In Time looks kind of good. The movie, set for release on October 28th of this year, stars Justin Timberlake as the resident of near future where time has become the world’s most valuable commodity.
The trailers make it look a little like Logan’s Run with a different twist. It looks smart, really smart, something that’s all too rare in an era where science fiction is most often represented by loud and dumb movies like Transformers.
So of course Harlan Ellison wants all the credit for it.
If you’re not familiar with Harlan Ellison he’s a pretty good sci-fi author who has earned a place somewhere in the pantheon below the likes of Asimov, Bradbury and Heinlein but above the likes of Michael Crichton. Of course if you asked Ellison he’d probably tell you he’s the greatest thing to happen to the written word since Shakespeare. The guy has a brilliant mind, but he’s also an egotistical, bordeline psychotic nut. He also wrote the brilliant Star Trek episode “City on the Edge of Forever”, an ep routinely chosen as one of the best science fiction television episodes ever filmed. Harlan Ellison tried to have every copy of that destroyed too. Of Ellison Isaac Asimov once said, “Harlan uses his gifts for colorful and variegated invective on those who irritate him — intrusive fans, obdurate editors, callous publishers, offensive strangers.”
In the case of “City on the Edge of Forever” Ellison was mad because he wanted drug dealers on the Enterprise. That’s how he had it in the original script he’d written for the show. In the case of In Time he claims they stole the idea for it from him, and aren’t crediting him for it.
I’d be more sympathetic here if this wasn’t coming from Harlan Ellison. But the guy’s a proven wacko and you take anything he has to say seriously at your own peril. Apparently his lawyers haven’t figured this out yet because they’ve actually gone so far as to file suit against New Regency and In Time director Andrew Niccol, demanding an injunction to prevent the movie’s release.
Ellison claims In Time is a direct ripoff of his 1965 Hugo award-winning work “Repent, Harlequin! Said The Ticktockman”, but I doubt it. The suit also claims the work is one of the most widely published and read science fiction works of all time, but that’s not just in doubt it’s completely untrue. Ellison’s desperate need to throw that wild little claim into his lawsuit should give you some idea of where he’s coming from, and of the chances this suit has of actually succeeding.
Harlan’s always up in arms about something, and nothing ever comes of it. Move along.