Harlan Ellison, of course. Mefisto is a beautifully made small press book with cover art and an introduction by Frank Miller of Sin City, an insult to Tor Book’s refusal to publish this story, as well as two pages of the author’s works, and an opening blurb that says “What is this book about? Well, it’s Bester’s The Demolished Man as if it had been written by Jim Thompson or James M. Cain...Go ahead. Try for one potato chip. This sucker is relentlessly readable.”
You put yourself with some fine company there, Mr. Ellison. And of course, it’s readable. It’s not a book. It’s a short story. It took less than an hour to read. There were paragraphs one just wanted to quote, but there were also painfully uneven characterizations. It was also a predictable story, though the ending was truly enjoyable.
I’ve heard what you’ve done at the respected Clarion science fiction/fantasy writing courses, insulting students without even reading their work. When I get there next summer, God willing if you are there, I will tell you, “Mr. Ellison, you are a pony with one good trick. And Pony Boy, if you can’t play nice with others, I will roll your little wheelchair out into the hallway and let you just think about your behavior.”
But I should also thank you, Mr. Ellison, for saving me one early morning – and damn, it was already getting hot – during the summer of 1997, just outside of Modesto. I was getting screamed at by one of my
psycho-hillbilly-rice-growers for stopping him from applying Category 1 pesticides without a respirator.
This yahoo was telling me what a demon the government was, and he quoted you.
Whereupon I said, “Harlan Ellison? My story was just published in a magazine with his!”
Apparently, you do have another fan. And it’s not to say that your one trick isn’t very good. It is –
and that’s not even counting your hostile self promotion technique or your goofy titles (which reminds me, now I have to read Faust, ‘cuz I didn’t get the reference). But there are many writers who are equal or
Including Alfred Bester.
His one trick? Ellison can describe characters in a way that makes them individuals, but also ties them into the rest of all humanity. For instance, of Ally: “What it is, kind of person so in charge, so easy with they own self, they don’t have to laugh at your poor dumb struttin’ Armani suit, or your bedroom done in
Laura Ashley, or that gig writing articles for TV Guide...”