Harlan Ellison

On this date in 1934, Harlan Ellison was born in Cleveland, Ohio. A prolific writer, Ellison has penned 75 books and over 1,700 short stories, articles, columns and screenplays. His books and collections of short stories include “I Have No Mouth & I Must Scream” (1967), “Approaching Oblivion” (1974) “Deathbird Stories” (1975) and “Strange Wine” (1978). He worked as creative consultant for “The Twilight Zone” (1985–1986) and as a conceptual consultant for “Babylon 5” (1994–1999). Ellison wrote scripts for such well-known shows as “Star Trek” – including the famous episode, “The City on the Edge of Forever” (1966) – and “The Twilight Zone.” He has won numerous awards for his work, including 8 Hugo Awards in 1966, 1968, 1969, 1974, 1975, 1978 and 1986; the P.E.N. International Silver Pen in 1982, for “An Edge in My Voice” (1985), which was published as a column in L.A. Weekly; and the Georges Melies Fantasy Film Award for Outstanding Cinematic Achievement in Science Fiction Television in 1972 and 1973.

Ellison was raised Jewish, but became critical of religion. “The people who bomb churches and synagogues, they quote the bible. The people who shoot doctors use the bible,” Harlan said during a 1997 episode of “Politically Incorrect” with Bill Maher. In the 2008 documentary, “Harlan Ellison: Dreams With Sharp Teeth,” Ellison said: “I find nothing more ridiculous and annoying than some guy who runs a kickoff back 105 yards from the end zone and drops to his knees and thanks God. Well, that’s foolish. God didn’t do it. He did it. Because if God did that for him, you mean God was against the other team? God is that mean-spirited that he has nothing better to do on Sunday afternoon than beat the crap out of a bunch of poor football players? I don’t believe in the universe being run by that kind of a God. I go with Mark Twain.”

Photo at Harlan Ellison at the L.A. Press Club by Pip R. Lagenta under CC 2.0

“I think [religion] is presumptuous and I think it is silly, because it makes you believe that you are less than what you can be. As long as you can blame everything on some unseen deity, you don’t ever have to be responsible for your own behavior.” 

—Harlan Ellison, “Harlan Ellison: Dreams With Sharp Teeth,” 2008.

Compiled by Sabrina Gaylor

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