This parable of individual freedom versus social control is one of Ellison's most famous stories, and indeed one of the most famous and anthologized of science fiction/fantasy stories ever. Everett C. Marm, a nobody who dubs himself the Harlequin (the resemblance to the author's name is entirely intentional), is perpetually late -- or heedless of the necessity for being on time -- in a society where timeliness has become an absolute value. He is in rebellion against the office of the Master Timekeeper, also known as the Ticktockman, who possesses the ability to subtract hours, days, and years from the Harlequin's life if the Ticktockman's minions can identify and capture him. The story achieves a marvelous combination of textual joy and dry doom.
This report prepared by David Loftus