Collaborative fiction writing. The Exodemic blog is devoted to story writing collaborations. It includes imported posts from the Wiki Fiction blog. For example, here is an imported blog post about the Contact television series, a fan fiction exploration of how to make a sequel to Carl Sagan’s movie, Contact.
I just came across Roger Ebert’s blog and his comments on the Contact movie. Had Sagan lived longer, there might have been a sequel to the movie that explored the most profound issue of the Contact book: might it be possible to find scientific evidence for the idea that our universe was created by intelligent design?
In the movie, SETI researcher Ellie Arroway detects a mysterious signal from outer space. Once decoded, the signal is found to provide detailed instructions for how to build a fantastic “Machine”, apparently the invention of space aliens. The movie shows Ellie entering the Machine and then Ellie experiences a trip to the center of the galaxy and contact with aliens. The movie depicts Ellie’s travel through a wormhole (or a series of wormhole-like tunnels) and Ellie is forced by her personal experience to feel that she actually experienced contact with aliens at the center of the galaxy. However, she finds herself on Earth with no objective evidence of “alien contact”, with only her own memories of the trip.
Ellie’s memories tell her that her journey to the center of the galaxy lasted significantly longer than the few seconds that actually passed inside the flashy light show being generated by the “Machine”, as judged by the many objective observers who witnessed her time inside the “IPV” transport pod while it is falling down through the rotating rings to the core of the “Machine”. Ebert was unwilling to accept the idea that Ellie went anywhere near the center of the galaxy and he came to the conclusion that: “The sole function of their device appears to have been the generation of Ellie’s experience.”
I’ve been exploring ideas for a sequel to the Contact movie. In my outline of the Contact television series I adopt the idea that the “Machine” never pushes Ellie through any wormholes. I wonder how Ebert imagined that the “Machine” could generate Ellie’s experience of a trip to the center of the galaxy. For the Contact television series, I imagine that it is a two step process:
1) The “Machine”, with its spinning rings and dazzling light show, is mostly a distraction. What the “Machine” actually accomplishes is to act as a teleportation terminal, but not for the purpose of sending Ellie to a destination. Rather, the “IPV” transport pod that Ellie rides in is actually a destination for incoming teleportation.
2) What arrives in the IPV are nanites. These nanites are the advanced technology of an alien lifeform, the Huaoshy. The nanoscopic nanites are never seen in the movie, but they enter into Ellie’s brain and begin to construct artificial memories. Those manufactured memories constitute Ellie’s experience of a journey to the center of the galaxy.
When I write fan fiction stories that use the fictional settings that were created by famous science fiction writers such as Asimov, Vance and Sagan I wonder if they would be amused or angered by my variations on their themes. Sagan died right when the internet was taking off and internet traffic was exploding. I think Sagan would have appreciated the communities that have grown up in “virtual space”, communities that have been made possible because of the connectivity of the internet. I like to think that he might have felt honored by the fact that people still discuss and puzzle over Contact.
New Age woo-woo
Ebert wrote, “What she [Ellie] finally discovered, I submit, is New Age woo-woo.” <– That sentiment, from someone who is probably the best know movie reviewer in the country, would have intrigued Sagan. Sagan wanted to get people thinking about the nature of science and the importance of objectively verifiable evidence. Audience reactions such as Ebert’s comment about “woo-woo” would have supplied great motivation for production of a Contact sequel, a second movie that would have done what Sagan’s novel did: show Ellie discovering objective evidence for the idea that our universe was created. Without Sagan around to push for it, maybe there is nobody in Hollywood with the guts to tackle that job.
The Contact television series is under development and collaborating authors are welcome.