Science Fiction Writer Harlan Ellison Is Dead At 84

"There was no one quite like him in American letters, and never will be." —Stephen King

Science fiction writer, editor, and anthologist Harlan Ellison has died at 84 years old.

Ellison's wife, Susan, confirmed his death via lawyer, Christine Valada. Valada's late husband — comic book writer Len Wein — was a lifelong friend of Ellison's.

Susan Ellison has asked me to announce the passing of writer Harlan Ellison, in his sleep, earlier today. “For a brief time I was here, and for a brief time, I mattered.”—HE, 1934-2018. Arrangements for a celebration of his life are pending.

Ellison was incredibly prolific, publishing hundreds of short stories, novels, screenplays, and criticism; his postapocalyptic story series A Boy and His Dog was adapted into the 1975 film of the same name.

Ellison also famously contributed to Star Trek, having written the beloved episode "The City on the Edge of Forever."

Leonard Nimoy, Harlan Ellison, and @WilliamShatner on the #StarTrek set in 1966.

Ellison was a polarizing figure as well — in an essay on Boing Boing, author Cory Doctorow described his "conflicts" with his former teacher:

[H]e was a copyright maximalist who never really came to grips with the free expression dimensions of his views (memorably, I was once on a panel with him about this where he called someone who disagreed with him on this subject a "motherfucker" and threatened to punch him in the face) and I was in the front row when he humiliated a respected woman colleague in front of all of her peers. [...]

But over the years, as I committed my own share of missteps and came to realize that I'd made them, and as I've reconciled with friends who had done great wrongs themselves, I have discovered some place inside me where two things can be true: that someone did something bad, and that someone did something good. Importantly, I can have these two views without the need to balance them ("the good outweighs the bad, so we can still be friends"), because balance is so often erasure ("with all the good he's done, why dwell on the bad?").

Here's how others are remembering him.

Harlan Ellison: There was no one quite like him in American letters, and never will be. Angry, funny, eloquent, hugely talented. If there's an afterlife, Harlan is already kicking ass and taking down names.

My heart is broken. Off to gather what few thoughts I can for awhile. What an awful day. Harlan Ellison is dead.

Have long thought that 'I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream' is the greatest name for a short story. RIP, Harlan Ellison.

I am hearing from reliable sources that the legendary writer Harlan Ellison has passed away. He was a giant in his own right, of course, but he also discovered and mentored Octavia E. Butler. He was also very supportive of me. #RIPHarlanEllison

RIP Harlan Ellison. Maybe not his most popular story, but Lonelyache has one of the harshest, most familiar passages about depression.

"The two most common elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity." - Harlan Ellison, RIP

My all time favorite Harlan Ellison quote seems appropriate today, and every day: "You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your INFORMED opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant."

I once asked Harlan Ellison how many books and stories he hadn't had time to write because he just had to fuck around and pick a giant fight over every little thing. He said, "Sure, but you can't let the bastards get away with it."

.@TheSimpsons RIP Harlan Ellison one of the all-time great sci-fi writers (though he hated the abbreviation!)

Harlan Ellison was a classic pessimist who thought, just maybe, that we could pull our species out of hell. He didn’t have a lot of hope, but what hope he had burned bright. RIP. “You’ve killed me, too, you fuckers.” [from APPROACHING OBLIVION]


Christine Valada's name was misspelled in an earlier version of this story.

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