Harlan Ellison Offers To Pen Star Trek 2

Published 5 years ago by , Updated August 1st, 2013 at 3:42 pm,

Writing a script for the sequel to J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek reboot is the most fun job in the world – but hey, SOMEBODY has got to do it.

You would think that bit of hyperbole is the actual case, from the way acclaimed sci-fi writer Harlan Ellison (The Outer Limits, Star Trek, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour) is approaching it. Ellison recently posted on his blog that he is TOTALLY willing to step up and handle the scripting duties for Star Trek 2. The man has worked on Star Trek projects before – although not without a tiny bit of controversy.

You Trekkies out there probably already know that Ellison is the often-volatile writer behind famous sci-fi controversies involving some of the genre’s biggest properties.

There the instance in which Ellison claimed that James Cameron had stolen concepts for The Terminator from two of Ellison’s Outer Limits episodes (“Demon with a Glass Hand” and “Soldier“), however that matter was settled out of court. Of course, there is the more famous controversy of Ellison’s long-standing feud with Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry over the series’ now-classic season 1 finale, “The City on the Edge of Forever“. That episode premiered in 1967 and Ellison has been somewhat sore over changes made to his original script almost four decades afterward!

However, Ellison seems to have nothing but love for J.J. Abrams, proclaiming that he would “jump at the chance” to work with Abrams – while still pitching his own ideas, of course:

“Yes, I would likely try to steer him toward the original film idea I was asked to pitch, by the late Gene Roddenberry and a production exec whose name I have blissfully flensed from memory…If the very smart Abrams didn’t want to go that way, I would be wide-open to rethinking such a film from the git-go.”

Ellison also stipulates that he would need to be paid by Paramount just to get the ball rolling, along with many other colorful opinions he has to share. You can read through it all by going HERE – but I will warn you up front, his blog is of a…vintage design, so you will have to do your scroll work.

Now before you go off mocking Mr. Ellison, remember that A) He is a pretty famous and enduring writer, especially in the genre of sci-fi. B) He’s won’t stand for your mockery. Check out what he had to say to some other readers who had criticisms of his ambitions to be involved in the next Star Trek flick:

“What the hell are you guys…nuts? Where’s the ‘downside’ to getting topside the radar of J.J. Abrams? This guy ain’t Roddenberry!…He’s a writer I respect, whose work has frequently blown the lid off my box of surpriseability. But, then, he already KNOWS that. It isn’t as if I’d kept my admiration chained in the darkest cell of the basement of Bedlam.”

star trek 2 Harlan Ellison Offers To Pen Star Trek 2

I’ve always said the one thing the world needed is a sci-fi writer who would be handy in a bar fight. Sounds like Ellison may be my guy! As far as Star Trek 2, I’m perfectly happy with Alex Kurtzman and Robert Orci returning to pen the sequel – but that doesn’t mean a talented guy like Ellison shouldn’t be put to some kind of use; there’s a lot of piss-poor sci-fi out there that could benefit from his attention…

What do you make of all this?

Star Trek 2 is still currently in development.

Sources: Slash Film & Harlan Ellison’s Blog

TAGS: Star trek
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  1. Ellison also pitched an idea for the first Star Trek movie and joked that the Paramount chiefs didn’t think the Enterprise meeting God was a big enough idea!

    I thought the Star Trek reboot had a terrible script. None of it made sense. The Romulan dude spent 20 years waiting for Spock? Why didn’t he just go home and save Romulus himself? And what was the crew doing in space for 20 years while they waited? It was very pretty to look at, but the movie was a mess.

    Ellison might be able to bring some logic to a Star Trek plot, but also keep in mind the guy peaked in the 1950s and 1960s. He seems to have lived off the proceeds of lawsuits, book reprints and executive producer credits for the last 20 years. He hasn’t written anything of note for a long time.

    The bottom line is it’s just more of Harlan’s rantings.

  2. No. That would be no better than allowing Rick Berman to have a say in it.

  3. @T

    Shhh!!! Don’t give them any ideas! Rick Berman… (shudder)


  4. Ellison is a writer of considerable talent. I don’t know what he has left in the tank but it can’t be worse than the work on the reboot. Dan Zee was right that story was a mess and despite of the script JJ was able to make it entertaining. I say hear him out let him write a outline and let JJ decide.

  5. A lot of the story was cut from the Star Trek Film. for starters, The Romulan Dude, as you put it, spent the intervening time in a Klingon Prison. It’s in the deleted scenes. Some of the editors/producers in Hollywood really need to be taken out and shot for what they do to movies.

  6. i thought the script of star trek was pretty decent. but as u asked. why didnt they just go home instead of waiting 20 years? well, did they know the exact time he was suppose to arrive? if so then it was a bit weird, revenge can be a nasty sucker aye. if not, then u can understand why. u had 1 question that is questionable.. right.., and that question made the film a mess? maybe u shud have payd more attention?

    all in all it was a very entertaining movie, and im looking forward to the sequel, and i say: bring the ellison dude onboard, the more the merrier right?:o ^^ im sure his ideas arent totally braindamaged, and might help to spice things up in the sequel:)

  7. Star Trek did have its problems but it was far better than its predecessor (Nemesis). I say let Ellison pitch his idea to Abrams and let Abrams make the call, not the suits.

  8. Sure, he’s talented — and he’s a sexist, racist old prick whose day is done. Move Star Trek forwards, not backwards.

  9. I loved the new Star Trek movie. I definitely say stick with those same writers. They did a great job. It’s hard to believe they also wrote Transformers…

  10. @Dan Zee

    Dude, your complaint is weak & your reasoing for J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek” being a “mess”? is shoddy beyond belief. Your attention-span must be of a 3 year old or something. The script wasn’t a mess, the problem is your comprehension skills are terrible.

  11. sorry guys… i thought star trek’s script was decent enough. i think you’re just old … ?

  12. I didn’t like the script either, and I have no desire to watch the film on dvd. Nero was really a horrible villain that acted like a idiot, wasting his resources and time on nothing but hate/revenge. Sorry Kahless but that sounds like Shinzon from Nemesis. A film that (IMO) at least had better space battles. The way the Enterprise was constructed and the Starship Troopers vibe just didn’t work for me… The first 15min were great serious and intense, the rest of the film is Star Trek Top Gun slapstick.

    Harlan coming on can’t hurt at this point,,,

  13. Some fans might remember Star Trek Voyager already did Abrams story. It was called “The Year of Hell”. It delt with a military leader in control of a timeship seeking revenge for his homeworld being destroyed.

    Kurtwood Smith played the villian. Same basic story as the latest film.

  14. If he wants to work on the script with the other two, why not let him? In the same way Paul Haggis was brought in to do work on the Bond scripts.

  15. Ellison is a brilliant Sci Fi writeer and creator. Pairing his temperment, intelligence and gravitas with the short attention span, Ipodish, popcorn blockbuster sensabilities of the Orcman and The Kurtzman might make for a magnificent script. Way the f*&k not giver er a try?

  16. @jam head
    Ok, I’m totally confused. When you say the first Star Trek, are you talking about Star Trek: The Motion Picture? If so, they never met God in that movie. In fact, they never met God in any of the movies. Maybe you are refering to Star Trek 5, where they go to the center of the galaxy? Even in there, they find out it isn’t God but some powerful alien who has been imprisoned.

  17. The “Romulan Dude” is named Nero. It’s much shorter. Please stop writing like you’re eight. It makes you sound puerile.
    It says right there in the article that the whole “Enterprise meeting God” thing (which was Shatner’s idea for ST5, itself originally an idea that was thrown away for TOS because it was way too stupid) WAS A JOKE on Ellison’s part.
    He has continued to write and win awards for his work (a movie about his life and work came out last year) the entire time, it’s not like he just stopped writing. He has plenty left in the tank and was creative consultant to Babylon-5 to keep the material in check so they didn’t go off the rails.

    If you think Harlan is too old or doesn’t have the chops to make a serious contribution to the new ST film, you either are too young to know who he is or just plain have a bias. Racist? The guy marched in Montgomery, Alabama with MLK! He’s Jewish! How racist can the guy be? His story for “City on the edge of Forever” got ruined by episodic television AND STILL WON THE WRITERS’ GUILD AWARD. The script called for huge standing stones with runes and the secretary didn’t know what runes were so she put “ruins”.

    This, where there was supposed to be a shining, ancient city, glimmering on a hill in the distance. They gutted the story because it called for a guy selling space drugs of some kind (which they ended up more or less using on TNG) because Roddenberry, who had been a cop, felt there would be no more drug use in the future.

    So, instead, McCoy, who is the chief medical officer on the flagship of the fleet, slips, and shoots himself with the entire contents of a hypospray.


    No, friends, the problem ain’t with Ellison. His biggest problem was that he was a late, late adopter of the Internet and didn’t realize what he was getting into by suing Time/Warner/AOL because they illegally allowed the copying of his work onto AOL–he didn’t realize what a juggernaut they were, and spent the rest of his considerable fortune losing that suit, which he should have won (and as it is, Time/Warner took the AOL out of their name).

    JJ Abrams, Orci and Kurtzmann could do a lot worse than to have Harlan Ellison either pitch an idea to them, rework “City” into ST2, or simply be in the writing room while they’re working on it.

  18. STXI was the best Star Trek movie yet made. It may not have dealt with all of the important philosophical/social/political issues that previous Trek films touched on, but it was also far more entertaining than any of the previous Trek films—which was the point, in case you missed it, to make Trek into something that people besides just Trekkies could appreciate again. In that respect, it succeeded enormously, and I see no reason to let Orci & Kurtzman go (though they did screw up badly in writing the sequel to their previous biggest blockbuster hit, Transformers). I would however extend an offer to D.C. Fontana to participate in the writing process; her Star Trek: Year One comics contain some interesting themes that I’d like to see show up in the sequel.

    @790 You must have watched a different Star Trek: Voyager than I did. In the episode that you’re referring to, Captain Annorax was not seeking revenge—he was trying to resurrect his dead wife and by extension his homeworld by wiping out other civilizations from history and hopefully changing the timeline in his favor. Furthermore, while the Voyager episode took place over the course of a year, STXI took place over the course of a matter of days—during which time the Enterprise crew managed to endure no casualties whatsoever, as opposed to the Voyager crew who ended up having to sacrifice themselves to save billions. Finally, “Year of Hell” ended with a reset button, which caused the entire story to be erased from history, per se; STXI did not resort to any such cop-out, much to the irritation of Trekkies who did not want to see an alternate reality created. So there are huge differences between the two stories; to say Abrams/Orci/Kurtzman ripped off the writers of that episode is quite a stretch.

  19. *Star Trek: Year Four, my bad.

  20. @Gil James + “Kanless,

    yip your total right! i was thinking of ST5 its been a long time since I have seen any of the originals. as for Ellison’s meeting god joke sure i get it now! oh ya it was an alien and not god in ST5, its only been 20 years since i ve seen that one. I still remember it being lame…maybe i’ll give it another view?

  21. Antodav, yep your totally correct it was late and had a few beers.

    I still hated the latest Trek and I’m totally sober right now,,, 😉

  22. Watched Star Trek: TOS first run on TV when I was barely a teenager. Have seen it many times in syndication. I think Reboot is terrific. For me it’s all about the characters. And they got the characters spot on. That is what is brilliant about Reboot.

    Oh, yeah, if you don’t suspend belief sometimes, you’ll never like a movie. LoL Have to just go with the flow!

  23. antodav says: “STXI took place over the course of a matter of days—during which time the Enterprise crew managed to endure no casualties whatsoever”

    Actually one of the crew fell to his death attempting to land on the mining platform over Vulcan and the movie is somewhat over rated in my opinion. The Kobayashi Maru scene could have been ten times better. You can’t hear Corvette tires squeal on sand and dirt as if you were on blacktop, the Enterprise bridge looked like it should have had an APPLE logo emblazoned somewhere and they fell somewhat short, casting for Sulu, and Chekov, and I thought the comic prequel was as good or better than the movie just to name a few things.

    Of course it would be unfair to be negative all the time the trailers for the movie were cool, especially the Enterprise going to warp. In fact I would say that some of last year and this has been ‘the year of the trailers.’

    If J.J. would ask me to take lunch with Harlan I would ask Harlan how much he wanted to pitch a story and an outline together? Then I would ask him to get with his lawyer and draw up the terms of a contract to do a story with as many rewrites as it took to make it work. I’d tell him to put in the contract what ever he thought was fair. I would then tell him that the contract him and his lawyer draws up will be the basis of a negotiation for a working contract. Set a time limit for them to set an appointment with J.J.’s team for the negotiation and when he could make the pitch and report back to J.J.

    If you could combine the intellect of a story from Harlan with the energy and action from Kurtzman and Orci you’d have lightning in a bottle…

  24. Star Trek didnt take place over a couple of days, If I remember rightly, and I do.

    It starts with Kirk and Spock as kids, jumps forward to the barfight sequence, then three years later when they are in the acedemy. Then the main story begins.

    Not to mention the opening on the Kelvin!

    Voyager was the worst assualt on television ever! Seriously, space indians!!!! Sorry space native americans. How it ran for seven years is, and always shall be, a mystery!

  25. And as for no casualties, I doubt the population of Vulcan would agree!

  26. Very true DrSamBeckett however to be fair, antodav was talking about the Enterprise crew. We also can’t forget all the lives lost on the starships that warped into Vulcan’s space not having the benefit of Kirk’s insight. Really a lot of lives lost in both stories. Hard to take a body count when your in the middle of a fire fight though, especially an IMAX one… 😉