I love Harlan Ellison’s stories, and I recently learned of a movie about him, called Dreams with Sharp Teeth, which premiered at the South by Southwest (SXSW) film and music fest last week. Ellison is an outstanding and prolific writer of short stories, longer fiction, TV scripts, and more. Most of his work would be classified as speculative fiction or science fiction. He eschews the label of science-fiction writer, though, for the same reason Vonnegut did when he wrote this classic line years after some early success: "I have been a soreheaded occupant of a file drawer labeled 'science fiction' ever since, and I would like out, particularly because so many serious critics regularly mistake the drawer for a urinal."
Like Vonnegut, Ellison wants his work to be considered seriously, and on the same level as any published fiction, and it should be.
The movie shows Ellison giving a tour of his eccentric house to Robin Williams. It has interviews with Dan Simmons, Neil Gaiman, and Peter David, among others. They all say Ellison is great, and he is. He’s also famously abrasive and grumpy. He rants a lot. But he’s a writer’s writer, and a staunch supporter of artists' rights in any media. The trailer for the movie shows a lot of rants, but reviews have it that there’s more to it than that.
If you are at work or with the kiddies, be warned: the following clip contains BAD WORDS.
It would probably be hard to live with a person who rants a lot, but they’re fun to watch for a while. Most of us won’t get to see this till summer, and I can’t wait.
P.S. While looking for that Vonnegut quote, I found this nifty article:
15 Things Kurt Vonnegut Said Better Than Anyone Else