Harlan Ellison Wants All Copies of 'In Time' Destroyed

Harlan Ellison Wants All Copies of 'In Time' Destroyed

Sep 15, 2011

In TimeIf you were a fan of science fiction in the '70s and '80s, you no doubt instantly associate the name Harlan Ellison with strong, original science fiction like A Boy and His Dog and I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream.  If you were born in the late '80s and beyond, however, you probably think of Ellison as that cantankerous old guy who likes to sue Hollywood filmmakers for ripping him off.  The truth is, Ellison has been a cantankerous and often litigious personality for his entire career, the highlights being public/legal rows with CBS over the famous Star Trek episode "The City on the Edge of Forever" and a lawsuit against James Cameron that ultimately got him a credit on Terminator.  

And now, surprise, surprise, he wants to head back into the courtroom.  This time he's suing 20th Century Fox in an attempt to kill the Justin Timberlake-led sci-fi film In Time about a future where hours left to live are the currency of the world.  According to the Hollywood Reporter, he's demanding that not only the film not be released on October 28th, but he wants all copies of it destroyed.  The grounds?  He thinks it's infringing on his copyright for his short story "Repent, Harlequin! Said the Ticktockman," which involves a dystopian future in which the government tracks how much time each person is allowed to live.  And since Ellison was actually in the process of selling a screenplay for Repent, he doesn't think it has a chance of getting made because of the In Time similarities.

Will he get what he wants?  No, probably not.  It's highly unlikely that the studios behind In Time will let their film be destroyed, but Ellison may have a better case here than your average "Hey, they stole my idea!" lawsuit that emerges weeks before a film's release.  Repent, Harlequin is a very famous, award winning piece of science fiction after all and it's entirely likely that In Time writer-director Andrew Niccol is more than familiar with it considering he too is a long time champion of science fiction.  If he can make a strong enough case that the director of Gattaca ripped him off, Ellison will probably get some manner of financial restitution just to make the lawsuit go away.  

If you're unfamiliar with Ellison, these two videos give a pretty good idea of where he stands on issues like this and the integrity of speculative fiction in general.  It's easy to dismiss him as just a grumpy old man, but he defends his attitude very well. 

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In the movie Reasonable Doubt, what is the name of the character played by Samuel L. Jackson

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