Harlan Ellison, a giant in the writing world, passes away at age 84
It is with great sadness that ComingSoon.net has learned of the passing of Harlan Ellison, a giant in the field of science fiction literature and entertainment. Christine Valada, the widow of comics author and Ellison friend Len Wein, announced his passing at age 84.
Best known for his classic short sci-fi stories “‘Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman” (1965) and “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream” (1967) and editing the legendary anthology “Dangerous Visions,” Ellison earned a reputation as sharp writer who often had contentious feuds with colleagues and business partners. He remained vocally unhappy with the filmed version of the 1967 Star Trek episode he wrote titled “The City on the Edge of Forever,” despite it being universally considered the greatest episode of the show ever produced. He also famously sued filmmaker James Cameron over the 1984 hit The Terminator, claiming it stole key plot elements from his Outer Limits episode “Soldier.” The suit resulted in an out of court settlement and an onscreen acknowledgement to his work at the end of the film. He also was highly lauded for his writing, winning multiple Hugos, Nebulas and Edgars for his work over the decades.
Some of Ellison’s other work in film and television included co-writing the screenplay for the 1966 drama The Oscar as well as the having the 1975 cult sci-fi film A Boy and His Dog based on his novella, which later inspired the wildly popular post-apocalyptic video game Fallout. Other TV credits include The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., a writer and consultant on the 80’s revival of The Twilight Zone and as a creative consultant and writer on Babylon 5. He was the subject of a 2008 documentary titled Dreams With Sharp Teeth, which featured friends of his such as Robin Williams and Neil Gaiman. His authorized biography A Lit Fuse: The Provocative Life of Harlan Ellison by Nat Segaloff was published in 2017.
The author filmed numerous short editorial segments for The Sci-Fi Channel in the 1990’s. Here is a sample of Ellison’s abrasive and often very funny pieces…
Ellison was also famous for holding all-day writing demonstrations in book store windows throughout the years in cities such as Washington DC, London, Boston and New York. He would start and finish full stories in full public display, often taking prompts from the crowd for ideas. Some of these stories went on to win numerous awards.
“I do it because I think particularly in this country people are so distanced from literature, the way it’s taught in schools, that they think that people who write are magicians on a mountaintop somewhere,” he told NBC in 1981. “And I think that’s one of the reasons why there’s so much illiteracy in this country. So by doing it in public, I show people it’s a job … like being a plumber or an electrician.”
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)