Unca Harlan's Art Deco Dining Pavilion

Discussion of the man and his work.

Welcome to the Art Deco Dining Pavilion! Here's the deal. This is Harlan's little breakfast nook at Webderland. When he's not here, we chat about him and his work. When he is, we act like we're guests in his home. That's about all there is to it. (link to More specific rules) Oh, and since the nook doesn't exactly hold a crowd (and to prevent the less frequent voices from being drowned out), please limit yourself to one post a day unless Harlan asks you a direct question. The Pavilion Annex is available if you're the logorrheic type. Also, we have archives of old posts. RSS Feed

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Displaying board posts 1 through 25 - showing messages at a time.

Jason Davis <ellison.editor@gmail.com>
Burbank, CA - Tuesday, May 22 2018 16:3:52

Attn: Mark O.
"Darkness Falls in the City of Angels" was collected in Appendix B of THE HARLAN ELLISON HORNBOOK, currently on sale at this URL: http://www.harlanellisonbooks.com/product/the-harlan-ellison-hornbook/

Bruce D.
- Tuesday, May 22 2018 14:43:8

Scooby Snacks

One more time for Mr. Ellison and Hatecraft:


Mark O.
New York, NY - Tuesday, May 22 2018 14:13:39

Can anyone direct me to the complete text, online or otherwise, of Harlan's "Darkness Descends on the City of Angels", which ran in the September 1988 issue of Los Angeles Magazine? Was it collected somewhere?

Many thanks.

Honolulu, Hawaii - Tuesday, May 22 2018 11:8:8

A remarkable life:
Godspeed to Dovey Roundtree


Steve Evil <evening_tsar@hotmail.com>
Steel City, Ontario - Tuesday, May 22 2018 10:16:39

Writers as superhero. . .
How you been Ezra?


While I personally am not huge on Holmes pastiches (still digging through the original canon), I did enjoy "Time After Time". I thought the idea of Wells himself going through time to battle evil was nifty, but I've always rather liked the idea of using writers as slightly larger than life versions of themselves in fantasical fictions. I vaguely remember "The Adventures of Mark Twain", and the incredibly bizarre "Kafka". The only redeeming quality of the abysmal straight-to video "Necronomicon" was the wrap-around story featuring a sword-wielding HP Lovecraft as a paranormal investigator.

Any other examples? I think our esteemed host would be an ideal candidate for such a treatment. . .

(or would that blow his secret identity?)

-Steve E.

Robert Nason <nightwriterblue82@gmail.com>
Whitestone, NY - Monday, May 21 2018 23:23:44

Master of the Sherlock Holmes pastiche

To my mind, the master of the Holmes pastiche is Nicholas Meyer, whose trilogy of Holmes books -- THE SEVEN-PERCENT-SOLUTION, THE WEST END HORROR, and THE CANARY TRAINER -- are as good as it gets. I happen to read the third volume for the first time just this week. Holmes takes on the Phantom of the Opera, and while the novel is essentially a retelling of Gaston Leroux's story, seeing it through Holmes's eyes gives it a definite freshness. I wasn't quite convinced by Holmes's ability as a violin player to land him a job in the orchestra of the Paris Opera, but I let it pass. Holmes is a genius, so with him anything is possible, even fancy fiddling. The book is worth the price of admission just for Meyer's sly and witty footnotes, though it ultimately can't hold a candle to the previous two books of the trilogy. The date of the novel is 1993, which leads me to suspect that the huge success of the PHANTOM OF THE OPERA musical when it opened on Broadway in 1988 may have inspired Meyer to pit Holmes against the suddenly very popular Phantom. Fortunately Meyer's Phantom is the ghastly one of Leroux's novel, not the handsome young fellow with a minor facial scar of the dreadfully sentimental musical. Time for a fourth volume, Mr. Meyer.

I'm sure most of you know that Meyer is also the director and writer of STAR TREK II and STAR TREK VI, co-writer of STAR TREK IV, and director and writer of TIME AFTER TIME, that delightful film about H.G. Wells using his time machine to track down Jack the Ripper, who has used it to escape to 1970s San Francisco. A talented man, indeed.

- Monday, May 21 2018 5:0:27

David if you enjoyed THE HOUSE OF SILK you should read MORIARTY also by Horowitz. Do not read about the novel to avoid spoilers just read the book. Well worth your time.

E. Kang
- Sunday, May 20 2018 22:57:30

Screwed up on the BWFF clip, if anyone cares; just rewind to the title opening and Bach blasts away right after the Warners logo.

E. Kang
- Sunday, May 20 2018 22:53:4

The later HOLMES stories.

Haven't read it since I was a kid, but I remember liking HIS LAST BOW, set against the eve of WWI.


Since the subject of the music in 2001 just came up, one of Kubrick's most alluring talents was his connection with the soundtrack. A big reason I like BARRY LYNDON so much. (I'd even argue the soundrack is the true star of the film, even before the photography). Kubrick routinely turned to sources of music for inspiration, and in the case with BL, he referenced The Godfather while discussing Handel's Sarabande with composer Leonard Rosenman.

Now, banking off that, I was looking at a vintage gem some of you probably know, the Robert Florey/Peter Lorre film THE BEAST WITH FIVE FINGERS. It uses Brahms' transcription of the chaconne from Bach's Violin Partita in D, so much the way Kubrick uses music in his films that I wouldn't be stunned if he'd turned to this one as well. (The effects work in BWFF, btw, is among the best I'd ever seen anywhere - seamless in ancient pre-CGI).

Sarabande used in Barry Lyndon:

Bach in The Beast With Five Fingers:

Or more specifically:
(Brahms' transcription for left hand of the chaconne from Johann Sebastian Bach's Violin Partita in D minor)

I guess I love adagios and dirges!

David Loftus <loftuscoosbay (at) "Gee Mail">
Portland, OR - Sunday, May 20 2018 19:36:43

Holmes and Gilliam

I like Sherlock Holmes pastiches -- GOOD ones -- and I've read quite a few over the years. My wife Carole ran across a fairly recent one (2011) at a library book sale, so we've been reading it aloud over dinners.

It's called _The House of Silk_ by Anthony Horowitz, and it's pretty good. Shouldn't be a surprise, since he's got a lot of other mystery novels under his belt -- the "other books" page mentions the Alex Rider Series, and the Diamond Brothers Series, neither of which I'm familiar with -- but what caught my eye is that he was the creator of the marvelous BBC/PBS World War II detective series "Foyle's War," which we liked a LOT.

The book also reminded me of a video interview clip I once saw in which Harlan talked about the original Doyle stories, and how inferior most of the ones that followed Holmes's "resurrection" from the "The Final Problem" were, because the author obviously had been dragged back to the work and his heart wasn't in it.

Does anybody know where/when that Ellison clip can be found online?

I'm also delighted by the news that Gilliam managed to finish his Quixote project, especially starring the excellent Jonathan Pryce and Adam Driver. When the documentary about his original collapsed attempt with Jean Rochefort and Johnny Depp came out, "Lost in La Mancha," I got to write about it for DocumentaryFilms.net, and the sample footage from that project was terrific, but I figured that was it for Gilliam and the Don:


Robert Nason <nightwriterblue82@gmail.com>
Whitestone, NY - Sunday, May 20 2018 14:58:7

Still arguing about 2001 a half century later

Stanley Kauffmann was one of the America's great film critics, but he was dead wrong about 2001. For a much more insightful understanding of the film, see Penelope Gilliatt's review in The New Yorker from 1968:


- Sunday, May 20 2018 8:51:37

2001 A Space Idiocy
Stanley Kauffmanm's 50 year old review says it all. I do credit it for introducing me to the fantastic music of Gyrgy Ligeti though.


Janet Gamache
Victoria , BC - Saturday, May 19 2018 20:0:26

It is said
that the dreamer
by the times...
to animate
this realm
the sound
of silver bell laughter


Kenneth Stevens <stevens.kenneth@gmail.com>
Knoxville, Tennessee - Saturday, May 19 2018 17:37:54

Any sufficiently advanced magic...
A few months back I was idly leafing through 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY as well as CHILDHOOD'S END when I realized with a start that Clarke believed that eventually science would reunite with hermeticism. Both stories are tales of occultism as much as they are works of science fiction.

E. Kang
- Saturday, May 19 2018 12:50:4

Kubrick's Aliens

The only story I was familiar with prior to the one about the polka-dotted suits is Doug Trumbull's slit scan tests, which, if I remember right, looked like a "squeezed flame" and was discarded as unconvincing.

It seems like they were aiming for "energy being" ideas, a bit like the ones seen in the original Outer Limits a number of times, in which they'd similarly used a polka-suit, reversed in an optical printer (the pre-CGI state-of-the-art).

In any case, leaving the aliens unseen was the most effective option.

Robert Nason <nightwriterblue82@gmail.com>
Whitestone, NY - Friday, May 18 2018 22:1:49

E. Kang --

The "ballet dancer in a special polka-dotted suit filmed against a black background" was in fact none other than Dan Richter, who played the man-ape Moonwatcher in the Dawn of Man sequence in 2001.
It's just one of the many fascinating facts I learned about the film from Michael Benson's new book. It also came as a complete surprise to me that all the breathing sounds we hear from the astronauts in the second half of the film are the breaths of Stanley Kubrick himself -- outdoing Alfred Hitchcock in the cameo of all cameos. At the end of post-production, Kubrick put on one of the space helmets and went to the recording studio and had his breathing recorded for about a half hour. 2001 will never sound the same to me again.

- Friday, May 18 2018 17:15:33

Romaine Lettuce is safe to eat again
STEVE E! It has been a long time. Good to hear from you. I too miss the boards where one could freely discuss music and movies and politics and other topics non-Ellisonian. (Not like this place heh heh heh.)


According to Jerome Agel's THE MAKING OF 2001, in the quest for a convincing looking extra-terrestrial they ran the footage of the dancer E. KANG referred to through a video synthesizer, nascent technology in the late sixties, and got some eerie effects, but it was too late in the production and the film was already ten million dollars over budget. Agel provides a couple stills in his book and while it's hard to tell how effective they would have been without seeing them in motion they do indeed look weirdly alien.

The American Film Institute has announced a 50th anniversary screening of the movie the week of the 4th of July at their fine art deco Silver Theater up in Silver Spring. It will feature a 70mm print struck from brand spanking new printing elements made from the original camera negative. I am assuming Your Nation's Capital won't be the only Urban Nucleus in which the movie will appear.


E. Kang
- Friday, May 18 2018 13:38:3

From the mighty hammer of Steve Evil, a great Harlan recommendation.

(PS ~ I love and grok Canada)


Sagan and Kubrick:

In his book The Cosmic Connection: An Extraterrestrial Perspective, Sagan explained, “I argued that the number of individually unlikely events in the evolutionary history of Man was so great that nothing like us is ever likely to evolve again anywhere in the universe. I suggested that any explicit representation of an advanced extraterrestrial being was bound to have at least an element of falseness about it, and that the best solution would be to suggest, rather than explicitly to display, the extraterrestrials.”

'Though Kubrick would experiment with literal ways to show aliens in 2001, like hiring a ballet dancer in a special polka-dotted suit filmed against a black background, he settled on Sagan’s insinuation of extraterrestrials.'

As it was Kubrick's film, all final decisions were up to him, and it was a great choice to leave aliens unseen. One of the reasons the movie still holds up so well, dodging the literalism too many sf films aim for, which dates them all the sooner.

Steve Evil <evening_tsar@hotmail.com>
The Hammer, Soviet Canuckistan - Friday, May 18 2018 12:51:54

Catching Up - Harlan Related
Hey folks, long time no hear!

My student isn't showing up today, so I'll loiter here instead.

Favourite Unca Harlan stories (at the moment?): "In Fear of K." and the one from "Gentleman Junkie" about the black lawyer.

Attended one of our hosts lectures in Cleveland not-too-many years ago: he was awesome. Signed my books and shook my hand. Have since lost one of the books to a flood, but the other one survived!

Miss the old Boards.

Keep ROckin'

_Steve E.

Dennis C
GLENDALE, CA - Friday, May 18 2018 8:21:18

Terry Gilliam interview
I know Harlan is a fan of Terry Gilliam, so I thought I'd post this interview with Gilliam about his long-delayed DON QUIXOTE project:


Robert Nason <nightwriterblue82@gmail.com>
Whitestone, NY - Thursday, May 17 2018 22:34:21

Alex --

Kubrick didn't tell Clarke to get rid of Carl Sagan from the dinner. It was only after the dinner that he told Clarke to get rid of Sagan as a potential advisor to his film 2001. Apparently Sagan offered some critical remarks about the film's story which irked Kubrick, and he decided not to use him on the film just as he decided not to use many people whose input he did not find helpful. Nothing very extraordinary about that. And yet later, when Kubrick was contemplating adding a documentary prologue to 2001 consisting of black-and-white footage of a couple of dozen scientist discussing the possibilities of contact with extraterrestrials, he contacted Segan to participate in the interviews. Unfortunately Sagan insisted upon editorial control of his interview AND a percentage of the film's net profits. Consequently, Kubrick didn't use him. Again, not very shocking. Even Arthur C. Clarke didn't get a percentage of the film. Kubrick eventually did shoot the prologue but wisely decided to discard it, as he did the film's narration and a great deal of the dialogue, which some consider a foolish decision and others a stroke of genius, depending on what you think of the final result.

- Thursday, May 17 2018 21:20:29

On Sagan ...
I'm just wondering. Can anyone provide me with an anecdote where Carl Sagan has people come to his home and he tells the guest who brought someone "to get rid of him, I don't care how"?

My suspicion is that no such anecdotes exist. Perhaps that's the more useful item to focus on ...

- Thursday, May 17 2018 15:10:59

At least he wasnt an astrologer.

E. Kang
- Thursday, May 17 2018 11:49:7

I'd missed the news 3 days ago that Margot Kidder passed away. That sucks. She'll be missed.

W. Owen Powell
Bloomington, IN - Wednesday, May 16 2018 23:32:6

Had I a car with dashboard, I would absolutely be cool with keeping a bobblehead Harlan Jesus plonked squarely in the middle of it.

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