Harlan Ellison 1934-2018

I know I said I was done on wordpress but when one of your favorite writers die you have to acknowledge it:

One of my all time favorite authors died this past week. Harlan Ellison was 84 years old he has written thousands of short stories, written numerous screenplays and use to have a regular segment on the show Sci Fi Buzz on the Sci Fi Channel back in the early nineties.

This is where I discovered Harlan, I loved his commentaries and how he had no fear in criticizing anyone who annoyed him. From there I started buying some of his short story collections such as Deathbird Stories, The Harlan Ellison Hornbook, Ellison Wonderland and The Essential Harlan Ellison. The Essential Harlan Ellison is over 1ooo pages long and is the book I spent the most time reading without stopping. On one Saturday afternoon in College I got through 200 pages of the book in one sitting. When you read something from a great author you don’t like to take breaks and Ellison was great.

As good as his writing was it was more fun hearing him rant about things. If you look on you tube you can still find his segments from the Sci Fi Channel along with several interviews he did with Tom Snyder on his old talk shows. Harlan was one of a kind and if you never heard him speak you are missing out.

I was lucky enough to meet Harlan Ellison twice at comic conventions in the early 1990’s and despite his reputation he was very nice. When I first walked up to him he was talking about how he didn’t like The Shadow from 1994. As he was talking I said I thought it was better than the Tim Burton Batman movies. He responded by saying he enjoyed the Tim Burton movies, he just felt The Shadow wasn’t close enough to the original work. Harlan didn’t only have a passion for writing he was passionate about reading, authors and comics. That day Harlan spoke in front of a huge crowd of enthusiastic fans and sold quite a few books.

The next year I saw him at a Chicago comic convention, this time he was there to promote his work on the great Science Fiction series Babylon 5. Harlan had just had triple bypass heart surgery and wasn’t as spry as he was at the previous convention but he still took time to speak to fans and sign books. As we waited for him to speak in one convention hall I noticed the first thing he did was check to see what books everyone in the hall was reading, the man was passionate about books.

Once again I had the honor to talk to him, I knew he had written The City On The Edge Of Forever for Star Trek and helped keep Star Trek on the air in the 1960s. I also knew that he wasn’t happy with the final product of The City On The Edge of Forever and grew to hate Star Trek. Being a fan of Star Trek at the time I asked him if he ever watched Star Trek. He said he only watched his episode and it broke his heart and he never watched again. Harlan took his work seriously and didn’t take kindly to people trying to change his vision.

Another story I have of Harlan was when a friend and I were waiting in line to get books signed by him. After being in line for a while Harlan said he wasn’t feeling well and would return later. He then said that he would let any young kid cut in line and sign for them first. To this my friend wined, Harlan heard it and  yelled “Don’t wine I’m always going to sign for kids before adults.” When we were watching him speak later he told the story of the wining adult causing my friend to shrink down in his seat as the crowed laughed.

 

What was most important for Harlan Ellison was that he wanted to remembered for his work. In one of his Sci Fi segments after his heart attack he said “Whatever you do don’t forget me.” Harlan never had kids, his books were like his kids. So do yourself a favor look Harlan Ellison up on you tube and listen to some of his rants. Watch Babylon 5, Watch City On The Edge Of Forever his Outer Limits episodes and the movie version of A Boy And His Dog. Most importantly read his books.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1XrlRQsRxYfuc47CCJN05w

http://www.harlanellison.com/home.htm

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The End

So this is it. I’m not planning on doing any more blog posts on WordPress but if you still want to find me I’m on goodreads and over at Booklikes.com. You can also shoot me an email at dwatson2@wi.rr.com

Bushville Wins!

I borrowed Bushville Wins!: The Wild Saga of the 1957 Milwaukee Braves and the Screwballs, Sluggers, and Beer Swiggers Who Canned the New York Yankees and Changed Baseball by John Klima from my dad. My dad grew up in the 50’s so he remembers the 1957 world series very well and since I now live in Milwaukee I was interested in learning more about this time in baseball history. This was a well researched book that gives an in-depth look at what I always thought of as the golden age of baseball.

1950’s was a time in baseball where everything was changing and the city of New York was the baseball capitol of the world.  Bushville Wins! starts with 1953, the year the year the Braves moved to Milwaukee through the 1957 season. I loved how this book gets into how the whole state of Wisconsin fell in love with the Braves and how the Braves success led to the Giants and Dodgers moving out west. This book gets a little into how barn storming tours were becoming a thing of the past and the very end of the negro leagues. Television was changing a lot also and more people saw the 1957 world series from their homes than ever before.

My favorite part of this book was hearing about how different the players of the time were. There are stories on how Eddie Mathews loved to get drunk and get into fights, how the sports writers of the time use to protect the ball players if they were doing something along the lines of spending all their time in the bars and how the hero of every Braves win got a case of Miller high life from the Miller Brewery which is located near the stadium.The 1957 season gets described in great detail, I loved how it was pointed out how the 57 world series felt like a funeral to New York because both of their National League teams were leaving town and their fans were rooting for the Braves.

I thought it was interesting how when the World Series shifted to Milwaukee not only did the Braves get a warm welcome but the Yankees did too. The Yankees didn’t know how to act in the face of Wisconsin hospitality which led to Casey Stengel  calling the city Bushville. Stengel became public enemy number 1. New York and Milwaukee couldn’t have been more different but one thing New York found was that Milwaukee fans were much more passionate than New York fans at the time.

If there was anything I didn’t like about this book it was that it gave a little too much detail on certain games in the season and how the fans were reacting to the teams and players. At times the descriptions seemed redundant and I found myself loosing interest at points. The book also made me a little sad it points out how important it was for when the Braves beat the Yankees yet we know the next season the Yankees got even and just a few years later Milwaukee’s love affair with the Braves was over and the team was headed to Atlanta. This made me wonder why did a city that had a team who never had a losing season turn their backs on them? I guess that’s a topic for another book. Since I live in Milwaukee I’m grateful that we have the Brewers to root for now.

 

American Story: A Lifetime Search for Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things

This was an ok book, my dad got it and gave it to me. I loved the concept that it was about normal every day people and why they do what they do. I also liked that the main idea of the book seems to be that life is hard but if you work through the hard times there is always something better coming in the future.

What I didn’t like about the book was that all of the stories were very short and there wasn’t a great amount of detail. With each short story I found myself asking a lot of questions that never got answered. This book is based on a TV segment that Bob Dotson did and I wondered if what we got in this book was the print stories of the 4 minute video stories that Bob did on TV.

Once again there is enough good stories in this book where it is worth your time but if you want to hear about American stories with a little more depth check out The Moth podcast or This American Life.

Immortals’ Requiem

The world we live in is not what it seems. There’s a hidden world within our own where magic is real and all the creatures from our dreams and nightmares exist. Giants, elves, zombies, werewolves, vampires, dragons and wizards are real but they are dying.and so is the world’s magic.  There are some that are trying to stop the magical apocalypse but a new problem makes worse.

Things get complicated when a giant  returns to take over the world after supposedly being dead for 2,000 years. There is hope as a mythological warrior appears to hunt the giant. As the streets of Manchester turn red with blood it’s up to a few magical creatures to save both realities and find a way to keep magic alive.

My description for Immortal’s Requiem by Vincent Bobbe is not very good. This book is more complex then just saying it’s an apocalypse story. If I have any complaint about this book it was that it should have been divided into two books. The characters are deep and they all have their own tales to tell and its fascinating to see how each story fits into the big picture. While reading this book I found myself feeling compassion for the villains as I was rooting for the heroes to succeed. For instance when you get to know the main villain in the story you see that he is pure evil but at the same time you see what others want to use his him for. I felt sorry for him because I thought that this guy had no other choice then to be a villain.

Some of the other characters have great stories as well such as Mark Jones who became immortal and found that it wasn’t what he thought it would be. At times in the story you want to hate Mark because he’s a murderer but as you hear more of his story and his lost love you feel for him. Another great character is Grimnir. Grimnir is a warrior but you see how out of place he is in the modern world, he tries to complete his quest and come to terms with the fact that his whole life was dedicated to one thing and he doesn’t know how he would fit in the world otherwise. At one point Grimnir sees a horror movie and its funny to see how he reacts to it and uses what he saw in his quest.

My favorite character is Cam the elf, you see this character go through a total metamorphosis. He starts as a manipulative drunk but becomes a hero as he has to deal with hardship. The  harder things are for him the more he wants to do the right thing. He’s a drunk in the beginning because he knows his race will be dying off in the near future. In my favorite scene in the book his father points out that even though their destruction is imminent they have to keep on trying to survive because by giving up  you show that you are afraid to live. Words to live by.

Immortal’s Requiem is .an epic fantasy adventure novel with elements of horror, dark humor and some amusing references to Lord Of The Rings thrown in for good measure. What I admired most in this book was how the story starts off simple and expands as it adds each character’s own sub plots to it like a jigsaw puzzle. Vincent Bobbe has created a broad mythological Universe with a lot of possibilities for future stories. If you love fantasy novels this is a masterpiece that you don’t want to pass up.

http://www.jumpstartpublishing.com/immortals-requiem/

 

The Abyss Beyond the Reflection

The Abyss Beyond The Reflection by Micah Castle is an anthology for readers that love the bizarre and love hearing about terrifying realities within our own. Within this book lies 10 tales of horror, science fiction and weird fiction. Each of these stories uses horrific imagery to bring it to life along with characters that come across as real people.

In the first story called The Abyss Beyond The Reflection, you get a look at how technology and being obsessed with celebrities can be a dangerous combination. In the future fans of celebrities can view the celebrities lives in real-time using virtual reality. Though sometimes if you get too close to the people you admire you see a reality that is too horrifying to comprehend. I loved the concept here and the idea of how even though the lead character has a pathetic life what he finds in the life of a celebrity is far worse.

Another story I enjoyed was Three White Demons. This one follows an unhappy college professor who is tipped off to a major discovery by a friend. At an archaeological site there are three white monoliths that may be the key to other dimensions. I loved the scientific explanation used to describe the discovery. I also loved how the Professor looks at this as the key to changing from his dull life to a reality that you would see in a Science Fiction novel. What he finds is not what he was hoping for, I loved the ending of this story which shows that some things are better left unknown.

The White Sea is a story that has a H.P. Lovecraft feel to it. It’s about a down on his luck author who after the death of his parents takes a trip on a schooner in hopes of inspiration. He soon discovers that the ship’s captain has an agenda and serves a mysterious God. The writing in this story is brilliant, we hear the whole story from the main character’s viewpoint and the descriptions of the sea demons and the protagonist’s reaction to everything makes this a memorable piece of fiction.

Qaeceit’s Mirror is a different kind of vampire tale. This one follows the story of a college student who has a new roommate who sleeps during the day and has some odd habits. I loved the vampire’s origin story and would love to see a longer work made from this one. I figured in the beginning that this was going to be a vampire story yet the way its told made it feel fresh and new. I guess there is always a way to put an original spin on an old idea.

Reading The Abyss Beyond the Reflection  reminded me of how much fun horror and weird fiction can be. The way everything is described brought the stories to life and every character showed amazing depth. Micah Castle’s writing demonstrates that he has a strong passion for his craft and if you love horror fiction you won’t want to pass this book up.

https://micahcastle.com/