Harlan Ellison, one of science fiction’s most prolific writers and also contributed some of the best television episodes of Star Trek and The Outer Limits and was a consultant for Babylon 5 (and made a cameo appearance), passed away at home in his sleep unexpectedly today. It was announced by his wife via a friend, and confirmed by his agent. He was 84.
Ellison wrote uncountable stories, both classic and even horrible ones, the latter of which he would use his pseudonym of “Cordwainer Bird”, reserved for anything he felt wasn’t good enough. He worked on a number of TV programs, including creating the scripts for the Outer Limits episode “Demon With A Glass Hand”, and the Star Trek episode “City on the Edge of Forever”. He also developed a pilot script for a show that became The Starlost, which became an infamous example of creator-vs-producer interference among other problems that resulted in a subpar show (which was credited to Cordwainer Bird).
He was also a divisive figure, never afraid to give out an insult, and wasn’t afraid to sue over stories and rights. He famously sued over The Terminator, claiming it was derived from two of his Outer Limits episodes, the aforementioned “Demon…” and “Soldier”, and in an out of court settlement the producers were required to include his name in the credits. Early in the history of then Sci-Fi Channel, he has a regular segment on the show Sci-Fi Buzz, which he often wouldn’t say the name of (or the channel) because he detested the name “sci-fi”. He could be simultaneously entertaining and infuriating, which made him fascinating.