Octavia E. Butler exhibit:
Yesterday I braved the L.A. traffic to head on over to the Huntington Library in Pasadena to attend the Octavia E. Butler exhibit on its last day. Despite it being a Monday, the exhibit was still packed, and about 90 percent of the attendees were women, with about a third of them Black. I had the best time (over 2 hous!) reading all the text panels, museum labels, poring over all her spiral-bound journals (full of ideas for ger books, as well as motivational affirmations), and letters.
One letter I was super excited to see was a 2-page one from Harlan Ellison (the curators didn't bother to cover up Harlan Ellison's address or phone number on his letterhead. Maybe they thought it was already so well known, so....), dated 19 August 1970, in which he addressed her as "Estelle" and expressed his excitement and admiration for her short story called "Childfinder," meant to be included in THE LAST DANGEROUS VISIONS anthology. He prefaces by writing,
"I now feel I can talk to you on craft without any hesitation. Previously, I felt speaking upfront the way a pro speaks to a pro might intimidate you or hurt your feelings, maybe even discourage you. But it's obvious Clarion not only gave you ego-strength and purpose, but exposed you to my often dumb and seemingly-cruel manner of pushing writers to to their unsuspected limits. So now I speak pro to pro."
In the next two paragraphs of the letters, Mr. Ellison makes a plot suggestion, as well as suggesting be more explicit about the racial identity of the protagonist. as well as adding more dialogue between the protagonist and another character.
Near the end of the letter, he writes, "As you can tell, I'm vastly enthused about the story and its potentialities. I think it's going to be a glorious addition to the book, and I only wish it was going to be in AGAIN, DANGEROUS VISIONS rather than having to wait tll THE LAST DANGEROUS VISIONS. Please let me know what you think of my suggestions. Call collect if you like."
The accompanying museum label states that the story "was eventually published in in the ebook UNSUSPECTED STORIES."
Hanging on the wall above the glass case displaying the letter is a great blown-up black and white photo showing the participants of the 1970 Clarion workshop, and this photo is also reproduced in the beautiful free brochure of the exhibit. We see the participants all standing, except Harlan Ellison, who is seated front center and wearing what appears to be a loud plaid smoking jacket with creased wide-bottom trousers. He is holding a pipe.
I'm so glad I went to the exhibit. I came away very moved and inspired. I wanna read everything of hers now....
I just received my copy of the trade edition of A LIT FUSE. in the mail, and it's a beauty. The dust jacket is unusually glossy and sturdy, and the paper quality is exceptional. The first thing I did was turn to the index and look up "Hecht, Ben," which I always do when I get a new non-fiction book. Why? Because I know that when Ben Hecht is mentioned in a book, it's going to be good. Hecht isn't listed in the index of A LIT FUSE, but many other enticing names are, and I can see that this is going to be a very enjoyable read indeed. I could hardly ask for a better summer treat.
I'm glad you could be there for your dad. You honour him.
Harlan Weads, and, if I may, Tonstantly.
With a small otherworldly kick in the pants from Dorothy Parker, Here is Harlan reading "Opium".
- Brian Phillips, standing up...for a bit.
A Lit Fuse / Harlan Ellison mentions in new TZ book
Well, I received my trade hardcover edition of A LIT FUSE, and I greatly look forward to reading it. Of course, I had received my beautiful, slipcased limited edition of A LIT FUSE back in May. I was eager to read *that* copy...until I found out it had numerous factual errors, and decided to wait for the regular trade hardcover edition, which has corrected these errors.
For fans of the original TWILIGHT ZONE series with Rod Serling, there is recent book entitled EVERYTHING I NEED TO KNOW I LEARNED IN THE TWILIGHT ZONE by TV critic Mark Dawidziak. The book has this really lame@$$ title, and I'm not sure it really adds anything meaningful to Twilight Zone scholarship (I see it as fun bathroom book for TZ fans).
...There are a few Harlan Ellison mentions found therein; most movingly, there is a quote by Harlan Ellison from an interview he gave the author from a couple of years back (about the same time he disappeared from this board and from any public appearances):
"I didn't write for the original TWILIGHT ZONE, as you know, but I had the privilege of knowing two of the writers whose magnificent talents helped shape it; Charles Beaumont and Richard Matheson. I remember almost every episode intimately, and my favorite is 'Two,' the one with Charles Bronson and Elizabeth Montgomery. it speaks to the aftermath of war. Why is it the favorite? Because it is. And the lesson? I have no idea what the lesson is, kid. I'm eighty-one years old. Things don't have lessons for me anymore. There are great memories and there a small memories, and that's a great memory of the original TWILIGHT ZONE."
I told you on Facebook, I just lost my Dad in December, so when you get back, we'll get together and commiserate. Condolences.
An Ohio fan writes about Harlan:
Steve -- Dads are very special people in our lives, and if they were good Dads, as yours obviously was, they stay with us and inside us forever. Here's wishing you and your family strength in the days ahead; keep in mind all those good memories.
My condolences too, Steve.
Condolences to Steve Barber
We are sorry for your loss. I can empathize. We lost my own father two years ago this October and the father of my wife passed away not too long before that.
As I said on Facebook, I know how much this hurts. I hope you and Cris have a good trip. I think it'll be good for you both.
Barber I am very sorry to hear of the death of your father. As sons it is our last obligation to them to see that they fly from this world with a much dignity as possible. Well done sir.
My heartfelt condolences on your loss. Your father sounds like a wonderful man. He will, for certain, be missed by all who knew him.
Sincere condolences to Steve Barber on the death of his father. Best wishes for a restorative journey across the country. May you always be among friends.
GETTING BACK TO LIFE
As many of you already know from my posts on Facebook I've been a bit preoccupied lately. Just yesterday, a little over 24 hours ago as I write this, my father passed away after a long bout with Parkinson's and oncoming dementia.
Dad was, in any definition of the term, a National War Hero. Formal commendations from the Commandant of the Marine Corp, the Secretary of the Navy and Chief of the Coast Guard. A Bronze Star with a Valor V, The Legion of Merit, Three meritorious service awards.
Dad worked as a peer with people such as Gen. Colin Powell and Adm. James Stavridas. He worked directly for Caspar Weinberger; Admiral Carlisle Troste (both CNO and Charimoan of the Joint Chiefs); and Admiral William Crowe (Chairman of the JCS and Ambassador to Great Britain).
He had three surface commands and spent time in the Pentagon crafting national policy as far as Navy deployments were concerned.
He later left the Navy and assumed the CEO and Publisher position at the Naval Institute, publishing - among others - Tom Clancy's first book, THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER and Stephen Koonts first book FLIGHT OF THE INTRUDER. Both later became movies.
Yesterday morning he passed away after receiving one final salute from a Marine Sergeant who arrived at our house to do just that.
We grieve and celebrate simultaneously.
Part of my father's illness required I spend a lot of time away from other things. Things I like and enjoy.
Other than one abortive trip to Lake Tahoe our only travels have been back to Annapolis for family things. Our social life effectively ended because Dad could not safely be left alone. I've been unable to seek a full-time position with much gusto, knowing that at any moment I might have to approach a new employer and ask for extending time off.
And now, with the silence that has descended upon our household, all options are again open.
Saturday Cris and I begin a three week road trip across this great land. The first week is hightailing it back to Annapolis for the funeral, a week from Sunday. Then a leisurely ramble back across - using a different route - as we check in on friends, see new places as well as familiar and favorite old ones.
In a couple of months Dad will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery, alongside my mother. He will receive full military honors including the horse-drawn caisson, an eighteen gun salute, and undoubtedly some very high-ranking attention. Our friends in the DC area will, of course, be invited.
So that's what *I* did on Summer vacation.
But I'm back, kids.**
If anyone wants to follow our escapades on the road, and there will undoubtedly be a few, you can follow me on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. I'll be putting up more detailed daily briefs on the blog.
For more details: http://thumbnailtraveler.blogspot.com/2017/08/the-grand-tour.html
NAT SEGALOFF'S book A LIT FUSE is now available as a mass-market hardback, and it's a beautiful edition if you weren't able to snag one of the slipcased lovelies. Or even if you did.
(** And some of you might logically be wondering what the **** this has to do with Unca Harlan. It means, dear kiddies, that I can finally get in Lil Red and wander up to visit him, something off the "possibilities" list for the last six months. And I can hardly wait.
This, this is why I hate living in a small space ...
... all my books are in boxes. I have to root around in them like a pig hunting truffles. That's no way to live. There oughta be a law that sez you get sufficient living space to put all your books on shelves. Like civilized people do.
There. I've had my say.
Newly uploaded Harlan Ellison clips!
From 90 Minutes Live (16 minutes of it)
Harlan and Merv Griffin (!)
As a bonus, a Kurt Vonnegut interview, also from 90 Minutes Live:
- Brian Phillips
I Haven't Posted Here For A Long Time But Need To Report This
I find it deeply, if accidentally, amusing that the current worldwide copyright holder for the "Terminator" universe is a guy named David Ellison, and that James Cameron has to go to him, hat in hand, to negotiate a license if, as is currently actually happening, he wants to reboot the series.
He has to beg a guy named Ellison.
This is just a wonderful, accidental happenstance that I adore deeply.
The essay is in "The Harlan Ellison Hornbook" (Installment 34, 6 September 73), Gwyneth.
Thank you, Andrew J. Wilson!
That's it! I knew he was named after a character in "The Thief of Baghdad." I should have remembered Ahbhu, since, in the film, the character is turned into a dog! Yes. Thank you very much!
Do you happen to recall where H.E. related the story? I'd like to re-read it, and my bookshelves are triple-deep in books, behind stalagmites of books on the floor, at this point.
If memory serves, Harlan's Puli was called Ahbhu.
A Man and His Puli
I should remember this. What was the name of Harlan's Puli?
Thanks all, and Hello, it's been a long time!
Don't sweat it. I wasn't trying to bust your chops. You should see me do my taxes. You wanna see fiction writing? ...
Apologies to Alex (and Ben)
I had to wait a while before responding. I'm sorry, you are absolutely correct. I really have to be more careful with what I read and what I post when I am short of sleep (I work nights). That's the only excuse I can offer.
"The human race
toward the light
and there is a feeling here
of genuine wonder"
for both present
seeing with the eyes
much... of ...'reality'
is merely shadow...
These are human beings
transcending their limitations"