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August 2, 2016 / Leslie

The City on the Edge of Forever by Harlan Ellison

A Rapid Review

CityOnTheEdgePublisher: Skyboat Media | July 2016
Format: Audio Download | 8 hours | Rating: 4 stars
Audio Listening Level: Easy

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 . . . 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.

This is a real treat for Star Trek fans. Prepare to be enlightened and entertained. For the first time, Harlan Ellison tells his version of the events surrounding his screenplay for one of the most beloved Star Trek episodes, The City on the Edge of Forever, followed by a reading of the original screenplay and several of its edits.

The first part of the book is a long introduction by Ellison where he tells his side of story about the many rewrites, the changes in characters, the different ending, and of his dislike of Gene Roddenberry, Star Trek’s creator. It’s actually a very entertaining rant, and those familiar with the author will know exactly what I am talking about.

I have been a Trek fan since the TV show premiered back in the 60s, but this is the first time I have read the original script or heard Ellison talk about it. In a way, I find it odd that he has said very little about his version of what happened over the past 30 years until now, but being the eccentric curmudgeon that he is, it is understandable.

The original screenplay and the rewritten final version both won awards. So which was better and why was it changed? I love the version that aired; it’s a favorite episode of mine. And now that I’ve read the original screenplay, I like that one too. However, I can see where special effects limitations and budget concerns would have caused some of it to be changed. But there was a lot of drama surrounding those changes on their way to becoming the final version.

Audio production:
The audio was performed by a Full Cast which includes: LeVar Burton, Jean Smart, Scott Brick, John Rubinstein, Stefan Rudnicki, Robert Forster, David Gerrold, D. C. Fontana, Paul Boehmer, Jim Meskimen, Richard Gilliland, Alex Hyde-White, Orson Scott Card, Gabrielle de Cuir, Judy Young, Richard J. Brewer, Ryan C. Britt, Richard McGonagle, Bonnie MacBird, Larry Nemecek, Veronica Scott, and Harlan Ellison.

The full cast performance is perfect for this book, and the introduction read by the author is Harlan at his crankiest. And hearing his words in his own voice gives it all the more impact.

This is an easy listen with an engaging cast and I would recommend it even for those who do not usually listen to audiobooks.

Audio Sample:
Audio sample available HERE.An Under My Apple Tree Rapid Review
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
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One Comment

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  1. BermudaOnion / Aug 2 2016 2:36 pm

    I was never a Star Trek fan but both my sister and husband loved that show.


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