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I, Robot Color Plates From The Harlan Ellison Illustrated Screenplay Are Simply Gorgeous

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I actually liked a lot about Alex Proyas’ 2004 I, Robot. It may not be a perfect adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s beloved “Robot” stories, but I enjoyed it as a riff on those ideas and as its own thing, even though it’s far from a perfect movie and it does contain 100% more jigginess than I feel Isaac Asimov intended. But the version of I, Robot I’d really love to see is the one presented in the excellent I, Robot: The Illustrated Screenplay. That book charts Asimov and Harlan Ellison’s attempts to bring a the story to the big screen. As with many Ellison-related tales, it’s equal parts fascinating, tragic, and hilarious, and it’s a fascinating look at a slice of “what if” science fiction history. It’s also accompanied by gorgeous hand-painted illustrations by artist Mark Zug. Just check out the cover art:

Illustrated

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Harlan Ellison Has Suffered A Stroke, Is Recovering In The Hospital

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EllisonThe legendary and oft-controversial Harlan Ellison suffered a stroke last week and is currently recouperating in the hospital. Harlan’s wife, Susan, first broke the news on Harlan’s website, saying, “A couple of days ago Harlan had a stroke. He’s in the hospital. His right side is paralyzed. He’s comfortable — as possible. We will keep you up-to-date with his progress.” Screenwriter Josh Olson, a close friend of Harlan’s, later said on Facebook that Harlan is “being quintessential Harlan — talking a mile a minute, and throwing out more obscure references per minute than anyone can possibly keep up with.”

At the age of 80, Harlan Ellison has carved out a long and ridiculously prolific career, penning “over 1,700 short stories, novellas, screenplays, comic book scripts, teleplays, essays,” stretching across damn near any genre or sub-category you could think of. He’s taken home numerous Hugo, Nebula, Bram Stoker, and Edgar awards for stories such as “A Boy and His Dog”, “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream”, “‘Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman”, and “Jeffty Is Five” (one of my personal favorites). He also edited the acclaimed SF anthologies Dangerous Visions and Again, Dangerous Visions.

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Comic(s) Relief: Harlan Ellison’s City On The Edge Of Forever Is Now A Comic Miniseries

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CityForever1Harlan Ellison’s “The City on the Edge of Forever” is widely regarded as one of the best Star Trek episodes of all time. It was also a notorious source of contention between Trek creator Gene Roddenberry and Ellison, who was unhappy about changes Roddenberry wanted and who considered having his name on the episode replaced with his disapproving pseudonym, “Cordwainer Bird.” (You can read several versions of Ellison’s script, as well as his detailed recollections of the whole sordid affair, in this excellent book.) In spite of all the controversy, Ellison’s original first draft of the “City on the Edge of Forever” teleplay won him both a Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation and the Writer’s Guild of America’s Award for Most Outstanding Teleplay. Now, beginning this week, you’ll be able to experience Ellison’s original vision as a comic book miniseries from IDW Publishing.

Veteran Trek comic writers Scott Tipton and David Tipton are writing the adaptation, and J.K. Woodward (Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who: Assimilation) is handling the interior art. If the art style on the cover above looks familiar, that’s because it was done by Juan Ortiz, the mega-talented dude who did the awesome Star Trek retro episodic posters.

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Harlan Ellison’s City On The Edge Of Forever Script Becoming A Comic Miniseries

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CityLove him or hate him, there’s no question that Harlan Ellison has had one hell of a colorful life. He joined a street gang to bone up on their world before he wrote a book about the subculture. He was fired on his first day at Walt Disney Studios after riffing on the idea of a pornographic movie starring Disney characters…within earshot of Roy Disney. He has earned a reputation for being contentious, vociferously opinionated, and possessed of a bountiful talent for revenge. To this day, one of the most legendary anecdotes about the writer is the story of him butting heads with Gene Roddenberry over Ellison’s script for Star Trek’s “The City on the Edge of Forever.” Now, nearly 50 years later, Ellison’s original teleplay for the episode is being adapted into a comic book miniseries by IDW Publishing.

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J. Michael Straczynski Aims To Turn Harlan Ellison’s Repent, Harlequin Into A Movie

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RepentHarlan Ellison has a notoriously explosive relationship with Hollywood. His TV credits include work on dozens of series spanning from the ‘60s up through our own fledgling century, most of which seem to have gone off without a hitch. But when things go wrong, they tend to go wrong spectacularly, usually owing to the lunkheadedness of your average studio executive, Ellison’s disdain for compromise when it comes to his writing, and the author’s well-known penchant for vengeance. (His story, “The Man Who Was Heavily Into Revenge,” could describe quite a few notorious incidents from Ellison’s colorful history.) So it’s not surprising that the person who might finally succeed at bringing one of Ellison’s most-acclaimed stories — the Hugo and Nebula Award-winning “‘Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman” — to the big screen is J. Michael Straczynski, Ellison’s friend and occasionally collaborator since the days of Babylon 5.

Deadline reports that Straczynski and his Studio JMS company have optioned the rights to Ellison’s “Repent, Harlequin” with the aim of turning it into a film. But Ellison is notoriously protective of his work, so even though he’s chummy with JMS, he still had one requirement before he’d grant the option: Straczynski had to deliver a completed screenplay. JMS did exactly that, and apparently it was up to Ellison’s standards. Moreover, if the combination of Straczynski and Ellison isn’t enough to excite you, Deadline piles it on by pointing out that JMS plans to approach both Peter Jackson and Guillermo del Toro in his search for production partners and a director.

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Harlan Ellison & Stan Lee Visit The Simpsons: Today In Science & Science Fiction

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EllisonDid you know that The Simpsons is still on? I know, it’s hard to believe. And honestly, it pains me to make that joke about a show that used to be one of the best on television, but whose longevity has come at the price of seriously diminishing returns. But tonight, for the first time since I sampled one of the Halloween specials and ran screaming into the night a couple of seasons back, I will be setting my DVR to record Fox’s ridiculously long-lived animated sitcom. The reason for that comes down to two names: Harlan Ellison and Stan Lee.

Yes, tonight’s Simpsons — entitled “Married to the Blob” — will feature cameos by both legendary speculative fiction writer Harlan Ellison and Stan the Man himself. You can see a preview vid from The Hollywood Reporter below, with Ellison and Lee talking about their appearance in the show. For Lee it’s a return voyage, as he previously popped up in the 2002 episode “I Am Furious (Yellow).” Lee jokes, “I was here 12 years ago, and I think I impressed them so that after 12 years, they figured they had to have me back.” Both icons are playing themselves, and Ellison looks to be proving a good sport by poking fun at his often litigious reputation.

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