Harlan Ellison is a lot like the stories he writes: intense, ingenious, and slightly deranged. Ellison has made a career writing “speculative fiction” (a title he prefers to the more mainstream “sci-fi”). He’s also had a prolific career in Hollywood, working on groundbreaking TV shows like “Star Trek“, “The Twilight Zone“, and “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.“.
Ellison is also notorious for extreme behavior. Like many great rebels, he ran away from home at 13 to join the carnival. And during college he was expelled for punching an overly critical professor.
At age 76, he hasn’t calmed down much. He’s taken up the normally sleepy hobby of collecting books – but even this he does to the extreme. In fact, his library has grown so large it’s now become necessary for Ellison and his wife to launch the third edition of The Great Ellison Book Purge. A three-day sale of rare items from the Ellisons’ personal archives in California ends tomorrow. (Thanks to A.V. Club for the tip.)
Among the items on “The Big, Big List of Ellison Goodies”: an original screenplay for an episode of “The Outer Limits” and two personally inscribed copies of Sandman: Book of Dreams (birthday presents from author and friend Neil Gaiman). You can see the full list here.
Ellison dropped in to Studio 360 in 2008 to discuss his books, his beginnings, and his notoriety. He read from his Hugo Award-winning short story “Jeffty is Five” (published later in his collection Shatterday). Moreover, the man is a world class talker with amazing, stranger-than-fiction stories about his own life:
– Britta Conroy-Randall