Sci-fi writer Harlan Ellison, best-known to Trek fans for The City on the Edge of Forever, is dead at the age of eighty-four.
“Susan Ellison has asked me to announce the passing of writer Harlan Ellison, in his sleep, earlier today,” said Christine Valada, a family friend, via her Twitter account. “‘For a brief time I was here, and for a brief time, I mattered.” —H.E., 1934-2018. Arrangements for a celebration of his life are pending.”
Born in Painesville, Ohio (NE of Cleveland and next to Lake Erie), Ellison came from the only Jewish family in town, which meant a rough childhood filled with fights with other boys “on a daily basis.”
After attending Ohio State University, Ellison served a stint in the Army and then began selling his sci-fi stories to magazines.
The prolific author wrote short stories, novels, and he wrote for television. One of his best stories was A Boy and His Dog, which became a 1975 cult film (and which your reporter saw when she was sixteen). In addition to Star Trek, Ellison wrote for The Outer Limits, Route 66, The Alfred Hitchcock, 1985’s The Twilight Zone, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and more.
Ellison was the type of man who took no prisoners, and he said what he thought and damn the consequences. He could be a fantastic friend or a deadly enemy. He had no problem filing lawsuits if he was displeased. At times, he did not like revisions of his stories that were made for them to appear on television, and he wasn’t shy about saying so. Among those stories that was revised was Star Trek‘s The City on the Edge of Forever. Eventually, Ellison’s original teleplay was presented in a book and fans could judge for themselves which version was better.
Ellison won plenty of awards; including eight Hugos, four Nebulas, five Bram Stoker Awards, the Ray Bradbury Award, a Locus Award and more.
Friends and fellow authors responded to the sad news. Steven King said, “Harlan Ellison: There was no one quite like him in American letters, and never will be. Angry, funny, eloquent, hugely talented. If there’s an afterlife, Harlan is already kicking ass and taking down names.”
“All I have to say is, if there is an afterlife, God had better hope He doesn’t owe Harlan any royalties or residuals,” said Trek author David Mack.
Harlan Ellison is survived by his fifth wife, Susan Ann Toth.