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04/29/2018

Comments

Thank you for this perceptive review, Darrell. (I'm writing this comment two days after Harlan died so I'm still pretty shaken.) In "A Lit Fuse" I didn't try to analyze Harlan's writing; that was already done extremely well by Weil & Wolfe in "Edge of Forever" and less accessibly by Francaville. If I ever do another book on him, perhaps I should make it more of a deconstruction, so thanks for the nudge, and I will add more about his fights, including Platt and more of Groth. I know details of the Ackerman split but now that both icons are dead perhaps it's best to let it sleep with them. As for Harlan's work, you're right that some will endure longer than others, but the man did have multitudes.

Darrell, if you should turn your retrospective critical focus to Ellison, I'd devour it with delight. Your Dunsany, Ligotti and Lovecraft books are wonderful.

I found the book a mixed blessing in that there is a lot there, including a brutally honest evaluation of the situation with The Last Dangerous Visions. That section even includes claims Harlan made back in 1980 about how the book had already been finished and turned in when clearly that was just hyperbole. That may be why the Disney anecdote is not there because it was probably hyperbole. A friend of mine knew someone who worked at Disney and he told him the Harlan anecdote. That person looked Harlan up in the Disney files and it indicated that Harlan had actually worked at Disney for a few months, not just half a day. The book also seems to have been carefully guided by Harlan in that it fails to mention that in 1968 Harlan had started writing a novelization of Demon With A Glass Hand and the first chapter was even published in a small press publication (now quite rare). The story "Bring On The Dancing Frogs" is mentioned in the text (but not the index) but what isn't mentioned is that the story was unfinished but read on the air on the radio show Hour 25 in 1984 and then never heard of again. While Harlan's involvement with Babylon 5 is explored, what isn't mentioned is that in 1992 Harlan announced that he was going to write an episode of Babylon 5 which would feature Robert Culp and be a sequel to Demon With A Glass Hand. Babylon 5 ended in 1998 and Harlan's untold story was never mentioned again, even in the published history of that TV series. The book also leaves out the fact that Harlan had been friends with Philip K. Dick for 20 years until they had a falling out in 1977. Nothing about that appears in the book. I could go on.

Just a correction. Adrian Samish was my grandfather. He was not "the censor"for ABC (though he had worked at ABC in the 50's), but by that time, he was Quinn Martin's #2, basically running the creative side of the company.

As has been noted, he was not the most pleasant of people, and I hardly new him before he died in the 80's, so I don't know how accurate the story actually is. All writers tend to "enhance" a story with the re-telling (ie, Samish was a "censor"), but being a screenwriter myself, I can believe the moronic notes... but the rest? Certainly not impossible. But I never heard about my grandfather having a broken hip...

Cheers


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