Popular attitudes in the science fiction field hold that if celebrated author
Harlan Ellison didn't exist, then it would be necessary to make him. Recently
declassified documents held by the State Department since 1940 show that the
latter part of that truism is literally true.
"Simply put, Harlan Ellison is the most sophisticated machine of mass
destruction on the planet," said State Department advisor Dr. Lise Ward,
an authority on technology and technological trends in the wake of World War
II. "He was part of a top-secret program by the country of Freedonia to
build the ultimate cultural warrior. When people talk about how Ellison can
kill at fifty paces with a sharp twist of the tongue, they have no idea of how
true this is. They should be thankful they don't know about the particle-beam
weapons, rubidium lasers, and other armaments built into his body, because if
someone irritates him enough to use them, we're all in trouble."
Freedonia's project was the brainchild of its dictator-for-life, the tyrannical
autarch Rufus T. Firefly. In an attempt to rebuild Freedonia's crushed economy,
Firefly declared war on its neighboring country Sylvania, but had more on his
mind than mere military might. "Sylvania was known for its writers and
artists, and Freedonia's most popular recreation at the time was recently imported
to the US as the board game 'Don't Whiz On The Electric Fence'," said Dr.
Ward. "The idea was that if Freedonia couldn't import artists, then it
could make them. World War II set in before any other prototypes could be made,
and several Freedonian scientists managed to smuggle Ellison out of Europe and
to the US before anyone realized the potential." After the war, Firefly
(reportedly in the throes of addiction to prescription stool softeners) forgot
all about the Ellison project and concentrated his country's resources on more
vulgar and therefore profitable venues, such as animatronic television newscasters.
Today, two-thirds of Freedonia's gross national product comes from the construction
and maintenance of such television personalities as Sam Donaldson, Diane Sawyer,
and Robin Leach.
According to the declassified State Department documents, Ellison is an absolute
marvel. "Lots of conspiracy fanatics like to argue that most of our modern
technological developments were 'borrowed' from extraterrestrial sources, but
in Harlan's case, it's probably true, because we can't find any other explanation
for the sophistication," said Dr. Ward. Overlaying a skeleton composed
of a titanium alloy that self-heals when exposed to heat are input, output,
and defense systems well in advance of anything available elsewhere during the
1930s, and many are well in advance of today's comparable systems. Overseeing
everything is a true AI processor capable of astounding leaps of deduction,
thus explaining Ellison's ability to create fascinating characters and situations
in such high-stress conditions as on radio programs and in bookstore windows.
"It's no surprise that Ellison does all of his work with a manual typewriter
instead of a computer, because trapping himself by using a computer would be
like strapping yourself to a sparrow and expecting to fly to Australia,"
said Ward. Powering everything is the secret to how Ellison manages his grueling
schedule of writing and lecturing: an incredible waste-free nuclear battery
that promises to revolutionize industry if it could be copied. "People
ask if he ever runs out of power after one of his 8-hour lectures, and the answer
is 'No'. Oh, he might, but only if he keeps going for a while. Like 40,000 years
without a potty break."
The explanation for Ellison's creation, as well as the defense and offense
capability (most of which are still classified by the UN) makes sense in the
context of Freedonian history. "Firefly wanted true cultural warriors,
who could present a thesis and defend it to the death if necessary," said
Ward. "Many of Harlan's weapons were intended for use against enemies of
Freedonia: radio commentators, film critics, know-nothing science fiction fans.
Apparently a glitch in his cerebral matrix prevents him from accessing his full
mission, but he obviously knows some of his reason for being. His fascination
with artificial life forms, as evidenced in his Outer Limits screenplay
'Demon With A Glass Hand', is part of it, as is his ability to verbally filet
any critic of his work who hasn't done his homework. If he does access
his core memories, then his powers will be virtually unlimited, and could be
set off without warning. The trick, of course, is not to set them off. Treat
him with the respect accorded to any replicant with the ability to wipe out
all life in our solar system with a random sneeze, and we'll all be fine."
After Firefly's death in 1977 and the subsequent collapse of Freedonia's economy,
some of the technology used to create Ellison was smuggled out of Europe by
varying governments. "Canada did the most testing of the original Ellison
technology," said Dr. Ward, "with generally disappointing results.
The government was trying to jump-start its own literary warrior program in
the Sixties, and finally gave up when its best efforts flopped. When people
refer to Paul T. Riddell as a third-rate Harlan Ellison clone, it's closer to
reality than you know." Britain scaled its program back severely and sold
most of the tech to private industry, with the greatest success to date being
in pop music. Dr. Ward related "That's why the Spice Girls disappeared
right after their movie came out. Those girls were quite literally too 'high
The response to the announcement ranged throughout the spectrum. Ellison's
wife Susan responded "Suddenly it explains everything, especially why he
speaks machine code in his sleep." Longtime friend Neil Gaiman announced
"Well, it's about time that someone acknowledged Ellison's abilities. I
spent years trying to write as much as Harlan has, and the only way I can keep
up that kind of schedule is by putting powered light sockets in various orifices
and flailing away until the neighbors complain about the stench of burnt flesh."
Finally, director James Cameron, who locked horns with Ellison in 1984 over
plagiarism of Ellison's works in Terminator, fled the country and is
currently hiding out in an undisclosed location after receiving word of Ellison's
advanced weaponry and tactical software. Before leaving, Cameron was heard to
say "I could have ripped off Larry Niven or William Gibson, or someone
else who couldn't blast me from orbit, but no, I had to be clever..."