I first heard Harlan Ellison's name from Octavia Butler during her reading at Cal State Dominguez Hills in 2001. Ellison was one of the first writers to buy one of Butler's stories.

In later years, my dad and I bonded over Babylon 5 and I saw the name again as creative consultant. Still, I hadn't read his work but the television shows Ellison contributed to (B5) and wrote ("City on the Edge of Forever" for TOS of Star Trek) and many more blew me away.

Finally, it wasn't until graduate school that my professor Victor LaValle gave me, as encouragement, two short story books by Harlan Ellison. Encountering Ellison's work for the third time was the charm! I immediately went home and I first read I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream.

Anyone who's read this short story knows that all the twists and turns, all the agony that this story takes you through is completely worth it when you get to that FINAL scene. Finishing his short story, I think, is the first time I've experienced ecstasy, both delight and despair.

I went on to read and buy other collections of his work. I'm nowhere near to having read everything he's written because Ellison is a writer with many years and many stories to his name; however, I pride myself on owning The Essential Ellison collection and am slowly making my way through this Bible. Sunday night, my good friend Kristie texted me: "You like Harlan Ellison. He's on the Sundance Channel."

Unfortunately, I didn't get to catch the entire documentary, Dreams With Sharp Teeth, but I was delighted with bits and pieces that I saw at the Sundance Channel's web site. Ellison's an outspoken (to say the least) man and regardless what some say, I have a lot of respect for someone who has made a living from doing what he loves and does best--telling a damn good story!

Here are some of his thoughts on how writers are treated by other professionals in the media. In this digital age, there are plenty who will disagree with his opinions but let's be real--he's old school. I think every writer needs to be reminded of what he says, if only to know that the work writers do is valuable. Check it out!



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