The City on the Edge of Forever Hardcover – Dec 1995
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From Library Journal
"The City on the Edge of Forever" was recently voted the best episode of Star TrekTM ever. Despite that praise, Ellison has been bitching for 30 years that his original teleplay for the episode was butchered by Trek producer Gene Roddenberry and Paramount Studios henchmen. This volume offers the original, complete, unedited version of the script plus commentary by Ellison and many of the principal actors involved in the production. Ellison's numerous fans along with the general clamoring for all things Trek are bound to put this book in high demand. The script was previously published in a limited hardcover edition, but this paperback makes it much more accessible.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Ellison has had it--up to here! He wrote the original teleplay for the first Star Trek TV series' most popular episode (in which Kirk and Spock leap through a time gate into 1930s Chicago in order to prevent history being changed) and then watched, patiently fuming, for 30 years as Gene Roddenberry, that blankity-blank-blank, told everyone what an incompetent job Ellison had done and how much he had to labor to realize the script that was finally filmed. Yet since Ellison's original won a Writers Guild Award, the highest honor TV dramatists bestow, how incompetent could it have been? The answer, verified by the script's reappearance here alongside two prefatory treatments and two scenes Ellison added at Roddenberry's request, is "not at all." Seconding that assessment, four other ST writers and four original cast members weigh in. But what makes this the ST book of the year (maybe all time) is Ellison's sputtering, raging, fuming introduction in which he sets the record straight, by God! Invective doesn't come any better these days. Both ears and the tail, Harl! Ray OlsonSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
As Harlan Ellison wants everyone in the world to know, his original screenplay for "City" differed significantly from the final product -- and he is REALLY BURNED UP over the whole affair. This book contains both the original script in its entirety, and a very angry introduction by Ellison, containing all the gory details.
The script is definitely a must-read for any serious trekker, or any serious science-fiction enthusiast. The STAR TREK COMPENDIUM calls it television writing at its finest, and even if you don't care much for STAR TREK, you might be interested in seeing what was in the script before it was turned into a committee effort and forced to conform to the STAR TREK format.
Regarding Ellison's anger and bitterness over the affair, I have mixed feelings.
On the one hand, I once had a similar experience, albeit on a much, much, much smaller scale*, so I know how infuriating it is to have your creative efforts messed with purely to serve someone's personal concerns -- especially when the people doing the messing treat your objections with contempt. Furthermore, Ellison is an established, respected, and acclaimed science fiction writer, who certainly deserved better. Among other things, Ellison was allegedly lied to and lied about by Gene Roddenberry, who kept claiming that Ellison's original script had Scotty dealing drugs, at the same time he kept promising Ellison that he was gonna quit saying that.Read more ›
The book begins with a lengthly "introductory essay", in which Ellison talks about his original script, his communications with Roddenberry and the studio, and what went wrong after the show aired. Promises were made and never kept, facts were misrepresented for years, and it all got mucked up in the end. The second part of the book is Harlan's original script-so that you can decide for yourself-if what the author asserts is true. I have to say, that after reading the script, both versions of the episodes are strong, but I think it's a lot like comparing apples and oranges. Having said that though, Ellison backs up a lot of what he states with documentation. For example, claims were made that, one of the reasons the original draft changed so much was that it had "Scotty", (James Doohan) selling drugs. At no time does the character do that very thing. Drug addiction is a part of the story, but, not in the way it was stated. Of course the final version was vastly different and yet, still remains a classic. The final part of the book is a series of Afterwords, written by folks with some authority on the subject.Read more ›
However, the nut of the argument, that Gene Roddenberry unfairly rewrote his script and then spent a decade telling lies about why he did so, falls flat for two reasons. 1) Roddenberry's rewrite is superior (for its television purposes), and 2) Ellison got so much publicity and resultant opportunities from this episode that who cares what Roddenberry said.
Roddenberry (and/or his staff writers) took out the drug story and gave that part to McCoy, and it was one of the doctor's best. He also made Kirk the prime mover at the end, not Spock. These were necessary changes for a television series, and Roddeberry was the producer, so Ellison should be a little more understanding.
While Roddenberry may have defended himself for rewrites years later by saying, incorrectly, that Ellison had "Scotty dealing drugs," the point is he didn't need to defend himself. It was his show, and the exposure of this episode made Ellison famous. Everyone should just shut up about this and enjoy the episode.
The book itself is poorly laid out by the publisher...there are a series of connected essays, written at different periods, but it's hard to tell when one starts and the other ends. The Shatner-bashing is also unnecessary and a little gratuitous, in light of what had already come in books from Sulu, Uhura, etc. There are some useful insights on the rewrite process for television, and of course it's always fun to read Harlan.
Most recent customer reviews
I know that Ellison was wronged a thousand times between his original draft and the publishing of this book 30 years later, but to read the 100 pages of foul mouthed drivel that he... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Melvin Scott
This is not just his script and re-writes for city On The Edge of Forever. They take up maybe a third of the book. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Bootsy Bass
Since I'd bought the 'Six Science Fiction' plays containing HE's bare bones account of the differences between his script and the end product, I wondered what he could possibly add... Read morePublished on July 2 2002
This book is divided into three parts. The first part is an extremely long, bile-filled introductory essay from the pen of author Harlan Ellison. Read morePublished on Nov. 24 2001 by Andrew McCaffrey
For more than thirty years now, controversy has raged over the fan favorite Star Trek episode, "City on the Edge of Forever. Read morePublished on May 9 2001 by Jamie Jeffords
This is a long delayed comment to feeling like I have been ripped off by Ellison into buying this book.
The script in it is good. Read more
I have been a fan of Harlan's for years (what he thinks of me I have no idea, and probably shouldn't ask), so I'm extremely familiar with his irritation over the treatment of... Read morePublished on Dec 27 2000 by Phrodoe
To quote Leonard Nimoy from his afterword in this volume: "if you don't know by now that Harlan Ellison and Gene Rodenberry were engaged in a blood battle over this project ever... Read morePublished on Sept. 26 2000 by Lawrance Bernabo
The intro is really almost unbelievable, Ellison comes across as bitter, petty and close to being off his rocker; skip it. Read morePublished on June 2 2000 by Heresy