Harlan Ellison quotes

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Harlan Ellison

Birthdate: 27. May 1934

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Harlan Jay Ellison is an American writer. His principal genre is speculative fiction.

His published works include over 1,700 short stories, novellas, screenplays, comic book scripts, teleplays, essays, a wide range of criticism covering literature, film, television, and print media. He was editor and anthologist for two science fiction anthologies, Dangerous Visions and Again, Dangerous Visions . Ellison has won numerous awards including multiple Hugos, Nebulas and Edgars.

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Quotes Harlan Ellison

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„The two most common elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity.“

—  Harlan Ellison
Context: NO ONE GETS OUT OF CHILDHOOD ALIVE. It's not the first time I've said that. But among the few worthy bon mots I've gotten off in sixty-seven years, that and possibly one other may be the only considerations eligible for carving on my tombstone. (The other one is the one entrepreneurs have misappropriated to emboss on buttons and bumper stickers: The two most common elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity. (I don't so much mind that they pirated it, but what does honk me off is that they never get it right. They render it dull and imbecile by phrasing it thus: "The two most common things in the universe are..." (Not things, you insensate gobbets of ambulatory giraffe dung, elements! Elements is funny, things is imprecise and semi-guttural. Things! Geezus, when will the goyim learn they don't know how to tell a joke. Introduction to Blast Off : Rockets, Robots, Ray Guns, and Rarities from the Golden Age of Space Toys (2001) by S. Mark Young, Steve Duin, Mike Richardson, p. 6; the quote on hydrogen and stupidity is said to have originated with an essay of his in the 1960s, and is often misattributed to Frank Zappa, who made similar remarks in The Real Frank Zappa Book (1989): "Some scientists claim that hydrogen, because it is so plentiful, is the basic building block of the universe. I dispute that. I say there is more stupidity than hydrogen, and that is the basic building block of the universe."

„We are the cavalry. We're here. Put away the pills. We'll get you through this bloody night. Next time, it'll be your turn to help us.“

—  Harlan Ellison, Eidolons
Context: Did you have one of those days today, like a nail in the foot? Did the pterodactyl corpse dropped by the ghost of your mother from the spectral Hindenburg forever circling the Earth come smashing through the lid of your glass coffin? Did the New York strip steak you attacked at dinner suddenly show a mouth filled with needle-sharp teeth, and did it snap off the end of your fork, the last solid-gold fork from the set Anastasia pressed into your hands as they took her away to be shot? Is the slab under your apartment building moaning that it cannot stand the weight on its back a moment longer, and is the building stretching and creaking? Did a good friend betray you today, or did that good friend merely keep silent and fail to come to your aid? Are you holding the razor at your throat this very instant? Take heart, comfort is at hand. This is the hour that stretches. Djam karet. We are the cavalry. We're here. Put away the pills. We'll get you through this bloody night. Next time, it'll be your turn to help us. "Eidolons" (1988)

„You create your own Heaven, and you have the opportunity to live in it, but you have to do it on your own terms, the highest terms of which you are capable.“

—  Harlan Ellison
Delusion for a Dragon Slayer (1966), Context: "Heaven is what you mix all the days of your life, but you call it dreams. You have one chance to buy your Heaven with all the intents and ethics of your life. That is why everyone considers Heaven such a lovely place. Because it is dreams, special dreams, in which you exist. What you have to do is live up to them." "I—" started Griffin, but the wizard cut him off with a blink. "No, listen, please, because after this, all the magic stops, and you have to do it alone. “You create your own Heaven, and you have the opportunity to live in it, but you have to do it on your own terms, the highest terms of which you are capable. So sail this ship through the straits, navigate the shoals, find the island, overcome the foam-devil that guards the girl, win her love, and you’ve played the game on your own terms."

„This is a test. Take notes. This will count as 3/4 of your final grade.“

—  Harlan Ellison, The Deathbird
Context: This is a test. Take notes. This will count as 3/4 of your final grade. Hints: remember, in chess, kings cancel each other out and cannot occupy adjacent squares, are therefore all-powerful and totally powerless, cannot affect each other, produce stalemate. Hinduism is a polytheistic religion; the sect of Atman worships the divine spark of life within Man; in effect saying, "Thou art God." Provisos of equal time are not served by one viewpoint having media access to two hundred million people in prime time while opposing viewpoints are provided with a soapbox on the corner. Not everyone tells the truth. Operational note: these sections may be taken out of numerical sequence: rearrange to suit yourself for optimum clarity. Turn over your test papers and begin. "The Deathbird" (1974) First lines.

„From time to time some denigrator or critic with umbrage will say of my work, "He only wrote that to shock." I smile and nod. Precisely.“

—  Harlan Ellison
Context: I am anti-entropy. My work is foursquare for chaos. I spend my life personally, and my work professionally, keeping the soup boiling. Gadfly is what they call you when you are no longer dangerous; I much prefer troublemaker, malcontent, desperado. I see myself as a combination of Zorro and Jiminy Cricket. My stories go out from here and raise hell. From time to time some denigrator or critic with umbrage will say of my work, "He only wrote that to shock." I smile and nod. Precisely. Quoted by Stephen King in his book Danse Macabre (1981)

„NO ONE GETS OUT OF CHILDHOOD ALIVE.“

—  Harlan Ellison
Context: NO ONE GETS OUT OF CHILDHOOD ALIVE. It's not the first time I've said that. But among the few worthy bon mots I've gotten off in sixty-seven years, that and possibly one other may be the only considerations eligible for carving on my tombstone. (The other one is the one entrepreneurs have misappropriated to emboss on buttons and bumper stickers: The two most common elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity. (I don't so much mind that they pirated it, but what does honk me off is that they never get it right. They render it dull and imbecile by phrasing it thus: "The two most common things in the universe are..." (Not things, you insensate gobbets of ambulatory giraffe dung, elements! Elements is funny, things is imprecise and semi-guttural. Things! Geezus, when will the goyim learn they don't know how to tell a joke. Introduction to Blast Off : Rockets, Robots, Ray Guns, and Rarities from the Golden Age of Space Toys (2001) by S. Mark Young, Steve Duin, Mike Richardson, p. 6; the quote on hydrogen and stupidity is said to have originated with an essay of his in the 1960s, and is often misattributed to Frank Zappa, who made similar remarks in The Real Frank Zappa Book (1989): "Some scientists claim that hydrogen, because it is so plentiful, is the basic building block of the universe. I dispute that. I say there is more stupidity than hydrogen, and that is the basic building block of the universe."

„Empty winds howled down out of the tundras of his soul.“

—  Harlan Ellison
Delusion for a Dragon Slayer (1966), Context: Empty winds howled down out of the tundras of his soul. This was the charnel house of his finest fantasies. The burial ground of his forever. The garbage dump, the slain meat, the putrefying reality of his dreams and his Heaven. Griffin stumbled away from her, hearing the shrieks of men needlessly drowned by his vanity, hearing the voiceless accusation of the devil proclaiming cowardice, hearing the orgasm-condemnation of lust that was never love, of brute desire that was never affection, and realizing at last that these were the real substances of his nature, the true faces of his sins, the marks in the ledger of a life he had never led, yet had worshipped silently at an altar of evil. All these thoughts, as the guardian of Heaven, the keeper at the gate, the claimer of souls, the weigher of balances, advanced on him through the night.

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„Provisos of equal time are not served by one viewpoint having media access to two hundred million people in prime time while opposing viewpoints are provided with a soapbox on the corner.“

—  Harlan Ellison, The Deathbird
Context: This is a test. Take notes. This will count as 3/4 of your final grade. Hints: remember, in chess, kings cancel each other out and cannot occupy adjacent squares, are therefore all-powerful and totally powerless, cannot affect each other, produce stalemate. Hinduism is a polytheistic religion; the sect of Atman worships the divine spark of life within Man; in effect saying, "Thou art God." Provisos of equal time are not served by one viewpoint having media access to two hundred million people in prime time while opposing viewpoints are provided with a soapbox on the corner. Not everyone tells the truth. Operational note: these sections may be taken out of numerical sequence: rearrange to suit yourself for optimum clarity. Turn over your test papers and begin. "The Deathbird" (1974) First lines.

„Griffin stood silently, watching the waterfall, sensing more than he saw, understanding more than even his senses could tell him.“

—  Harlan Ellison
Delusion for a Dragon Slayer (1966), Context: Griffin stood silently, watching the waterfall, sensing more than he saw, understanding more than even his senses could tell him. This was, indeed, the Heaven of his dreams, a place to spend the rest of forever, with the wind and the water and the world another place, another level of sensing, another bad dream conjured many long times before. This was reality, an only reality for a man whose existence had been not quite bad, merely insufficient, tenable but hardly enriching. For a man who had lived a life of not quite enough, this was all there ever could be of goodness and brilliance and light. Griffin moved toward the falls. The darkness grew darker.

„You can get in trouble mistaking one for the other.“

—  Harlan Ellison
Context: I think love and sex are separate and only vaguely similar. Like the word bear and the word bare. You can get in trouble mistaking one for the other. Introduction of "" (1977) in Shatterday (1990)

„Christmas is an awfulness that compares favorably with the great London plague and fire of 1665-66. No one escapes the feelings of mortal dejection, inadequacy, frustration, loneliness, guilt and pity.“

—  Harlan Ellison, book The Harlan Ellison Hornbook
Context: Christmas is an awfulness that compares favorably with the great London plague and fire of 1665-66. No one escapes the feelings of mortal dejection, inadequacy, frustration, loneliness, guilt and pity. No one escapes feeling used by society, by religion, by friends and relatives, by the utterly artificial responsibilities of extending false greetings, sending banal cards, reciprocating unsolicited gifts, going to dull parties, putting up with acquaintances and family one avoids all the rest of the year... in short, of being brutalized by a 'holiday' that has lost virtually all of its original meanings and has become a merchandising ploy for color TV set manufacturers and ravagers of the woodlands. "No Offense Intended, But Fuck Xmas!" (1972) The Harlan Ellison Hornbook

„Alfred E. van Vogt, since the appearance of his first two stories — "Black Destroyer" and "Discord in Scarlet" (Astounding Science Fiction, July and December 1939) the most memorable debut in the long history of the genre — has been a giant.“

—  Harlan Ellison
Context: Alfred E. van Vogt, since the appearance of his first two stories — "Black Destroyer" and "Discord in Scarlet" (Astounding Science Fiction, July and December 1939) the most memorable debut in the long history of the genre — has been a giant. The words seminal and germinal leap to mind. Sadly, at this juncture. the words tragedy and farewell also insinuate themselves. … Van is still with us, as I write this, in June of 1999, slightly less than fifty years since I first encountered van Vogt prose in a January 1950 issue of Startling Stories, but Van is gone. He is no longer with us. … Because the great and fecund mind of A. E. van Vogt has fallen into the clutches of that pulp thriller demon, Alzheimer's. Van is gone. … Anyone's demise or vanishment is in some small way tragic but the word "tragedy" requires greater measure for its use. … Van' s great mind now gone. Tragedy. The ultimate tragic impropriety visited on as good a man as ever lived. A gentle. soft spoken man who was filled with ideas and humor and courtesy and kindness. Not even those who were not aficionados of Van's writing could muster a harsh word about him as a human being. He was as he remains now, quietly and purposefully, a gentleman. But make no mistake about this: the last few decades for him were marred by the perfidious and even mean spirited and sometimes criminal acts of poltroons and self-aggrandizing mountebanks and piss-ants into whose clutches he fell just before the thug Alzheimer got him. … I came late to the friendship with Van and Lydia. Perhaps only twenty-five or so years. But the friendship continues, and at least I was able to make enough noise to get Van the Science Fiction Writers of America Grand Master Award, which was presented to him in full ceremony during one of the last moments when he was cogent and clearheaded enough understand that finally, as last, dragged kicking and screaming to honor him, the generation that learned from what he did and what he had created had, at last, fessed up to his importance. Naturally, others took credit for his getting the award. They postured and spewed all the right platitudes. Some of them were the same ones who had said to me — during the five years it took to get them to act honorably — "we'd have given it to him sooner if you hadn't made such a fuss." Yeah. Sure. And pandas'll fly out of my ass. In his introduction "Van is Here, But Van is Gone" to Futures Past: The Best Short Fiction of A. E. van Vogt (July 1999) http://www.sfrevu.com/ISSUES/2000/ARTICLES/20000128-03.htm

„Were we in 1946 or even 1956, van Vogt would have already been able to hold the award aloft.“

—  Harlan Ellison
Context: Even the brightest star shines dimly when observed-from too far away. And human memory is notoriously unreliable. And we live in ugly times when all respect for that which has gone before suffers crib death beneath the weight of youthful arrogance and ignorance. But a great nobility has at last, been recognized and lauded. Someone less charitable than I might suggest the honor could have been better appreciated had it not been so tardy, naming its race with a foe that blots joy and destroys short-term memory. But I sing the Talent Electric, and like aft the dark smudges of history, everything but the honor and die achievement remains for the myth-makers. Alfred E. van Vogt has been awarded the Grand Master trophy of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. He is not the to first person to receive this singular accolade…given only to those whose right to possess it is beyond argument or mitigation. Were we in 1946 or even 1956, van Vogt would have already been able to hold the award aloft. Had SFWA existed then and had the greatest living sf authors been polled as to who was the most fecund, the most intriguing, the mast innovative the most influential of their number, Isaac and Arthur and Cyril and Hank Kuttner and Ron Hubbard would all have pointed to the same man, and Bob Heinlein would've given him a thumbs-up. Van Vogt was the pinnacle, the source of power and ideas; the writer to beat. Because he embodied in his astonishing novels and assorted stories what we always say is of prime importance to us in this genre-the much vaunted Sense of Wonder. Van Vogt was the wellspring of wonder. … That's how important he was. … And then came the dark years during which the man was shamefully agented and overlooked; and even the brightest star loses its piercing light if observed through the thickening mists of time and flawed memory. Now it is lifetimes later, and the great award has, at last, been presented. To some, less charitable than I, something could be said about a day late and a dollar short, but not I. I am here to sing the Talent Electric, and it is better now than never. He is the Grand Master, A. E. can Vogt, weaver of a thousand ideas per plot-line, creator of alien thoughts and impossible dreams that rival the best ever built by our kind. This dear, gentlemanly writer whose stories can still kill you with a concept or warm you with a character, now joins the special pantheon. In recognition of van Vogt receiving the Grand Master designation in 1996, in The Nebula Awards Vol. 31, as quoted in SF Authors Remember A.E. van Vogt (2000) http://www.sfrevu.com/ISSUES/2000/ARTICLES/20000128-03.htm#SF%20Authors%20Remeber%20A.E.%20van%20Vogt

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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