Jelly, jelly so fine

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Harlan Ellison

Repent Harlequin, said the Tick tock man - Jim Steranko
I was saddened to hear of the passing of Harlan Ellison earlier this week. Ellison was as fine a speculative fiction writer as you could find.

I loved his collection of short stories I have no mouth and I must scream, which contained one of my favorites, Pretty Maggie Moneyeyes. Now I feel the urgent need to reread him.

Here is a snippet of his bio from Wikipedia:
Ellison was born to a Jewish family in Cleveland, Ohio, on May 27, 1934, the son of Serita (née Rosenthal) and Louis Laverne Ellison, a dentist and jeweler. His family subsequently moved to Painesville, Ohio, but returned to Cleveland in 1949, following his father's death. Ellison frequently ran away from home, taking an array of odd jobs—including, by age 18, "tuna fisherman off the coast of Galveston, itinerant crop-picker down in New Orleans, hired gun for a wealthy neurotic, nitroglycerine truck driver in North Carolina, short-order cook, cab driver, lithographer, book salesman, floorwalker in a department store, door-to-door brush salesman, and as a youngster, an actor in several productions at the Cleveland Play House".
Ellison was a prolific writer, editor and screenwriter. Works included The Deathbird Stories, the film A boy and his dog, a Star Trek episode, The city on the edge of forever, The Outer Limits, and an episode of The Flying Nun.

His works were certainly dystopian but not as gloomy as Dick or Gibson nor as lyrical and optimistic as Zelazny. Stylistically leaned more to Bradbury really and were similarly often tinged with horror. He had exceedingly high literary standards, his work was as good as they come. Thankfully his stories will survive him.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Harlan Ellison spoke at Poway High in 1975. My English teacher had worked in Hollywood briefly before falling back on his teachers credential and had some good connections. Harlan was super cool, 70's mod clothes with hipster boots, leather jacket and sunglasses. He used a lot of curse words. He told us to be non conformists, to question authority and disrupt the status quo. One of our English teachers was a very beautiful lady from India. Sometimes she would wear a sari to school and that seemed so exotic. She and Harlan dated for a while and we got some good gossipy reports of the bizzare lifestyle of Harlan Ellison in LA. Later that same year Ray Bradbury himself came to our school to speak. He wore an old leather jacket with a bullet hole in it. He said his father wore it in the war. Later Mr Bradbury invited our class to Hollywood to see a performance of his play Levithon 99, a super modern strange treatment of Moby Dick. My little possy and I were reading lots of Asimov and Heinlein and of course Ray Bradbury. It was just about then that I discovered lsd and Grateful Dead. Poway High was and prob still is a great institution