Friday, 15 October 2010

the writer on the edge of forever

It looks like you have never heard of Harlan Ellison. He's the ludicrously prolific sixties sci fi author (Asimov, Bradbury, Dick, etc.) who's still alive. Among his award winning stories were "Repent, Harlequin!" Said the Ticktockman, I Have No Mouth, And I Must Scream, The Beast that Shouted Love at the Heart of the World and the collection Angry Candy.

He fights with more or less everyone, names baddies after kids who bullied him as a child and sent a copy of everything he published to a professor who told him he had no future as a writer until the professor died.

In other people's fiction, 'Ellison's Star' is a particularly hot and unpredictable White Dwarf star in a Star Trek novel, he's an angry television talking head in Frank Miller's The Dark Night Returns ('[soon we'll] be eating our babies for breakfast'), a comic series called The Justice League of America features a flashy, insecure writer called Harlequin Ellis whose stories somehow become reality, and many more. Perhaps my favourite is The Flying Sorcerers, a 1971 novel by Gerrold and Larry Niven. The pantheon of gods in this story are all named after various SF writers. Ellison becomes Elcin, 'The small, but mighty god of thunder'.

He was the subject of a documentary by the same people who did Grizzly Man. Apparently they are both terrific. I have seen neither.

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