The Final Days of Harlan Ellison?

Knowing my admiration for writer Harlan Ellison, a friend of mine forwarded me an article from the Daily Page about what was billed as his "final convention appearance" at MadCon 2010, which took place at the end of September in Madison, Wisconsin.  The interview with Ellison was full of serious and humorous moments, but the greatest revelation was the Grand Master's frank acknowledgment of his own mortality.

He said without a hint of self-pity, "The truth of what's going on here is that I'm dying. I'm like the Wicked Witch of the West -- I'm melting. I began to sense it back in January. By that time, I had agreed to do the convention. And I said, I can make it. I can make it."

The interview is a great one and worth reading.  He talks about realizing that the end is near: "I'm not afraid of death, and there is not one iota of suicide in me. All I want to make sure is that when the paper comes out, it says, 'Harlan Ellison died in his sleep.' You're talking to, essentially, a pretty happy guy. No, not 'pretty' happy -- that's television talk. I am inordinately happy. I am wonderfully happy. I am Icarus-flying-to-the-sun happy. I have led a magical life. I have led exactly the life I would wish to lead. I have led the life I guess that everybody in their heart of hearts wants to lead."

Regarding any unfinished projects that exist, he is very blunt about his intentions: "My wife has instructions that the instant I die, she has to burn all the unfinished stories. And there may be a hundred unfinished stories in this house, maybe more than that. There's three quarters of a novel. No, these things are not to be finished by other writers, no matter how good they are...When I'm gone, that's it. What's down on the paper, it says 'The End,' that's it. 'Cause right now I'm busy writing the end of the longest story I've ever written, which is me."

If you're interested in knowing more about my thoughts on the man I call my favorite living author and one of my heroes, read my essay "Harlan Ellison: Speculative Dreamer." 

I hope he's wrong.  I hope he has many more years of writing in him.  I hope he lives for decades more and churns out many new tales of wonder.  But if the end is near, if indeed we are witnessing twilight moments, I hope people take this time to appreciate his impact and all the stories he has given us.


Anonymous said…
I'm sorry to hear that as I know how much you admire him. He sounds like an amazing person.