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Harlan Ellison

 

other than being our prestigious Letter E in this series, I am also conferring onto him the title of “Sci-Fi’s Greatest Pugilist”.  Ellison was very well known for his vocal criticism, legal challenges, and being just plain ornery. Ellison was expelled from Ohio State University for striking a professor for belittling his writing ability, he once accused a studio executive who was producing Ellison’s work of having “The Intelligence of an Artichoke”, and even mailed a dead gopher to a certain publishing house. Perhaps the best story of his antics is the story where he was hired as a writer for the powerhouse of hypocrisy Walt Disney, only to be fired on his first day for being over heard suggesting an erotic animated series involving Disney characters, it has to make you smile.

One of the first books I read from Ellison was his book “I have No Mouth, and I Must Scream“, which spawned a PC video game , and to say that it was disturbing would be an understatement. It was about five human beings who are the prisoners of an evil computer named “I AM”, whose only interest is in torturing and killing them, only to continually resurrect them to start the hellish process all over again.

I remember the first time I saw Ellison on cable television, it was a public service announcement that he paid for himself on the Sci-Fi (or as it’s known today SyFy) channel in order to rail against what he thought was unfair online manipulation of votes for a certain sci-fi literary award that had recently decided to start allowing online voting. I remember thinking as I watched it “man this guy likes to fight.”

His influence on Science Fiction is almost immeasurable, having written for or consulted on Star Trek, Outer Limits, Twilight Zone, being published in many of the more famous Anthology and Omnibus series. He served as a judge and lecturer for a sci-fi writers workshop that helped to start Octavia Butler‘s career, Butler is an excellent author who was in contention for Letter B of this series.

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