No science fiction and fantasy collection would be complete without the visionary, controversial and brave speculative works of Harlan Ellison (1934-). Often said to be the most contentious person who ever lived, Ellison is known for his highly articulate rantings and ravings and his prolific quotable quotes, as well as his multi-award winning works in various formats. Harlan Ellison represents for many in the western world the marginalized underdog who resists massive forces of repressive conformity and mediocrity, and is seen as a watchdog of a coming global apocalypse.
Our SF & Fantasy collection at the University of New Brunswick Saint John contains approximately 50 resources by and about Ellison, which comprise our first Special Collections exhibit, on display at the new Hans W. Klohn Commons from December, 2011, to February, 2012. The resources include short story collections, print and illustration anthologies, novels, essay collections, an illustrated screenplay, and an “Outer Limits” television programme on videotape.
Two excellent collections of Ellison’s works are The Essential Ellison: A 35-Year Retrospective (with an introduction, “Sublime Rebel”, by Terry Dowling, and including Ellison’s first important story “Glowworm”, 1956), and an autographed copy of An Edge in My Voice.
Our collection also includes The Illustrated Harlan Ellison: The Authorized Full-Color Book of Fantasy and Science Fiction.
Among these classic stories is arguably Ellison’s best and most famous story, ‘“Repent, Harlequin!” Said the Tick-Tockman’, illustrated by Steranko, an award-winning graphic story artist, designer, and magazine publisher.
First published in 1965 this story of rationalized order versus revolutionary chaos located in a future world gone mad with militarization and mass consumption, creates one of the most memorable characters in speculative fiction, Harlequin. Harlequin, the isolated rebel who has lost his revolutionary heritage but won’t be defeated without a hard fight, is an example of Ellison’s message that we must remember the mistakes of history in order to move forward progressively in the present and future.
Other masterworks in our collection include I Have No Mouth & I Must Scream, Love Ain’t Nothing but Sex Misspelled, The Glass Teat (essays about television), Sleepless Nights in the Procrustean Bed, and Angry Candy.
Ellison’s screen adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s short-story cycle I, Robot was considered by Asimov to be the best science fiction script ever written, but it was never made into a film. In the book’s introduction, Ellison explains why.
Ellison has written extensively for and about film and television, and our collection includes a wonderful episode of “The Outer Limits” TV show, called “Demon with a Glass Hand”.
This collection wouldn’t be complete without quotes from the Oscar Wilde of speculative fiction. Here are two we enjoyed:
“It is my hope that all of you who walk down the street with an iPod plugged into your head are hit by a Seven Santini Brothers moving van. … By the way, if I miss saying something offensive to you, insulting your sexual proclivity, your physical disability, your race, your religion, your sex, anything, please, raise your hand. I’ll get to you, I promise.”
“Everybody has opinions: I have them, you have them. And we are all told from the moment we open our eyes, that everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. Well, that’s horsepuckey, of course. We are not entitled to our opinions; we are entitled to our informed opinions. Without research, without background, without understanding, it’s nothing. It’s just bibble-babble. It’s like a fart in a wind tunnel, folks.”