Ellison wrote one episode for Star Trek, called "City on the Edge of Forever". This was very well received and he won a Hugo for it. However the finally transmitted version was very different from the original script, which was published a few years ago. It involved a drug dealing member of Star Fleet and was thought unsuitable by Gene Roddenberry.
Recently Harlan Ellison has amongst other things served as Technical Consultant on the science fiction TV series Babylon 5. He has also appeared in the series:
- As the voice of Sparky the very irritating computer in the season 3 story "Ceremonies of Light and Dark".
- As a Psi Cop in a season 4 story when Garibaldi is on Mars (Thanks to Lord Brawl for reminding me of this).
Another earlier foray into television science fiction was the Canadian series "The Starlost" (1973) for which he wrote the pilot script. It was so badly hacked about that he insisted that they credit his Cordwainer Bird nom de plume instead of him. The original script I believe won a Screen Writers Guild award or something. Ben Bova was also involved in this and has written a novel "The Starcrossed" based on the experience.
Ellison is not a tall person but he is very self-possessed and confrontational (Thank you to Gorgonzola
for telling me this may be due to a rough Indiana childhood). When he stood up to give a reading at a convention
a voice drifted to his ears "Isn't he short." To which Mister Ellison's immediate reply is reputed to have been (through gritted teeth). "I may be short
, but I'm very tall
when I stand on my ego
." The disembodied (and much chastened
) voice did not reply.
There are a multitude of stories told about Harlan in the science fiction community (some of which may have some basis in fact). There is a particular story involving chandeliers and chainsaws that is either apocryphal or there was a cover-up on a Watergate scale. Another involving a model he was hitting on at a convention and a bag full of jellybeans that end up scattered everywhere is in Bjo Trimble's book "On the Good Ship Enterprise".
He is also very possessive of his work and actually believes that the people he deals with should abide by their contracts (a sometimes novel idea to publishers in the middle of the last century). In one case when a publisher placed cigarette ads in an edition and refused to return the rights Ellison started a campaign involving hulking great friends, lots of bricks sent collect, and a dead gopher sent fourth class. Not wanting to find out what would happen next, the publisher (from his hospital bed after a stroke) told his people to give Ellison the book back.