Kiki’s Obits: Harlan Ellison Part 1

A giant has passed, Harlan Ellison. He called himself a speculative fiction writer and if you dared to call him a science fiction writer he said he’d come to your house and nail your dog’s head to the table. He was an extremely prolific writer and last one day working for Disney when he stood up in the cafeteria and announced he was going to make a porn movie of Mickey and Minnie having sex. Here’s some more info about him:

Harlan Ellison

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Harlan Ellison
Harlan Ellison at the LA Press Club 19860712 (cropped portrait).jpg

Ellison in 1986
Born Harlan Jay Ellison
May 27, 1934
ClevelandOhio, U.S.[1]
Died June 28, 2018 (aged 84)
Los AngelesCalifornia, U.S.
Pen name Cordwainer Bird, Nalrah Nosille, and 8 others[2][3]
Occupation Author, screenwriter, essayist
Period 1949–2018[3]
Genre Speculative fictionscience fictionfantasycrime fictionmysteryhorrorfilm and television criticism
Literary movement New Wave
Notable works Dangerous Visions (editor), A Boy and His Dog, “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream“, ” ‘Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman
  • Charlotte B. Stein (m. 1956; div. 1960)
  • Billie Joyce Sanders (m. 1960; div. 1963)
  • Loretta (Basham) Patrick (m. 1966; div. 1966)
  • Lori Horowitz (m. 1976; div. c. 1977)
  • Susan Toth (m. 1986)
Harlan Ellison

Harlan Jay Ellison (May 27, 1934 – June 28, 2018)[4] was an American writer, known for his prolific and influential work in New Wave speculative fiction,[5] and for his outspoken, combative personality.[6]

His published works include more than 1,700 short stories, novellasscreenplays, comic book scripts, teleplays, essays, a wide range of criticism covering literature, film, television, and print media. Some of his best-known work includes the Star Trek episode “The City on the Edge of Forever“, A Boy and His Dog, “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream“, and ” ‘Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman“, and as editor and anthologist for Dangerous Visions (1967) and Again, Dangerous Visions (1972). Ellison won numerous awards, including multiple HugosNebulas, and Edgars.

I suspect he’s either part of the family or close to it; he was close friends Robin Williams and Diane Disney starred in, “The City on the Edge of Forever” as Joan Collins. (Major shout out to Joan for doing “The Stud” in 1978 and as a follow up, “The Bitch” in 1979.)

Ellison on occasion used the pseudonym Cordwainer Bird to alert members of the public to situations in which he felt his creative contribution to a project had been mangled beyond repair by others, typically Hollywood producers or studios (see also Alan Smithee). The first such work to which he signed the name was “The Price of Doom”, an episode of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (though it was misspelled as Cord Wainer Bird in the credits). An episode of Burke’s Law (“Who Killed Alex Debbs?”) credited to Ellison contains a character given this name, played by Sammy Davis Jr.[42]

ED- He signed Cordwainer Bird to City on the Edge of Forever. Probably on the top ten Star Trek episodes for anyone who is counting.

ED- I watched a lot of “The Outer Limits” but for whatever reason I only remember one episode, the one below. It drew on an emotional level and captivated the viewer. It was about some guy running around with a glass hand and looking for his fingers. As he found them he would pop them in. Great show and Harlan wrote it. I’m going to do a part 2 about Harlan where I’ll describe him in even larger greatness.

Demon with a Glass Hand

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Demon with a Glass Hand
The Outer Limits episode
Episode no. Season 2
Episode 5
Directed by Byron Haskin
Written by Harlan Ellison
Cinematography by Kenneth Peach
Production code 41
Original air date October 17, 1964
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
← Previous
Expanding Human
Next →
Cry of Silence
List of The Outer Limits episodes

Demon with a Glass Hand” is an episode of The Outer Limits television series, the second to be based on a script by Harlan Ellison, which Ellison wrote specifically with actor Robert Culpin mind for the lead role. It originally aired on 17 October 1964, and was the fifth episode of the second season.[1]

In 2009, TV Guide ranked “Demon with a Glass Hand” #73 on its list of the 100 Greatest Episodes.[2]

Opening narration[edit]

“Through all the legends of ancient peoples — AssyrianBabylonianSumerianSemitic — runs the saga of the Eternal Man, the one who never dies, called by various names in various times, but historically known as Gilgamesh, the man who has never tasted death … the hero who strides through the centuries …”

(Narrator Vic Perrin mistakenly says “Sumerican” instead of “Sumerian”.)


Trent (Robert Culp) is a man with no memory of his life before the previous ten days. His left hand has been replaced by an advanced computer shaped like his missing hand and protected by some transparent material. Three fingers are missing; the computer tells him they must be reattached before it can tell Trent what is going on. Trent is being hunted by a handful of humanoid aliens called the Kyben; they have the missing appendages. The action takes place in a large rundown office building which the Kyben have sealed off from the world. In this deadly game of hide-and-seek, Trent enlists the help of Consuelo Biros (Arlene Martel), a woman who works in the building.

For reasons unknown to him, Trent was sent into the past via a “time mirror”, located in the building. A captured Kyben tells Trent that both of them are from a thousand years in the future. In that future, Earth has been conquered by the Kyben, but all the surviving humans except Trent have mysteriously vanished. The aliens are being obliterated by a “radioactive plague” that is killing all intelligent life on the planet, apparently unleashed by the humans in a last-ditch effort to repel the invasion. In a desperate attempt to find a cure for the plague and to extract whatever knowledge is stored in the hand/computer, the Kyben have followed him back in time with the missing fingers.

Eventually, Trent defeats all of his Kyben hunters by ripping off the medallion-shaped devices they wear to anchor them in the past. Trent successfully destroys the mirror and recovers the missing fingers, one by one. When the computer is whole, he learns the terrible truth: he is not a man, but a robot. The human survivors have been digitally encoded onto a gold-copper alloy wire wrapped around the solenoid in his thorax. Immune to disease, he must protect his precious cargo for 200 years after the Kyben invasion, by which time the plague will have dissipated. Then he will resurrect the human race.

Trent had thought he was a man, as he and Consuelo had begun to develop feelings for each other. With the truth revealed, she leaves him, pity mixed with horror in her eyes. Trent is left to face 1,200 years of lonely vigil.

Closing narration[edit]

“Like the Eternal Man of Babylonian legend, like Gilgamesh, one thousand plus two hundred years stretches before Trent. Without love. Without friendship. Alone; neither man nor machine, Waiting. Waiting for the day he will be called to free the humans who gave him mobility. Movement, but not life.”

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