I didn't even know about the recent MadCon in Wisconsin, but now I wish I'd been there. Because it looks like it's going to be Harlan Ellison's last convention appearance, ever. It seems that Ellison knows his health is failing, and that this con would be his last, and the book he's working on will be his last. Full details here, and thanks to the SomethingAwful forum for bringing this news to my attention.
I've never considered myself a science fiction fan, yet I'm a huge fan of Ellison - probably because, like Ray Bradbury, his work has transcended the silly limitations of "genre". They are damn good stories. (And a damn good novel, too - Ellison's Spider Kiss is a great rock and roll novel.)
Those of you unfamiliar with Ellison's work would do well to seek out the Essential Ellison retrospective, which includes many of his best-known and most highly regarded works.
My own favorites of Ellison's work include:
- Spider Kiss
- "Djinn, No Chaser"
- "Night of Black Glass"
- "The New York Review of Bird"
- "The Deathbird"
- "The Whimper of Whipped Dogs"
- "The Hour That Stretches"
- "Alive and Well on a Friendless Voyage"
- "The Function of Dream Sleep"
- "Mefisto in Onyx"
- "Broken Glass"
- "Soft Monkey"
- "A Prayer for No One's Enemy"
- "All the Birds Come Home to Roost"
- "Pretty Maggie Moneyeyes"
- "A Boy and His Dog"
- "'Repent, Harlequin!' Said the Ticktockman"
And there's many more where those came from.
Ellison's work used to be quite difficult to find, but much has been reprinted in recent years, and thanks to online bookstores it is much easier to track down. Do yourself a favor and read his work (his nonfiction, including his movie review collection Harlan Ellison's Watching is very good as well).