‘I Was There …’: Harlan Ellison Witnesses the Birth of Scientology

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The prolific and iconoclastic writer Harlan Ellison died June 27, 2018, at his home in Sherman Oaks, California, at the age of eighty-four. Preferring the term speculative fiction to science fiction, Ellison wrote more than 1,500 short stories (such as “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream”), essays, and reviews. He also wrote film and television scripts, including several Star Trek episodes. He was a natural-born skeptic and participated in a variety of events sponsored by the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry over the years, including a luncheon talk at CSICOP’s Fourth World Skeptics Conference in Burbank in 2002 that ranged widely and irreverently over religion, politics, and science. At that same conference, he was awarded CSICOP’s Distinguished Skeptic Award (see SI, “The Inimitable Harlan Ellison,” September/October 2002). He also wrote the lead tribute to science fiction great Arthur C. Clarke (“Arthur ’N’ Me”) in our July/August 2008 issue. Here is a brief reminiscence by James Underdown, executive director of CFI West in Los Angeles.

—Kendrick Frazier, Editor

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