Deadline is reporting that none other than J. Michael Straczynski has optioned Harlan Ellison’s 1965 science fiction classic short story “Repent, Harlequin! Said The Ticktock Man”.

The story — a winner of both the Hugo and Nebula Awards is reported to be one of the most reprinted stories ever — is about a future society that has become overly-punctual, trading freedom for conformance. Keeping people in line and on time is the infamous Ticktockman, who gets more than he bargained for when ordinary man Everett C. Marm disguises himself as the chaotic Harlequin and goes around causing disruption and disorder.

Science fiction fans know J. Michael Straczynski as the creative talent behind Babylon 5. His other recent film work includes World War Z and Thor. He has also written several short stories and three horror novels (Demon Night, Othersyde, and Tribulations) as well as the non-fiction book The Complete Book of Scriptwriting. Deadline reports that Straczynski sees Ellison’s cautionary tale as “especially relevant in a post-Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street environment, or even Edward Snowden, in a story of a man who goes against the system and must pay the price for his actions”.

[via SFScope]

REVIEW SUMMARY: Still a great story.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: The rebellious Harlequin causes mischief in a society that is strictly punctual.

MY REVIEW:
PROS: Engaging prose; interesting premise; a parable that’s effective 40 years after it was written.
CONS: If I think of any, I’ll let you know.
BOTTOM LINE: A classic short story that deserves its great reputation.

In 1965, Harlan Ellison sat down to write a story for submission to a writers’ workshop. The result after a mere 6 hours was “‘Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman”, a story that went on to win both the Hugo and Nebula Awards and is reported to be one of the most reprinted stories ever. Underwood Press published a nice-looking, 48-page commemorative anniversary edition in 1997 – aptly late considering the story’s premise – to celebrate the story’s initial publication. This hardback edition comes with some nice looking illustrations by Rick Berry. You know what? Forty two years later, the original story holds up remarkably well.
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