The City on the Edge of Forever by Harlan Ellison

Posted September 22, 2016 by Nanette in Reviews / 0 Comments

The City on the Edge of Forever by Harlan EllisonThe City on the Edge of Forever by Harlan Ellison
Narrator: Alex Hyde-White, Bonnie MacBird, D. C. Fontana, David Gerrold, Gabrielle de Cuir, Harlan Ellison, J. Paul Boehmer, Jean Smart, Jim Meskimen, John Rubinstein, Judy Young, Larry Nemecek, LeVar Burton, Orson Scott Card, Richard Brewer, Richard Gilliland, Richard McGonagle, Robert Forster, Ryan Britt, Ryan C. Britt, Scott Brick, Stefan Rudnicki, Veronica Scott
Published by Skyboat Media on 05 July 2016
Length: 8 hrs
Genres: Hard Science Fiction, Media Tie-In
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
Rating Report
Story (Plot)
One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star
One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star
Production Quality
One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star
Attention Holding
One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star
Overall: One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

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 listener 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 - and 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?

For a full cast/character list and table of contents, please visit

©1975 Harlan Ellison. © 1995 by the Kilimanjaro Corporation. Afterwords © 1995 and 2016 by the authors (P)2016 Skyboat Media, Inc.

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The City on the Edge of Forever is ranked among the top episodes of the original Star Trek series. It was written by renowned science fiction author Harlan Ellison. But what was filmed and aired was not what Ellison wrote. He spent the next thirty years fighting with Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek, and the legions of fans who held Rodenberry in deity-like devotion to tell the story of what happened to his version.

The audiobook is broken into sections. It includes an introductory essay by Ellison, the two different “treatments” the script went through, the script itself, the revised script and an afterwards written by Peter David, D.C. Fontana, David Gerrold, DeForest Kelley, Walter Koenig, Leonard Nimoy, Melinda Snodgrass and George Takei.

Harlan’s introductory essay is filled with vitriol. Since he narrates this section himself, it comes through loud but not clear. I had a hard time understanding everything that was said. Mr. Ellison’s emotion makes his speech unclear. Personally I feel this would have been better handled by a professional narrator.

The treatments of the script are interesting. It is a winding road that takes us through the offices of Roddenberry and the TV executives. Each had their own perspective on what the story should look like. Ellison’s objections to the changes were overruled and ignored. When he tried to publicly discuss his dissatisfaction with the changed script, he was vilified by Roddenberry.

The scripts, teleplays, differ greatly from what was aired. Listening to the teleplays as they were intended to be done is amazing. Several of the concepts/plot points were eliminated because either Rodenberry or the network execs were offended with them. SPOILER ALERT: One of these eliminated concepts shows up in a later episode where the Enterprise in an alternate universe is a pirate ship END SPOILER ALERT. Another concept that the network found offensive shows up in a Star Trek: Voyager episode if I remember correctly. All in all Ellison’s original teleplay was wonderful and elegant. What the public saw was considered one of the best episodes of the series. But if you have only ever had hamburger steak, you do not know how fantastic prime rib can be.

The narration and performance of the audio book is good. The only part I really had issue with was the previously mentioned parts narrated by the author himself. Everything else was clear and easy to understand. There are several narrators, male and female, some with direct connections to the Star Trek franchise. They all do a good job. This is a must for Star Trek fans.

About Stefan Rudnicki

As an audio narrator and/or producer who has recorded over 3,500 audio books, he has been responsible for a number of pioneering innovations, among them several third-person multiple-reader formats and the AudioMovie. He has received numerous awards, including two GRAMMY Awards (Best Children’s Album, 1999 – The Children’s Shakespeare and Best Spoken Word Album, 2013 SOCIETY’S CHILD), two HUGO Awards for Co-Producing Lightspeed Magazine, a Bram Stoker Award (I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream), a Ray Bradbury Award (The NPR dramatic series 2000X), more than a dozen Audie Awards (including recognition for his solo narration of Lost Boys by Orson Scott Card and Hubris by Michael Isikoff and David Corn), and numerous Earphones Awards from AudioFile Magazine for projects like the unabridged production and narration of Orson Scott Card’s best-loved novels Ender’s Game, Speaker for the Dead and Songmaster, and for his solo narration of The Secret Lovers by Charles McCarry, The Attack by Yasmina Khadra, Adam Resurrected by Yoram Kaniuk, The Ten-Cent Plague by David Hajdu, Genghis by Conn Iggulden, The Warsaw Anagrams by Richard Zimler, Burn Me Deadly and Dark Jenny by Alex Bledsoe, Cry Dance by Kirk Mitchell and Speak Memory by Vladimir Nabokov. His narration of Louis L’Amour stories titled Big Country was a 2008 Audie finalist, and his reading of Tim Weiner’s Legacy of Ashes was named one of the six best audio books of 2007 by Publishers Weekly.

About Harlan Ellison

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/writer to the science fiction TV series The New Twilight Zone and Babylon 5.

Several of his short fiction pieces have been made into movies, such as the classic “The Boy and His Dog”.

About Nanette

I love books in any form. I especially love audio books and believe a narrator can make or break the book. I enjoy a wide variety of genres. In non-fiction history (whether biography or cultural) is one of my favorites. In fiction, I enjoy everything except romance (although I have read a few I did like). I enjoy sharing what I read with others.

My Website
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