Ellison at a 1972 meeting with writers John Furia, Jr., David W. Rintels, and Richard M. Powell discussing censorship in media.Photo: Jeff Robins (Associated Press)
Harlan Ellison, the iconic yet controversial writer behind dozens of beloved speculative fiction and scifi works, has passed. He was 84.
The news announced on social media today by Christine Valada, a close friend of Ellison and his wife Susan, at her request:
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.
— Christine Valada (@mcvalada) June 28, 2018
Ellison's work across multiple genres — from horror to scifi to speculative fiction, across a career studded with awards from the Nebulas to the Hugos and beyond — created a highly influential bibliography for the writer, from the chilling "I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream" to one of the most gutwrenchingly depressing post-apocalyptic stories ever, "A Boy and His Dog." But it also lead to a career studded with controversies, mostly driven by the litany of lawsuits he pursued over his life lashing out against movies and TV shows he deemed too close to his own works, from the original Terminator to, more recently, 2011's In Time.
While his vast roster of award-winning books and stories created a legion of fans, there'll be some who remember Ellison primarily for his television work — in particular, the iconic Star Trek episode "The City on the Edge of Forever." A time-travel tale of romance and heartbreak, it is frequently cited as one of the best episodes of any Trek series — and is not without some behind-the-scenes controversy of its own when it came to Ellison.
The writer was infamously furious with changes made to his first script (which won a Writer's Guild Award in 1968, while the shooting script took the Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation in the same year), and went on to sue CBS and Paramount in 2009 for royalties related to the episode. Under Ellison's supervision, the original teleplay was adapted into a new comic by IDW in 2015.
Ellison is survived by his wife, Susan. [Deadline]