There was a quote on that Harlan poster: “I am a blatant elitist. Five or ten percent of the population move society forward and the rest are drones. Anyone who can’t see that is a damned fool.”
Harlan was a pissed off young man, then an angry middle aged man, and probably an ornery old man. He was also an astounding writer, and a major inspiration to me in my career and life.
I think I was dickish to him as a way of joining in his merry dance of aggressive energy and constant scorn. But instead of spotting a kindred soul, he simply didn’t much like me.
But I loved him like crazy. And I take back all the dickishness.
Ty the Guy OUT!
There’s so, so many great Harlan short stories and screenplays. Of course there’s CITY ON THE EDGE OF FOREVER, and there’s REPENT HARLEQUIN, SAID THE TICK-TOCK MAN, and there’s DEMON WITH A GLASS HAND, and SOLDIER, and every single essay he wrote for Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine.
But if I had to bring it down to one story, it’s JEFTY IS FIVE. This is a heartwrenching fantasy story that I’ve only ever found in one place: This issue of F&SF–
I can’t exactly tell you guys to run out and get a copy of a forty year old magazine, long out of print.
But run out and get a copy of something. Star Trek, the Outer Limits, hell, even BOY and his DOG. Something with Harlan’s name on it that he didn’t sue the publisher or producer. (He did that a lot…but he was always right.)
I have a pile of Ellison books on my shelf I recently found in a used bookstore, and since I’ve known Harlan was ill, I’ve avoided reading them, as I didn’t want to be in the middle of one when he passed away.
I’ll be reading them now. I’ll be reading Harlan Ellison for the rest of my life.
I also read “Jefty is five” in the magazine, but it appears to have been collected in Shatterday.
I was lucky enough to read “Jeffty Is Five” reprinted in an old anthology when I was a teen (pretty sure it was the 1978 World’s Best SF compilation), and it’s been my own Ellison fave ever since.
I found a complete copy of it just now, posted on some Asian website and too easily Googled. If his widow and/or his estate are even one-tenth as litigious as he was, I expect it’ll be vaporized sometime within the next few seconds.
A reading of “Jeffty is Five” was issued on LP, and is included in the second of the Voice From the Edge audiobooks, Midnight in the Sunken Cathedral. As a dramatic reader of his own work, Ellison ranks with Dylan Thomas, William S. Burroughs and John le Carre.
Where did you get a poster of Harlan Ellison back then!?
I discovered him while I was in college (mid ’70s), bought and read lots of the paperbacks but somehow over the decades I let them slip away and now I’m finding them difficult to reacquire. I just ordered the 2 Glass Teat books remembering I loved reading those reviews of 60s TV shows.
In the 90s I did a pulp fanzine wherein I serialized “Tarzan on Mars” with my illustrations. I used to send each issue to Julie Schwartz and Julie would send then on to Harlan. One Sunday morning I got a phone call from Harlan who proceeded to tell me all the backstory of the John Bloodstone (psuedonym) Tarzan on Mars book. I knew all that stuff but when Harlan calls up out of the blue you listen!
This one hit me real hard. We need a voice like his in this world and era now more than ever I feel. My experiences of Harlan are probably similar to yours Ty, being around the GTA, many thanks for writing this.
“Jefty is Five” is way up there on my list, but I think my number one fave has to be “REPENT, HARLEQUIN!” SAID THE TICKTOCKMAN and probably the Alex Nino illustrated version
If you need any of the four White Wolf books btw, I’d be glad to gift ‘ya one, just send me an e-message.
Hey Ty. I wanted to thank you for the Bun Toons series over the past few years. Most were good, some were great, and a couple stunk. Pretty good batting average in the end. Whatever you choose to go onto next, I’ll look forward to it. Hopefully you haven’t stopped because of health issues. And one can only hope Stig’s Inferno might make a comeback one day.
I really love this post.
Feline instincts by iocofuria tyger tyger
Damn you’re awesome Ty