I worked yesterday morning and in the early afternoon yesterday; the work didn’t go as well as one would have preferred but those are the breaks. Hopefully today it will be better. One can always hope.
I spent the rest of the day watching college football–it was a most interesting day–and reading, of all things, comic books on my iPad (the recent DC mini-series The Coming of the Supermen, which, not being up on my current DC Universe, was a bit confusing in places but over-all, kind of interesting), started rereading Garden District Gothic because I am getting ready to start writing Scotty VIII, and also rereading some short stories from one of my favorite collections of all time, Harlan Ellison’s Alone Against Tomorrow.
It occurred to me yesterday, as I was marveling at the mastery of Ellison at short story writing (he really is one of the best short story writers of all time; his “Paladin of the Lost Hour” might be my favorite short story) that with all my talk about short stories lately I never talk about Ellison, which is a shame. (Also, rereading these stories and being reminded of how extraordinary a writer he is sent me into an ebay wormhole of ordering copies of his collections; I do have The Essential Ellison omnibus, but it doesn’t have everything; he is so prolific I don’t think all of his work could be collected into a single volume.)
But in fairness to me, these entries are usually unplanned and written while I am enjoying my morning coffee and waking up, so I am not as clear-headed as one might think when I write them.
I first discovered Ellison through, as so many other things in the speculative fiction world, Stephen King’s Danse Macabre. I knew from reading that book that he had written probably the best episode of Star Trek ever, “The City at the Edge of Tomorrow”–also known as ‘the one with Joan Collins’, but in those pre-Internet days finding books wasn’t as easy as it is now. It wasn’t until several years later, when I was at a friend’s apartment that I discovered she had a copy of his collection Strange Wine, which she not only loaned to me but gifted it to me, saying, “Reading Ellison will change your life.”
And it did. Several of those stories haunt me to this day. I was poor then, very poor, and so rarely bought books new; I haunted second-hand bookshops (do those even exist anymore?), and started hunting for Ellison whenever I went into them. That was how I found Alone Against Tomorrow, among others, and became a big fan.
Looking over these stories again last night, I was reminded why I was a fan.
And rereading Garden District Gothic after spending some time with Ellison was quite humbling.
I ordered a copy of Strange Wine last night–because I definitely need more books–and think I am going to dig out my copy of The Essential Ellison because I want to read more short stories (I say that all the time, don’t I?) and maybe I’ll make my entries for January all about short stories again this year. But I have so many short story collections lying around the house that I’ve never read; single author collections and anthologies and magazines and so forth, that a focused effort is really necessary.
And I really want to reread “Paladin of the Lost Hour.”
And now I should get back to the spice mines.
Here’s a hunk for the day: