Harlan Ellison, celebrated sci-fi writer behind one of Star Trek’s greatest episodes, passes

Harlan Ellison, celebrated sci-fi writer behind one of Star Trek’s greatest episodes, passes

0 comments 📅28 June 2018, 22:06

You may not have heard his name…but chances are you’ve seen at least some of his work.

He’s probably best known for writing what is generally considered the single best episode of any Star Trek series “The City on the Edge of Forever” from Star Trek: The Original Series, season 1, episode 28.

You may remember that Bones accidentally stabs himself with his own hyponeedle, goes a bit bonkers and jumps through an ancient time portal left by a superior, vanished civilization. He unwittingly alters history and prevents the formation of Starfleet. Consequently, the Enterprise, which is in orbit around this strange, alien world…vanishes, leaving Spock and Kirk to also enter the time portal, meet young Joan Collins and try and set the timeline back to how it should be.

The other thing Ellison is probably best known for is suing James Cameron, claiming that the The Terminator was plagiarized from the two The Outer Limits (1963) episodes that Ellison wrote, namely The Outer Limits: Soldier (1964) and The Outer Limits: Demon with a Glass Hand (1964).

It’s also possible that the concept of “Skynet” could have been borrowed from an Ellison short story called “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream.”

The suit was settled out of court and newer prints of the film acknowledge Ellison as a writer. Cameron has claimed that this settlement was forced upon him by the producers. He felt that Ellison was an opportunist making invalid claims, and wanted the case to go on trial. However, the studio told him that he would be personally responsible for financial damages in the event he lost the trial. So he had no choice but to accept the settlement, a fact thatCameron has always resented.

He also consulted on Babylon 5 and J. Michael Straczynski speaks about him here…

And then there’s this little snippet…

…where Ellison gets quite animated about when people used to ask him to work ‘for exposure’.

Ellison was undeniably a unique character; an iconic yet controversial sci-fi writer and major contributor to sci-fi pop-culture. He was 84.

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