RIP Harlan Ellison

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RIP Harlan Ellison

Postby sunglasses » Fri Jun 29, 2018 2:43 am

So, one of my favorite sci fi authors ever has died.

RIP Harlan Ellison.


Links if you don't know who he is.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harlan_Ellison

https://www.theverge.com/2018/6/28/1751 ... r-obituary
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Re: RIP Harlan Ellison

Postby cmsellers » Fri Jun 29, 2018 8:16 am

I thumbed you because I probably wouldn't have learned about this for awhile if you hadn't posted this.

However I'm going to speak ill of the dead here, and say that I never much liked liked Harlan Ellison. Since he himself reportedly had no filter, I can only imagine he'd approve.

To start with, I think he was overrated as a writer: I liked some of his stories well enough but didn't find any of them to be exceptional, and I still think "The Deathbird" is one of the most pretentious pieces of SF I've ever read. However my big issue with Ellison was never his writing, but his ego (I mean, he even trademarked his name) which combined with his abrasive personality led to a lot of objectionable behavior, with two things in particular I want to call out.

One issue he had is that he seemed to believe that you can copyright ideas and that anyone who used a vaguely similar concept to one he used was stealing from him. This made him quite the vexatious litigant. The most famous example was when he bullied Orion into giving him a writing credit for The Terminator, despite the only resemblance to "Soldier" being the idea of a time-traveling assassin. However there are plenty of other cases where he either sued people who clearly weren't infringing on his copyright or he threatened to.

The other issue is that he was a procrastinator and a perfectionist like me or GRRM, which would be fine except that he could never finish The Last Dangerous Visions. Which also wouldn't be too objectionable in itself, except that he refused to admit he had a problem, kept hoarding more stories he would never publish, and attacked anyone who tried to withdraw their stories from the collection. (You can read an account of the whole TLDV debacle here.) Ellison went so far as to threaten to sue the New England Science Fiction Association for publishing the complete collection of Cordwainer Smith's short works (which I own), including "Himself in Anachron."

All that said, I will give him credit as an editor for successfully publishing the first two Dangerous Visions anthologies, which contained some good stories which I'm told were groundbreaking at the time.
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Re: RIP Harlan Ellison

Postby Ceiling_Squid » Fri Jun 29, 2018 9:30 pm

Ellison is a mixed bag, true, and cmsellers covers most of the bases on why.

That said, he does still have his hands in some seminal works of sci-fi. I greatly appreciate that he contributed to Babylon 5 as a consultant. And "I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream" is still a must-read. So I do have to give him some credit.

As much as the man was an asshole, and I dislike him on a personal level, he also gave one of my favorite, frank repudiations of the horrible "working for exposure" lie peddled by abusive corporations when exploiting creators.

phpBB [video]


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Re: RIP Harlan Ellison

Postby sunglasses » Sun Jul 01, 2018 2:38 am

Oh yeah, he was not a saint.

And had issues.

But I've always loved his work. Him, Bradbury, Heinlein (early works, not late) are very much favorites of mine.
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Re: RIP Harlan Ellison

Postby cmsellers » Sun Jul 01, 2018 5:26 am

Fair enough, but I can name at least three dozen sf writers I like better than Harlan Ellison®. Also, Tess reminded me that he groped Connie Willis in 2006, then bitched publicly when Willis didn't forgive him after his apology.
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Re: RIP Harlan Ellison

Postby sunglasses » Sun Jul 01, 2018 2:17 pm

Oh his behavior was atrocious and I shan't defend it.
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Re: RIP Harlan Ellison

Postby ghijkmnop » Wed Jul 11, 2018 4:27 am

Should we move this to the thread about whether we can separate the work from the artist? ;)
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