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The City on the Edge of Forever: The Original Teleplay that Became the Classic Star Trek Episode Paperback – July 1, 1996

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Editorial Reviews

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.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 276 pages
  • Publisher: White Wolf Publishing; White Wolf Ed edition (July 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565049640
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565049642
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.8 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #281,746 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Jamie Jeffords on May 9, 2001
Format: Paperback
For more than thirty years now, controversy has raged over the fan favorite Star Trek episode, "City on the Edge of Forever." Here, Ellison gives us the story of his script, how it was written, then rewritten numerous times, finally to the point where he disavowed it, trying to put his nom de plume, Cordwainer Bird as author.
The book, which starts as an interesting piece of, if not Trekker lore, television behind the scenes, quickly becomes a (likely justified) character assassination of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry. Plenty of evidence is presented to prove the claims of dishonesty by Roddenberry against not only Ellison, but other creators. "City" is not the first tome to assert Roddenberry's credit stealing or lack of writing ability (although it has never been put so succinctly as when Ellison says Roddenberry, "couldn't write worth sour owl poop.")
In three separate interviews printed here, Roddenberry claims that Ellison's script was unfilmable for two reasons. One, he had several crewmen acting out of character and two he was over budget. Taking these one at a time, Roddenberry was actually quoted as saying, "He [Ellison] had my Scotty dealing drugs!" Scotty does not appear on the script anywhere. Several times Roddenberry had apologized for his mistake, but he never seemed to stop making it.
Although Scotty was not dealing drugs, another character created just for this episode, Lt. Beckwith, is dealing in Jewels of Sound, a sonic narcotic. Roddenberry objected to having any of his perfect crew showing such poor character. Perhaps this was Roddenberry's complaint, and not defamation of Scotty, but Starfleet officers in general, whom Roddenberry never wanted to show with conflicts or flaws.
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43 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Andrew McCaffrey VINE VOICE on November 24, 2001
Format: Paperback
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. The second part, and the meat of the text, is the actual script treatments of CITY ON THE EDGE OF FOREVER, with two additional revised scenes at the end written after Gene Roddenberry (Star Trek's creator and executive producer) insisted that certain elements of the story be removed or changed. The final part is a collection of afterwords written by various people to have worked with Ellison over the years, particularly those who were familiar with the conflict between himself and Gene Roddenberry - the Great Bird Of The Galaxy.
Harlan Ellison's introductory essay is a delightful, 72-page, no-holds-barred rant concerning the circumstances behind the Original Star Trek episode, CITY ON THE EDGE OF FOREVER. The essay, filled with some of the most creative insults you'll see this side of a Don Rickles' act, is easily worth the price of admission by itself. In it, Ellison starts at the very beginning, painstakingly detailing the events behind the writing of the script, continues through the fights during the production and then screams about everything that took place after the show had ended. Ellison includes numerous photocopies of damning documents that build a very convincing case for his side of the argument.
It's laughable the number of things that Gene Roddenberry thought he could get away with saying at Star Trek conventions. My favourite is that Roddenberry would state during a speech that Harlan Ellison "had my Scotty dealing drugs!
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 17, 1999
Format: Paperback
Harlan Ellison's bitter introductory essay is the absolute finest reason to buy this book. He handily deconstructs the myth that has been Gene Roddenberry in a literate, angry rant that makes the reader almost experience a vein-throbbing aneurysm as an act of pure empathy. I myself had to be hospitalized for several days after exposure to his acidic version of what went down. That having been said, I'm still a fan of the televised version of The City on the Edge of Forever and I think it was an improvement on Ellison's original draft. The number one reason is (as D.C. Fontana points out in her afterword) that Ellison's script just wasn't very series television friendly. The City and the Guardians as originally envisioned by Ellison could have never been delivered to his satisfaction given the special effects/makeup limitations of the time and would have been a legitimate budgetary concern. Personally, I think it was a stroke of genius to make the Guardian actually BE the gateway and substituting the original antagonist of the drug-dealing Beckwith (what's the street value on a Jewel of Sound, by the way?) with the accidentally doped-up but otherwise decent Dr. McCoy simply made more sense from a TV standpoint. Ellison's addition (okay, okay at Roddenberry's insistence) of space pirates came off as silly and the Enterprise simply ceasing to exist was certainly more profound than having them turn into a ship full of buccaneers. What I find incredibly interesting in the reading of Ellison's essay and the various afterwords are the unanimous suggestions that Roddenberry wanted HIS Starfleet people to be portrayed as perfect and uncorrupt while refusing to address the many episodes made under Roddenberry's supervision that depicted imperfect and corrupt Starfleet personnel.Read more ›
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