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The City on the Edge of Forever: The Original Teleplay

3.94  ·  Rating Details ·  980 Ratings  ·  96 Reviews
The controversy has raged for almost 30 years--now readers can judge for themselves. Harlan Ellison wrote the original award-winning teleplay for "The City on the Edge of Forever, " which was rewritten and became the most-loved Star Trek episode of all time. Ellison sued Paramount in protest and won. This book contains the teleplay and afterwords by Leonard Nimoy, DeForest ...more
Paperback, 276 pages
Published July 1st 1996 by White Wolf Publishing (first published November 1st 1977)
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May 10, 2016 Jim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi, 2fiction, 1audio
The City On The Edge Of Forever was originally written by Harlan Ellison, aired April 6, 1967, & has been voted the best original Star Trek episode ever. This audio version is kind of a nerd's paradise since it is a teleplay of an early script & has other revisions all read by a great cast. I saw the original TV episode when it aired & loved it. I've seen it a dozen times since then & own it. (You can find the TV episode for free (if you have a login) on Hulu here: http://www.hul ...more
Feb 24, 2009 Michael rated it liked it
Shelves: star-trek
Once you get past the 70 page essay on how Gene Roddenberry ruined his brilliant script, you can read the original Harlan Ellison version of the classic "Trek" episode.

And I can see why the changes that were made were made. This is a good script, a nice idea but it's not "Star Trek."

And the best part is finding out that D.C. Fontana made all the changes that Ellison berates Roddenberry for making in his inital rant. Pure genius
Benjamin Featherston
Oct 05, 2013 Benjamin Featherston rated it it was ok
This is a good script, but definitely not a good read. While the Harlan Ellison's original script should be an enjoyable read for fans of Star Trek and his work, the motivations behind this book lead to a presentation which is a chore and a headache to read.

In 1966, Harlan Ellison was approached to write a script for "Star Trek". The script he submitted, "The City on the Edge of Forever", was heavily edited and modified before it made it to the air, with major changes to the storyline completed
Betsy Boo
Sep 18, 2009 Betsy Boo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi-fantasy
This book is half rant, half tv film script. Ellison wrote the original script for this Trekkie favorite, which is also my favorite episode, (along with "The Trouble With Tribbles"). I had never known there was such a long winded controversy over this. Ellison has been angry for 30 years over not only what Roddenberry did to his script, but also because Roddenberry has been telling people for years how unfilmable Ellison's script was, and how he had to "save" it. It is an interesting look at wha ...more
Jun 17, 2017 Craig rated it really liked it
The debate has gone on for over fifty years now... Ellison wrote a Star Trek. They changed the script a lot when they filmed it. Both versions were award winners. The episode is arguably the best Trek ever... Which one's better? There have been different versions and adaptations, and still the point is argued among the aged and aging fans. When Ellison's original script was published in this edition along with a very long introduction presenting his side of the argument there was much more hue a ...more
Apr 18, 2017 Jay rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: media, audiobook
Imagine my confusion. I checked out “The City on the Edge of Forever Teleplay” by Harlan Ellison on audio from the library. This is the most popular Star Trek episode, and the audio boasts of many narrators, so I’m expecting something akin to an audio play. And since it’s Star Trek, I’m expecting about 45 minutes and I’m done. And then I notice that the package is 8 hours long. How can this possibly be? I start to listen.

This audiobook package is the culmination of a Trekkie pissing contest betw
Jim Cherry
Feb 07, 2015 Jim Cherry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For years Star Trek fans have considered the episode “The City on the Edge of Forever” the best episode from the original series. Harlan Ellison wrote the episode, and for almost as long as Star Trek fans have loved the aired version of that episode, Ellison has decried the aired episode as a pallid shadow of the episode he wrote. To prove his point, Ellison submitted his original screenplay to the Writers Guild Award and won! Since then Ellison and Star Trek fans (yes, the twain can meet! If yo ...more
Mark Muckerman
Oct 31, 2015 Mark Muckerman rated it did not like it
Okay folks, so here we go. . .

1. I'm a Trekker. And I'm old enough that I was also a Trekkie, before we somehow were renamed. That means I embrace the dream, the vision, and the possibilities of us finding other life and of humanity becoming part of a greater community and improving our collective lot in life as in Roddenberry's vision. That also means I'll buy just about ANY publication or piece of crap that has to do with Star Trek, no matter how bad. I have autographed pictures, coffee mugs,
Oct 22, 2007 Patricia rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-it
As many people know and many more don't, Harlan Ellison has author credit for the Star Trek episode "The City on the Edge of Forever," in which Kirk & Spock must go back to 1930s Earth to restore a timeline.

What many people don't know is that the original story was heavily edited in order to make it acceptable to the story editors and producers of Star Trek. Ellison has since famously complained about the job that was done to his work, and a good deal of that complaining can be found at leng
Amy Sturgis
If you liked/loved "The City on the Edge of Forever," an episode generally held as one of the best single works in all of Star Trek, then you owe it to yourself to read the original script as Harlan Ellison wrote it -- or better yet, hear it. I listened to this in the 2016 full-cast audio recording marking the 50th anniversary of Trek, and it is superb. Special kudos to Jean Smart, whose Edith Keeler will forever be my headcanon. The original script is better in some specific and undeniable ways ...more
Renee Hall
It was interesting to finally read the original teleplay and compare it to the version that was eventually aired. I was less interested by the seemingly endless bitter rant that precedes the teleplay. I'm not saying Ellison doesn't have good reason to be bitter, and I can imagine how cathartic it must have been to finally, definitively have one's say after so many years, but as a reader, it made for a tedious experience, and even when I felt Ellison's arguments were sound, I started losing sympa ...more
David Allen
Dec 30, 2013 David Allen rated it it was ok
The teleplay is good, of course. So was the finished episode. Ellison's heavily footnoted, spittle-flecked 73-page rant about changes to his script 30 years before contrasts neatly with D.C. Fontana's calm, 6-page explanation of how and why his script was rewritten. Dismaying from a writer of Ellison's abilities. What with the lousy layout and presentation, it looks like some nut's homemade fanbook. Suggested alternate title: "Ego on the Edge of Losing It."
Feb 26, 2016 Beth rated it really liked it
I love "Star Trek," especially the original series. When I was in junior high and high school, I'd watch the reruns when I got home from school. It without a doubt shaped my worldview as I grew into adulthood and I still have that sense of optimism that we can all work together to explore new worlds or vanquish foes or solve seemingly insurmountable problems. (The Kobayashi Maru!) As is the case with so many other fans, "The City on the Edge of Forever" is my favorite episode. It is heartbreakin ...more
Mar 26, 2013 TrumanCoyote rated it liked it
All of which goes to show that the actual filmed episode was better. I only read the script, not the accompanying materials--as I didn't want a faceful of Ellison's usual indulgent, self-serving crapola. The junkie stuff in the prologue did indeed have the wrong tone--and personifying the Gatekeepers made it gimmicky (not to mention that they intoned one fortune cookie after another). It was stronger to bring Edith Keeler into the story right away. Plus you miss great moments like Bones cracking ...more
Aug 25, 2016 Tay rated it it was ok
Shelves: star-trek, nonfiction
The actual teleplay gets three stars. It is a nice story and getting to see the evolution (or destruction if you listen to Ellison) through its various treatments is lovely. Unfortunately, the first 70 or so pages of this book is really bring this whole thing down. If there was a Hall of Fame for pettiness, this essay would be its crown jewel. He repeats himself at least three times as he rails on everything Trek and Gene Roddenberry, which is fair. Ellison has a right to be angry. Yes, Scotty i ...more
John Moretz
Classic angry Ellison. The book has Ellison's original script, re-writes, and treatments for all the world to read. These documents prove Scotty was never a drug dealer, as Roddenberry had claimed for many years.

Thus Ellison goes on a book length rant, ripping apart, among other things, Roddenberry's versions of events, Roddenberry's skills as a writer, and, in a foot note, referring to Glen A. Larson as "Glen A. Larceny". Ellison even has time to knock William Shatner by claiming Shatner was co
Kevin Wright
Aug 13, 2012 Kevin Wright rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
As much as I love Harlan Ellison, now that I've read the original script, I actually think the Star Trek showrunners made some improvements to it. I like the character of Beckwith the interstellar drug-dealer and found his subplot engaging, but felt that Harlan spent too much time developing that and not enough time developing the relationship between Kirk and Edith Keeler, which is crucial to the heart and the point and the cruel irony of the story. I think the dialogue between Kirk and Keeler ...more
Jul 30, 2008 Nathan rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Nathan by: Katiewest
This is the book to read if you're interested in just how long Harlan Ellison can hold a grudge and to see just how far he'll go to make a point.

"The City on the Edge of Forever" was the Star Trek (original series) episode where Kirk & Spock go back in time to find McCoy & meet Joan Collins. Widely considered the best episode of the series, it's development resulted in a falling out between Ellison & series creator Gene Roddenberry. This book contains all three drafts of the script
Aug 02, 2008 Tom rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: enemies
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Norman Cook
Jun 15, 2017 Norman Cook rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-twice, audiobook
This is a review of the audiobook.
There's no question Harlan Ellison's original script is very good. Great? No. It has gaps of narrative logic and other problems. But it is above the usual fare that passes for TV writing, especially for its time. Nevertheless, it was (and still would be) unfilmable as a Star Trek episode. Firstly, it is much too long. This is a 90-minute, or even 120-minute, script. This results in taking too long to get to the core of the story, the relationship between Captain
Feb 04, 2017 Stephen rated it really liked it
In the classic Star Trek episode, "The City on the Edge of Forever", Captain Kirk must chase a mentally disturbed man into Earth's past to save its future. Based on a teleplay penned by Harlan Ellison, it featured the kind of moral dilemma not seen again until Star Trek Deep Space Nine. Kirk falls in love with a woman of Earth's past, but if he saves her from a deathly fate, the Federation itself will -- through the usual 'want of a nail' reckoning -- cease to be. The original teleplay was heavi ...more
Tobin Elliott
Jun 07, 2017 Tobin Elliott rated it really liked it
I love Harlan Ellison. The more ranty he gets, the better I like him. I love the original Star Trek, too.

So, hell, this is a match made in heaven, right? Well, I think it's more accurate to say City on the Edge of Forever was the match that launched a three-decade flame war between Ellison and Roddenberry.

As with all arguments, I firmly believe the truth is somewhere between what Roddenberry says and what Ellison says, but I gotta say, knowing what a putz Roddenberry could be, I do angle more t
Jun 15, 2017 Mary rated it liked it
The original script for the Star Trek episode City on the Edge of Forever is excellent and if that was all this book contained I'd have given it 4 or 5 stars but Harlan Ellison's rants regarding Gene Rodenberry and the rewrites of Ellison's script and Rodenberry's specious reasons for the rewrites and false claims about how he saved an impossible script went on way too long. I certainly can understand why Ellison wanted to refute Rodenberry's claims which were often patently false but for me it ...more
Jim Kratzok
Interesting read

From a purely historical viewpoint, especially if you are an Ellison or Star Trek fan (not mutually exclusive conditions), this was a fascinating book. The contrast between the story as written and the TV episode as aired is striking. I suppose I could care more about the angst an artist experiences when their work is altered by others... But I just couldn't work up the enthusiasm for that part of this book which, unfortunately, is is to what most of the pages are dedicated.
May 29, 2017 Chris rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who don't mind Harlan Ellison's rants
With the words "cast" and "teleplay" on the cover, I expected some sort of cast acting out the teleplay. Instead this is one long grudge project from the brilliant writer yet insufferable ass Harlan Ellison, complete with multiple "see this?" versions of the script and "these people agree with me" testimonials at the end. The original script is worth a read, but stop there unless you want to immerse yourself in Ellison's 50-year grudge against his story being edited.
Jun 14, 2017 Yossi rated it really liked it
The Rashomon surrounding City on the Edge of Forever continues. And it's fun. Harlen Ellison takes on the world and literally spares no one in his rants and raves, and you get a glimpse behind the scenes of Star Trek. Jealousy, backstabbing, and ego. It's probably better than the show itself. Oh, and yes, the original script is good too.
Jun 08, 2017 Melinda rated it it was ok
a good script...but dear lord there is some guff to get through first...not a fabulous read
Vitriol laden.
Feb 11, 2017 Daniel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting behind the scenes look at Star Trek in the 60's.
Charles Spencer
May 19, 2014 Charles Spencer rated it it was amazing
As a writer myself, this book really hit home for someone who hopes one day to write famously, it's a warning call. Harlan Ellison's THE CITY ON THE EDGE OF FOREVER is a much-needed clearing of the air concerning one of the greatest myths ever perpetuated about any television show, and definitely a black mark on the supposedly shining image of Star Trek and those who were its caretakers. It even includes archival material as evidence of what Ellison calls the 'steamroller of lies' that w ...more
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Harlan Jay Ellison is a prolific American writer of short stories, novellas, teleplays, essays, and criticism.

His literary and television work has received many awards. He wrote for the original series of both The Outer Limits and Star Trek as well as The Alfred Hitchcock Hour; edited the multiple-award-winning short story anthology series Dangerous Visions; and served as creative consultant/write
More about Harlan Ellison...

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“Science fiction used to be a dangerous literature. Now, it is a very commercial genre, and whatever dangers might still lurk within seem to have been safely sanitized for the marketplace. The real crime is that the lobotomy has been self performed.

[David Gerrold - Afterword]”
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