American writer (1934-2018). He was born in Cleveland, Ohio. He had to quit Ohio State University halfway through his sophomore year after he punched a professor who told him he had no talent. That professor was wrong, and if he didn't deserve the punch, you'd hope he'd look back on it and reconsider trying to crush out talent in the future.
When he was 21 years old, he passed himself off as a 17-year-old and joined a street gang for ten weeks, solely to write about the experience. He completed his first book, "Web of the City," while serving in the Army.
Ellison was the author of classics like "I Have No Mouth, Yet I Must Scream," "Repent, Harlequin! Said the Tick-Tock Man," "The Whimper of Whipped Dogs," "Xenogenesis." and many, many more. Some of his best essays can be found in "The Glass Teat" and "The Other Glass Teat," which collect a series of columns he wrote about Hollywood and the television industry. His much-beloved "Dangerous Visions" and "Again, Dangerous Visions" anthologies have helped fuel his popularity, though his inability to get "The Last Dangerous Visions" assembled and published earned him some enemies. Many were offended by his outspoken attitude and formed an anti-Ellison organization called "Victims of Ellison" (originally "Enemies of Ellison"). A bunch of Ellison fans formed "Friends of Ellison" in response, and the two groups brawled on the Internet and quarreled at conventions for years.
Even then, he won so many awards. Hugos, Nebulas, Stokers, Edgars, you name it. And pretty much everyone agreed he deserved 'em. Harlan Ellison was a hell of a writer.
One of the things Ellison did best is irritate people, and even though I liked Harlan a lot, sometimes he irritated the hell out of me. He was, by many accounts, a total sweetheart in private, and unswervingly loyal to his friends, but more often than not, his public face was angry, snarling, even hateful. In his later years, his most frequent targets were the Internet (and everyone who uses the 'Net). He said the Internet was a time-waster and helped spread disinformation, which is often true, but hardly enough reason to reject all who use it. He also got angry about young people. He said they are almost universally stupid and uneducated, which is sometimes true, sometimes false -- and certainly, you'd never expect a counterculture gadfly like Harlan to go condemning people because of their age.
In a lot of ways, he was a rotten person. He sued way too many people, often for bad reasons. He threatened or attacked way too many people, often for bad reasons. He actually groped sci-fi grandmaster Connie Willis on stage during the Hugo Awards in 2006, which made it damn hard to defend him for a long time.
And yet he was still one of the greatest sci-fi writers ever.
For some reason, his books are almost impossible to find in most bookstores, which ought to be a crime, as far as I'm concerned.