In 1984, a low budget film made by a then unknown filmmaker broke all the critics expectations by generating millions of dollars on the opening night.
This movie, an original idea by James Cameron, was about a robot and a soldier sent back in time, one to kill the mother of the future resistance leader and the other to save her. I am of course talking about The Terminator (known as Angel Of Death in some countries).
Harlan Ellison claimed the movie was based on his works, Soldier, a short story about two soldiers sent back in time by an accident on the battlefield, and I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream, a story about a computer that became sentient and wiped out all of mankind save for 5 people that it kept as playthings.
Cameron have to this day never recognized Ellisons works as inspiration sources, but was forced to settle out of court in the early 90’s and include a line in the credits claiming “Acknowledgment to the works of Harlan Ellison.”.
Here’s my grief with this whole matter: Harlan Ellison is a whiny, plagiarizing bitch!
Let me lay some facts onto you:
1) AM, the sentient computer in IHNMAIMS, is a rip-off of Isaac Asimovs supercomputer VICKI from I, Robot and in the computer game, written by Ellison himself, AM is split in 3 distinct personalities, 2 of which are blatant rip-offs of Klatu and Gouth from The Day The Earth Stood Still and the third being a combination of the two. This means the connection between SKYNET and AM is as incidental as he claims the connection between AM and VICKI and Gouth is. In fact, SKYNET has more in common with VICKI thank AM, as SKYNET isn’t entirely sentient, nor does it feel the need to keep playthings.
2) The whole storyline of Soldier is almost word-for-word similar to the 1945 novel The Philadelphia Experiment, about two soldiers that got sent forward in time during a WW2 military field experiment, with the difference being that the soldiers in Soldier was from the future and enemies instead of allies from the past.
3) Putting together any two short stories from his over 50 stories written to use as “proof” that someone elses work is a plagiat is a faux fact. I used to play in a band and during that time I wrote 3 songs that the band recorded or played on stage. I could take any song written since and claim it is a rip-off of a combination of those three songs, because you can make so many combinations of stories from 2 or 3 works. In the same manner, anyone who has written more than one song can claim the same about each of those three songs, by claiming it’s a combination of their songs.
4) None of Ellisons works are original ideas, he put words together around ideas others had written long before him.