The Book On The Edge Of Forever

Have you read it, Internet?

You should; it’s blackly humourous, incisive, and ultimately (in the opinion of this reader) convincing. I can recommend it to you without the slightest hesitation, especially if like me you have fallen a little out of love with Harlan Ellison’s public persona. The author calls it an old-fashioned polemical screed, but to me it seems like pretty fair reportage. Anyway, it’s certainly a rewarding read.

One other thing, Internet…

Have you read the various court documents related to the Ellison vs. Fantagraphics lawsuit? They’ve been made available, you know, and they too make for rewarding reading.

And the conversation about them on the TCJ message-boards is even more rewarding, if you’re a legal know-nothing like me. Full disclosure: I think it’d be fair to say that most of the commenters there would admit to having a greater sympathy for Fantagraphics than for Ellison if you asked them. But, that isn’t to say there’s no clarification available there for a person who’s interested in what the lawsuit consists of. At the very least, there’s the occasional reminder from Kim Thompson (wisely avoiding controversial statements that might come back to haunt him later) about just what is and is not at issue in the big dispute. Think he’s lying, dissembling, missing the point, describing the matter of law incompletely? I wish you would join the discussion, then, and enlighten me about that. Ultimately, of course, it doesn’t matter: the judge who will settle the issue doesn’t need me to understand, to do his job. One imagines he is already pretty well informed. And it isn’t your responsibility, after all, to make sure I have a good grasp of the facts. Nor are you qualified to so inform me. However, every once in a while I like to keep current about things, and if you’ve got something to contribute to that project I’d enjoy reading your thoughts. Just for speculative purposes, you understand.

However: two things.

ONE: do the damn research, will you? I’ve been both an Ellison zombie and a Fantagraphics zombie at different points in my lifetime (just as Ed has), and I’m already very well-acquainted with the arguments that proceed from zombiehood. But for Christ’s sake have a little respect, for the litigants if not for me. It’s a free country, and Ellison can sue if he wants to. It’s a free country, and Gary and Kim are entitled to mount their defence. One of them will be proven right, barring a settlement out of court, but none of us know which one of them that’ll be. I don’t care if you’ve got money down on it in Vegas, and I don’t care if you think the whole thing proceeds from massive dickishness on both sides; there is no superiority for you here. Three people, each of whom has contributed an awful lot to the cultural landscape, are putting up their livelihoods to settle this question. And I have my opinion and you have yours, but to be honest I can generate opinions about this thing with a pair of the old D&D dice quite handily, so I don’t need to hear yours restated, and I don’t need to hear mine restated, but I DO need to hear something besides pseudo-ethical posing about who should be right, and who should be wrong. Joe Rice didn’t do either of those things, and also he (I believe) is a self-avowed supergeek semi-moron on this issue into the bargain, so no blame attaches there…well, not for pseudo-ethical posing, anyway…but to the rest of you (and there are a lot of you) all across the web: pretty please. Clean the fucking car.

TWO: Unless and until Unca Harlan brings suit against Christopher Priest and/or Fantagraphics specifically over the wrongness of publishing “The Book On The Edge Of Forever”, I’ll say what I please about it, and it pleases me to say this: as I understand matters, this book has not a single goddamn thing to do with the current dispute, so critique it, review it, do whatever you want with it, but flogging READ the flogging thing if you flogging want to flogging say anything about it. If you please. Otherwise, leave it out of the discussion. My God, from the way some of you carry on you’d think it was illegal to publish a book. But I’ll stand up for this, if for nothing else: who do you think was going to publish this book except for Fantagraphics? NAME THE FUCKING DREAM PUBLISHER OF YOURS WHO WOULD HAVE PUBLISHED IT BETTER. Because I read it and liked it, and if it had been somehow suppressed my life would’ve been poorer, and less free, and so there, there’s my position, and if you want to say I can’t read something negative about someone which anyway appears to be substantially true, then you can, what’s the expression, suck it for me. Harlan may be a dick (and my grammar may be lousy), but I don’t see him saying that either the writing or the publication of this book was WRONG, only that it was maliciously done.

But honestly I think that may be a non-issue.

“Maliciously done but not actually wrong.”

Pretty fair description of the book, in fact.

I may not throw money at Fantagraphics, and I may not throw money at Harlan Ellison, but if somebody fucks with my man the good writer Christopher Priest I’d be willing to throw money at him all day long. ALL. DAY. LONG. And so there’s your First Amendment bullshit, if you like.

And can I get a “hell yeah” from the readers of this blog? Because it’s only just, you see.

Because there’s a lot of disinformation out there, which makes Mr. Priest look culpable for something when he isn’t. And Harlan can say what he likes in his legal complaint, whether or not I strongly disagree with it, but for uninformed people to take up the torch against a blameless man…that’s not cool. And I want to fight against it.

Help me out.

Why it’s like a petition or something.

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3 responses to “The Book On The Edge Of Forever

  1. especially if like me you have fallen a little out of love with Harlan Ellison’s public persona.

    I fell out of love with his public persona when I was only a kid. People who brag about how they physically assaulted other people and how cool that makes them are fucktards in my book, even if they have a lot of other people willing to make excuses for them and suck up to them.

  2. I think you’re safe! But one day we’ll all be drawn into the ongoing legal madrigals with Fantagraphics, no doubt…

    Seeing Ellison in a documentary now, one can’t help but have mixed feelings. He’s an old man now, and wears his shtick better and a bit more lightly: Ellison as curmudgeon is far more palatable than Ellison as holy heretic, and so it’s easier to concentrate on how funny he is, and much easier to give him credit for his experience, accumulated insight, etc. etc. All old men mellow, and on Ellison it looks particularly good because he doesn’t mellow much, but just enough to pare down some of his…pomposity, I guess?

    I’ll always have mixed feelings about the guy: how can I not, when he’s been both a tremendously positive influence on me, and a tremendously negative one? One doesn’t want to be guilty of glossing over his talent and his accomplishments, but at the same time the prospect of according him one scrap of respect that he doesn’t strictly merit is kind of horrifying…I don’t know, he never exactly claimed to be a saint; now that he’s moving more and more into retirement I’d almost be more afraid of being sued for condescending to treat him as one, than for continuing to have those mixed feelings.

    On the subject of Priest’s book though: fuck ‘im if he can’t a well-earned knock.

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