City on the Edge of Forever
So for the past, I don’t know how long now, I have been suffering with this head cold that doesn’t want to die. Which is odd because there have been a couple days through coughing fits where I thought I was going to die. But I digress…
Anyway, I wrote something for today’s post a few days ago and it didn’t sit well with me. It was during this same cold and I was miserable (still am but nearly as much so) and I think I wrote something completely unfair to the subject matter. The problem being I was so outta my head that I couldn’t really focus and I didn’t treat what I was writing about fairly at all. Granted, I still think the movie was bad but I am not going to go into it. I mean, there is always something we can take away from the stories we experience. But the place I was at when I watched this one, just didn’t allow for any benefit at all. Which left me with no idea what I wanted to do.
We are now to a better place and to one of my favorite writers of all time. Scratch that, I don’t think that is the proper phrasing. He might have called himself a writer on occasion but I don’t think that fits with what he actually was. Harlan Ellison was a story teller. Quite a bit of what he wrote fit within the realm of speculative fiction but he did so much more. And he was one of the most prolific writers of the 20th century. I feel I might be slipping away from the point as I dip into hero worship.
One of his most famous stories was an episode for the Original Star Trek series. The City on the Edge of Forever was the 29th episode in the first season (there is a point of contention here. The Wikipedia lists it as the 28th episode. But that would be without counting the pilot episode. It becomes the 29th now because the pilot is added into listings). I also want to add in this that there were a number of people that developed the story for television. Gene Roddenberry had final say on the story as he did in all episodes. But the original story itself came from Harlan Ellison. Some consider it the best episode of the entire series and it did win a number of awards.
As in a number of storylines within the series, we are faced with a dire situation that will lead to misfortune and what not and Kirk must do something to save the universe. But there is a twist. What he must do will cost him personally far more than anything he has ever done or ever will do. And for me that is the interesting connection between the television story and the Graphic novel I read in preparation of this examination.
See, I came across the graphic novel (The City on the Edge of Forever, IDW 2015) recently and had started reading it. And as often goes I wondered how the televised version of the story differed from the written version. And the biggest connection between the two is the level of the sacrifice that must be made within the story. It’s a matter of who the catalyst is within the story that makes them slightly different while also being the same thing. In the show, Dr. McCoy is injected with a drug that makes him insane and he rushes through a door way into the past. While in the comic it is a criminal crewman that is attempting to run from his crimes. Both of them achieve the same goal in the past but the matter of getting to that point differs but only a little.
As a side note I just realized how this illustrates the time travel point (also spoken of in the source materials) of time being a river. Though each story is different the events are still roughly the same as we flow to the pinnacle moment in each story. It’s an underlying current (yeah, I like the pun so keeping it) that enhances the power of the stories.
Anyway, in the pinnacle moment of the show Kirk stops Bones from saving the woman he loves. She was meant to die and without Kirk and Spock’s intervention, Bones had saved her and disrupted the timeline. The same holds true for the comic but instead of a friend Kirk watches helplessly as Spock stops the criminal from saving his love. Same outcome, the timeline is restored and we have the fall out of emotional repercussions. Life goes on and the horrors we deal with on a daily basis shape us into the people we are.
Both version of the story are phenomenal. But I think I prefer the comic a bit more over the show. That stems from the space available to tell the story. In the show we have a few short cuts to get us to the same emotional moment of the story. The graphic novel has the time of pages to build up to the emotional impact of the story. In its way the payoff is much stronger and you feel it deeper. I’m not going to lie, I was a little misty. I didn’t have the same reaction when watching the show.
There were a couple things I noticed within each story that were a bit more Easter eggy in nature than important information for the stories and what not. In the show, I noticed that Uhura was wearing a red uniform. So Uhura like Scotty is a red shirt but she survives throughout the life of the show.
And in the comic there is an off hand comment that the Vulcans developed space flight after humans. This bit of information disrupts tons of Star Trek Canon. According to accepted stories our first contact with an alien culture came when we developed warp capability and the Vulcans contacted us. Kinda shakes up the perspectives I think.
Anyway, check them both out. The story is awesome and worth a read and a watch to see how both of them play out. I have a new respect for it after the comparison of the two.
If you enjoy these stories, consider leaving some coffee money in the jar or you could buy a book or two. Either way helps keep the stories flowing.