Harlan Ellison isn’t too pleased with the plot of the upcoming film In Time. In fact, he’s filed a lawsuit against New Regency and director Andrew Niccol, and is attempting to get an injunction against the release and dispose of the film. In Time is scheduled for an October 28th release.
Now fans and detractors are aware of Ellison’s propensity for legal action – and he’s generally been successful, even for seemingly marginal cases, such as The Terminator (he won at least an acknowledgement in the credits.) So, is this another superficial similarity, or is there more?
The plot of In Time involves people in a dystopian society being given a fixed amount of time to live, and they can earn or lose time depending on their actions – or trade it.
Ellison claims that this rips off his 1965 short story, “Repent, Harlequin! Said The Ticktockman”, one of his most well known stories, which won both the Nebula and Hugo awards. In that story, people likewise in a highly-regimented dystopian society where people must follow a very rigid schedule. If they are late for anything, they lose that amount of time from their life. The Master Timekeeper, also known as the Ticktockman, is in charge of terminating a person when their time is up.
Part of the complaint is that Ellison is currently working to get the story made into a movie, and that the plot issues can actually jeopardizes the chances of getting it produced.
I admit I have not read the story (yet – if my commute changes and allows me more reading time, it is among the long list of things I have to read), but although the concept of losing time in one’s life based on one’s actions is similar, I don’t know if the other aspects of the time limits apply. But it does appear as if there is more meat here to at least get traction.