Harlan Ellison

Okay, I know I promised post-fireworks day fireworks yesterday but I have to put those on hold and address something I hadn’t thought about at the time of Harlan Ellison’s passing. Harlan wrote what I feel are the two best sci-fi television series episodes in the history of the medium.

“City on the Edge of Forever” is my all-time favorite Star Trek episode out of all of the

Harlan Ellison

Harlan Ellison

series combined. I’m pretty sure I am not alone in that opinion as this one episode plays a huge role in Star Trek Canon. Ann Crispin wrote two Star Trek books based on another TOS episode “All Our Yesterdays” that used the Guardian of Forever from Harlan’s “City” episode – Yesterday’s Son and Time For Yesterday. Peter David’s, Imzadi, starts with this episode’s final scene and in Diane Carey’s, Battlestations, we see the impact Edith had on James T. Kirk that he named his own personal sailing ship after his lost love.

The story that Harlan crafted was pure magic and all writers hope to create something like that just once in our careers. The only thing is, Harlan didn’t settle for doing it once.

A few years earlier, Harlan wrote “Demon With A Glass Hand” for The Outer Limits. Robert Culp played Trent, who is being chased by odd-looking men(?) who want to kill him. As the episode plays out, we find Trent is sort of a Gilgamesh. A man who will never taste death. We find out why this is so and the purpose for which Trent was called upon to serve as the episode plays out.

Fellow writer James Pyles published a fanfic he wrote, a sequel to Harlan’s original, called, Demon With A Glass Heart, the day after Harlan’s passing was announced. If you get a chance, go watch the original episode and then go read Ryals’ sequel, you won’t regret it.

I watched the episode then re-read James’ story and it struck me that Harlan Ellison had more of an impact on my writing than I had realized. His story of an eternal man waiting out the centuries to save humanity sounds similar to my award-winning novel, Escaping Infinity.

Although my Gilgamesh’s story is much different, as are the reasons why he is at his lonely station.


  1. Thanks for the shout out, but a couple of things. First, I thought “Yesterday’s Son” was based on the 3rd season episode “All Our Yesterdays” which Harlan didn’t write. Bones and Spock are accidently transported back 5,000 in an alien planet’s past, and Spock’s nature reverts to before the Vulcan enlightenment when they become devoted to logic. It’s suggested that Spock had sex with Zarabeth, and Yesterday’s Son was supposed to be about their offspring.

    Secondly, my last name is “Pyles”, not “Ryals.” Sorry to be picky, but has you’ve said in another of your blog posts, marketing is important.

    Liked by 1 person


    1. Yes, it was based on All Our Yesterdays. I should clarify that Ann’s books used the Guardian of Forever from “City On The Edge of Tomorrow” to get Spock to his son in the past. Nice catch. And apologies for the last name goof. I have a friend named James Ryals that I had just been conversing with right before writing this post. I will correct both.

      Liked by 1 person


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