Born in Cleveland

Sci-Fi Writer Harlan Ellison (1934-2018)

The city of my birth—Cleveland, Ohio—has given birth to few celebrities. Among actresses, there were the meltingly lovely Halle Berry and Dorothy Dandridge. Among literary figures, there was only one: Science Fiction author Harlan Ellison. During his career, Ellison has won eight Hugo Awards, four Nebula Awards, five Bram Stoker Awards, and two Edgar Awards.

More to the point, he has written some of the most striking and memorable stories in the sci-fi, horror, and mystery genres. These include “’Repent, Harlequin!“ Said the Tick-Tock Man” (1965) and “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream” (1968). He edited two famous sci-fi collections of stories in Dangerous Visions (1967) and Again, Dangerous Visions (1972). And he wrote what was probably the most remembered episode of the original “Star Trek” series entitled “The City on the Edge of Forever” (1967).

Most of his oeuvre consists of short stories which are as eye-popping today as when they first came out. I am slowly working my way through these stories.

This afternoon, I saw a 2007 film by Erik Nelson about the writer entitled Harlan Ellison: Dreams with Sharp Teeth, which includes multiple instances of the author’s abrasive style. During his heyday, that abrasiveness won him many enemies. In the end, however, what will be remembered are his stories.

It’s good to know that at least one great writer came from my home town.