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About Ellison
james_nicoll
Character isn't only who you are in the dark. It's also who you are up on a stage, in front of thousands of people.

Is he senile or merely poorly house-broken?

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He grabbed Connie Willis's breast while up on stage during the Hugo ceremony.

... just do something new recently, or was this just a generalized musing?

Re: Did Mr. Ellison...

See item 3 in PNH's blog on LACon

Re: Did Mr. Ellison... (Anonymous) Expand
My current theory is the latter.

He's not senile - don't let him abdicate responsibility for his actions.

Beats me.

I saw him at Readercon, on two successive nights, give a very moving and eloquent presentation about getting older and life and love, contrasted with one of the more ugly displays of public vitriol I've ever witnessed. He's got such weird highs and lows.

Yeah. When H.E.'s good, he's really, really good. When he's bad, he makes you think that it's a pity corporal punishment went out of style.

-- Steve'll point out he's no fan of stocks or the cat o' nine tails, but Ellison at his worst can be so infuriating...

(no subject) (Anonymous) Expand
Re-enacting a moment between Jamie Lee Curtis and Jon Lovitz?

Back at college I took a class in Science Fiction as Literature, and one day the professor said the worst insult he had ever received was when someone once told him that he reminded them of Harlan Ellison.

--arthur

I am taken back to a fond con memory (thus, a distant one), with Robert Asprin getting in my grill because I said Harlan Ellison is often tough on fans. (Controversial, huh?)

I will add to my knowledge that he is tough on nearby female writers, too.

Asimov did that, and worse, when he got to Ellison's age.

I vote for senility.

.... Asimov cultivated the rep of a Dirty Old Man quite deliberately, and it was part of his public behavior portfolio for a LONG time.

He also was not, as far as I can ascertain, nearly as acerbic and confrontational as Ellison. I.e., both of them exhibited the same reprehensible behavior towards women, but that seemed to be Asimov's major vice, while it seems to be only one of several Ellison negative traits.

I vote for poorly housebroken, since "senility" would imply that this was something new.

I met him in 1983 in Sydney, my first-ever con. He came out of the hotel as I was staggering in with a huge suitcase (I'm female, just under 5ft tall and then was 24 years old.) He carried the suitcase to reception for me while I flapped around because I'd heard he had a bad back. The case was heavy because I'd been going mad in bookshops for a week. He then basically ignored me for the rest of the con, not least, I suspect, because I went into glazed-brain fangirl mode every time I saw him. Dunno what this adds to the discussion. Maybe that he acts on the spur of the moment?

He was nice to me at some event back at Dangerous Visions bookstore in L.A.(-ish) in the late 80's/early 90's...I don't know how tall Connie Willis is, but I've been told that he's nicer to *short* women. (I'm 5'2".)

It's things like this that make me dearly wish the "little fuck" story were true.

I've heard that story from at least three people, about three different authors.

Okay, so obviously he's trying to put the enfant back into enfant terrible.

Isn't he about 50 years too late for that party by now?

Nancy Lebovitz likes to say that Harlan Ellison used up her patience for public tantrums.

I wonder if Usenet, that worldwide stage for cranky behavior, has used up my patience for public flaming.

When I reread Ellison's mighty rants and dramatic lettercol battles, all I see anymore is alt.flame. But at one time this stuff seemed admirably outspoken and feisty.

In the edition of THE ESSENTIAL ELLISON my shadowy masters had me read, some jolly soul had put "Driving in the Spikes" about two or three chapters ahead of "Xenogenesis".

Nothing in the rules says he can't be both.

I've only seen him the once, when he was at Baycon a couple of years back in connection with the suit against AOL. I saw him on a Monday morning panel, when he may have been subdued by conlag, but he was extremely well behaved on that occasion, and actually said words to the effect that he knows he's badly behaved and regrets it when he's in a normal mood state. The impression I got was that he would benefit from from a carefully adjusted dose of lithium -- whether this is indeed the case and he's one of the unfortunates who doesn't benefit, I have no idea.

This is not new

(Anonymous)

Ellison has been behaving badly at cons for a long, long time.

At the Worldcon in 1969, the large projection screen in the main room got broken during some con-related activity (IIRC it was the costume contest). It fell with a tremendous crash and was quite thoroughly broken. Ellison appealed to the room for a collection to pay for the broken screen. Fans cheerfully dug into pockets and several hundred dollars got collected.

The hotel then said, no need -- the insurance would cover it.

Ellison promptly announced that the collected money would instead be spent on X.

Various fans protested; shouldn't it be put to a vote? Wasn't it their money, not his? Ellison just got louder and louder: no, it would be spent on X. (Funding a writers conference, I think it was.) Other con guests and officers tried to intervene; Ellison just got louder and more abrasive.

Eventually, after much noise and ill feeling, some compromise was reached. But it was... indicative.

N.B., I was not there, being a small child at the time. But the '69 Worldcon was justifiably famous. As in, "the hotel went bankrupt soon thereafter" kind of famous. Google around... there are a number of accounts online.


Doug M.

Re: This is not new

(Anonymous)
Ellison promptly announced that the collected money would instead be spent on X.

The Clarion writer's workshop. The fracas inspired an Asimov Limerick,
though just about everything did in those days.

I've been to very few cons, and at only one was Ellison a guest. I saw
him on a Saturday afternoon, in a rather absurd format with four other
writers of reputation varying from "I've heard of him" to the kid who
had written a couple of pages in a comic book (I'm doubtless being unfair
to the latter). It was supposed to be a five-way discussion, but naturally
that didn't happen. Ellison, to his credit, did try to bring the others
into it, but only one of the others (Sclerotic Rings, IIRC) was even willing
to try.

And it was a spectacular performance. I was feeling very unwell, to the
extent that I very nearly stayed in bed. By the time I had walked there
(20 minutes in the Texas sun) I was feeling worse yet. Within seconds Ellison
had made me forget how bad I felt. He answered questions, read a very
brief story, told some anecdotes. I've never seen a standup act as good.
Some of the stories were slightly (very slightly) off colour, perhaps,
but no more than you would expect in reply to a question like "what was
your most embarrassing moment?" - to which he responded with what he said
was his second such, on the grounds that the world was not yet ready for the first.

The next day there was a more sober discussion section in the morning.
This was mainly about SF writers (Farmer, Rocklynne, Sturgeon), facts of
a writer's life, and so on. As with the previous, it was mostly question
and answer. Ellison was the only writer there but he didn't seem to feel
that he was wasting his time, though there were only about ten of us.

A faction in the local SF society had vetoed Ellison as a guest for many
years. He asked one of the women at the table if she was in that faction
(clearly he had some idea that she was), she said yes, but no more was
said of it. As far as I know she survived the con.

This was followed by a very lengthy book signing. I was in and out of
the room so I noticed that it went on for at least an hour and a half,
and that people were bringing in boxes of books. I'd have had terminal
writers cramp before I was halfway through. For that matter I'm not sure
I could have stood in line that long without collapsing.

My impression of Ellison from this con is thus entirely favourable. A
massive talent, a well behaved if not exactly restrained individual,
and a person showing unexpected patience with others. As I said above,
I don't really go to cons, but if he shows up at one nearby, I'll break
that rule.

While I don't have a Connie Willis moment in my history, yet, I've done many
things in my past that I now wince to recall. It's easy to avoid this,
though. Just do nothing.

William Hyde

The superior social skills of fandom.

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