A Unique Legacy Preserved
Legendary sci-fi writer Harlan Ellison passed away two years ago and his wife Susan died earlier this year. Writer J. Michael Straczynski just announced on social media that he would be maintaining their extensive estate…
Ever since the passing of Susan Ellison there has been endless speculation about what will happen to Harlan’s estate and his legacy. Every day, the voicemails, texts and emails pile up at my front door, passing on the latest rumor, growing to fever pitch.
“Didja hear? The house is gonna be sold!”
“Didja hear? The house is gonna be torn down!”
“Didja hear? All of Harlan’s stories and IP have been sold to Paramount for next to nothing to pay off debts!”
“Didja hear? The State of California has appointed an executor who’s gonna auction it all off!”
“Didja hear? Didja hear?”
When I told whoever was bearing the latest wild story that it WAS just a wild story, and nothing more, they would grow irate, claiming in each instance to have gotten the news directly from someone who knows the executor of the estate. A solid , for-sure, no-kidding-around source who was in a MUCH better position than me to know what was REALLY going on.
“How do YOU know what the deal is, huh? My guy talked to the executor just yesterday, who told him this straight-up. How do YOU know better than HE does?”
How do I know better? How do I know these are just rumors?
Because I am the Executor of the Harlan and Susan Ellison Trust.
I’ve kept a low profile since accepting this position in order to focus on of the million-and-one details that have to be addressed. I don’t know if anyone reading this has ever been appointed an executor, but it is a massive undertaking. To be an executor is to inherit nothing but be responsible for everything, and to implement the last wishes of those who entrusted you with the totality of their life’s work.
Consequently, ever since Susan’s passing, 80% of my day, every day, has gone into establishing the Trust, dealing with tax issues, creditors, court documents, lawyers, accountants, affidavits, death certificates, corporate minutes…in simpler cases, the process only takes a few months, and usually ends by parceling out bequests or auctioning off the estate.
But that is not the case here, because there is the legacy of Harlan’s work that must be preserved and enhanced. Looking after all this, and seeing to Harlan and Susan’s wishes, is something I will likely be doing for the rest of my life.
Everything that Harlan ever owned, did or wrote will be fiercely protected. Steps are being taken to certify Ellison Wonderland as a cultural landmark, ensuring that it will remain just as it is long after I have gone to dust.
To revive interest in his prose, literary representation has been shifted to Janklow & Nesbit, one of the largest and most prestigious literary agencies in the world. Film and TV rights will be handled through A3, previously known as the Abrams Agency, also a leading and influential agency. I will be working hand in glove with them to get Harlan’s work back into print in a big way.
There is more to say on future plans – much more – but all of that will come in time.
For over thirty years, Harlan Ellison was my dearest friend on the planet. Those of you who know me, know how important he, and Susan, and his work, were to me. As a beginning writer, long before we ever met, I looked to him for inspiration and the courage to keep going. Once we became friends, I had a very simple philosophy: whatever he needed done, I would make sure it happened. I would’ve stepped in front of a bus for him, and he knew it, just as he knew that out of the thousands of people he’d met in his life, he could trust me to make sure that his and Susan’s last wishes were attended to, and that his legacy would be protected.
That’s all for the moment, but as they say in TV Land, stay tuned…for there is more to come.