Harlan Ellison Bares All in Brain Movies

New series reveals Ellison’s original scripts and notes.

By , Columnist

Brain Movies Volume One cover

While much of the entertainment industry is focused on the many announcements and previews of comics, games, films and TV shows taking place at the big show in San Diego, there’s one announcement originating from a little bit up the California coast that caught our eye…

Harlan Ellison, one of the most celebrated and controversial American writers of the last 100 years, is releasing the first in a series of books reprinting his teleplays and associated matter.

That inaugural volume, Brain Movies Volume One, collects six of his most famous teleplays. Included are two iconic episodes from the original 1960s run of the Outer Limits series, “Demon With a Glass Hand” and “Soldier,” along with “Paladin of the Lost Hour” and “Crazy as a Soup Sandwich,” created for the mid-eighties revival of The Twilight Zone. Both “Demon” and “Paladin” were recipients of the prestigious Writers Guild Award.

Of particular note is that the script for “Paladin of the Lost Hour” will feature the original ending Harlan wrote, but was dissuaded from using by his fellow Twilight Zone colleagues for the final, filmed version of the episode. This particular denouement has only been seen once before, when the Hugo Award-winning short story of the same name appeared within the pages of the 1985 anthology Universe 15. As a bonus, Ellison’s outline for this poignant and powerful tale, and his treatment for “Crazy as a Soup Sandwich,” will be part of this new collection.

This volume also presents not one, but two drafts of “Memos From Purgatory,” based upon Ellison’s memoirs of his time spent in a Brooklyn gang. “Memos” was produced as part of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour show.

Rounding things out is another adaptation of an Ellison short story, this one intended for an episode of Showtime’s The Hunger anthology. Those familiar with the aired version of that short, “The Face of Helene Bournouw,” will likely find the original script a revelation. They will also gain insight into why Harlan insisted that the final version of that episode, which greatly altered his script, credits his pseudonym, Cordwainer Bird, as its author.

All scripts will be scanned from the Ellison’s originals, and will include all of his handwritten notes, exactly as they were written.

Brain Movies Volume One will have a general release this fall at $39.95.

For those readers who simply can’t wait that long, orders are now being taken for a special Limited Babylonian Edition.

This limited edition version of Brain Movies Volume One will include an extra 17 pages of material that Ellison wrote at the behest of J. Michael Straczynski, the creator of the Babylon 5 television series. These pages include the unabridged version of the narration heard at the beginning of the show; thirteen humorous voice overs meant to be heard at the tail end of the credits; and Ellison’s manifesto for B5 writers on how best to do science fiction on TV.

The Limited Babylonian Edition of Brain Movies Volume One will be signed by both Ellison and Straczynski, and retails for $75.00.

However, the cost for all orders placed before August 1st, 2011, will be $55.

This limited edition will not be discounted, or reprinted, ever again.

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A veteran journalist who has covered the comics medium since 1998, Bill Baker is also the author of Icons: The DC Comics and WildStorm Art of Jim Lee and seven previous books featuring his extended interviews with Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman and other notable creators. You can learn more about Bill’s work…

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