Harlan Ellison Script Books Include Unproduced Space Western, Demon With A Glass Hand Origins

By David Wharton | Updated

This article is more than 2 years old

BrainMovies3In addition to being the source — and subject — of countless unparalleled anecdotes, writer Harlan Ellison has been one of the most prolific writers of the last century. He’s written short stories, novels, columns, TV shows, movies…you name it. Unsurprisingly, there’s a ton of his stuff that even the most devout disciple of Ellison has never seen. The folks at Edgeworks Abbey are looking to remedy that, releasing an ongoing series of books that delve into Ellison’s “deep cuts,” and two new editions have just become available.

The first, Brain Movies: Volume Three, includes the script for Cutter’s World, an unfilmed pilot script that beat Firefly to the whole “space western” thing to the punch by several decades. It also includes the partial short story that eventually evolved into “Demon With a Glass Hand,” one Ellison’s unforgettable episodes of The Outer Limits.

Brain Movies: Volume Four, aside from sporting a cover that tips its hat to Ellison’s iconic Dangerous Visions anthology, includes the pilot script for the oddly named Brillo, based on a short story by Ellison and Ben Bova. It involves a future cop partnered with a robot (territory also being explored next fall with J.J. Abrams and J.H. Wyman’s Almost Human pilot for Fox).

As a snazzy celebration of Ellison’s 79th birthday next Monday, anyone who orders the books by then will get a ton of bonus content as well. You can read the full press release below.

The Original Teleplays of Harlan Ellison®
Volume Three

EXPLORE ELLISON’S TAKE ON THE SCIENCE FICTION WESTERN: Cutter’s World, Ellison’s two-hour 1987 pilot for a Western-tinged science fiction series for CBS (fifteen years before Joss Whedon finally got one on the air with Firefly), tells the story of guilt-ridden 20th century astronaut Ben Cutter’s journey to an alien world, where he and his twelve-year-old son, Mac, must carve out a life for themselves in the perpetual twilight of a world inhabited by two species in conflict: the humanoid vivo, and the kyben (the recurring beings featured in Ellison’s NIGHT AND THE ENEMY story cycle).

If you order BRAIN MOVIES, Volume Three on or before Monday, the 27th of May, you will receive—at no extra charge—the first draft of Cutter’s World, featuring a different version of the third act with a subtler take on the series’s ongoing antagonist.

REDISCOVER THE LOST SHORT STORY AND ABORTED NOVEL THAT BECAME DEMON WITH A GLASS HAND: In keeping with the kyben theme established by Cutter’s World, BRAIN MOVIES, Volume Three digs into the archives hidden within the Lost Aztec Temple of Mars to publish for the first time the short story fragment and aborted novel that evolved into Ellison’s Writers Guild Award-winning teleplay for “Demon With a Glass Hand.”

Ellison began work on “The Queer File,” a short story about a man paid to catalogue strange occurrences, while he was living in New York City in the early 1960s. By early 1964, the story had become a novel titled OBITUARY FOR AN INSTANT. Then, just as Ellison started chapter four, The Outer Limits came calling and the novel’s premise evolved into “Demon With a Glass Hand,” the teleplay for which appeared in BRAIN MOVIES, Volume One (which is still available in both the signed and standard editions).

With the publication of BRAIN MOVIES, Volume Three, every step in the award-winning tale’s evolution—including the initial outline where the protagonist was involved in a cross-country chase rather than the vertical pursuit through LA’s historic Bradbury Building, as seen on ABC—is unveiled to chronicle the author’s creative process.

READ THE SCRIPT THAT SECURED ELLISON’S TELEVISION CAREER: “Who Killed Alex Debbs?” is the first of Ellison’s four teleplays for the 1960s crime series Burke’s Law and features the titular LAPD Homicide Captain investigating the murder of a Hugh Hefner-inspired publisher. Read the script that landed Ellison his first ongoing gig in Hollywood and led to the hot up-and-comer being listed as one of Cosmpolitan’s six most eligible bachelors.

PUT YOURSELF IN THE STORY EDITOR’S CHAIR AND PREPARE TO EXPERIENCE AN ELLISON PITCH: “The Ship That Kills” is a “lost episode” of the 1974 series The Manhunter, starring Ken Howard. For years, Ellison wondered why his segment of the depression-era action series never went before the cameras. Now, you can read his storyline—written with the same energy with which he verbally pitched it to the story editor—and discover, in the editor’s notes, the reason that the episode was never made.

Cover art by 15-time Hugo Award winner and Science Fiction Hall of Fame inductee Michael Whelan.

This special “Birthday Edition” of BRAIN MOVIES, Volume Three (featuring the bonus draft of Cutter’s World) is a 468-page 7.5″ by 9.25″ paperback and sells for $39.99 only at HarlanBooks.com.


The Original Teleplays of Harlan Ellison®
Volume Four

READ THE BASIS FOR ELLISON’S FIRST GROUNDBREAKING PLAGIARISM SUIT: Brillo, the two-hour ABC pilot based on Ellison and Ben Bova’s short story of the same name, was the impetus for the author’s first plagiarism lawsuit. At long last, Ellison afficionados can now see how the story of a (then-futuristic) 1990s beat cop teamed with the latest in law enforcement technology (the eponymous robot) would have played out on the small screen had not the network passed on the series. For fans of the absurd, some of the “suggestions” issued by ABC Broadcast Standards and Practices are recounted in the editor’s note.

If you order BRAIN MOVIES, Volume Four on or before Monday, the 27th of May, you will receive—at no extra charge—a revised draft of Brillo, which condenses the narrative, conflated characters, and eliminated elements found in the first draft. A version of this draft is what would have eventually been produced if the project had not been derailed.

In addition to the pilot teleplay, this volume presents several pages of Ellison-commissioned concept art for the Brillo robot drawn by Science Fiction Hall of Fame-inductee Frank Kelly Freas…

…as well as the treatment for “Funny Money,” a further adventure for Brillo and his human partner, Mike Polchik, plotted by Ellison and Bova when the ABC series was still in development.

LEARN WHAT WAS REQUIRED TO LURE GLORIA SWANSON TO THE SMALL SCREEN: “Who Killed Purity Mather?” is the second of Ellison’s four scripts for Burke’s Law. The author considers the production of this teleplay to be a high point of his television career and the accompanying editor’s note recounts how he lured the elusive Gloria Swanson down from Sunset Boulevard to appear in her first television role.

VENTURE WITH ELLISON INTO THE UNIVERSAL PICTURES BLACK TOWER WHERE, HARLAN ASSURES YOU, “EVERY FLOOR IS THE THIRTEENTH.”: “Jeffrey’s Being Quiet” was Ellison’s contribution to the short-lived parapsychology series The Sixth Sense, where he spent a few hellish months (recounted in the editor’s note) as a story editor in the early 1970s. Inspired by the same personal incident that produced the short story “All the Birds Come Home to Roost,” as well as a key plot point in “On the Downhill Side,” this treatment is Ellison at his best—harnessing his pain in the service of his art.

Cover art by Jason Davis & Bo Nash based on the cover of DANGEROUS VISIONS by Leo & Diane Dillon.

This special Birthday Edition of BRAIN MOVIES, Volume Four (featuring the bonus draft of Brillo) is a 462-page 7.5″ by 9.25″ paperback and sells for $39.99 only at HarlanBooks.com.

Remember, the bonus drafts of Cutter’s World and Brillo—over 200 pages of alternative Ellison script—are only available if you order on or before Monday, the 27th of May.

Now Available Individually: ROUGH BEASTS (the second edition signed by Ellison for $50, while supplies last) and NONE OF THE ABOVE ($30).

Also Available:
BRAIN MOVIES, Volume One (both the Babylonian and standard edition)