Harlan Ellison, famed sci-fi and Star Trek writer, dead at 84

The infamous curmudgeon leaves behind a stellar sci-fi legacy.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
2 min read
Harlan Ellison Portrait Session

Harlan Ellison, seen here in this 1991 file photo, died at age 84. 

Beth Gwinn/Getty Images

For many science fiction fans, Harlan Ellison's name will forever be tied to arguably the greatest episode in Star Trek history: The City on the Edge of Forever, which aired in 1967. But Ellison, who died at age 84 on Thursday, was much more than that. He was a sci-fi force to be reckoned with.

Ellison family friend Christine Valada posted on Twitter this announcement: "Susan Ellison has asked me to announce the passing of writer Harlan Ellison, in his sleep, earlier today. 'For a brief time I was here, and for a brief time, I mattered.'—HE, 1934-2018. Arrangements for a celebration of his life are pending."

Ellison's literary agent Richard Curtis told CNET he couldn't confirm the news first-hand, but said, "I have no reason to believe it isn't true." Curtis said Ellison had been bedridden for some time, but was still mentally sharp. Ellison's Hollywood agent, Susan Shapiro, confirmed his death to the Los Angeles Times. 

Ellison's career spanned from short stories to novellas to screenplays to comic books. Beyond Star Trek, he also worked as a consultant on The Twilight Zone and Babylon 5 and published the influential short story collection I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream in 1967.

Ellison was infamous not just for his writing prowess, but also for embracing a curmudgeonly personality. His uncensored approach to interpersonal communications is sparking a lot of remembrances on Twitter.

Writer E.R. Burgess shared this memory: "Harlan once tried to convince my dad to throw me out of the house so I'd be a real writer. My dad didn't do it, but I appreciated the gesture and will always love Harlan for his wonderful words and his staunch refusal to accept the unacceptable."

Ellison is survived by his wife, Susan Ellison. No further details on his death have been released yet.