In Which Harlan Ellison tells it like it is

17 Jan

Have I ever talked about my love of Harlan Ellison, the writer, and Harlan Ellison the human being? I should, shouldn’t I? What a guy. What a blistering intellect which is consistently miles above quite a lot of us, not only in his fiction work, but his non-fiction, and his ability to speak.

The thing about Harlan is, everyone declares him an asshole — and, in our glorious anonymous internet age — talks about the time that THEY outdid Harlan Ellison, most instances of which are probably entirely untrue, not least because if someone mouthed off to him the way they claim to have done, they would be vaporized.

Personally, I don’t find him to be all that rude and awful a person as some claim. Why is he? He has admitted to having a very low bullshit tolerance level, which is a good thing and something that we should all have, frankly. But honestly, if I had to point at someone else’s career which is the dream career that I want to have, his would be it. I work on novels out of necessity, admittedly, but if I could follow his path and base an entire career (and, you know, pay the bills) by writing short stories, editing anthologies, and consulting on Babylon 5, I’d do it like a shot.

Anyway, here’s a Harlan Ellison video, with him speaking about paying the writers. And he’s right, of course.

I haven’t really been posting about the Writer’s strike, because Lori’s doing a fine job covering it. But I think Harlan sums it up. Which is another one of those things he does best.

Go watch. Come back when you’re done applauding.

Addendum: And if you’d like to applaud some more, here’s him speaking on a similar topic. and he’s right. And his analogy at the end is exactly, exactly right.


Posted by on January 17, 2008 in Uncategorized


10 responses to “In Which Harlan Ellison tells it like it is

  1. mymidnightmuse

    January 17, 2008 at 10:57 am

    I’ve never had a problem with Ellison, though I’ve heard other people say he’s rude – I think he’s just a man who knows what he likes, what he doesn’t like, and has no fear expressing himself.

    And I love that clip – Pay the Writer ! He has a good grasp on the issue, that amateurs who have no understanding that they should be paid for what they’re doing. People who assume if someone asks, they should say Yes because it will in some way gain them good will or publicity or something other than the CASH they should be getting.

  2. Shadow Ferret

    January 17, 2008 at 12:02 pm

    I always get him confused with Harry Harrison. 😉

    Is Ellison the one who wrote a Star Trek episode and then spent the next 40 years complaining about how they rewrote it?

  3. Pete Tzinski

    January 17, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    “The City on the Edge of Forever,” was the episode he wrote. And it’s not like he outright complains about it. People ask him about it, expecting complaints, and so he complains. It’s like baiting Rodney Dangerfield to give you a story in which no respect it gotten.

    He released the original script as a book, and it’s a very, very interesting thing to read.

  4. Shadow Ferret

    January 17, 2008 at 12:15 pm

    Sorry, that was my attempt at humor. It failed, I see, because it made you explain things.

    When I get home, I promise to watch the video.

    And I got a fortune in my cookie last night that read: “A special letter is coming soon” or something to that effect. Huh? Is the fortune right? :p

  5. Pete Tzinski

    January 17, 2008 at 12:16 pm

    I got the joke. 😛

    But it seemed as good an opening as any to explain the question. AND to make the suggestion that we all go and read the book which contains that script, because not only is the script a really wonderful read, but he writes all sorts of opinions and stuff about Star Trek in there, and that’s really worth a read. It’s a delight.

  6. mymidnightmuse

    January 17, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    I hope your fortune is better than the one I got yesterday at lunch that read: Soon you will be outdoors, surrounded by mountains and water.

    Yeah, well that one came true the minute I walked out and headed to my car for freak’s sake!

  7. Pete Tzinski

    January 17, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    It could be worse. It could have said “Soon, you will be surrounded by mountains and be underwater. Roll down your window before driving.” or something.

    And I forgot to answer Ed’s fortune, didn’t I? Well, he’s got a letter coming his way. I’m writing it, bit by bit. It’s been busy around here, and I’m exhausted. A lot of stuff’s fallen by the wayside. I have yours, and Tori’s, letters sitting here waiting for me to sit down with a few sheets of paper and enough brain cells to put words together.

    Soon, soon, soon.

  8. tjwriter

    January 19, 2008 at 7:11 am

    Finally got a chance to watch the first video. I think it makes perfect sense.

  9. Pete Tzinski

    January 19, 2008 at 7:35 am

    As with all things Harlan, sometimes people don’t like how he says it, but it’s hard to disagree with what he says. (And I particularly like how he says it, too)

  10. Shadow Ferret

    January 19, 2008 at 6:06 pm

    I finally watched the first one.

    There’s a lot of rage in that man. A very unhappy soul.


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