Harlan Ellison, 1934-2018

Image via Flickr user John Lodder

Famed sci-fi author Harlan Ellison appears to have died:

I don't have particularly interesting thoughts on his life and work; my boss Matthew Continetti wrote something on Ellison a few years back that's far more interesting than anything I could put together today. I just want to briefly highlight Ellison's rant about the importance of making sure that you, the writer, are getting paid for the work that you do:

"The only value for me is if you put money in my hand," he said in the documentary Dreams with Sharp Teeth about his response to a studio apparatchik who wanted the use, for free, of an interview he had given as part of the supplements of a DVD set. "I should do a freebie for Warner Brothers? … Fuck no! They always want the writer to work for nothing. And the problem is, there are so goddamn many writers who have no idea that they're supposed to be paid every time they do something, they do it for nothing! … I don't take a piss without getting paid for it."

If you take nothing else from Harlan Ellison's life—if you remember nothing from his short stories, if you remember none of the countless TV shows he contributed to, if you forget all about his modestly spurious lawsuit against James Cameron regarding The Terminator—remember this: "They always want the writer to work for nothing." It's your job as a writer to refuse to work for nothing.

Which reminds me: I need to file an invoice.