Legendary writer Harlan Ellison passed away in his sleep on June 27, 2018 at the age of 84. Known as one of the most diverse science fiction writers of his time, Ellison worked in a variety of mediums during his career. Be it short stories, novellas, scripts, or comics, he was able to create some extraordinarily memorable works.
His attitude was probably what made him most famous within the literary world. He even referred to himself as “possibly the most contentious person on Earth.” Nonetheless his achievements were myriad and his fan base immense.
Born May 27, 1934 in Cleveland, Ohio, Ellison worked a variety of jobs in his early years including acting, sales, and even as a cab driver. After a short-lived college career, he moved to New York in 1955 to take up writing in earnest. He published heavily during the next two years, over a hundred stories and articles.
A short marriage and a stint in the Army later, Ellison found himself moving to California to pursue a future writing scripts and screenplays. Notable during this time was his script for the original Star Trek series episode “The City on the Edge of Forever.” This is lauded as the best episode of the entire series. He also wrote for The Outer Limits, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. just to name a few. My personal favorite is A Boy and His Dog, which was later adapted into a feature film of the same name.
Ellison also worked for Disney, albeit for only a single day. This was another time where his attitude was called into question. But the main underlying point was that, with him, you always knew where you stood. Controversial though he might have been, he was always honest about his thoughts and feelings. He won a multitude of awards including Hugos, Nebulas and Edgars. He was known to use pseudonyms when his work was altered against his will. At times, these alter egos attained a semblance of popularity and a life all their own. He was known to seek justice when his works were obtained without his consent, as well.
In spite of all of this, or perhaps because of it, Ellison was a beloved literary figure in science fiction circles. He was a guest speaker at several conventions and amassed a body of works that exceeded 1,700 individual pieces. His range was immense and his depth of thought prolific, often bordering on the prophetic.
He will be missed by a staggering amount of fans, some from the past but undoubtedly many in the future. He gave much to this world and definitely made an impact, something few people attain. Thank you, Mister Ellison. And thank you for everything.
“The two most common elements in the universe are Hydrogen and stupidity.” – Harlan Ellison
“Like a wind crying endlessly through the universe, Time carries away the names and the deeds of conquerors and commoners alike. And all that we were, all that remains, is in the memories of those who cared we came this way for a brief moment.” – Harlan Ellison
“If you make people think they’re thinking, they’ll love you; but if you really make them think, they’ll hate you.” – Harlan Ellison
“For a brief time I was here, and for a brief time, I mattered.” – Harlan Ellison
RIP Harlan Ellison
May 27, 1934 – June 27, 2018