Harlan Ellison in the hospital recovering from a stroke

Harlan Ellison gets a haircut as fans watch before a 2013 book signing. The writer is recovering from a stroke he had last week.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Harlan Ellison, the multi-award-winning writer of science fiction and fantasy, had a stroke last week and is recovering in a Southern California hospital. He is grumpy -- and everyone considers that a good sign.

Patton Oswalt tweeted: “‘I gotta go do some physical therapy on my stupid ... arm.’ -- actual quote from when I spoke to Harlan Ellison earlier. He’ll be fine.”

On Tuesday, the notoriously irascible Ellison was receiving guests and taking calls. Although he’s suffering paralysis on his right side, his speech is unimpaired. And his cognition appears to be just fine.


Asked how he was feeling, Ellison joked: “At age 80, as an outsider, I’m only 2.3% convinced that the human race is an experiment worth trying.”

Ellison has begun physical therapy and is gaining movement in his right arm. Which he’ll need to continue his long writing career.

He recently published his 114th book -- his bibliography includes cultural criticism, pulp fiction and original teleplays -- and they’re for sale on his website,

The stroke, said Ellison, “was less scary than it was perplexing.” Always high-energy -- his friends say he moves FTL, a.k.a. Faster Than Light -- he’d had and ignored a “little infarction” before.

“I never noticed,” he said, “and just kept boogie-ing.”

Ellison expects to spend several weeks doing physical therapy and then be released.

Twitter: @paperhaus