RARA-AVIS: Re: Harlan Ellison

From: Richard Moore ( moorich@aol.com)
Date: 27 Oct 2007

I have a permanent warm spot in my heart for Harlan Ellison dating from the day I found his 1960 Ace Doublebook on the rack at Clark's Drug Store in Stockbridge, Georgia. On one side was his novel THE MAN WITH NINE LIVES and on the other a short story collection A TOUCH OF INFINITY--all science fiction. What made the collection different was the inclusion of individual story introductions by Ellison for each short story.

It was the first time I felt connected to a contemporary writer-- connected to his thoughts and goals in each story. It blew me away and soon thereafter I found on the same rack a collection of his stories of youthful crime THE JUVIES, also published by Ace Books. Rare in those days, the back cover featured a picture of Ellison, looking way cool with a jacket with the collar turned up and smoking a cigarette.

From that day forth I bought everything by Ellison I found and since I was by then introduced to the used book shelves at the Peachtree Book Store in Atlanta, one block from the Fox Theater, there was quite a bit among their used magazines.

Ellison has an electric quality about much of his prose that then and now I cannot resist. Moreover, I feel I have history with the guy even though we have never met. This comes from decades of reading his story introductions, his essays, the television essays in THE GLASS TEAT collections...all of it. I feel as if I know the guy and, no matter what he says or does, I accept it and continue to like him. Yes, I have seen the video of him groping Connie Willis at the World Science Fiction Convention as she presented him with an award. Bad, agreed. But I think he was trying...well, why speculate. He did it and it was bad but...sigh...I forgive him.

One of my very good friends in this world is Ted White, a science fiction writer and editor, who may be the only person with more enemies in the science fiction world than Harlan Ellison. I go back more than 25 years with Ted but he and Harlan go back over fifty years. Harlan's MEMOS FROM PURGATORY was dedicated to Ted (although the dedication was later replaced if not retracted). Ted (IIRC) bailed him out of jail during the events described in that book. Their relationship had severe ups and downs and I've heard all the nitty gritty including the welching on a bet lost over who was performing on a jazz record that resulted in near violence. But I've also heard about the piece Ted wrote about the riots at the Newport Jazz Festival circa 1960 and how it was Harlan, then an editor at Rogue Magazine, who rewrote the lead paragraph and made the piece click. Through it all, the friendship endured the bumps, the bruises and the periods of silence that were broken by the late night phone calls prompted by the long trails of memories.

I could belabor the point with more detail but the fact is I am a sucker for Harlan Ellison, which includes anything he writes, and I suppose, damn near anything he does. It all goes back to 1960 when that Ace Doublebook opened my eyes to new worlds.

Richard Moore

--- In rara-avis-l@yahoogroups.com, vhend1234@... wrote:
> Someone just mentioned him. I haven't heard anything for a long
time and he
> used to be one of my favorites, as well as a regular subject of
gossip. Is he
> still alive and writing?
> Vicki
> ************************************** See what's new at
> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

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