Category Archives: science fiction

More indie films with established stars look for crowdfunding; could actually help me

I got a tweet from Richard Harmon, executive producer of “Crypto”, about an Indiegogo project to finish his film, here   (I had some trouble with the tiny url on the tweet, but I found it myself.)

I had talked about Harmon here on April 18, 2014, in conjunction with “Judas Kiss”, where co-star Timo Descamps accepted a wind sprint challenge from him, making a video where Timo says “Richard Harmon is the greatest of all time, of all time”.  Harmon wins the race.

The horror film involves the protagonist (Harmon) playing a journalist who finds his own haunted past shooting video in the woods.  It intends release in 2018.  Some of it has been filmed along coastal British Columbia.

I tweeted back that it’s unusual for films with established stars to seek crowdfunding, but Zack Braff did it for the 2014 film “Wish I Was Here”.  I don’t know how often executive producers (Harmon is an XP for “Crypto”) has to raise more money late in the production of a film.

I am aware of several independent projects involving people I have some possible connection to.  I may try to work with them somehow in combination with my own project “Epiphany”.  But I have to finish my own relocation first.

(Posted: Monday, September 25, 2017 at 7:30 PM EDT)

A little lesson in Kickstarter and in screenplay selling

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Screenwriter Ashley Scott Meyers of “Selling Your Screenplay”  interviews director/writer Jody Wheeler from “The Dark Place”  (my Blogger review was here  ) (See also April 18, 2014 here) with executive producer Steve Parker.

Wheeler does talk about getting jobs writing screenplays for other people’s projects. One of these turned out to be a script that the production company could modify to make two movies, one for a heterosexual and one for a gay audience.  You seem to have to get outside of your own narrative to “write what other people want”. But in “Dark Place”,  one of the selling points of a “mainstream mystery” with gay male characters was that the characters are likeable and inspire rooting interest.  The film is closer to Truffaut than Hitchcock.

He does talk about the Kickstarter process (or similarly Indiegogo) which he says works best for budgets under $200,000.  More than that amount you need to find investors who feel they are accomplishing something by helping you with your project.

In the second video above, actor Timo Descamps “pimps out Kickstarter” for this film (released in late 2014).

Here’s a glossary of all the personnel involved in film production.

On Sunday, March 20, the Washington Post Business Section ran a story bt Asha Bhattrai, “Crowdfunding by day, cleaning by night“, about freelance artist Brianna Mercedes Weidner.

(Published: Friday, March 18, 2018 at 11 PM EDT)

PBS Digital Studios: “What’s the Most Realistic Artificial Gravity in Sci-Fi?”

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PBS Digital Studios offers a series of 10-15 minute “science teacher” monologues about various topics in sci-fi and possible future space travel.

One of these is “What’s the Most Realistic Artificial Gravity in Sci-Fi?”

The 11-minute short discusses the artificial gravity of “2001: A Space Odyssey”, “Ringworld”,  “Halo” (game), and “Babylon 5” (a sci-fi series from the 1990s).

Most of the problems in science fiction have to do with the Coriolis Effect.

A small space station would have to rotate quickly to achieve enough “force”.

The film considers “Halo” to have the most realistic idea.  But that depicts a ring about 4/5 the diameter of Earth.  The ring could be expanded to a cylinder.  In my “Epiphany” screenplay, you could imagine an alien civilization (maybe from Tabby’s Star and a possible Dyson Sphere 1450 light years away) being deposited near Titan, but eventually NASA would detect it.  My setting is more like that of Babylon 5.   Since it is a cylinder mounted on Titan, the gravity of Titan (1/7 that of Earth) would add to  Coriolis problems.

Artificial gravity from “centrifugal” and “centripetal” force does not have the “benefit” of the gravitational field of a nearby body of much larger mass than oneself (that is, a planet).  Maybe gravity plates with some sort of neutron-star stuff could be constructed by an alien civilization.

Here’s a sample “Game Movie” from Halo that may convey an idea of what this world could look like (it’s long).

And here’s a doc about the making of “Babylon 5” which might convey the feel of that world.

On June 1, 2016, CNN ran an article by Thomas Page, “Space Oddity: NASA’s Guide to Future Living“, the “Cylindrical Colony”

(Published Tuesday Jan. 26, 2016 at 11 AM EST)

Some notes about film color, value, saturation, and hue, as might apply to my own work

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Back in the 1998-2003 period when I was living in Minneapolis, IFPMSP held many forums on filmmaking technology, including film stock.

I wanted to give a few links about concepts regarding image color and focus, because they would become relevant to filming my “Do Ask, Do Tell: Epiphany”.

Of course, people pay tuition and get degrees from film schools to learn these things.

Leighcotnoir has some valuable links.

Look at this explanation of hue, saturation, and value, particularly the 3-D cone near the bottom of the page that gives an example based on “red”.

It’s also important to study the concept of “primary colors”, as explained here, along with color wheels.  Note how primary “additive” colors (red, green, blue) work, where as “subtractive pigments” (Yellow, magenta, cyan) work in tandem, because when paints are mixed, the light wavelengths that may be reflected are “subtracted”.

There is also the “hue-saturation grayscale”, as explained here.

And “Filmschoolonline”  explains the “attributes of the visual image”, including Brightness, Contrast,  Quality of Light, Focus, perspective.  Here, color is explained in terms of saturation, hue, and emphasis.

There is also the opportunity for 3-D without glasses, “autostereoscopy“, a kind of holography, as explained in Sciecemag,

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I do want to discuss the color scheme for the “flashbacks” or “backstories” of my Epiphany screenplay.

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The Final Draft document shows several color modes:

White — Black and white presentation (the embedded screenplay “The Sub”).

Blue — scenes at ashram, in mild color-blindness called green-weak deuteranomaly  (see a color blindness “simulator“).

Red — backstories in full color as they would appear in nature  (moderate value and saturation)

Orange– backstories known to and told by characters other than Bill, higher saturation.

Green — historical narrative told to characters other than Bill (higher value)

Purple — immediate, quick flashbacks (higher value and saturation)

Yellow — acted historical narrative (treat as red)

Gray — historical relative to “Sub” screenplay, black and white

Some directors change aspect ratio for different kinds of backstory.  I think this creates problems, because different theaters handle cropping different (in many auditoriums, 2.35:1 is accomplished by vertical cropping, so presenting some backstories in smaller aspect can require more cropping). I would prefer 2.35:1 for all scenes, but use different color schemes.

Much of the action takes place in an “ashram” which is envisioned as the inner surface of most of a cylinder mounted near the space station on Titan, about 2 miles in diameter and 10 miles long, rotation for artificial gravity, that  is, a “rama”.

I’ve talked about Clarke’s novel here before, but it seems that there have been few movies about societies of people raising generations while on an evacuation ark (like “Evacuate Earth“).  These situations certainly could explore the idea of “social capital”.

(Published Saturday Jan. 23, 2016 at 7 PM EST)

 

 

Arthur C. Clarke’s “Childhood’s End” and (especially) “Rendezvous with Rama”

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Two particular science fiction novels by Arthur C. Clarke need to be noted on this blog.

Childhood’s End” (1953), will soon be aired as a 6-hour, 3 part series on the SyFy Channel starting Dec. 14, 2015 (link).   I read the novel in 1969, while in the Army at Ft. Eustis.  I recall the arrival of the Overllords, the leader Karellen (who was depicted as looking like an eagle but capable of looking human), and the period of peace and prosperity for Earth (as the Cold War with the Soviet Union was getting going more after Eisenhower took office).  Then a gifted star child is born, and, as I recall, his charisma spreads to other kids, who finally become a group-mind, leading to a ritualistic apocalypse on the final page.

I did watch the series and reviewed it here.

Rendezvous with Rama” (1972) is relevant to my own “Do Ask,, Do Tell: Epiphany” screenwriting project.  There has long been a film project involving Morgan Freeman which Wikipedia describes as being in “development hell”.  It would be possible to imagine crowdfunding, given the popularity of the novel.

The story starts in 2077, when an asteroid hit causes huge casualties and damage on Earth, coming close to permanent extinction.  60 years later, in 2037, Earth has set up better early warning systems, and sends out a space party to examine the approaching craft, which turns out to be a 50-km-long cylinder, rotating to create artificial gravity on the inside surface, and with interesting landscapes and cities inside, divided into two “hemi-cylinders” by a “cylindrical sea”.

There is a scene where an astronaut jumps off a cliff in this world.  My understanding is that artificial gravity requires contact with the inner surface to work, so that the actual surface presses on you and creates “weight” from your mass;  there is no “field” to pull on you without contact (that requires mass, which “Star Trek” gets around with super dense (like neutron-star material) gravity plates underneath).


In my own screenplay, there is a an alien “angels'” space station on Titan, which has 1/7 Earth’s gravity, so the “ashram” (with the “abductees”, so to speak) is built on the inside of a Rama cylinder that sits perpendicular to the surface.  (Of, if NASA has seen it, they just won’t tell us!) But the pull of Titan would still distort the sense of gravity, producing a sense of tilting, and could pull a person (at a velocity of the square root of 1/7 Earth’s) toward a “wall” if he jumped off the group, so people would need magnetic shoes until they got used to the environment.  I’ve wondered how you could really jog inside a rotating space station depending on centrifugal effects for gravity.

(Published: Friday, Dec. 4, 2015, at 1:30 PM EST)

Informative videos showing what Europa and Titan would look like if we were there

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The Open University has a series on Moons in the Solar System, and two of them are particularly interesting

Video 1 is about Europa, the moon of Jupiter that is covered with an ice sheet and is likely to have a 60-kilometer deep ocean heated by tidal friction.

Europa has been considered by some astronomers as the most likely other place (besides Mars) in the solar system to have (underwater) life. But Ganymede may have a similar structure, and possibly even Callisto.

In the movie “2010: A Space Odyssey” (based on Arthur C. Clarke’s novel), aliens convert a “leprous” Jupiter to a sun, so that Europa, which is to be left alone, to another earth.

In the 2014 movie “Europa Report” and undersea creature releases the Earth’s spacecraft so it can go home.

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Above is a NASA artist’s idea of what a cryobot might see in the Europa ocean (P.d., wikipedia attribution link).

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The Video number 3 in the series is about Titan, the largest moon of Saturn, and the only one in the atmosphere with an atmosphere.

The Cassini space proble landed the component Huygens on Titan’s surface in early 2005.

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The moon, larger than Mercury about with about 1/6 the gravity of Earth, features methane seas and rain, and low ridges and plains of sandy material.  The atmosphere contains thiols, which contain organic materials that could constitute precursors to bacteria-like organisms.  Most artists conceptions show an orange sky that is surprisingly bright with reflected light from Saturn.

Titan also appears to have an under-surface water layer, which could conceivably harbor life in a manner similar to Europa.

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Above is the public domain photo of the Titan surface from Huygens (NASA), wikipedia attribution here.

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Above is a NASA artist’s drawing of what a balloon landing on Titan could look like, Wikipedia attribution here.

There is an 84-minute NASA lecture on YouTube.

My own unfinished script “69 Minutes to Titan” (about the length of time light would take to reach it)  views Titan as a place that could be settled by “angels” (earlier descriptive link, March 4, 2014; old treatment); and my “Do Ask, Do Tell: Epiphany” also imagines a space station on Titan.  Here’s a script for a little short film “Suprisie Planet” or “Welcome to Titan”, link.

(Published Thursday Nov. 12 2015 at 1:45 PM EST)

“Alien Interview”, rogue video of 1989 (and 1957) interviews with captured “aliens” leaves questions open

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I came across a rogue YouTube video, slightly over an hour, called “Alien Interview” (or “The Is a Real Interview with an Actual Gray Alien“),  published in 2013, apparently directed by Art Bell. The film sounds like it has NatGeo footage.

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For most of the film, someone whose face is blacked out named “Victor” describes an interview somewhere at Area 51 with a captured alien in 1989.  There is reference to an earlier such interview around 1957, some years after the Roswell incident in 1947.

Victor seems to believe that the beings view the body as a temporary repository for consciousness that lives forever, maybe in other dimensions (like “angels” or “devils”).


Giving some credibility to the claim is the apparent incident in 1989 where South Africa reportedly intercepted a crashed saucer and shipped specimens to both Wright Patterson in Ohio and to Area 51.

The alien shown in the film seems to be the elongated head-only shot of what could be a puppet.  The 1957 alien body in black-and-white is full and comports to the popular idea of a “gray”.

There are well-know versions of the Roswell “Alien Autopsy” also.


It’s well to mention a few of the more important commercial films on the subject  These include “Roswell” (1994)by Arthur Kopit, and “The UFO Incident” (1975), by Richard A. Colla, about Betty and Barney Hill, “Fire in the Sky” (1993), by Robert Lieberman, about the Travis Walton abduction in Arizona in 1975 based on Walton’s book, and “Communion” (1989), by Phillippe Mora, with Christopher Walken playing author Whitley Strieber.

In May 2000, I drove along the Extraterrestrial Highway, state route 375, heading west from US 93, about 100 miles due north of Las Vegas, Nevada.  I stopped at the UFO shop (“Little A’len’in”) in Rachel, Nevada. I didn’t really see anything “suspicious”.

My own perception is that the depiction of aliens as “grays” is a bit trite.  The idea that an alien could look and act and perform as one of us (like the teenager Clark Kent in “Smallville”) is a lot more challenging.

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Little A’Le’Inn Rachel NV 2” by Cooper, in Wiki Commons known as Cooper.ch 18:45, 7 August 2006 (UTC) – scanned from own paper print. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Commons.

One of the casinos in Las Vegas does have a small Area 51 exhibit.

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Wikipedia attribution link for image (owned by X51) of  “No photography” sign on border of Area 51, under Creative Commons 3.0 share alike license.

(Published Friday Oct. 23, 2015 at 3:45 PM EDT.)

 

“Dark City” may bear some resemblance to my own screenplay(s)

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On a recent trip, a friend, a high school English teacher, mentioned the 1998 film “Dark City“, directed by Alex Proyas, from New Line.  I recall seeing the film in Minnesota and that Roger Ebert loved it.

The film is a bit parallel to my own (in development) “Do Ask, Do Tell” script in that a protagonist wakes up in an alien environment and is not sure how he could have gotten there.

It turns out that the “Dark City” is a kind of artificial alien planetoid, with a boundary called “Shell Beach”.  The protagonist, John Murdoch (Rufus Sewell) and has to interact with the mysterious Dr. Schreber (Keifer Sutherland) and inspector Bumstead (William Hurt).  It seems as though the city, which is rather like an overgrown toy world, is always being manipulated and changed by the “Strangers” who are endangered aliens.  Murdoch is also wrongly suspected of a “murder”.

You could say that the “strangers” are roughly analogous to the “angel candidates” in my script, but then there needs to be an equivalence to the other “proles” (like “Bill”) and even to the kids growing up there.

I don’t have an equivalent concept to “trading identities” or mixing the timeline life memories of various individuals;  but that instead is something that happens in my novel “Angel’s Brother” (with the help of  a bizarre virus that encapsulates mini black holes).

The movie has been compared to the Matrix Trilogy, which is a bit of a stretch (I did like the surface alien world shown at the end of the third “Matrix” movie).  And this film could also be compared to my “Baltimore Is Missing” (discussed Jan. 29, 2014).

(Published: Saturday, Aug. 15, 2015, at 3 PM EDT)

“Prescience” as a sequel to Titanium: what happens to the abductees after UFO’s land (and they must live on another planet)

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In July 2003, shortly before moving back to northern Virginia, I vetted a treatment for a proposed screenplay to be called “Prescience” to the Minneapolis Screenwriting Group.

The idea had come to me in a dream, where a boulder lands to Earth near Fort Worth, TX; it turns out to be a spaceship, and there are gradual and then rapid consequences that the media (and only then the government) have to face.  But it’s a lot more subtle than the 1996 film “Independence Day”,  Maybe your most recent look at Earth won’t be your last.

After I wrote the screenplay “Titanium” (June 12), I decided that “Prescience” could be construed as a sequel to Titanium, as part of a film franchise.  I wrote about 60 pages of script, which does not quite match the original treatment, below.

In the screnplay, Eric accompanies Bill on the spaceship, and seems to have the telepathic ability to connect to the inhabitants of Earth,  instantly, faster than speed of light, because consciousness can pervade space-time.  And most of Earth has been zapped by EMP attacks, and people are trying to migrate to the few areas where the standard of living is still reasonable (like Singapore).  That would make a third movie.

Bill has a two-room apartment inside a “synecdoche” on the outskirts of the central city in the new planet, Arinelle, which is tidally locked around its parent star.  That means that all civilization is in a strip through the twilight zone, and a train (not exactly a “snowpiercer”) runs around it, among several different kingdoms that represent the same general geography with different stages of time.  “Cleveland” has 50s-era technology, “Clyde” is like 1900, and “Williams” is earlier than 1800.   Bill is forced to travel through these places and prove that he can function in these societies, that have karma-systems (kike intentional communities) and don’t have money.

There are other hidden transits among the kingdoms, such as through the cold night zone, and another through the steamy ocean on the hot side.  Bill wants to get his music back.  It has been brought on the spacehsip, and is brought to him through the transit passages.  But the romanticism of the music provides an emotional shock to the residents of the pre-1800 world.   it also turns out to be a “crime” when a more modern piano is brought to that world.

Various other people Bill befriends are tested.

In Bill’s apartment (which he uses only when he arrives and again toward the end), there are two computers, one which can view Earth with a telepathic connection (set up by Eric) digitized; it even has the remnants of Facebook and of Bill’s old blogs;  the other computer is tied to Arinelle’s networks and only a few privileged communities have access to social media.  Bill has that access only temporarily.

At the end of the movie, Arinelle will be threatened by an approaching brown dwarf, and the inhabitants will all move to Earth, for good.

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2003 Treatment for “Prescience”:
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Logline:

A teenage computer hacker learns of an upcoming alien attack and prepares himself and his friends only to survive it. The aliens save them for a final, utopian experiment.

Treatment:

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ERIC STONE, a precious high school senior who impresses adults whom he meets at a local Unitarian church, is playing with his web server at home when he deciphers messages that predict an incoming alien attack.

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In the mean time, there is a media report that all of the electronics in a particular well-to-do neighborhood is out, as if by an e-bomb.

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He has a part-time job fixing computers at homes and visits BILL LDZETT, an elderly gay man, at his high rise apartment building. He has met Bill at the Unitarian church and whimsically promised Bill a swimming lesson.

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At Bill’s place, they calculate the arrival of the first spaceship and then go to the apartment solarium (and natatorium) and spot a shooting star in the evening sky that may be the craft.
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(Note: to fit TR, he might have made a visit to Bill a few years ago and be older now at the time of the attack. He might have heard about Bill’s jailing for involvement with a minor.)
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Next day, right after the stock market closes, the craft lands in a major suburb, slowly, looking first like an asteroid with the fiery tale on the wrong side.
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Within a few hours people who watched the event are streaming into hospital emergency rooms blind. Authorities go into the nearby neighborhoods and find many of the residents dead, many of them already transforming into “grays.” Some of them had started transforming a few days before with massive hair loss.
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CNN covers this for a while, and then in many sections of the country there are complete power blackouts.
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Eric deciphers a message on his computer warning him that he will go blind soon unless he meets one of the aliens at a bar. He is to bring along a friends whom he has told about the message. He is surprised that bars will even be open after this catastrophe and uses a fake id to get in.
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He meets the alien, KAL, who is a super tall but good looking man (according to Bill’s ideas), who takes him and Bill into the space ship in a special private chopper. KAL also has the fake id.
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Inside they are met by rather human looking people, who tell him that they can keep their sight if they move to another planet. They will go on a reconnaissance and Bill and Eric will get to pick whom they bring. Eric will not be able to bring his younger sister, who also went blind. But on the new planet they will have to fit in to the social order there.
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They go clubbing and shopping—the stores are open again but the markets aren’t nobody knows when there will be another attack. Then there is a second attack in another city, so many people, going blind, line up to be on the ship.
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Once on board, they are given medical examinations and put to sleep for the journey.
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Once they reach the new planet about 80 LY away, they are put on a streetcar train. Though they were sleeping, they seem to have aged about 8 years. They view scenery that rather resembles a mix of AmErica in the 50s with Soviet-Style housing complexes very much crowded into the cities. They have a decent reception with rather simple Asian-like food (though some rather bizarre creatures) and Eric gives the swimming lesson. He is already “maturing.”
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They are told they are going to a place called “Baltimore” but when they arrive they find no city, just a run-down factory place. The people are segregated into groups. Kal takes Eric to go with him but sends Bill and a young woman together on an older train to a rickety farm, with a girl friend MALI. Bill is told he will have to earn his place and “pay his dues” first.
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There is a political system based on meritocracy, but no fiat money (at least on top). The most talented young adults live in the cities, in segregated housing. Gays are accepted and somewhat treasured. They go to the areas around Baltimore to do their menial work (“pay your dues”), but otherwise work on technology. Only the people who live in “Urbana” and visit either “Baltimore” or “Grand Rapids” get to use technology (and “Grand Rapids” is a kind of military “special training company”). Baltimore is on a seacoast, inundated with canals, and said to be susceptible of once in an epoch storms; Urbana is a more high-rise city on safer and higher if unspectacular ground. Once a year members vote on 80% who stay. (You can’t vote for yourself.) The others must go to the countryside (next paragraph) and must be married and be ready to have kids, lest they become “grays.” The music at “Metropolis” (Urbana) follows that of pop stars and lacks the recesses of western classical music. The “best” people come in once a month and take away the “losers” to the camps.
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The society has experimented with family values. It used to be that only residents of Urbana had children, and they still do, hoping for the “best children.” But the birth rate was too low, so the second line class at Baltimore is encouraged now to be fecund. Since a lot of the residents are rather unattractive and viewed as rejects, they still have a hard time maintaining a population. There are rumors that family life is better, after all, on the
frontier, “on the outside,” where people live in small, primitive communities (and must function in families or else become grays.)
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The train takes them to a quaint residential community where there are no modern conveniences, no electricity, except at one community center, where they can communicate with the central “Urbana” (Baltimore is just a shell) and the galactic community. Residents are assigned tasks. Bill develops a good social reputation with his piano playing and starts composing a legacy of western-style classical music. Gradually they turn into people who look like Grays unless they succeed in familial relationships, and Bill and Mali become intimate enough for her to get pregnant. Not only does Bill keep his sight but he starts looking younger and becoming more competent at manly things. Eric gets to go back to Urbana to be part of the ruling class (though he will live in or commute from the housing complexes in “Grand Rapids” as a kind of Apprentice). The best parties, though, and break dances are in Urbana (the 50s complex) and people seem to be graded on how they come off in the break dances, that are a bit like the Mayan ball games. So Eric will be part of the middle class.
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Bill finds Tobey and finds out he is an angel. Non-angels have to have training to qualify.
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Bill finds out that some of the “heterosexuals with families” live around vacant Baltimore, in suburbs, without too much technology while they raise kids. If they had the kids young enough, they can go back to Urbana as desirable adults. Bill finds he will get a chance to make it as a family man in Baltimore burbs.
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Bill gets to make trips to Baltimore Center to visit Eric with “glances”, kind of like visiting a friend who got to go to a better school. Eric attracted to Bill’s love of music, which he misses at Urbana. But he also learns of the Dark Side, a wasteland outside of the farm communities where the truly incompetent are discarded like Spartan rejects.
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Eric is prospering, and finds out more about what happens to the “losers” – they are turned out to keep to their own kind so they do not burden the “freedom” of the “angels.” But angelic status is hard to keep, and the people in the countryside outside Baltimore have recently been allowed to change fiat money. When people get kicked out they sometimes are treated to a “break dance” ritual for ultimate pleasure, but Bill watches this rather than experiences, and finds it unsatisfactory to watch fallen men get defrocked.
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There are communities set in different times – Truman, Clyde and Williams. People get sent back to earlier times to avoid being made into grays; but Bill decides he can bring some of his music into earlier times. There are also sports rivalries among the time-provinces.
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Bill eventually gets sent to Grand Rapids anyway, for some special training, where he sees failures being turned out to survive alone in the neo-mountains until they die. There is a bit of a real city here, with some technology. Here Bill learns how it works in Urbana, and is worried about what is happening to Eric. For example, residents rate each other once a month, and the “best” men do the raids to ship the losers to Baltimore or sometimes Grand Rapids. Eric got to be on the aggressive side of one of the raids. But Bill wonders what will happen to Eric at tribulations. Kal, it seems, has failed his own tribulation and been sent to Grand Rapids to live (he doesn’t get pass privileges to Urbana like Eric).. Bill sees him, as rather barren now.
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Bill helps Kal escape back to his own “Baltimore” suburban commune, where Kal takes a liking to Mali before disintegrating and dying. Also, Bill now learns how the colonies around “Balimore” turn the “failures” into grays rather than letting them perish in the wildnerness, because the nearby climate is milder. But before becoming grays, some of the “failures,” after finding out about the rural civilization outside the cities, decide they want to secede and build another city without technology but completely based on money. This has been going on for some time, and Bill finds out that the civilization “on the outside” is a bit more advanced than he had heard. (There is a parallel to being inside an asylum!) This is kind of the exurban culture that is willing to go back to a “natural” way of living that doesn’t depend on cities. There are questions about why money isn’t extended to the cities, and the argument is that money alone would corrupt the deeper meaning of merit. But the immediate suburbs around Baltimore are for successful or “functionable” “families” who can return to Urbana. The colonies extend quite far into the countryside in a grid with a number of other towns, like on a board game.
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(dream add-on): Bill learns that he can get back to Urbana by passing trials. Eric is being expected to pass them. It is a circular Fermi-like track, some of it underground and underwater, with various physical tests like swimming and getting out of a kayak. Bill has trouble, stops at a writing camp, then opts out (“quits”) and views his performance on a theater screen, and then prepares to see what has happened back home (limited perhaps by General relativity).
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Bill shows that the social order on this Mini-Earth are a projection of his own thoughts from back home. So in a way, even his intentions, without direct aggression, became “harmful” just as a thought experiment.
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He also learns now, from Kal, that the new earth is going to be approached by a brown dwarf, that gets more visible every night.
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A year later they (he and Mali) have a child, PAUL, thoroughly normal and human, and Bill wants to him back to earth. This is so even after the view earth and see if it set back 200 years by e-bombs set off by the grays. (They have a faster-than-light i.t.) Eric has now grown into manhood himself, when he visits, reigniting old gay feelings. Eric shows him what has happened to many of the immigrants. They have become grays. Finally, he is shown how to dial in to find out what has happened on earth. What he sees does not make him want to return. The good people escaped, and what is left are grays. They seemed to have gotten that way by a virus that dulled them. Then it is apparent that this “Earth 2” is a cut-down replica society where only the “best” can lead a creative life.
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The brown dwarf passes, Baltimore is flooded, but the Atlantis-like Urbana is destroyed.
Bill will move back to “Baltimore” and help “rebuild” it and fit into a Utopian society, but with one catch. His taste for music is left behind, to entertain the grays. He no longer has his musical gifts. The society of perfect men that he serves is one of simple rituals and aestheticism, and that is all that is left for him to live for. But now, without a functioning Urbana, their society starts to fall apart. Only a few characters, like Eric and Kal, can hold together. The rule was: People who “fail” there get sent to the countryside to prove they can make it in family life or become grays. Now Eric’s time as a “chosen one” will end soon and he would have to go to the country and prove himself. Now, he is valued by other Chosen Ones since he had survived the cataclysm without ill effects. But Eric has been working on his escape to go back to Earth, although there is no way he could make it without aging. He undergoes a “tribunal” and partially survives it (even he could become a Gray otherwise), but escapes anyway.
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Bill and Mali reconcile themselves to building a new home life for Paul, and maybe they can start over in this simpler planet.
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ADD ON:
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Eric might have been a younger friend of Matthiias, saw him go up. Maybe a son of Erin.
Eric might stop on Titan before journey to other planet.
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Beats
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Pre – Eric helps Bill (virus infection danger to others – stake) on computer
Situation – Eric predicts, sees spacecraft land, will go blind himself (grays, blind) (stake – grow to body concern) unless he meets Kal. Kal recounts some history of Bill (music)
Opportunity – Mormon-like space travel with Kal, separated from Bill and Tove to planet. Kal promises Bill that Eric will be cured of diabetes if left alone
Sent to training in Grand Rapids (to be the elite man – stake), Bill sent to farm Eric must qualify for the upper class and be cured of diabetes, Bill has to prove family solidarity
Recognition – Tove has baby, stillborn because Bill didn’t love her enough. Bill in “dark session” (ability to adapt – stake) where his male buddy rejects him, but Bill takes new girl friend and travels to Grand Rapids to be with Eric, who has grown in glory. Eric learns that Kal has been “threatened”
They travel to Urbana and see Kal get kicked out (bald in legs)
Bill and Mali have a kid and have gotten socialized in the “capitalist” section with Bill’s music (stake)
Crisis – Eric must go to country to prove self—because he doesn’t want the ritual.
It’s better to go back to earth – but he has to have tribunal anyway. He can raise Bill’s kid on Earth as Bill dies.
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Note:
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Mathematics is the one subject that cannot change from one planet to the next (except for spherical geometry, a little).

©Copyright 2003/2005 by Bill Boushka

(Published Saturday, July 5, 2014 at 11 PM EDT)

 

NBC “Surface” series, cut short after one season in 2005, resembles “Godzilla” franchise in concept

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The NBC series “Surface”, which aired for only one season, 2005-2006 (with an interruption for the Winter Olympics) presented a curious idea, at least distantly related to that of the Godzilla movies. Some previous unknown sea creatures emerge from the ocean floor, and have been studied by a secret government project. But a teenage boy Miles (Carter Jenkins) discovers one in an accidental surfing encounter, brings home an egg from a pod and winds up raising “Nim” secretly in his parents North Carolina home and bonding to the creature.

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The creatures begin to surface, causing a variety of bizarre catastrophes, finally leading to a tsunami that destroys Puerto Rico and heads for Wilmington, NC (home of a lot of film studios and a big film school).

There are also artefacts suggestive of Noah’s Ark, and of a lost undersea civilization.
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The series was cut short, so it’s hard to tell what the creators really wanted to say with it. But Jenkins was most impressive as the adventurous kid.