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Snarky sci-fi master Harlan Ellison dead at 84

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Oh, would that the Guardian of Forever were real…

The prolific, transmedia science fiction writer Harlan Ellison has died. He was 84.

The self-described “contentious” personality wrote the original version of the Hugo Award-winning 1967 Star Trek episode “The City on the Edge of Forever”; his original screenplay, famously rewritten by Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, itself won the 1968 Writers Guild Award for episodic drama. Ellison’s original script was eventually adapted into an IDW comic miniseries.

Ellison also collaborated with comic book writer Adam Beechen on “The Shrieking Madness,” a Lovecraftian episode of Scooby-Doo: Mystery Inc. in which he also played up his abrasiveness as an animated version of himself.

Remembering Harlan Ellison: Arizona Fandom perspective

Hal C. F. Astell, Nerdvana contributor and archivist at Arizona Fandom, shared a remembrance of Harlan Ellison with his Facebook followers, and with Nerdvana readers:

WorldCon 36 program cover
WorldCon 36 program cover (Courtesy Hal C. F. Astell/Arizona Fandom)

He was a prolific, important and controversial writer and he certainly left his mark on Arizona fandom.

Many obituaries will talk about his Star Trek episode, The City on the Edge of Forever, arguably the best of them; his groundbreaking anthology, Dangerous Visions (and its one sequel thus far); or his script for the Don Johnson movie, A Boy and His Dog, a friend’s favourite film of all time.

Some will mention his eight Hugo awards for works with a set of wild and magnificent titles, like “Repent, Harlequin!” Said the Ticktockman; I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream; and Adrift Just Off the Islets of Langerhans: Latitude 38° 54′ N, Longitude 77° 00′ 13″ W.

In Arizona, where everyone in fandom seems to have their own Harlan Ellison story (some of them good, some not so good), I believe it’ll be IguanaCon II that comes most quickly to mind.

This was our WorldCon, held 40 years ago in 1978, and he was the Guest of Honor. However, as Arizona chose to not ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, he chose to not spend a single cent in our state during that event, stocking up on gas on the California side of the border, living in a Winnebago instead of a hotel room and writing inside a tent for much of the event.

In short, he was a character, not always a good one. He did live up to his ‘enfant terrible’ billing. But you’ll hear a lot of stories. The ‘Controversies and Disputes’ section of his page on Wikipedia is only the beginning.

I’m a rarity here in that I don’t have a Harlan Ellison story. I did invite him to Westercon 70 last year and sent him a Past GoH con ribbon to wear on his badge if he chose to attend. He didn’t. That may have been a good thing, given that our Author GoH was Connie Willis and their, erm, interaction at the Hugo Awards in 2006 is a thing of legend.

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