Helpful True-Life Survival Tips for the Absent-Minded, Vol.2

OK, kids, today we address the heretofore criminally neglected branch of mental health risk that is trying to alleviate boredom by cliking through the potholed links on TVTropes.

Put simply, one should exercise great caution anytime one embarks on this seemingly harmless activity, maintaining full awareness to context at all times. Because there is always that possiblility that one will come across a reference to the classic short story I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream, and think "Hmmmm, cool title, always wanted to know what that one was about," and clik thru without a second thought, and


…except I think Harlan Ellison may be dead by now. So there’s no recourse at all, which is kind of ironic when you think about it, which I do not, thank you much. As it was I had to go edit the Wodehouse page for a solid hour before I calmed down enough to go to bed.


18 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. rj_anderson
    Oct 11, 2009 @ 01:48:51

    No, Harlan Ellison is NOT yet dead, and I had to read that story in my SF class in university, THANKS FOR REMINDING ME.

    What is seen cannot be unseen. Unfortunately.

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  3. Shoebox
    Oct 11, 2009 @ 03:06:19

    Ooh, sorry about that… support group, anyone? *offers hug*

    Also, good to know about Ellison. I think. From what I’ve heard about him generally, it’s entirely possible he wrote the ruddy thing expressly for the purpose of creating this reaction in poor innocent SF fans.

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  5. briansiano
    Oct 11, 2009 @ 10:40:35

    It’s not like SF fans don’t _deserve_ it once in a while.

    Read his other stuff. He’s brilliant.

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  7. Shoebox
    Oct 11, 2009 @ 19:04:10

    It’s not like SF fans don’t _deserve_ it once in a while.

    *grin* I’ll take your word for it.

    Up to even date I know Ellison primarily for his work on Star Trek, and even from that it’s hard to avoid concluding he’s a genius — especially when he goes ’round telling the world so at every opportunity. 🙂 I do think I may need a bit of time to nerve myself up to the rest of his oeuvre, though…

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  9. briansiano
    Oct 11, 2009 @ 20:24:23

    I heard about him the same way, but mainly through David Gerrold writing about Ellison. The Trek episode’s a strange burden. On the one hand, it’s a corrupted version of his work, and Trek fans hearing the Gospel of Roddenberry are told he’s an asshole because of what happened. But, it got his name out there, and a lot of people found his work that way,.

    But he’s someone who really ought to be mandatory reading. Seriously. He’s written amazing short stories, terrific essays, and some very, very good scripts. He’s edited groundbreaking anthologies and mentored some of the best writers in the field. He’s won shitloads of awards and I still think he’s severely underappreciated.

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  11. Shoebox
    Oct 13, 2009 @ 00:26:18

    Scripts, eh? *makes mental note* Thanks. 🙂

    On the one hand, it’s a corrupted version of his work, and Trek fans hearing the Gospel of Roddenberry are told he’s an asshole because of what happened.

    Mm. I did think it was a shame he made such a production number out of the ‘corruption’, since by all accounts the problem with what he turned in was simply that while it was brilliant writing, it wasn’t Star Trek, the series as it existed at the time anyway. He might’ve had better luck with DS9… shoot, now that I think about it, I want to see that. Badly.

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  13. briansiano
    Oct 13, 2009 @ 02:05:13

    I disagree; Star Trek “as it existed at the time” really was what the writers were making it. Remember, the show wasn’t this wholly-formed dream of Gene Roddenberry’s: Gene Coon did a LOT of writing, rewriting, editing, and series development, and if he’d lived past 1970, he’d probably have gotten as much of the credit as Roddenberry got.

    Ellison was one of the first writers, hired early into the first season. If his original script was produced, then _that_ would have been part of Trek.

    You oughta check out the book he did on the affair. Ellison’s own essay is intense reading; I actually told Ellison that he seemed to lose control over the essay, because this thing had been upsetting him for years. Mainly because Roddenberry was lying like crazy and the fans had worked up a big hate over it.

    But the book also has essays by many other Trek people, and D.C. Fontana explains why she made some changes in Ellison’s script. She makes some good points; for example, she felt Ellison should have introduced Edith Keeler earlier. But she doesn’t offer the “it wasn’t _Star Trek_” argument.

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  15. Shoebox
    Oct 13, 2009 @ 02:45:02

    You oughta check out the book he did on the affair.

    Hmmm. Evidently I do. 🙂 (Also, I’ve just got back from checking out online reviews of the Glass Teat duology, and now really want to check those out too. I love literary perspectives on TV.)

    The info I have currently on the ST debacle comes mainly from David Gerrold’s (lovely, recommended) book on the making of his ‘Tribbles’ ep: “Harlan Ellison is one of the nicest people you could meet – as long as you don’t do it too often. He’ll short out your brain circuits. He is funny and caustic and charming and aggressive and stylish and offensive and brilliant and opinionated and short. If he did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him… He is science fiction’s answer to the world.”

    …after which he repeats Roddenberry’s iconic quote on the ‘It wasn’t Star Trek’ theme, being very careful not to offer an opinion one way or another: “Harlan did not like Gene Roddenberry’s rewrite of his script… but Star Trek was Gene Roddenberry’s show. The buck stopped at his desk.”

    I do agree that the show as it evolved wasn’t all his; and in fact, the more I learn about Gene Coon’s contributions, the more I wish it had been his show. But the ‘Horatio Hornblower in space’ thing — the almost Nirvanic nobility of it all? Yep, Gene R., pretty much.

    All that said… yes, if there’s a more nuanced version of the story I’d like very much to hear it.

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  17. briansiano
    Oct 13, 2009 @ 14:24:40

    I have Gerrold’s book, and that’s probably where I first heard of Ellison. Maybe the book’s been changed, but the edition I have from 1973 has Roddenberry claiming that Ellison had Scotty dealing drugs and the captain forsaking the ship. Also, Gerrold’s had his own severe problems with Roddenberry since, and may have revised his opinion.

    Actually, a really good review of Ellison’s book can be found at“harlan-ellison’s-city-edge-forever-original-teleplay-became-classic-star-trek-e

    Check it out.

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