J. Michael Straczynski writing Repent, Harlequin! Said The Ticktock Man, Adaptation. J. Michael Straczynski has acquired the rights to bring Harlan Ellison‘s Repent, Harlequin! Said The Ticktock Man to the silver screen. The film adaptation option did not come at an easy price. Straczynski had to deliver a finished script for Repent, Harlequin! Said The Ticktock Man, before Ellison would agree to give Straczynski the option.
The Repent, Harlequin! Said The Ticktock Man storyline:
“‘Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman” is a short story by science fiction writer Harlan Ellison. It is nonlinear in that the narrative begins in the middle, then moves to the beginning, then the end, without the use of flashbacks.
The story is about Everett C. Marm, an ordinary man who disguises himself as the anarchical Harlequin and engages in whimsical rebellion against the Ticktockman. The trouble is that if he is found out, the government could stop his heart at long distance if they learn who he is.
The story opens with a passage from Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau. The story is a satirical look at a dystopian future in which time is strictly regulated and everyone must do everything according to an extremely precise time schedule. In this future, being late is not merely an inconvenience, but a crime. The crime carries a hefty penalty in that a proportionate amount of time is “revoked” from one’s life. The ultimate consequence is to run out of time and be “turned off”. This is done by the Master Timekeeper, or “Ticktockman”, who utilizes a device called a “cardioplate” to stop a person’s heart once his time has run out.
This story sounds like In Time to me, which is why Ellison filed a lawsuit against that film.
On the production of Repent, Harlequin! Said The Ticktock Man:
Straczynski will look for production partners and a director, and the first parties he will approach will be Peter Jackson and Guillermo del Toro.
This is the first project not self-generated by Straczynski to be hatched at his shingle Studio JMS. He launched the company to take more control of passion projects, and now is branching out to optioning book and short stories like this one that can be commercially viable sci-fi.
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