The City on the Edge of Forever

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The original teleplay that became the classic Star Trek episode, with an expanded introductory essay by Harlan Ellison, The City on the Edge of Forever has been surrounded by controversy since the airing of an ?eviscerated? version?which subsequently has been voted the most beloved episode in the series? history. In its original form, The City on the Edge of Forever won the 1966?67 Writers Guild of America Award for best teleplay. As aired, it won the 1967 Hugo Award. The City on the Edge of Forever is, at its ...
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The City on the Edge of Forever

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The original teleplay that became the classic Star Trek episode, with an expanded introductory essay by Harlan Ellison, The City on the Edge of Forever has been surrounded by controversy since the airing of an “eviscerated” version—which subsequently has been voted the most beloved episode in the series’ history. In its original form, The City on the Edge of Forever won the 1966–67 Writers Guild of America Award for best teleplay. As aired, it won the 1967 Hugo Award. The City on the Edge of Forever is, at its most basic, a poignant love story. Ellison takes the reader on a breathtaking trip through space and time, from the future, all the way back to 1930s America. In this harrowing journey, Kirk and Spock race to apprehend a renegade criminal and restore the order of the universe. It is here that Kirk faces his ultimate dilemma: a choice between the universe—or his one true love. This edition makes available the astonishing teleplay as Ellison intended it to be aired. The author’s introductory essay reveals all of the details of what Ellison describes as a “fatally inept treatment” of his creative work. Was he unjustly edited, unjustly accused, and unjustly treated?
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781497642904
  • Publisher: Open Road Integrated Media LLC
  • Publication date: 6/3/2014
  • Pages: 326
  • Sales rank: 717,886
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Harlan Ellison has been called “one of the great living American short story writers” by the Washington Post. In a career spanning more than fifty years, he has won more awards than any other living fantasist. Ellison has written or edited seventy-four books; more than seventeen hundred stories, essays, articles, and newspaper columns; two dozen teleplays; and one dozen motion pictures. He has won the Hugo Award eight and a half times (shared once); the Nebula Award three times; the Bram Stoker Award, presented by the Horror Writers Association, five times (including the Lifetime Achievement Award in 1996); the Edgar Allan Poe Award of the Mystery Writers of America twice; the Georges Melies Fantasy Film Award twice; two Audie Awards (for the best in audio recordings); and he was awarded the Silver Pen for Journalism by PEN, the international writers’ union. He was presented with the first Living Legend Award by the International Horror Critics at the 1995 World Horror Convention. Ellison is the only author in Hollywood ever to win the Writers Guild of America award for Outstanding Teleplay (solo work) four times, most recently for “Paladin of the Lost Hour,” his Twilight Zone episode that was Danny Kaye’s final role, in 1987. In 2006, Ellison was awarded the prestigious title of Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Dreams With Sharp Teeth, the documentary chronicling his life and works, was released on DVD in May 2009. 
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Read an Excerpt

Perils of the "City"

Speak no ill of the dead?

Oh, really? Then let's forget about writing a true introductory essay to this book. Let's give a pass to setting the record straight. Let's just shrug and say, ah, what the hell, it's been more than thirty years and the bullshit has been slathered on with a trowel for so damned long, and so many greedy little pig-snouts have made so much money off those lies, and so many inimical forces continue to dip their pig-snouts in that Star Trek trough of bullshit that no one wants to hear your miserable bleats of "unfair! unfair!" ... that it ain't worth the price of admission, Ellison. So shine it on, and let the keepers of the holy flame of Star Trek and the preservers of the bullshit myth of Roddenberry have the field to themselves. The field, and the exchequer.

Oh, yeah, that's what lies at the core of it. The money.

What is it Deep Throat said: Follow the money.

If it weren't for the money, for that overflowing Star Trek trough in which the pig-snouts are dipped every day, no one would give a rat's-ass if the truth about Roddenberry and the show got told. But if you follow the money, you see that river of gold flowing straight off the Paramount lot in boring sequel-series after clone-show, and you see the merchandisers and the franchisers and the publicists and the QVC hustlers and bought critics like TV Guide's Jeff Jarvis, and you see the fanmagazine fanatics and the convention-throwers and the endless weary biographies and the huge pseudo-book franchise of useless Star Trek novels written by a great many writers who ought to take up flyspeck analysisinstead of littering the bestseller lists with their poor excuses for creative effort (not to mention the few really excellent writers who ought to know better, but have gulled themselves into believing they're writing those awful turd-tomes out of adolescent affection for nothing nobler than a goddamn tv show, when the truth is they're doing it for the money, they follow the money, just like all the other Star Trek barnacles attached to that lumbering behemoth); and you see the venal liars and adulterers and con-artists and charlatans and deluded fan-fools who have a vested interest in keeping Star Trek sailing along, and all the innocent but naive tv absorbers, and you figure, Ah what the hell, Ellison, let it go! Just forget about it!

And, pretty much, except when my anger got too intense, or my gorge got too buoyant, or when one of the little piss-ants got within arm's reach, I have let it slide for thirty years.

Thirty years. That is a piece of time.

Probably more years than are owned by most of the people who will buy this book. And with the historical soapbox Star Trek stands upon, to insure its posterity (not to mention its view of "how things happened"), the story those under-30 readers will have had to swallow by the time they get to this book ... well, Ellison's somewhat jaundiced and politically unkempt telling of that history has about as much chance as a snowball in a cyclotron.

So. Speak no ill of the dead. And let it go, pal. Give it a rest. As my wife says, belt up.

And I have. For thirty years, more or less. I won't dissemble and pretend that I haven't tried to refute some of the most widely-held canards-cum-mythology that have circulated through the Star Trek world, at conventions, or in private conversations. But in the main, for the most part, partially out of dismay and partially out of weariness, I've let most of it pass. To attempt to stem the tide of fannish folderol and gossip would mean I'd have to devote every waking hour to an essentially pointless task. And it would be as likely to do any good as trying to sweep the beach clean of sand.

As for that "speak no ill of the dead" admonition, I only wish the same Christian Charity was visited on the living. Yet I never said anything about Roddenberry in private or public that I didn't (or wouldn't have) said to his face.

But trying to present another viewpoint of Roddenberry--and we're talking now about all those years prior to his death, before the tell-all books by virtually every member of the cast, before the scathing revelations in GENE RODDENBERRY: The Myth and the Man Behind Star Trek (Hyperion, 1994) by investigative journalist Joel Engel, before even the whitewash biography by David Alexander--a man who was in Roddenberry's hip pocket when Gene was alive, and managed to get to the task of grave-robbing Roddenberry's life faster than the speed of blight--titled The Authorized Biography of Gene Roddenberry: STAR TREK CREATOR (ROC, 1994)--trying to portray Roddenberry as anything approaching a fallible human being would bring down the tsunami of Trekkie wrath. To them, he was a bright and shining light, and they would eviscerate anyone who said otherwise. This is a degenerative process called "heroification."

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 18, 2013


    I had heard about the controversy surrounding one of the franchises most popular and enduring hours. I found Ellison's screenplay to be even more compelling than that was produced on-screen. I did feel that the pirate group taking control unnecessary since it only involved a few quick beats. But I enjoyed the use of a guest character to set the action in motion an even better catalyst than "Bones."

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  • Posted July 31, 2012

    The book behind the best original Star Trek episode - more than stands on its own.

    "As if some cosmic god had flicked an ash and it became a world," Ellison writes. That's the quality of insight and imagination we get from reading a book as well as seeing it's movie, or in this case, it's TV episode.

    The original draft is otherwise different enough from the resulting screenplay to make this a unique read and a necessary companion to the book. We learn that the City on the Edge of Forever is an actual city on the alien planet, and the guardians of time are separate beings there. We also learn about a world war character whose history is sadly missing from the screenplay.

    In defense of the resulting screenplay, however, the romance is better developed in the final than in the draft, where it's a bit too sketchy in the original and missing the intimacy we get in the redraft.

    There are a few chapters written by Star Trek writers and cast members that speak more honorably to what I've written above.

    In summary this is a must read for any Star Trek and or/Sci Fi fan.

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    Posted December 30, 2011

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    Posted February 29, 2012

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    Posted May 25, 2010

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    Posted July 16, 2010

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