There are far more eloquent things being written about the death of acclaimed writer Harlan Ellison last week but in the past few years I've lost a few of my heroes. That's how it goes.
Ellison had his detractors. Primarily a writer of science fiction, something he detested to be labeled as, he wasn't afraid to speak his mind. This often led to his reputation of being cantankerous. He wasn't afraid of a fight, but then fighting is what he'd done his whole life.
Raised in the slums he wasn't a good student, in fact more than one teacher told him he would never be a writer. Undaunted he carried on, getting kicked out of college and struggling to find his voice while through it all he never lost his confidence.
His writing credits include countless classic pieces of literature in places where literature is often the last thing you'd find.
For the TV Series THE OUTER LIMITS he penned the story DEMON WITH A GLASS HAND which remains one of, if not THE, highest regarded episodes in a series that had a lot of great episodes. The original treatment had the main character named "Mr. Fish" and boy why they changed his name to Trent from such a charming choice is beyond me.
Ellison also wrote THE CITY ON THE EDGE OF FOREVER which is possibly the best of the original STAR TREK episodes. The episode as aired was exceptional, the script as written (the final was heavily edited) was brilliant. The original script has since been published as well as been turned into a graphic novel for anyone who wants to read it.
Ellison wasn't shy in accepting payment for his work, and as any true professional knows, that's what separates the men from the boys in any creative field.
One of my favorite things by Harlan was this video that he made many years ago about Warner Bros wanting him to provide his time and insight for free on a DVD release;
Rest in peace, Harlan. Although I suspect that whatever astral plain he's landed on he's stirring up some trouble.