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To create definitive versions of all Harlan Ellison’s writings, fiction and non-fiction, to preserve in print for posterity.
To create definitive versions of all Harlan Ellison’s writings, fiction and non-fiction, to preserve in print for posterity.
758 backers pledged $123,207 to help bring this project to life.

How to Recognise Different Types of Trees From Quite a Long Way Away

Posted by Jason Davis (Creator)

Three days and ninety minutes in, The Harlan Ellison Books Preservation Project is just over 30% funded.

If you've popped by the page in the last 30 hours or so, you'll have noticed that I added a picture (courtesy of the superb Rod Searcey) of me, the Ellisons, and Joe Stefko (publisher of the burglar-stunning edition of THE COMPLETE GLASS TEAT OMNIBUS, among other Ellisonian delights). There's also an animated GIF illustrating this editor's Ellison resume thus far.

Next up will be a test of my technology to see if I can do a live Q&A either via Facebook or Kickstarter Live. There will be a further update once I've tested the tech and scheduled the live appearance.

Prior to that video Q&A, I'll publish an FAQ here on the Kickstarter page addressing several of the questions I've received regarding this endeavor. 

As we proceed, please keep in mind the primary goal of the project, as stated: To create definitive, digital versions from the preferred text of all Harlan Ellison’s writings, both fiction and non-fiction. Once digital versions of all Harlan's prose work exists, it becomes a very simple matter to curate, assemble, and lay out for publication an infinite combination of collections.

Now, I turn the subject to a little bit of history that will speak to my actions (rather than words) as an editor. I recently unearthed a few binders from the dawn of and thought I'd share some never-before-revealed backstory...

A Brief History of "the HARLAN 101 series"

Prior to my being hired to edit the first wave of Edgeworks Abbey titles for (it was just in those days; I added the surname when I took over and probably caused a sigh of relief amongst Mr. Coben's readership), plans were drawn up for two distinct series: BRAIN MOVIES and HARLAN 101.

The former proceeded pretty much as designed once I took over (though it was my idea to use Harlan's original typescripts), but the 101 series as initially conceived was very unlike what has since been published. Upon arrival at Ellison Wonderland, I was presented with three boxes of photocopied typescripts, one containing short stories, one novellas, and one essays. With the exception of about 75% of the essay book, everything else was available in other in-print Ellison collections.

The short story collection was a best-of affair with tales every Ellison reader would already have, so I sought to create something a little different. I took four writing-related essays slated for the non-fiction collection (plus another that I remembered from a magazine), added memoirs on the writing of two stories already on the table of contents, and dug up the original ending to "Paladin of the Lost Hour" and "Snake in the Crypt" (Harlan's never-before-reprinted first stab at "The Deathbird"). By the time I was done, I think the resulting book on the craft of writing--via illustration and explication--was a much worthier volume than I'd been assigned upon arrival. (My only regret is not including the zombie-revisions to "Sensible City," highlighted within the body of the text to illuminate process. If I'd known at the time they existed, they would have been there.)

The novella collection, as presented to me, contained "The Resurgence of Miss Ankle-Strap Wedgie," "All the Lies that Are My Life," and "Mefisto in Onyx." I love all three of those tales, but I figured no one would object to the long-promised reissue of THE SOUND OF A SCYTHE taking center stage in that volume. Thus, HARLAN 101: THREE BRILLIANT NOVELLAS became THE SOUND OF A SCYTHE AND THREE BRILLIANT NOVELLAS.

The essay book took a while longer, but I hope you'll agree that THE LAST PERSON TO MARRY A DUCK LIVES 300 YEARS AGO is an improvement on this table of contents, scanned from the original printout generated during my first meeting with Harlan in 2010:

I looked for the tables of contents for the other two 101 volumes, but while the stories were still in the binders, the ToCs must have been stowed elsewhere.

I hope this trip into the mysterious past of gives you an insight into the editorial process I've employed thus far, and might allow you to extrapolate into the future.

Thanks, as always, for your support.

Jason Davis, Editor

master_shemp and Rudy de Swart like this update.


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    1. Jason Davis Creator on

      CORRECTION: In the last paragraph above the image, the text should refer to "THE LAST PERSON TO MARRY A DUCK LIVED 300 YEARS AGO" rather "LIVES". Kickstarter doesn't allow updates to be corrected as far as I can tell.