RIP Harlan Ellison

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2018/07/02 18:33:47 (permalink)

RIP Harlan Ellison

Writer Harlan Ellison died on June 28, 2018. He was a notable figure in what he called speculative fiction, but many would call science fiction (abbreviated sf as he considered the more common abbreviation to be associated with cheesy garbage rather than serious literature).

He was noted for writing many short stories, screenplays and essays and could be funny, outrageous, deep, angry and devilishly clever. All at the same time.

He came to prominence in what was called the "new wave" of science fiction in the 1960's:

The new wave was essentially writing that focused less on hard science and more on, well, everything else. Harlan's writing in particular was often dripping with emotion and the best I can sum it up is here, from his story Hindsight: 480 Seconds (from Approaching Oblivion, 1972):

Haddon Brooks, a poet, stood in the last city of the Earth, waiting for the word impact to come from space. He was being recorded. What he saw, how he felt, all the sounds and smells and smallest touches of the death of his world went up and out to the ships as they began the final journey to new homes somewhere in the stars. His vital signs were being monitored, thalamic taps carried his thoughts and transmitted all the colors of what lay around him, to be stored in memory cassettes aboard the ships. Someone to report the death of the Earth had been the short of it, and from that call for a volunteer he had been winowed from the ten thousand applicants.

Ten thousand masochists, voyeurs, harbingers of destruction, possessors of the death-wish, psychotics, chill analytical thinkers, fanatics, true believers and those who thought they were cameras. From ten thousand he had been chosen, because he was a poet and on this occasion perhaps only the eyes of a certain dreamer could be depended upon to relay the event with enough magic for the generations of children who would be born in space or on distant worlds circling unknown suns.
He looked up into the water-blue sky, past the blinding sun that suddenly flared and consumed the heavens, and he shouted, “I’ll always be with you—” but the last word was never completed; he was gone.

RIP Harlan

I'll have some jelly beans in your memory when I get around to it.

 In order, then, to discover the limit of deepest tones, it is necessary not only to produce very violent agitations in the air but to give these the form of simple pendular vibrations. - Hermann von Helmholtz, predicting the role of the electric bassist in 1877.

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