“Stop, Thief! Said author Harlan Ellison.”

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Some time ago I posted a youtube link in which Harlan Ellison rants about people taking writers’ work and not paying – it’s here.

He meant business.

Now the Hugo award-winning author is suing to stop the scheduled Oct. 28 U.S. release of In Time, a new science fiction  film starring Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried, which he says is a rip-off from his 1965 prize-winning short story, “Repent, Harlequin! Said the Ticktockman.” He’s especially agitated because he has been trying to cut a deal to have a film made of his story.

According to the Guardian:

According to Ellison’s suit, both works are based on the premise of a “dystopian corporate future in which everyone is allotted a specific amount of time to live”. The writer also says In Time lifts other concepts from his story, including the presence of authority figures known as “Timekeepers” who track the precise amount of time each citizen has left, and similarities in the way those whose time runs out meet their end. …

It’s not clear whether Ellison has seen In Time, but he points out that critics such as Richard Roeper, who have attended advance screenings, claim that the film is based on his story.

Film clip of Andrew Niccol‘s In Time below.  Looks interesting. I’m tempted to catch it … if it ever opens in the U.S. … Maybe I’ll save my ten bucks (or whatever movies cost nowadays)  and read Ellison’s story instead.  Really, what protection do authors have nowadays for their ideas – which, after all, is a major criterion in the science fiction genre? Check out the Ellison rant. He’s right.


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One Response to ““Stop, Thief! Said author Harlan Ellison.””

  1. Bob March Says:

    I suppose it will come down to a detailed analysis of the similarities. If the imitation is too close, it’s plagiarism. If the filmmakers can show how they substantially altered the storyline from the Ellison original, they’re probably off the hook — legally, at least. Morally, I’d say that they ought to acknowledge the Ellison connection and remunerate him. Oddly, Hollywood’s more common sin is to buy a popular title (I’m thinking of P. D. James’ “The Children of Men”) and then throw out most of the author’s story.

    Interesting glimpse in the trailer of the ennui that physical immortality (as in the indefinite extension of earthly existence) would lead to. Reminds me of the scene towards the end of the 1980 film “Breaker Morant” when a friend wonders why Morant doesn’t take advantage of an opportunity to escape his cell on death row. “You could see the world!” says the friend. Deadpan, Morant replies, “I’ve seen it.”

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