Writer Harlan Ellison passed away today. Born in the midwest in 1934, Ellison got his start in the early 1950s when his stories began to appear in EC Comics and in publications like Amazing Stories and Fantastic Science Fiction. His career became even more high profile after a move to California in the early 1960s. It was during this time Ellison wrote episodes for The Outer Limits (Demon With a Glass Hand and Soldier- which apparently inspired elements of The Terminator), The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (The Pieces of Fate Affair, The Sort-of-Do-It-Yourself Dreadful Affair, and contributed to others), Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (The Price of Doom), Burke's Law, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, and many others. Perhaps his most recognized piece from the period was City On the Edge of Forever, an emotionally powerful Star Trek story that explored themes of sacrifice and the consequences of tampering with time and events. Ellison's original version of the script was published in a beautiful graphic novel in 2015 by IDW (see Amazon). Today William Shatner tweeted: "Harlan was a very gifted writer. I am sorry to hear of his passing." In later years he worked on The Starlost, Logans Run (TV), Tales From the Darkside, The Hunger (TV), Babylon Five, The Phantom 2040, and later incarnations of The Outer Limits and The Twilight Zone. In 1972 he wrote an unproduced pilot based on the 1960s Flint spy movies starring James Coburn (the story reemerged in 1987 as the unproduced script, Flintlock). Younger Spy Vibers might be familiar with Ellison's role as a fictional version of himself in the animated series Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated. Among his many books, Ellison wrote A Boy and His Dog, which has twice been adapted for film, in 1975 and in current pre-production. His work in comic books were equally prolific, with stories in The Avengers, Creepy, Daredevil, Incredible Hulk, Chamber of Chills, Justice League America, Epic, Batman, Haunt of Horror, Crazy, Harlan Ellison's Dream Corridor, Conan, and may others. Ellison's prolific output garnered numerous awards, including an impressive 8 Hugo Awards, 4 Nebula Awards, 5 Bram Stoker Awards, 2 Edgar Awards, and many many others. Ellison could be controversial in his behavior and attitude at times, but there is no denying the scope of his talents nor his impact on the culture. He was 84. Many tributes have come in during the day. At the news of his death, author Stephen King tweeted: "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." Perhaps the rarest of tributes came from my friend, writer/cartoonist Trina Robbins, who posted a photograph from 1955 with her at age 16 and Ellison only 21. Below: Ellison's iconic vision of the Guardian of Forever as depicted in Star Trek, the cover of IDW's graphic novel of the original story, and the writer at work. Related posts: Star Trek 50th, Nimoy Tribute, Shatner at 84, Designer Gene Winfield, Dressed For Space.
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