Harlan Ellison’s soldiers of the future

Wired magazine’s write-up of two 1964 episodes of The Outer Limits was so intriguing, I had to watch them. At least one is worth the $1.99 to Amazon or whichever is your by-the-episode video purveyor of choice.

Both were written by science fiction great Harlan Ellison. That’s almost always enough for me.

And both installments feature soldiers from the future landing in the present, that is, the present of 1964, and continuing to battle.

In “The Soldier,” one time traveller saves humans from another future warrior. The other episode, “Demon With a Glass Hand,” tells the story of a protagonist from the future who learns, at the end of the episode, he’s a robot in human skin. I Spy’s Robert Culp stars.

Does all this future warrior/robot-looks-human stuff sound anything at all like The Terminator? Ellison, always a fighter for his rights as an author, thought so and went after the The Terminator production team in court. According to Wired, he reached a sealed settlement. But the movie’s credits now offer an “acknowledgement to the works of Harlan Ellison.”

Both episodes are hokie and histrionic and as low tech as any James Cameron feature is high tech. The costumes in “The Soldier” must have been made from cardboard and aluminum foil. But Ellison’s writing, his dark warnings and expansive vision, are there. “Glass Hand” is the better of the two if you’re only spending two bucks.

A nerd’s postscript: Ellison wrote the best episode of the original “Star Trek” TV series, “City on the Edge of Forever,” also a tale of time travel and changing the future.

One Response to “Harlan Ellison’s soldiers of the future”

  1. Harlan Ellison, time troll « rich zahradnik

    […] previously wrote about episodes of Outer Limits that Ellison successfully claimed were the idea for the movie Terminator. […]

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