Remembering Harlan Ellison

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Photo by Pip R. Lagenta

Yesterday—June 28th, 2018—Harlan Ellison passed on to the clockwork castle in the sky.

Few authors have impacted me with their work in the same way Harlan’s has. Many remember him for being irate and outspoken—a bitter misanthrope who would hardly allow you a word in conversation. He was someone with a lot to say, and by God he wouldn’t be caught holding back. But looking at him now (never having met him, but exploring his body of work and listening to various recordings,) I see a man who was passionate about stories: a man who would not let injustices stand, and words go unspoken.

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Mirror

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“You need to hold your hand up to the glass,” Emma’s voice came through the door. “You call out her name three times, and something bad’s supposed to happen.”

“I don’t know that I believe that,” Kathy whispered.

“Then why do you sound so scared?”

“I’m not scared. I just… don’t like standing in here,” Kathy set the candle down on the vanity and watched it flicker for a moment, then looked back up to her own face. Maybe she was a little scared. Her lips curled down slightly, with eyebrows retreating behind the muddy brown of her hair.

She looked down to the sink. The world drifted away, and no sounds prevailed aside the distant tick of a grandfather clock. She wanted to close her eyes, but that proved to be way more frightening than she could tolerate. Instead, she focused on the candle—considering how dumb she’d feel leaving the bathroom without a good try. She raised a hand, and maintaining her focus, placed it on the glass. It was cool, and comfortable. It allowed a little bit of solidity in the shifting darkness.

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Ulysses: An Epic Waste of Time (Explained)

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Undoubtedly there have been times where we’ve walked out of a movie, put down a book, or finished a TV series thinking “Well damn, what a waste of my time.” The phrase comes from a longing unfulfilled—a perceived lacking in said film, book, or show—which leads us to the conclusion that our time has been wasted.

And just as inevitable as the experience of “time-wasting” art, is the approaching critic who says “No, see… That art is genius because it’s like REAL LIFE.”

One of the most stand-out examples of this comes from James Joyce—defending his book Ulysses from the onslaught of criticism once it was published.

“If ‘Ulysses’ isn’t worth reading, then life isn’t worth living.”
—James Joyce

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Gainfully Employed | A Short Story

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“It’s really quite a simple job,” Mr. Witherstone said. Paul couldn’t get the words out of his mind.

Remember Paul… you do not lie during an interview.

And with as serious as his friend had sounded, he was almost inclined to take his advice. Unfortunately for his good nature, his only option was to land this job.

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