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Harlan Ellison, an intense science fiction writer, dies at 84



Harlan Ellison, a prolific and contentious writer whose sci-fi and fantasy stories mirrored a personality so intense that he often hit his manual typewriter keys with his fists, died Wednesday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 84.

His wife, Susan Ellison, confirmed his death, but said she did not know the cause. He has had a stroke and heart surgery in recent years. Ellison saw storytelling as a "sacred duty" that he pursued eagerly for more than 60 years. His output includes more than 1,700 short stories and articles, at least 100 books and dozens of scripts and television scripts. And though he was a member of eminent science-fiction writers such as Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov, he insisted that he write speculative fiction or simply fiction.

"Call me a science fiction writer," said Mr. Ellison on the Sci-Fi Channel (now SyFy) in the 1990s. "I'll come to your house and I'll nail your head to a coffee table, I'll hit you so hard that your ancestors will die."

Mr. Ellison's best-known work includes "A Boy and His Dog" (1969), a novella in a post-apocalyptic wasteland of the United States made into a 1975 film; "I have no mouth and I have to scream" (1967), a short story about a computer that torments the last five people on earth; "The City on the Edge of Forever", a beloved delayed episode of the "Star Trek" television series from 1967; and, "Rewrite, Harlequin!" said the Ticktockman "(1965), about a futuristic society, in the time being governed by a formidable figure who is reigning Ticktockman.

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The cover story in this collection of short stories by Mr. Ellison is about a computer that tortures the last five people on Earth.

"But no one called that his mask," Mr. Ellison wrote. "A man is not called a hated name, not when that man behind his mask can recall the minutes, the hours, the days and nights, the years of his life." He was named the master watchmaker of his mask. "

Mr. Ellison was a fast-talking, pipe-smoking scholar who once inspired talk show hosts like Merv Griffin and Tom Snyder with his views on atheism, elitism, violence, and Scientology.

He could be wild, angry and quarrelsome. He said that he lost his job at the Walt Disney Company – the first day – when he got up at his police station (with the executives present) and described how he wanted to make an animated pornographic film with Mickey and Minnie Mouse [19659005] Er is said to have sent a dead gopher to a publisher and attacked an ABC manager who broke his pelvis.

He often criticized studios and television producers when he thought they had copied his stories. His many complaints included one against the creators of the film "The Terminator," who accused them of plundering "Soldier," a screenplay he wrote in 1964 for the television series "The Outer Limits."

Image [19659014] The published script of Mr. Ellison's beloved concurrent episode of the 1967 "Star Trek" TV series.

And he remained annoyed for years by Gene Roddenberry, the creator of "Star Trek" and other English: Decades later, he wrote to CBS Paramount TV for merchandising royalties that he believed were due to him from the episode

. Ellison said her husband finally got his "Star Trek" property over. But he would never watch the classic episode.

"Let's not go that far," she said in a telephone interview.

Harlan Jay Ellison was born on May 27, 1934 in Cleveland. His father Louis was a dentist and jeweler, and his mother, Serita (Rosenthal) Ellison, worked at a thrift store. Grown up, partly in Painesville, Ohio, about 30 miles northeast of Cleveland, he was bullied at school, mainly because he was a Jew. The experience made him feel like an outsider and stir his anger.

"I did not survive their tender mercy with anything more debilitating than to show a lifelong, blood-soaked obsession for revenge," he wrote in "Harlan Ellison's Watching," A Collection of Film Critiques, first published in 1989. "

This Anger saturated his writing, said James Gunn, founding director of the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction at the University of Kansas in Lawrence [19659021]

This 1969 amendment by Mr. Ellison is in a post-apocalyptic wasteland of the United States. [19659007] "Some writers have been able to break away and write objectively," Mr. Gunn said in a telephone interview You could always tell that Harlan was screaming there, they could hear Bradbury in his stories, but he was not at all violent at all he had a melancholy attitude. "

After his father died, Harlan moved in 1949 with his mother and his sister He returned to Cleveland, where he founded the Cleveland Science Fiction Club, became a frequent movie viewer, and worked as a runner for locals gangsters, he told The Plain Dealer of Cleveland.

He left home several times, traveled the country, and worked on a tuna boat, truck driver, and short-term cook.

Mr. Ellison attended Ohio State University, but left after two years. At some point he struck an English professor who had told him that he saw no literary talent in him. Afterwards, Mr. Ellison sent copies of his published stories to the professor.

In the mid-1950s, he began to publish a stream of works – in publications such as Galaxy and Fantastic Science Fiction – that will continue for years. He wrote stories, novels and short stories. He has published anthologies such as "Dangerous Visions" (1967) and a sequel. And he wrote episodes of television series such as "Route 66," "The Man From UNCLE," "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour," the 1980s revival of "The Twilight Zone" and, unlikely, "The Flying Nun" (an episode in Sally Fields Character, sister Bertrille, and two other nuns land on a remote island.

Most of the films he reviewed featured mainstream productions like "Rosemary & # 39; s Baby" (which he loved) and "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" (which he called "darkly predictable").

In a review of "Harlan Ellison's Watching" in New York In 1989, Robert Moss wrote that "you're never tempted to stop reading," though Mr. Ellison occasionally got wind. His criticism, Mr. Moss added, "has some of the intriguing quality of a great nonstop talent with a cultural bearing for a mind."

In recent years, Mr. Ellison has written a graphic novel, "7 Against Chaos" (2013) "with artist Paul Chadwick for DC Comics, with about 30 of his stories digitally re-edited, and releasing" None of the Above, an unproductive script based on "Bug Jack Barron," a story by Norman Spinrad, a science-fiction writer who has been his friend since the 1950s.

Mr. Ellison was also the star of "Dreams With Sharp Teeth (2008), a documentary about his life directed by Erik Nelson, the film depicts Mr. Ellison's wild, volcanic, and belligerent personality as a "hurricane," an alternate mischievous and angry 11 -year-old boy "and, by his friend Robin Williams, referred to as a" skin graft "over a leper."

In describing her husband's friendship with Mr. Williams, Mrs. Ellison said, "Talent will find talent."

His marriage to S usan Toth, his only immediate survivor, was his fifth; His four previous marriages were divorced.

Isaac Asimov once called Mr. Ellison "one of the best writers in the world". But he complained that Mr. Ellison had been distracted from his Furies too many times.

"It's just terrible that he's constantly involved in matters that really have nothing to do with his writing and tragically slow him down," wrote Mr. Asimov in his 1994 autobiography "I, Asimov"

He added, "He claims he is five feet four inches tall, but it does not really matter, he is eight feet tall in talent, energy and courage."


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