Captain Spaulding on Skull Island

Harlan Ellison RIP

June 30th, 2018

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On June 28th, author Harlan Ellison passed away in his sleep (the same day Rod Serling died in 1975).  He could be controversial, but I loved his work.  He was very influential on my own writing.

Here are a few reminisces.

In 1987, I was cast as Everett in an adaptation of “‘Repent, Harlequin!’ said the Ticktockman.” It was for a class project, adapting for the stage or something like that, and we only did a reading, but it was a blast. That was my first real exposure to Ellison’s work.

Back before I bought everything online, I spent a lot of time in used bookstores. The first author I would look for was Harlan Ellison. His books always seemed like rare treasures when I stumbled across one, and I would purchase them without trepidation. His work is kept on the “Special” bookcase I have next to my desk.

In 1998, I was at an opening night party for a play I’d worked on (David Goodis’ BLACK FRIDAY). The playwright/adapter was talking about a short story he’d read about a homeless woman with a stuffed animal. I said, “’Soft Monkey’ by Harlan Ellison?” He found it extremely impressive that I knew the story. He was working on an anthology series of crime stories that he was planning to pitch to HBO or Showtime (Like FALLEN ANGELS, but strictly crime and no detective tales). He brought me on to help him find appropriate stories and made me an associate producer. Sadly, the project never went anywhere, but thanks to having read “Soft Monkey,” I had a brief career in television.

In 2015, I started  project with Ellison’s “Best of” collection THE TOP OF THE VOLCANO. I read a story a month. It took almost 2 years.  Even though I’d read 80% of the stories before, it was still a delightful project.

 

Here’s a personal favorite list:

‘Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman

I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream

Jeffty is Five

The Man Who Rowed Christopher Columbus Ashore

He Who Grew Up Reading Sherlock Holmes

The Man Who Was Heavily Into Revenge

How’s the Night Life on Cissalda?

Star Trek 1967 – “City on the Edge of Forever”

The Outer Limits 1964 – “Demon With A Glass Hand”

The Twilight Zone 1985 – “Paladin of the Lost Hour”

 

For more info:

Here’s a good Recommended List from The Portalist.

Here’s a good article on the good and bad of him written by Nick Mamatas for Legacy.com.

And I highly recommend the documentary DREAMS WITH SHARP TEETH.

R.I.P.

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