Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Harlan the Blogger

Harlan Ellison was a blogger before blogging existed. Most of his writing career predated the Internet, but he still had blogging down cold. Harlan was my hero because of the way he wrote, what he wrote about and, mostly, because he shared himself with the world. It was easy to get to know him because he often gave readers some background on his stories. Inside information. And, he shared his views. Enthusiastically. 

He did not hesitate to bite the hand that fed him. His collection of essays about television, a medium for which he frequently wrote, was called The Glass Teat

Best known, perhaps, for his anthologies Dangerous Visions and Again, Dangerous Visions, Ellison has been a prominent purveyor of speculative fiction for decades. Think Star Trek and Twilight Zone.
As I said, Harlan has long been my hero, and he has been a great influence on my life as a writer. Bear with me, I am not changing subjects. 

Another hero of mine was Mabel Bennett Hutchinson, a well known sculptor and watercolorist in California, who happened to be my cousin. Mabel and I were frequent correspondents when she was in her 80s and 90s. We talked about everything from art to politics. I was lucky enough to visit her home a couple of times. It was an art museum in its own right.

Mabel was best known for her exquisite doors, some of which fetch $30,000 today. It turns out she made one for Harlan. I did not know that until after she died. That fact alone made me smile. She had actually met my hero. 

Imagine my surprise, then, when Mabel’s niece, whom I regularly correspond with, sent me a clipping about Harlan with a note that said she’d just sent all his letters to Mabel back to him. They were friends, corresponded for many years, and I did not have a clue. 

I wish I could have read those letters before she sent them back. I don’t think Harlan would have minded a bit. He was a blogger before there were blogs, after all.

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