Thursday, September 8, 2016

Harlan Ellison's City on the Edge of Forever (audiobook-on-cd)

Happy 50th Anniversary of Star Trek's first airing!

Harlan Ellison’s The City on the Edge of Forever
by Harlan Ellison (audiobook-on-cd)

[not currently in library collection -- considering ordering through InterLibrary Loan (or purchasing through link at end of review, as this is a brand-new release)]

A must-hear for every Star Trek fan.

The “City on the Edge of Forever” episode that was broadcast on the television show “Star Trek” was not the version that Ellison had initially written. Both are award-winning stories – Ellison won The Writer’s Guild Award in 1967 for Best Episodic Drama on Television for his teleplay, and Roddenberry’s version won the 1967 Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation – but I was always curious about Ellison’s original story as compared to the fan favorite that actually aired.

The epic animosity between Harlan Ellison and Gene Roddenberry as a result of their disagreement over “City’s” rewrites lasted decades until Roddenberry’s death in 1991. This book begins with an essay read by Ellison giving his side of the story. It’s a fascinating tale complete with creative insults as only Ellison can do. (If you ever saw him on the Scifi – now SyFy – Channel providing commentary to anything that struck his fancy you’ll know what I mean.)

Then we hear two re-written versions of his story by Ellison, and are treated to a play production of his story that won the Writer’s Guild award, including Ellison voicing “Trooper,” the character he’d written for himself to play in the TV episode (Trooper was cut in the Roddenberry version). Several “Star Trek” actors give voice to the characters.

Other writers provide commentary including David Gerrold (“The Trouble with Tribbles,” “The Martian Child,” “When H.A.R.L.I.E. was One”) and D.C. Fontana (“The Enterprise Incident” and “Journey to Babel” along with eight other episodes for the original series).

This audio book was originally a Kickstarter-funded project for Skyboat Media in March, 2016 (Kickstarter is an online fundraising website). Be aware that Ellison recorded his parts after his stroke and a few of his words and phrases are difficult to understand, but for the most part he is comprehensible. Overall, a very enjoyable audio book for Trekkies.

[ Skyboat audio’s official web site for this audiobook product ] [ Six Science Fiction Plays — including Ellison’s original teleplay ] [ Harlan Ellison’s The City on the Edge of Forever — book about the making of this episode ]

Recommended by Charlotte K.
Bennett Martin Public Library

Have you listened to this? What did you think? Did you find this review helpful?

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