At one time in the not too distant past, the percentage of potential buyers of all science fiction-related material was incredibly small. As a result, authors, publishing houses and filmmakers got incredibly good at re-selling the same material with slight alterations to make money. Look no further than George Lucas' obsessive tinkering with everything Star Wars to see this cash cow scheme has continued into the present. That's not to say I'm knocking it. If people are willing to buy something that's not inherently evil, someone should satisfy that need. It just won't be me.

Into this vortex dropped Harlan Ellison: Brain Movies late last week. An anthology republishing six of the noted author's teleplays, it initially appears to be just another one of those unnecessary compilations, but upon further review, it seems so much more. The Babylon 5 writer has been incredibly prolific throughout his career. As such, no reasonably-sized text could possibly provide a full picture of the author's work, but these six entries should prove a worthwhile introduction for any interested party. Let's be honest though: newbies aren't exactly the target audience for Harlan Ellison: Brain Movies. Featuring his own annotations, extended versions and loads of special features documenting everything from The Twilight Zone to Alfred Hitchcock Presents to Babylon 5, the anthology seems the perfect gift for anyone aware Harlan Ellison existed before reading this article. We should know.

Cinema Blend's own David Wharton did some editing work over the course of the project, and he swears by the final result he and his fellow workers churned out. Here's a look at a few of the non-Babylon 5 special features from the press release…
“Memos From Purgatory,” Ellison's adaptation of his memoir about life in a Brooklyn gang. Produced for The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, this harrowing tale of juvenile delinquency is presented in TWO different drafts, illustrating the author's creative process.

The Outer Limits' “Soldier,”the story that inspired The Terminator as well as the Writers Guild Award-winning "Demon With a Glass Hand," one of the most iconic segments of the 1960s science fiction anthology.
Ellison won yet another Writers Guild Award for “Paladin of the Lost Hour,” an episode of the 1985 Twilight Zone revival written simultaneously with the Hugo Award-winning short story of the same name, but this particular script differs from the story in one key respect: it features the original ending Ellison originally planned for the story. This ending only appeared with the very first publication of the short story in the 1985 anthology UNIVERSE 15; it has never been reprinted and the ending of the episode was re-written before the show was filmed. See how Ellison originally planned to end his classic story before his colleagues in the Zone convinced him to write the conclusion that has since become famous. The original outline for the story-remarkably reminiscent of the short story in its execution-is included as well.

After leaving his post as creative consultant on The Twilight Zone, Ellison penned one more episode at the behest of the series' new script editor, J. Michael Straczynski, and that was “Crazy as a Soup Sandwich,” presented here for the first time with the treatment from which the teleplay was developed.

The final script is “The Face of Helene Bournouw,” and if you've only seen the episode of Showtime's anthology series The Hunger that bears that title, you've merely seen the vulture-picked bones of Ellison's adaptation of his own chilling short story. See why Harlan had the TV episode credited to his pseudonym, Cordwainer Bird, in a script that-effectively-will be seen for the first time in this volume.

If you order before July 31st, the book has been discounted from $75 to $55. Each copy has been autographed by both Ellison and J. Michael Straczynski. If you miss out on this limited run, regular editions will go on sale in the Fall, but those copies will be absent some of the special features. You already know if you're the type of person who might be this. If you are, jump on it. If you're not, move along, there's nothing to see here.

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