William Harrison, the writer who adapted his own short story “Roller Ball Murder” for the 1975 dystopian science-fiction film Rollerball starring James Caan, died on October 22 of renal failure at his home in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Harrison’s story first appeared in the September 1973 issue of Esquire magazine and told the tale of a future world where corporations controlled society and kept the populace entertained with the bread and circuses of the violent titular sporting event. Caan portrayed a a veteran star in the game whose popularity threatens the corporate power structure. Harrison reportedly was inspired to write his original short story after seeing a fight break out on the court during a college basketball game.
Harrison wrote numerous short stories and nine novels, one of which, his 1982 novel Burton And Speke, he adapted with director Bob Rafelsin into the 1990 film Mountains Of The Moon starring Patrick Bergin and Iain Glen.