In honour of Harlan Ellison

AE35Unit

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I was messing about with my phone and a reflective piece of glass and came up with this fun selfie. Immediately the title of an Ellison story came to my mind.
I have no mouth and I must scream...
Makes me think of a book cover from the 70s.
Funny thing is I've never read the story...


IMG_20130901_210638_zpscb30cd0a.jpg
 

BAYLOR

There Are Always new Things to Learn.
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Ive picked up so many things from reading his Introductions, stories and essays , including other writers whom I might never have otherwise read or known about. He touched my life in so many ways and made me a bit wiser about the world around me. :cool:
 

Curt Chiarelli

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Ive picked up so many things from reading his Introductions, stories and essays , including other writers whom I might never have otherwise read or known about. He touched my life in so many ways and made me a bit wiser about the world around me. :cool:

I can relate to how you feel. Harlan Ellison was a major influence on me as a person and as a developing artist when I was still a teenager. He expanded my intellectual horizons greatly at a time in my life when I was receiving a lot of pressure to cease exploring, compromise my dreams and play it safe. Also, I can't tell you what a relief it was to have my own passions and perspectives validated when everyone in my environment was either obtuse, apathetic or an arrogant bully. Harlan and his work gave me the moral courage to continue forward and fight for my belief in a better world, and for that he has my undying gratitude, whatever may come.

I met Harlan once on the Fourth of July weekend at the Chicago Comic Con (held at the Rosemont Horizon Convention Center) in 1994. Although he had just recovered from his wounds caused by a recent major earthquake that had severely damaged his house, he was as feisty and fun-loving as ever - what my grandmother would have dubbed "full of piss-and-vinegar". A portfolio review table had been set up under the auspices of Full Moon Entertainment. Harlan was there to interview and select an artist he would collaborate with on his new comic book. My friends who, in equal parts, feared, resented and were awe-struck by Ellison, hung back, but I got into line in spite of their discouragement and Harlan's reputation. I needed to meet this man who had such a powerful influence on the trajectory of my life. (And should he brutally reject me? Once you've had your own father tell you numerous times that you are "completely worthless" - and savor the act - the pain of anything that follows pales by comparison.)

Just as I queued up, I could hear Ellison dressing down a fanboy for some transgression in etiquette. Not an auspicious sign, but by the time it was my turn, his exasperation had been spent and he very cordially invited me to have a seat next to him and show my work: "Let's see your book!", he said, punctuating the request with a hearty slap of his hand on the table top. Although he was honest and open that my style wasn't what he was seeking, he was polite and respectful about it, without obsequiousness. Being gentlemanly is not a quality commonly ascribed to Harlan, but that is precisely how he treated me. He also treated me like a peer, a colleague. At a time when my fledgling career had already exposed me to the toxic contempt Corporate America felt towards artists, this was a rousing tonic. I then proceeded to make the only faux pas of our meeting: I told him how much his work meant to me.

Instead of looking pleased, the muscles in Harlan's jaw tensed and anger boiled up behind his eyes. A sincere, genial sign-off note on my part nearly concluded an otherwise memorable and pleasant meeting with a savage tongue-lashing. The reason, I found out later, is that he HATES to be complimented on his work. Perhaps he detects a faint hint of insincerity in many compliments, or maybe he tires of hearing the same, trite litany of flattery at such events. Whatever his reasons, he considers it a breech in protocol, and Harlan is a man whose triggers and boundaries demand to be respected - or else. Harlan has been known to publicly eviscerate others for far less . . . . yet he didn't erupt like Mount Stromboli at me. I remain grateful to Harlan for this - and much besides - to this very day.
 
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BAYLOR

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Curt , I envy you that you got to meet him. The sense that I get of him is that he is a very nice man . If I met him, It I think I would try to say as little as possible. Which would be difficult for me because the fan in me would want very much want to say nice things to him with the intent of sincerity .
 

2DaveWixon

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Yes, Harlan could be a very nice guy. But he was volatile.
I first met him back when I was in law school. I was rooming with one of my classmates, who had recently founded Uncle Hugo's SF Bookstore (in Minneapolis); and he (Don Blyly) got word that Harlan was going to be giving a talk at UMD (U of Minn., Duluth) one evening. That very evening. So a group of us drove up to Duluth on the spur of the moment, heard the talk -- and, when we hung around afterward to introduce ourselves, Harlan came out for pizza with us. We had fun.

Thereafter, I would bump into him now and then at cons. He always had a smile for me. But sometimes I could see that he was fuming over something... I never asked.

Years later, after I was placed in charge of the literary estates of Cliff Simak and Gordy Dickson, I wrote Harlan to ask if he would revert the rights to the stories of those two authors that he had contracted to have in THE LAST DANGEROUS VISIONS.

Harlan wrote back, telling me he still hoped to get the anthology out, and would I give him some time? He would revert them if the estates really needed them back, but he'd like more time to try.

I gave him that time, but TLDV never made it into print. So finally, a couple of years ago, as I was putting together a collection intended to include all of Cliff Simak's short fiction -- I wrote Harlan again, reminded him of my prior request, and asked if he would revert both stories.

He did, most graciously. And he asked only that I (1) mention, when the stories were published, that he had reverted them, and (2) send him a copy when each first appeared.

Maybe being volatile was the price of his genius, I don't know. But it so, it was worth it.
 

Curt Chiarelli

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Curt , I envy you that you got to meet him. The sense that I get of him is that he is a very nice man . If I met him, It I think I would try to say as little as possible. Which would be difficult for me because the fan in me would want very much want to say nice things to him with the intent of sincerity .

Harlan is a truly nice person . . . . but he is also a fundamentally nice person navigating his way in a deranged celebrity culture. And that madness drives those in the limelight to cope with it in ways which we would consider somewhat mad. I suspect that your compliments - like mine - would be tolerated by him because he's shrewd enough to see that they come from an honest place. Such is not the case in the arts/entertainment world where everyone is always trying to use everyone else as a stepping stone to get ahead (and praying for your downfall, to boot).
 
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Curt Chiarelli

Yog-Sothothery on the Fly
Joined
Mar 27, 2006
Messages
1,026
Location
None of Your Damned Business
Yes, Harlan could be a very nice guy. But he was volatile.
I first met him back when I was in law school. I was rooming with one of my classmates, who had recently founded Uncle Hugo's SF Bookstore (in Minneapolis); and he (Don Blyly) got word that Harlan was going to be giving a talk at UMD (U of Minn., Duluth) one evening. That very evening. So a group of us drove up to Duluth on the spur of the moment, heard the talk -- and, when we hung around afterward to introduce ourselves, Harlan came out for pizza with us. We had fun.

Thereafter, I would bump into him now and then at cons. He always had a smile for me. But sometimes I could see that he was fuming over something... I never asked.

Years later, after I was placed in charge of the literary estates of Cliff Simak and Gordy Dickson, I wrote Harlan to ask if he would revert the rights to the stories of those two authors that he had contracted to have in THE LAST DANGEROUS VISIONS.

Harlan wrote back, telling me he still hoped to get the anthology out, and would I give him some time? He would revert them if the estates really needed them back, but he'd like more time to try.

I gave him that time, but TLDV never made it into print. So finally, a couple of years ago, as I was putting together a collection intended to include all of Cliff Simak's short fiction -- I wrote Harlan again, reminded him of my prior request, and asked if he would revert both stories.

He did, most graciously. And he asked only that I (1) mention, when the stories were published, that he had reverted them, and (2) send him a copy when each first appeared.

Maybe being volatile was the price of his genius, I don't know. But it so, it was worth it.

In my opinion, when dealing with someone of his caliber of talent, certain accommodations should be made. Volatility is not necessarily a byproduct of genius - however, it just so happens to be in Harlan's case!
 

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