Harlan Ellison looms large over fandom and the literature of the fantastic. L’enfant terrible in the 50s, the man went on to produce one of the most influential and infamous science fiction anthology series that many consider capstones of the New Wave movement.
I won’t, and shouldn’t need to, mention anything about his work in television, film and fiction.
I first met him in the flesh at Iguanacon, the 1978 Worldcon in Phoenix, where he was domiciled in a Winnebago outside the hotel in protest against Arizona’s refusal to sign on to the ERA constitutional amendment. Working security at the con, several mornings I was tasked with bringing him his coffee and I had the distinct pleasure of spending about 90 minutes with him (“body guarding” and crowd control) as he signed autographs.
Harlan’s no stranger to the Hugo Awards. He won Best Short Story that year for Jefty is Five (read it if you haven’t), and has captured a host of others, plus Nebulas and a roomful of others, not nearly all of them SF related.
Yesterday, a video addressing award mongering, featuring Harlan’s commentary, was brought to my attention. It’s from around 1995 and I thought it appropriate to share it here.
Harlan doesn’t do the internet, or word processors, but his fans and supporters have given him presence through a video channel, a website and book promotion/ordering newsletter. Though I can’t help but suspect that we’d be in for a real treat if he were on line commenting on this current flap.
While I was watching the video, the first of the cracked titles in the post title above popped into my head, immediately followed by the second. And then, in typical fannish fashion, the brain was off to the races . Harlan’s titles are usually catchy (duh!) and, in light of the current “debate” also extremely malleable with humorous results.
Like this one: Pretty Puppy Moneyeyes. Or this – Jokes Without Punchlines (that one didn’t need to be changed in the slightest), or this – Farewell to Glory (which didn’t need to be changed either), or this – Final Trophy.
There are some that might be considered to come from the slate side, like – World of Women, or Satan Is My Ally (neither one altered).
One of the things Trufans do is to apply humor (including heavy doses of word play) to uncomfortable situations.
It’s a game everyone can play. Head on over to the Internet Science Fiction Database to find a full list of Harlan’s titles and mash away. You might feel a little better afterwards (feel free to share in the comments).
I’m so tempted to put more in here – both straight and mashed up, HE’s titles seem as prescient as the video, but I’ll only put down a few more and leave the rest to you all:
Enter the Fanatics, Stage Right
Would You Do It For A Hugo?
The Whimper of Whipped Dogs (unaltered)
How Interesting. Tiny Men
Decades ago, F&SF ran a contest inviting readers to come up with humorous variations of famed SF titles by changing a single letter. One of my favorite entries changed Larry Niven’s “Ringworld” to “Ringwormd.”
The winner couldn’t be beat: “I Have No Couth and I Must Scream.”
That about sums up this sorry situation.