Harlan Ellison: Surreal Biographies



Bio from jacket of Borderlands edition of No Doors, No Windows, 1991
Harlan Ellison, impoverished scion of once-wealthy Basque shellfish entrepreneurs, has repeatedly maintained he had no connection with the assassination of Chicago's mayor Anton Cermak in 1933. He continues to assert he was born in 1934 and could not possibly have installed those storm windows for Giuseppe Zangara. Yeah, sure, but where was he when JFK bought it? These questions, and other foodstuffs, are fully examined in this book. Is it warm in here, or did someone just get thrashed with a bolt of lightning?

Bio from jacket of Borderlands edition of The Beast That Shouted Love at the Heart of the World, 1994
Many devotees of Harlan Ellison and his writing were horrified and dismayed when he was sentenced to life imprisonment in Ossining State Penitentiary for the brutal slayings of four minor literary nobodies who had joined forces to bedevil the unstable and violent fantasist. In the space of seventy-two hours last year, Ellison flew from the Pacific Northwest, where he jammed a naval very pistol into the mouth of a punk who published some sort of comics newsmagazine, and blew his pulpy head into a patina of ooze on a beaverboard wall; to New York where he used a dull straight razor on the throat of a failed writer and full- time schoolyard bully; and jammed a lit stick of dynamite up the fundament of a great, fat pseudo-journalist. He then made a brief stop in an adjoining state, where he thumbed out the eyeballs of a semiliterate crank critic ... and then turned himself in. From his cell, Ellison continues to write. Better than ever.

Thanks to David Loftus for both Borderlands bios - Ed.

Bio from dust jacket, Mark Zeising limited edition of Slippage:
This extraordinary amalgam of fictions is the debut offering of the sightless Mennonite mendicant Harlan Ellison, whose treppenwörter carved on the northern face of mysterious, misty mount Ngungun in the Glass-house Mountains of Queensland continue to draw thousands of worshipful aboriginals and garishly-dressed middle-class tourists with lexicons and expensive Japanese cameras every year, despite (or perhaps because of) the negative publicity promulgated by the Royal Archeological Society, Geraldo Rivera, and Mensa. All the children, and most of the auks, recovered. The Right Reverend Ellison - commonly referred to as bwana or jim-dandy - spent the entirety of last year in two marvelous endeavors: writing these succulent stories (and hand-coloring, with the new 64-box Crayolas, all of the accompanying, recently-discovered, Maxfield Parrish etchings) (mostly, as a political position, he used one or another of the eight "retired" Crayola colors - Orange Yellow, Raw Umber, Green Blue, Maize, Blue Gray, Orange Red, Violet Blue, and Lemon Yellow - while eschewing the new sissy smart-ass yuppie oh-ain't-we-trendy Cray-o-las-Dandelion, Wild Strawberry, Vivid Tangerine, Fuschia, Teal Blue, Royal Purple, Jungle Green, and Cerulean), and learning the dangerously-intricate terpsichore of the geometric Italianate waltz known as the "Volta." All the children, and most of the auks, recovered.

Bio from dust jacket, White Wolf's Edgeworks Vol I:
It was not until he threw himself in front of the assassin's bullet at last year's Academy Award cermonies, thus saving the life of Oscar nominee Brad Pitt, that HARLAN ELLISON was revealed as the roped and rowelled vigilante hero of the barrio, El Fiera de Batata ("The Wild Beast of the Sweet Potato"). In an exclusive interview in The National Enquirer, the plucky quasi-superhero's career battling evil and rampant litterbugging was unearthed for an icon-hungry audience of disenchanted pre-millenial Americans.

Though blind from birth, Ellison had so developed his other sensory faculties that he was able to distinguish honest citizens from miscreants merely by the odor of the pheremones they exuded. His one great error in judgement --- kicking to death Senator Strom Thurmond --- was attributed to the right-wing congressman's use of a particularly redolent aftershave extracted from the spines of hedgehogs.

Dividing his time between crime-fighting and running a small bodega in South Central Los Angeles, El Fiera has always found time in the early morning hours to pen his charming children's stories featuring Barry, the beige Bunny, as well as a biography of Betty Page for young adults.

Bio from dust jacket, White Wolf's Edgeworks Vol 2:
The art deco marvel we familiarly know as HARLAN ELLISON has, like The Shadow, led many lives. Readers of Ellison's books have come to be troubled by the seemingly contradictory and apparently miraculous events of the chronology that has been the author's madcap existence. One percipient reader of EDGEWORKS, Volume 1 and previous titles by Our Pal, Harlan, wrote this: "What the hell are you clowns trying to pull here? How can Ellison be a quadraplegic Korean-born private detective on one book, and a seven foot tall black basketball player on another, and a blind nun who writes cookbooks on a third? What the hell are you clowns trying to swing here? What is Ellison made of? Come on, let's have the truth! What, exactly, is Ellison made of?"

Trying to encapsulate the variegated forms of Harlan Ellison in the brief venue of a dust jacket backflap is a Herculean task. But the author has insisted we respond to this loyal reader with the unvarnished, absolute truth. As his publisher, we can only do as we are directed.

Harlan Ellison is made of: partially hydrogenated vegetable oil (one or more of: coconut, cottonseed, and soybean); salt; corn, wheat, and oat flour; sugar; sodium ascorbate and ascorbic acid (vitamin C); blue #1; yellow #6; red #40; niacinamide; zinc oxide; reduced iron; natural orange, lemon, cherry, blueberry, raspberry, lime, and other natural flavors; tumeric color; annatto color; pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6); riboflavin (vitamin B2); vitamin A palmitate (protected with BHT); thiamin hydrochloride (Vitamin B1); folic acid; and vitamin D.

It is not true that Harlan Ellison believes the ghost of his mother rides a tricycle through the ionosphere, whistling "Mairzy Doates."

Nearly Surreal Bio from dust jacket, White Wolf's Edgeworks Vol 3:
Caught a car thief, at age 15 Publicly insulted the head of the Russian KGB at a reception in Sweden Put Rita Hayworth to bed one night when she was drunk, and never tried to cop a feel Was almost hit by a train while speeding through a railroad crossing in Dave Barry's van, with Chuck Berry lasting at 120 decibels Had a serious run-in with Frank Sinatra and his bodyguard in a pool room in Beverly Hills Edited and published the very first collection of stories by B. Traven, the mysterious author of TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE Once stood off the son of the Detroit Mafia boss with a Remington XP-100 pistol-rifle, while wearing nothing but a bath towel Is related to the Shadow Hunted javelina in the Nevada mountains with Philip K. Dick Was a sharpshooter in the US Army Broke the back of his drill sergeant while in Ranger basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia Was in minstrel shows, at age 3 Sang professionally and can be heard in the chorus on the original cast album of the Broadway hit KISMET Knew L. Ron Hubbard Knew Lotte Lenya Knew Lenny Bruce and even ghost-wrote for him Judged a lingerie contest called "The Miss Tush Competition" in company with Chuck Norris Was run out of Brazil at machinegun point by the ruling military junta Was a close personal friend of Isaac Asimov Is a writer whose books have been read and enjoyed and openy praised by Ayn Rand, David Bowie, Buckminster Fuller, Mel Blanc, Samuel L. Jackson and, a couple of years ago, MEFISTO IN ONYX was a favorite of the President and his wife, Bill & Hillary that is Saved 200 acres of watershed land from developers, so it can be dedicated as Edgar Rice Burroughs Memorial Park Was thrown out of Sunday School for Heresy Types 120 words a minute with no errors and no typos

Bio from dust jacket, White Wolf's Edgeworks Vol 4:
For 70 years, HARLAN ELLISON drove a big yellow bus in the Kenosha and Racine (Wisconsin) school districts. He retired in 1990 with a perfect driving record, without so much as a parking ticket.
This is his first book. In 1993, after the discover of, and subsequent abdominal surgery for removal of, adnomas (benign tumors) of the pancreas, Mr. Ellison was persuaded by a large group of children (and adults) who had ridden with him over seven decades, to set down his life story for possible publication. A fortuitous circumstance brought these writings to the attention of White Wolf. During a remote on-location telecast of the Oprah Winfrey show from Chippewa Falls (Wisconsin), one of Mr. Ellison's former passengers, Margaret Owens Mulvane, who had been hired by the staff of Ms. Winfrey's production company to provide antimacassars for the "rustic" studio set, locked the talk show host and herself in a storage closet until Ms. Winfrey had read enough of Mr. Ellison's manuscript to feel she wanted to promote it for publication. White Wolf, after spirited bidding at an open literary auction, won the coveted publication rights to this volume. Thus, Mr. Ellison's freshman endeavors as an author come to a waiting audience. Mrs. Mulvane will be up for her second parole hearing in March of 2001.

Dustjacket, Medea (Phantasia Press): (courtesy Marcia Shindler, m.shindler@worldnet.att.net)
HARLAN ELLISON, a six-foot eleven black man with an absolutely stunning slam-dunk, has, for the past thirty-five years, affected (for business reasons) the dress and demeanor of a five-foot-five Jew from Ohio. He currently resides on the Isle of Skye and raises linnets. Would this face lie to you?

Photo and Bio from Ellison's introduction to the Sandman comic collection Season of the Mists: (courtesy of Chris Day)

Harlan Ellison: Introduction
Harlan Ellison is the author of fifty-eight books and is listed in the Swedish National Encyclopedia.

(Okay, so the bio may have been non-surreal at the time. But that picture gave me some REALLY weird dreams. It stays. -Ed)

Inside back cover, The Essential Ellison:
Born in Jaipur, in the Indian province of a northeast Rajasthan, HARLAN ELLISON is the son of a man who flew "Over the Hump" to Burma with Chennault's Flying Tigers just prior to WWII. Ellison, the air wing's mascot, spoke only Hindi and Urdu until the age of thirteen. Himself wounded twice in the battles of Provo and Needles, Ellison has been confined to a wheelchair since 1961; from his home in Erewhon, Colorado he has, since 1970, produced seventeen full-length epic poems of 50,000 words each. His favorite foods are curried monkey brains scooped steaming from the trepanned skull, and french fries, very crisp.

Outside back jacket, The Harlan Ellison Hornbook:
HARLAN ELLISON, at age twelve, turned his life around dramatically. After six years in the pimento canning factory, he pulled together a troupe of talented amateurs and revived the lost stage are of the minstrel show, performing in blackface almost exclusively at Chicago's "Back O' the Yards" southside ghetto theaters. Heavily attended by University of Chicago physics majors, Ellison's shows became a "must-see" cult addiction for anyone fascinated by Turtle Geometry, leading to his "adoption" by grad students who perceived in the talented, toe-tapping child a cool and refined intellect. Their attentions led the boy to a (many said unhealthy) obsession with Fourier Theorems & Orthogonal functions, but today he is a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, and the Lucasian Professor at Cambridge University. He first gained fame with his seminal papers Supermoduli, Wormholes, and the Breaking of Wind-Replicated Symmetry, which unified what had thought to be widely disparate phenomena.
All the critical essays in this book were produced by the Ellison Algorithm, a powerful and flexible computer program he devised. Most recently, he misplaced his car keys.

Inside back jacket cover, Harlan Ellison's Watching:
(with thanks to rufferta@aol.com)
"HARLAN ELLISON" is the anagrammatic pseudonym of Ranisha Lonell, a 66 year old great-grandmother who, at the age of fifty, absented herself from the material world to join an order of nuns dedicated to the preservation of the wonders of nature. As Sister Marcelina, her leadership of the Ausuble Chasm protest sit-in and the Joshua Tree National Forest intervention brought her to national attention in 1979, at which time her literary career as "Harlan Ellison" was revealed for the first time in a major New York Review of Books essay by Jacques Barzun. Her monograph comparing the Lupe Velez "Mexican Spitfire" films of the early 1940's with the "Gidget" cinematic cycle has been praised by Cahiers due Cinema as "a work of film scholarship worthy of Ronald Firbank." Today, withdrawn behind convent walls and a vow of silence, Ranisha Lonell, Sister Marcelina, continues to write her vegetarian recipes and an occasional book of trenchant essays about the world she has disavowed. Her limp has not improved.

HarlanEllison.com is under new management. Thank you to Rick Wyatt for his many years of dutiful stewardship of this site.