The 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
This review was first posted on https://audiobookreviewer.com/reviews/the-city-on-the-edge-of-forever-by-harlan-ellison/
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.
I received a copy of the audiobook in exchange for an honest review.