Recently while I was on vacation I spent some time working on a new project and was conducting some research on Harlan Ellison. Somewhat to my surprise, I saw that he had died just a few days prior. His death hadn’t gotten much attention and that was the first I had heard about it. I wasn’t depressed on a personal level. Though I have always enjoyed his work, I knew that he was a very difficult personality, having had famous rows with Irwin Allen and Gene Rodenberry,and sometimes resorting to violence. Still, his great career had come to an end.
Ellison’s work stretched from haunting short stories such as “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream” about a sociopathic/psychopthatic computer to episodic television. His television episodes were among the best, such as “City on the Edge of Forever” from Star Trek, and the two Outer Limits episodes, “Soldier” and “The Demon with the Glass Hand.” Interestingly, each centers on a time travel plot, and two of the three have “correction of the past” plots. Additionally, he wrote for one episode of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, and consulted for 1990’s series, Babylon 5. In the 1970’s he developed the Starlost,
series (focusing on characters wandering about a generational space ark), but was so unhappy with the final product that he essentially kept his name off the credits (the story is credited to Cordwainer Bird which is the pen name that Ellison reserved for his greatest disappointments.
I am glad that I have had the chance to be blessed by his work. Its been a true benefit to many arenas of science fiction.