TV/Movie Harlan vs. Story Harlan

General discussions of interest to readers and fans of Harlan Ellison.

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Postby Moderator » Wed May 17, 2006 3:28 pm

Eric - Agreed, and I went into a lot more detail on a separate post so won't regurgitate here.

Duane- I think the open shrub/brush land between houses (the hills behind his and others') are what they want to prevent any changes to. I don't see how anyone could build there, but...

And yes, there are some unique homes in that area, some more than others. ;-)
- I love to find adventure. All I need is a change of clothes, my Nikon, an open mind and a strong cup of coffee.

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Postby Rudiger Treehorn » Wed May 17, 2006 5:31 pm

One of the interesting and indeed worthwhile things about the 'he did something else that paid better' concept is that it pretty much explains every never-appearing book in Harlan's Imaginary Library in one neat bundle.

The Last Deadloss Visions may be a mostly goofy book, but Priest's suggestion that TLDV was simply a casualty of Harlan's 1970's TV work looks pretty convincing now. Leaving aside the problem of making a profit off a 4000-page anthology, the TV stuff does come pretty thick and fast until after The Twilight Zone revival.

And after that, TLDV, its stories now ten years old or more, would be long past its sell-by date -- a massive time capsule but too risky to be seen as a potential money-maker. Once one fills in Harlan's short-story writing in the late 1970's and early 1980's, I think one can see why TLDV or Dial '9' to Get Out never happened -- Logan's Run and The Starlost and short stories occupied Harlan's time more productively, and as he sees all his work as being worthwhile, they form as important a legacy as TLDV or a stuffy old novel ever could have.

More recently, the announcements of never-to-be-seen projects, whether Seven Against Chaos or Shrikes or the Realworlds Superman project, are simply casualties of TV work or movie work or a really good-paying convention.

C'est la guerre.

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David Loftus
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Postby David Loftus » Thu May 18, 2006 10:05 am

Yes, but don't neglect the factor of the chronic fatigue-like illness Ellison caught in the late 1970s. The wonder of it is that he still had as much energy as he did, and got as much written and published as he did.
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rich

Postby rich » Sat May 20, 2006 8:22 pm

David Loftus wrote:Yes, but don't neglect the factor of the chronic fatigue-like illness Ellison caught in the late 1970s. The wonder of it is that he still had as much energy as he did, and got as much written and published as he did.


That's great. But what's the excuse for not publishing lately?

(Admittedly blunt, but I thought I'd throw it out there anyway.)

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Postby Rudiger Treehorn » Sun May 21, 2006 5:19 am

I tend to see the chronic fatigue thing as a non-starter simply because during this period (c. 1978-1985?) Harlan produces his most consistently high quality stories, releases three story collections and at least one book of collected essays, pitches several concepts for a Star Trek movie, writes the Edge in My Voice column, works on at least two TV projects, meets and marries Susan, and releases an original anthology (Medea). As this output is pretty much his normal output for any 7-year period other than the days when he had to sell a lot of stories to pay for food, it doesn't strike me as being a particularly fatigued period for Harlan, regardless of whatever agony he was in while producing the stuff.

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Postby Jim Davis » Sun May 21, 2006 3:20 pm

rich wrote:That's great. But what's the excuse for not publishing lately?

(Admittedly blunt, but I thought I'd throw it out there anyway.)


Well, I'm sure age, the effects of the quadruple bypass, and all the time suckage from the AOL lawsuit have done their part to slow Harlan's productivity to a relative trickle over the last ten years. He's also been doing a lot of voice-over and recording work, so much so that you could almost consider it a main career at this point; and then there's his script-doctoring, con appearances, interviews, and all the minutiae of a typical life (for Harlan, anyway). I don't doubt that he keeps busy.

But that's not what we're really interested in, right? It's funny, all this talk of "why hasn't he published lately?" had me pull out my Rabbit Hole newletters from the last seven years or so, and look through the Ellison In Print sections--and you know what? He has published some new work recently, though it's mostly articles and intros and the like. Some new stories have appeared here and there, like "From A to Z, in the Sarsaparilla Alphabet"--which, incidentally, may be one of my favorite stories by him, ever--and that's not including the ones that he's only read at conventions and the like. So, though his current output is not even close to the deluge years of the '60s, '70s and '80s, I don't know if it's accurate to say he's retired, though he has certainly slowed down.

And you know what? If it's true that he has, and he's taking longer to write stories that, in his younger years, he would have just burned through in no time flat, that's a good thing, in my opinion. Look, no doubt he's written some terrific pieces, many of them classics, but there has always been a certain percentage of his stuff that could have been better with more time and planning. In that light, his admission that some stories are taking longer to finish than he anticipated is not depressing news, by any means. Think about it: "The Deathbird," which I consider to be the greatest thing he's ever written, and one of the finest short stories of all time, is one of the few works that he's copped to revising in any capacity. (In that case, slamming out a first draft and publishing it would not have been the best move, artistically speaking.) If he can complete these new stories, who knows how good they could be, with all the care he's putting into them?

Call me a cockeyed optimist, but I don't think the old man's done yet. Never count out a man who wrote "The Deathbird," as long as he's still drawing breath and is in the game.
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Postby FrankChurch » Wed May 24, 2006 8:18 pm

I've never met Harlan in person, is he nice or can he get snippy, like he does here?

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Postby Moderator » Thu May 25, 2006 8:41 am

I've never (to my knowledge) annoyed the man to the point he was "snippy". I do know he doesn't easily suffer fools, of which there's always one in every crowd.
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Postby markabaddon » Thu May 25, 2006 9:23 am

I had a chance to talk to Harlan briefly at MiniCon, and was in a group where he was talking with other Webderlanders a number of other times.

I had heard all of the horror stories about how snippy he was and he did not suffer fools gladly and you know what? He was great. Harlan is, to paraphrase Hamlet "but a man" and he was admittedly in a very good mood at MiniCon. He stated during a couple of points that it was the most fun he had at a convention in years.

When things went contrary to his wishes, for example, during a Q & A, he wanted to have the setup be just 2 chairs facing each other, rather than him sitting on a panel, he bitched and moaned for a bit, but we got it rearranged to his liking and he was fine.

Another interesting story occurred during a panel discussion on Harlan's works which Derek Anderson and I attended. There were 2 people leading the group, one of whom knew almost nothing about Harlan, and the other was very quiet. So, being the big mouth that I am, I ended up leading the group and facilitating a discussion. Then Rob Ewen walks in the back door.

I nod and wave to him, as I had met him the previous day, and he mouths "HE's here". Then, in walks Harlan. I nearly sh*t myself. Here I was leading a panel discussion, one I had not even prepared to do, and in walks the author.

He stated for us to ignore him, but he piped up after the second question to provide a little old lady an answer about a story in Last Dangerous Visions, Vol 1. Considering the topic, I cringed a little bit when it was brought up, but Harlan was a complete gentlemen. HE left soon afterwards.

Afterwards, I asked FinderDoug and Amy Kostyn Jenkins if I had made a complete fool of myself and they assured me that I had not, that Harlan just wanted to pop in and see what was being discussed.

Can the guy get snippy? Sure, and I think it is well established that he generally does not suffer fools gladly. But I heard so many other stories of HE's kindness and generosity towards his fans that I can say that he is a real mensch.

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Postby Moderator » Thu May 25, 2006 10:28 am

To set my above response in perhaps a better light (and after several cups of coffee): Harlan has always been a complete and utterly fascinating gentleman in every single interaction I've either participated in or observed (which counts a little over a dozen at this point) -- with the single exception of a bitchy little sorority girl in a film class many, many moons ago. Harlan put her in her place, effectively and simply. No more, no less.

The fools he does not suffer well are generally people who are themselves socially inept or downright rude. Harlan is quick to jump to the defense of friends and others when he percieves an affront, not to mention when he himself is the subject of an attack. He'll respond directly, stating his point then moving on from the confrontation with a speed which leaves lesser personalities in the dust. The lesser personalities inevitably try to recover their dignity by insisting that it was Harlan, not themselves, who was surly and unfair.

Unfortunately, in the old west, small-minded amateurs from the hinterlands would customarily track down the reigning Gunman. To create a reputation of their own these amateurs would draw against the Gunman in an attempt to show their chops. Most of them ended up dead.
- I love to find adventure. All I need is a change of clothes, my Nikon, an open mind and a strong cup of coffee.

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Postby Anthony Ravenscroft » Thu May 25, 2006 3:53 pm

Hola, markabaddon. I remain satisfied that Ellison (mostly) seemed to be enjoying himself -- the problem with big conventions is the vastly increased number of obsessive stalkers; though I believe HE deserves adoring crowds, it's often better (& rarer) just to have a chance to breathe naturally.

(Look, I hang out at a little bar where Val Kilmer often pops in on his way home. He gets a first-name greeting, maybe some good-natured razzing like any other regular, & otherwise we leave him alone 'cause he's just another one of us.)
he bitched and moaned for a bit

My feelling was that he/HE was having a bit of fun. Ellison has the skill of over-the-top hamminess that any good raconteur ought possess. When something irritates you, then run with it! Roll your eyes to Heaven, implore God (preferably in Hebrew) to save you from the goyische rubes! In any case, it was yet another of the weekends HE-related high points.
Then, in walks Harlan. I nearly sh*t myself.

Hey, how d'ya think I felt? I was standing at the back of the room, shooting my face off at the time. Ellison stood two steps behind me -- I knew if I said anything egregiously stupid, he could stick a shiv in my ribs & I'd be dead before I hit the floor.

I did manage to only address him directly once, turning around -- but, damn, it feels disrespectful to talk about someone as if they're not there.

My impression is that HE/he simply doesn't suffer fools gladly, & never has. But I guess he's kinda resigned to it, & likely doesn't see much point in wasting further time on the effort, when there's still enjoyable stuff to be done.

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Postby FrankChurch » Thu May 25, 2006 9:15 pm

He is not Mr. Rogers, that's for sure.

Image

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Postby markabaddon » Fri May 26, 2006 9:21 am

Mr. Ravenscroft, I had not realized that you were at MiniCon. If so, and we talked, I do apologize. Shoot me an email if you get a chance and we can talk more about the Con.

I will say that Harlan did seem legitimately (and understandably) pissed about the setup for his interview, primarily because he had made specific requests for several months about how he wanted it set up. Fortunately the staff was able to re-arrange the setup to what he had envisioned.

Actually, I think that was one of the things that HE liked most about MiniCon was that it was a fairly small convention. They said they sold 500 tickets, but it never seemed like there were any more than 200 or so people around. HE had a chance to interact with a bunch of his old friends, make a couple of new ones, and do it in a relaxed atmosphere.

From a party perspective the Con was pretty lame, but it was a lot of fun to be able to interact so much with HE and other Webderlanders.

I will comment more on this next month, but there is another convention in July at the same hotel as MiniCon called ConVergence and it is a blast. Very much a party Con, though. I would encourage everyone in the area who is a speculative fiction fan to attend.
Governments, if they endure, always tend increasingly toward aristrocratic forms. No gov't in history has been known to evade this pattern. And as the aristocracy develops, gov't tends more and mroe to act exclusively in the interests of the ruling class

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Mr. Ravenscroft

Postby Rick Keeney » Fri May 26, 2006 10:49 am

did we meet at MINICON?


Rick

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Postby Jan » Fri May 26, 2006 1:34 pm

You all seem to have made lasting impressions on each other.


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