City on the Edge of Forever

Things We Saw Today: Harlan Ellison (1934-2018)

This article is over 6 years old and may contain outdated information

Recommended Videos

Legendary science fiction writer Harlan Ellison has passed away at the age of 84.

Ellison is one of those names that just feels synonymous with science fiction. He was best known for the 1969 novella A Boy and His Dog as well as his many, many short stories, including “I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream.”

Ellison also wrote for television, working on shows like The Twilight Zone and Babylon 5, and famously delivered the script for the time-traveling original Star Trek episode “The City on the Edge of Forever.” “City” became one of the best-known and most revered episodes in the entirety of the Star Trek franchise, and the script won him one of his nine Hugo awards. The Hollywood Reporter has a fascinating account of Ellison’s clash with Gene Roddenberry and the studio over elements of his “City” script:

Ellison related his side of the story once more in the 1995 book Harlan Ellison’s The City on the Edge of Forever. Writing that he never saw more than a pittance from his work, he lamented that “every thug and studio putz and semiliterate bandwagon-jumper and merchandiser grew fat as a maggot in a corpse” based on his creation.

There it is, the cantankerous Ellison voice we know so well. Ellison met with many controversies in his life and picked a lot of fights. Here are a few more bits of pressing information from THR:

Harlan Jay Ellison was born in Cleveland on May 27, 1934. As an adolescent, he was prone to wanderlust and ran away from home numerous times. He later supported his adventures with a range of jobs, including tuna fisherman, crop picker, bodyguard, truck driver, cook, cab driver and book salesman.

[…] Ellison attended Ohio State University from 1951-53 but was expelled after he threw a punch at a professor who had criticized his writing.

The following year, Ellison moved to New York. Looking for inside dope for a novel he wanted to write about street gangs, he joined the Barons, a group of local thugs in Brooklyn, and the experience formed the basis of Web of the City (originally published as Rumble).

[…] Ellison once mailed 213 bricks — postage due — to a publisher who wouldn’t pay him and sent a dead gopher, designed to arrive at the start of the holidays, to another.

(via THR)

  • Jonathan Kasdan, one of the screenwriters behind Solo, will work on the next Indiana Jones movie which is a movie that does not need to exist. (via Uproxx)
  • DC’s new subscription streaming Universe announced its full lineup, including new live-action and animated shows. The service’s beta begins in August. (via CBR)
  • The history of the witch in comics. (via Syfy)
  • Starbucks will now pay for surgeries for its transgender workers. Time to start drinking Starbucks again. (via HelloGiggles)

What’d you spy today?

(image: Paramount)

Want more stories like this? Become a subscriber and support the site!

The Mary Sue has a strict comment policy that forbids, but is not limited to, personal insults toward anyone, hate speech, and trolling.—


The Mary Sue is supported by our audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Learn more about our Affiliate Policy
Image of Kaila Hale-Stern
Kaila Hale-Stern
Kaila Hale-Stern (she/her) is a content director, editor, and writer who has been working in digital media for more than fifteen years. She started at TMS in 2016. She loves to write about TV—especially science fiction, fantasy, and mystery shows—and movies, with an emphasis on Marvel. Talk to her about fandom, queer representation, and Captain Kirk. Kaila has written for io9, Gizmodo, New York Magazine, The Awl, Wired, Cosmopolitan, and once published a Harlequin novel you'll never find.