I said, "Who among you is Dan Simmons?"
A quiet man whom I hadn't even noticed, in the third or fourth row, raised his hand. He seemed to be in his early thirties, physically average, a plain man with nothing bizarre or even out of the ordinary about him. He looked at me squarely.
I only remember, in specific, some of the things I said to him. Dan remembers most of it accurately. But the essence of what I said was this:
"This is not just a good story, or a competent story, or an original story. It is a magnificent story. What you have created here is a wonder. It is what writers mean when they say 'this is what good writing is all about.'
Версия Дэна Симмонса:
"Who is this Simmons?" bellowed Ellison. "Stand up, wave your hand, show yourself, goddammit. What egomaniacal monstrosity has the fucking gall, the unmitigated hubris to inflict a story of five thousand fucking words on this workshop? Show yourself, Simmons!"
In one of the braver (read 'insane') moments of my life, I waggled my fingers. Stood.
Ellison stared at me over the top of his glasses. "At this length, it had better be good, Simmons ... no, it had better be fucking brilliant, or you will not leave this room alive. Comprende? Capish?"
I left the room alive. In fact, I left it more alive than I had been in some years. It was not merely that Ellison had liked it. He ... he and Ed Bryant and several of the other writers there ... had found every flaw in the story, had revealed every false note and fake wall, had honed in on the places where I'd tapdanced fast rather than do the necessary work, had pulled the curtain off every crippled sentence and humbug phrase. But they had taken the story seriously.
Harlan Ellison did more than that. He told me what I had known for years but had lost the nerve to believe — he told me that I had no choice but to continue writing, whether anything was ever published or not. He told me that few heard the music but those who did had no choice but to follow the piper. He told me that if I didn't get back to the typewriter and keep working that he would fly to Colorado and rip my fucking nose off.
Обе версии представлены в сборнике Симмонса "Prayers to Broken Stones".