The end of the story is unwritten.

Saw a quote from this old curmudgeon today and it put a nice little smile upon my face:

My wife has instructions that the instant I die, she has to burn all the unfinished stories. And there may be a hundred unfinished stories in this house, maybe more than that. There’s three quarters of a novel. No, these things are not to be finished by other writers, no matter how good they are. It could be Paul Di Filippo, who is just about the best writer in America, as far as I’m concerned. Or God forbid, James Patterson or Judith Krantz should get a hold of The Man Who Looked for Sweetness, which is sitting up on my desk, and try to finish it, anticipating what Ellison was thinking — no! Goddammit. If Fred Pohl wants to finish all of C.M. Kornbluth’s stories, that’s his business. If somebody wants to take the unfinished Edgar Allan Poe story, which has now gone into the public domain, and write an ending that is not as good as Poe would have written, let ’em do whatever they want! But not with my shit, Jack. When I’m gone, that’s it. What’s down on the paper, it says ‘The End,’ that’s it. ‘Cause right now I’m busy writing the end of the longest story I’ve ever written, which is me.

-Harlan Ellison, who’s of seriously ailing health, on what he would like to see happen to his unfinished works when he passes.

Before anything else, I’ll just say that you can find Ellison’s classic story “I Have No Mouth, And I Must Scream” right here. Another of his classic stories, “Jeffy Is Five,” can be found here.

I haven’t always liked the things Ellison’s written or said, and the man has certainly said a lot over his many years, but I’ve always admired him. He’s tenacious and venomous and full of vitriol, a writer with sharp teeth and sharpened claws and an even sharper mind. He’s won many awards, has been ripped off (for example: The Terminator) and pissed off numerous times, and is incredibly litigious.You can’t help but credit his extreme passion for the beauty of storytelling even if he was a bastard more often than not. Sometimes I feel like the real goal of speculative and science fiction should be keeping monsters like him alive and kicking on this rock.


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