Reese; in “Soldier,” a guy named Qarlo. What happened next (according to Ellison almost exclusively) was that the production company in question — Hemdale — started avoiding Ellison’s inquires to see a script. Eventually, after sneaking into an advance screening of the film, Ellison determined that there were enough elements of Terminator similar to both “Solider” and to another Outer Limits he wrote, “Demon With a Glass Hand,” to make a case against Terminator director James Cameron and Hemdale Studios.

Most damning, though, was a quote from James Cameron — which was supposed to have appeared in a magazine called Starlog — in which the director gave an interview about The Terminator ahead of its release. When asked where he got the idea from, he said: “I ripped off a few Outer Limits segments.” This sentiment was apparently repeated when a friend of Ellison’s visited the set of the film and Cameron said that he’d “ripped off a few of Ellison’s short stories” to make the script for Terminator. Now, the quote above is NOT in the final interview (I have the physical issue, plus you can read it here), because purportedly, the editors of Starlog were asked (forced?) by one of James Cameron’s assistants to alter the piece before it went to print. Still, it’s widely acknowledged that the studio paid Ellison something in the range of 65,000 as a settlement.

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Old 06-29-2018, 11:28 AM   #8
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The Outer Limits episode The Demon with a Glass Hand is phenomenal. But I don't much like his other stuff.
He had another famous Outer Limits story, Soldier. Those were the two stories Cameron possibly plagiarized when writing Terminator.

I'd also recommend an old graphic novel called Night And The Enemy. Artist Ken Steacy adapted five Ellison short stories. The stories are great and the artwork is phenomenal. I haven't read the book in at least twenty-five years, but I still remember a story about an astronaut trapped in a shelter with a damaged maintenance robot that attacks anything that moves.

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Old 06-29-2018, 11:33 AM   #9
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I guess we aren't likely to see The Last Dangerous Visions after all.
I assume those stories will be finally released from Ellison's trunk in the attic, though I doubt they'll be released in a DV3 book. Which is kind of a shame.
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Old 06-29-2018, 11:34 AM   #10
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I still remember a story about an astronaut trapped in a shelter with a damaged maintenance robot that attacks anything that moves.
Wasn't that a Clarke story? Or am I getting mixed up. OMG! Call the lawyers!
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Old 06-29-2018, 11:38 AM   #11
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He had another famous Outer Limits story, Soldier. Those were the two stories Cameron possibly plagiarized when writing Terminator.

I'd also recommend an old graphic novel called Night And The Enemy. Artist Ken Steacy adapted five Ellison short stories. The stories are great and the artwork is phenomenal. I haven't read the book in at least twenty-five years, but I still remember a story about an astronaut trapped in a shelter with a damaged maintenance robot that attacks anything that moves.
Thanks. Demon is a brilliant story. Truly influential. Incidentally, the same building is used in the movie Bladerunner. I think I'll try to read some Ellison. He's done tons I don't know. I'll just try to avoid the weirder, darker stuff

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Old 06-29-2018, 11:42 AM   #12
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Hey! There's a Kindle version of Night and the Enemy!

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Wasn't that a Clarke story? Or am I getting mixed up. OMG! Call the lawyers!
I like to imagine Ellison's ghost suing Clarke's ghost in the afterlife.

The Ellison story is called Life Hutch. I wonder what Clarke story you're thinking of? Could it be A Walk In The Dark, where an astronaut walks across a barren planet as night falls and can't help but imagine he's being followed?
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Old 06-29-2018, 11:56 AM   #13
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Thanks. Demon is a brilliant story. Truly influential. Incidentally, the same building is used in the movie Bladerunner.
Yeah, the Bradbury building. It was also used in the Jack Nicholson werewolf movie, Wolf.

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I think I'll try to read some Ellison. He's done tons I don't know. I'll just try to avoid the weirder, darker stuff
I have a giant paperback called The Essential Ellison. I've also picked up a bunch of his e-books during Open Road's weird and sporadic sales.

My better half read I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream a little while back. Mainly I remember being told that it was very dark.
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Old 06-29-2018, 01:06 PM   #14
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I just hope he stays dead. I make no bets with Ellison. (Sort of like the early part in the movie Charade.)

He also did scripts for Burke's Law. I would recommend the episode "Who Killed 1/2 of Glory Lee" for something on the lighter side.

He was a brilliant, workaholic writer; and mean enough to fight the world (and anybody in it) to a draw for decades. . . But the house always takes its percentage.

I don't recommend reading a lot of Ellison at one sitting. As a matter of fact, <he> did not recommend reading a lot of his work at one sitting.

To get a feel for Harlan Ellison, the person, I recommend his work, "Driving In The Spikes". It is not a story, but a real-life event (I once owned one of the paperbacks in question.)

As to his writing, darkness was his stock in trade. Horror was too simplistic to call it, but darkness. His earlier story tended to be more organized (as stories), his later ones had more kick in them. And he wrote <a lot> of them!

A few high points:

The Death Bird
Deeper than The Darkness
A Boy And His Dog
Jeffety Is Five
Paingod
"Repent" Said The Harlequin To The TickTock Man
Shattered Like a Glass Goblin
Catman

I could go on. . . .But I said "A FEW".
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Old 06-29-2018, 07:23 PM   #15
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I have a giant paperback called The Essential Ellison. I've also picked up a bunch of his e-books during Open Road's weird and sporadic sales.
I get Open Road’s daily deal mail and buy too many things as a result. So far I have only bought one of Ellison’s books and have yet to read it. So I’m holding off on others.
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