I learned from several tweets on Twitter today that Harlan Ellison has died. I didn’t know the man, though I had read a number of his works, but I do have one tale to tell of him.
It was many years ago at the Writer’s Guild theatre in Beverly Hills. I had gone with a Guild member friend to a screening. I don’t recall the film we saw, but I have a vague recollection, likely unreliable, that it was a new (at the time) James Bond film. In any case, after the film a few of the filmmakers responsible held a question-answer with the audience, at which point the diminutive Harlan stood up (looking scarcely taller standing than seated) and made some sort of snarky comment. In response, a number of the audience members groaned and several shouted, “Sit down, Harlan!”
My friend later told me that this was not the first time the Writer’s Guild theatre had hosted such a display of authorial camaraderie.
Harlan Ellison may be gone, but, if there is any sort of after-life, I suspect that he is not resting peacefully in it. It would be wholly out of character.