September 28, 2010

Harlan Ellison isn’t dead yet


Harlan Ellison: Still kicking

Harlan Ellison: Still kicking

Much like tequila, Harlan Ellison is best when taken with a grain of salt. The celebrated writer of speculative fiction (he’d prefer you not call it sci-fi) has never been known to pull punches or beat around the bush and he certainly isn’t going to shy away from talk of his own mortality.

In fact, he’s willing to call his shot:

“This is gonna be the biggest fucking science-fiction convention ever,” Ellison says, “because no con has ever had a guest of honor drop dead while performing for the goddamn audience. The only comparison is the death of Patrick Troughton, at a Doctor Who convention. And I don’t think he was even onstage.”

The above statement was given in an interview with Josh Wimmer for Wisconsin’s the Isthmus newspaper. The convention Ellison is referring to is MadCon and it is one of the largest conventions of its kind.

When asked about how he knew the end was nigh Ellison responded with typical forwardness.

“An old dog senses when it’s his time — dogs have that capacity; nobody doubts that. Nobody. But everybody doubts when you say, ‘I’m dying.’ They think you’re being a Victorian actress. They think you’re doing Bernhardt.”

The good news is that MadCon was last weekend and Ellison failed to live up to his own speculation. As far as we know, and barring any time travel, Mr. Ellison has seen Monday through. So with that in mind go ahead and treat yourself to a little more of the Wimmer interview and the particularly morbid bombast courtesy of a very much alive Harlan Ellison.

Just keep your salt shaker handy.

Paul Oliver is the marketing manager of Melville House. Previously he was co-owner of Wolfgang Books in Philadelphia.