If you haven't heard of the author Harlan Ellison, I'm actually jealous...because now you can experience his incredible short stories for the first time, unlike the repeated readings I've dug into the past several years.
Ellison, 82 and living in L.A., is a master of speculative fiction whose short story "'Repent, Harlequin!' Said the Ticktockman" is one of the most anthologized stories ever. Many dub him a sci-fi author, but that box is too narrow; Ellison bridges the gap between magic realism (think Salman Rushdie) and alien-heavy sci-fi, and he does it all with alluring and engaging writing unlike anything I've ever read.
Rather than get into the weeds of how Ellison uses language in interesting ways, I want to encourage you to read any of his stories and get back to me. What did you like, not like? Can you see how today's authors might have been influenced by Ellison? If you read any of his 1960s work, do you see parallels of his central theme still relevant today?
What I've also admired about Ellison is his no-bullshit attitude. One of his best known rants is Pay The Writer, found on YouTube, where he blasts the corporations that take advantage of writers by throwing them peanuts, if anything at all. Dude doesn't mince his words. And yeah, he can be an asshole, but you'll know why once you see the documentary about Ellison and his troubled childhood.
I'll end this ode with a list of some of my favourite Ellison stories, so seek them out any way you can. But try to, you know, pay the writer :)
"I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream"
'Repent, Harlequin!' Said the Ticktockman"
"The Whimper of Whipped Dogs"
"Paladin of the Lost Hour"
"The Lingering Scent of Woodsmoke"
"Mefisto in Onyx"
"Midnight in the Sunken Cathedral"
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Media criticism. Poetry. Theatre. Toronto. Technology. Travel. Sports. Why X-Files rocks.