While kicking around ideas for a sequel to Elephants Dream, the world's first Open Movie project which I helped sponsor, I came up with this idea. The first ED, for those of you not familiar with Project Orange, introduced two characters, Proog and Emo, trapped in a magical world where whatever they imagined, happened. Unfortunately, it was all Proog's imagination, and Emo just couldn't see it. In a rage, Proog clubs Emo and the story ends. So, here is an idea for ED 2, the sequel. The constraints were to design an animation that re-used digital assets from the first, built on the story line, could be presented in 10 minutes, and could be developed by a small team of experienced animators in six months or less.
Proog, devastated and guilt-ridden over his murder of his only friend Emo,
wanders cyberspace. Collapsing on a chair, even the ducks cannot
console him as they gather round and sing him a tune. The tune, while
cheerful, is hauntingly discordant.
"No" he shouts, and the ducks
"Leave me alone" but in his loneliness, he finds no solace.
Wandering long dark corridors, he discovers remnants of his childhood,
of an innocent time when his imagination
and creativity were young and vital.
As he re-discovers his original
talents for drawing and creating, his world brightens. He draws a small
altar, and prays to Emo for
forgiveness. No luck. Tears.
Using his hands and his mind, he
materializes the altar into 3D. He expands it to a small simple chapel.
He weeps by a fountain outside the chapel, and returns inside to pray. No change.
flurry of demanding and exhaustive effort, he constructs a grand cathedral.
Exhausted after a seemingly endless series of tasks, and
conquering the construction of intricate, beautiful, and larger than
life edifices, scenery, light, props, stained glass ("Light, there must
be light to illuminate my soul!" he declares), detailed scroll work, he collapses on
the floor of the catherderal.
He rolls onto his back and gazes upward,
his eyes dim and barely focused; he appears at an end. From the haze, Emo appears, and reveals that he was, all along, simply a figment of Proog's imagination ("You built me too, Proog. Don't you realize that?" Emo asks.)
Thus, Proog is not guilty of murder, but of denial to his true self, his capability, and thus his potential. By building the cathedral, Proog has re-established contact with his creative self.
He sought Redemption, and found Fullfillment.
Fade to black.
For both the Planet Smoothie and Lindner commercials, I wrote all the copy. Starting from a concept, working in key terms and talking points, I develop a script and storyline.
In concert with writing lyrics, sometimes I start something that turns into prose with rhymes and an pentameter. Sometimes I feel it is good enough to publish, like this Christmas Prayer published at Poetry.com
. Just visit Poetry.com and search for any poems by Roger Wickes.
Novels and Short Stories
Writing is an essential element of my life. My first article was published by Software Development magazine (formerly Dr. Dobb's Journal), where I explored the concept of using a database model and design to drive program design in a somewhat mechanical fashion to add, change, inquire and delete records. Ten years later, we saw CASE tools emerge. I am a contributor to the wiki Blender User Manual, and continue my technical writing skills through that outlet.
My creative (fiction) writing path explores poetry, commercial copy, and novellas. "The Will" (16k words as of 8/07) is a science fiction work in progress about a brother and sister who rediscover each other as they discover the hidden truth behind the business of their amoral society. Currently I am working on "Sojourn to Phoenix" (12k words as of 8/07), a mystery about exploration and discovery. What started as shorts, in both cases, is evolving into novels.
Sojourn to Phoenix
So KevinW at BA has spent a year making this picture:
and when I saw it, it inspired me to write a short story, which I begin below. Enjoy!
We arrived in 3048 at our destination, our ion engines all but
exhausted, our food nearly gone. As we drew near to the sun of this
strange new system, our crops responded in a most positive way, giving
us new hope of a new life, to renew us from our journey between the
stars. Anxious we were, to see a planet again. Even knowing that we had
many adjustments to make before it would be hospitable, our long
journey created in all of us, a longing to feel firm ground beneath our
feet. Just seeing it there, spinning beneath us, gave us hope and
confidence. I particularly thought of my father and mother, and their
parents before them and so back hundreds of years, who themselves
longed for this day, but knowing they would never see it before their
passing. And when they passed, nothing was wasted, for their bodies fed
the soil that even now, with this new sun's light, brought forth new
crops from seed DNA that had laid dormant for so long. This was our new
beginning, and we named the planet Phoenix. Even though our journey had
ended, a new one had already begun.
editor's note: Kevin added rings not in original picture. Original posting thread at BA is here.
We geo-positioned Sojourn well beneath the rings, not wishing to risk
damage to our home...for now. Already rumors abound regarding Phoenix,
especially regarding the cataclysmic forces that formed the voronoi
texture that can be seen on the dark side.
The scout craft returned today, the crew exhausted and exhilarated,
making scientific analysis and babbling about beauty all in the same
breath. I must confess that there were many jealous among us. The EV
suits, I suppose, were the lucky ones - they were the only ones to feel
the wind against their fabric, and it must have been a delight, if they
could talk, after feeling nothing but the cold vacuum or space for so
long...what, a millennia since we left Terra? Oh, to feel the wind blow
your hair from your face; what a strange and wonderous sensation, we
wondered. Somebody in HVAC hooked up three blowers into a sort of jet
tube, and turned them on full blast, and we took turns standing in
front of it to see what this wind
like. It is harsh! It wanted to tip me over, to move me as it wanted -
I did not like it. Perhaps I like too much being in control. There are
so many changes we will have to absorb, in so short a time.
My duties, as agro-biologist, was to get my hands on those soil samples
as soon as possible, so that we can begin DNA matching to see what sort
of changes and alterations would be needed for two purposes:
terra-forming and consumables. Over the next few months I looked
forward to exhausting myself with air analysis to see what kinds of
plants we need to supplant the air gases in order to make it breathable
to our lungs. But I would have to wait, for biologics to test the soil
for any alien life.
That in itself would be a tricky maneuver, and I was glad I did not
have the burden upon me to declare the soil "safe" to use. After all,
how could you really be sure that an alien life form was not abundant
on this planet? How would you test for something you knew you could not
or would not even recognize, as Life
"Have you scanned the latest?" a voice intruded. I was focused intently
on the scanner, trying to figure something out. I really did not want
to be bothered. Maybe I just thought I heard it, and if I ignore it, it
will go away.
"Johnre, did you hear me?" It was Calais, insistent. Calais was moi femme
this cycle, and I really loved her. But I also loved this challenge.
Torn between passions, this new emotion was..disturbing. But she was
not relenting. I paused off the scan lines analysis graph and removed
the VR helmet. Her beautiful golden hair came into view. It was always
her hair that caught my eye.
"Calais, I'm kinda busy..." I responded, a little harried, to say the least.
"Oh my Jesu, you look horrible!" she inhaled, covering her mouth and stepping back.
"Really? I don't feel horrible." I responded calmly, like I supposed a true martyr would.
"No, really, your eyes..they are..red." she approached, her brows
knitted, concern, pity, and passion in her voice. An emotive I had
never heard from her before. Pehaps Phoenix was working on both of us.
"Well, I haven't slept in a few cycles" I offered.
"Haven't slept? Oh yes, the sykes said that might happen." Relived, her
shoulders dropped. She reached up to feel my face. She smiled, amused,
as her fingernails scratched my stubble. She was close. I could feel
her heat, and my body longed for a rest. All of a sudden, I yawned so
long and wide my mouth cramped.
"We need to get you into bed, mon amore" she purred.
"Bed? I need sleep, you tigress." I retorted, putting my arms round her
waist. Such a lame attempt at resisting her charms, I know.
"Oh poor baby, I...Oh, but wait, did you scan the news?" she asked impatiently.
"What news?" I asked. "I've been buried in these air sample analysis from the scout ship return."
She glanced at the air vial, distracted. A piece of Phoenix lay right
there, at arms reach, sealed in a hermitic chamber, but within reach.
She picked it up.
"Wow, sweet Jesu, Phoenix, right here in my hands." she said as she
gazed into the colorless chamber. She looked into my eyes. "You're so lucky, to be this close to it."
"Lucky, maybe. Tired, yes. It's really not as simple as it looks." I
responded. Okay, so maybe I faked another yawn, not wanting her to
forget that 'into bed' thought.
"What do you mean?" she asked.
"Well, good news, bad news. And I swear if you leak this until I've
finished my report, I'll never give you another massage as long as you
live." I stated, as empahatically as I could.
"I would never!" she pouted, a puppy dog look of sadness crossing her face.
"Well, the good news is that it has oxygen, and no carcinogides. But
instead of nitrogen as the base inert, it has argon." I said, as
unscientifically as possible.
"Argon? Is that bad?" she asked.
"I don't know. I...I don't know of any studies regarding long-term
exposure to argon. But argon is rare, it's manufactured, or normally
created by or left over from some other process, and why there should
be so much of it here..strange." I said
"I can see it now...the Argon mystery." she said.
"Headlines tomorrow at 11. So, what is the news?" I asked.
"Oh, they've found something. The geologists. That voronoi texture on
the darkside. They said it was not natural, but induced by external
forces." she reported proudly.
"External forces? Like as in, man-made forces?" I queried.
She laughed. "Oh, not Man. Some other sentient life. But we don't know
if it was the inhabitants, or some other force created by something
alien. But definately not naturally induced by volcanism or plate
tectonics, you know, natural planetary forces." she went on "which
opens up the whole alien life form/archeology debate wide open."
Long in our annals had been our forefathers debate over inalienable
conquering rights. One faction held that when we arrived, if sentient
life was detected (and who would define sentient?) that we should
non-interfere, and continue on. Others argured that survivial of the
fittest should prevail; always had always would. An offshoot of that
debate led to the extention scenario - what if we arrived to find a
species extinct? What was our responsibility to do archeology,
understand, document and preserve that culture's (lifeforms?) past,
before terraforming? To what extend could we afford to delay? would
delay? Should laws be passed then, or should we defer to the children?
Needless to say, the debate continued until today. Or tomorrow.
Meanwhile, sentiment to populate and terraform NOW was high, as I
suppose everyone really knew it would. But better to let the sins be
committed in the future, I think they felt. If they passed a law
favoring archeology, they all knew we would break it in our haste to
populate the new terra. Or, the captain might face mutiny to even suggest
we move onto another planet, with Phoenix this close.
So, the debate remained open, and archaeologists knew they had a short
time, if any, to actually use the skills they had practiced their
entire lives, before we terraformers started wreaking our destruction.
"I wonder what it smells like?" she asked.
"Pardon?" I asked
"Well, you smell horrible. Our recycled air..well..doesn't smell. You know that wind thing, so strange. I wonder if this smells wierd as well?" she said, indicating the vial.
"I hope we find out soon" I replied. And with that, we found our way to my bed.
Sojourn has taken me...
Okay, an update is in order. The story suddenly unfolded in my mind,
got much deeper and complex, and I started introducing some new
characters. After a week of furious writing, I am now up to 12000
words. Friends and family like the story (so far). It is 50 paperback
pages now, way beyond a short story, and about half(?) completed plot
wise, and very thin with what I have so far (needs a lot of fleshing
out). I've had to do some research on nano-technology as it exists
today, and must look up body gas absorption statistics.
Kevin has been great and has provided me an image from the hydroponic gardens/city looking outward at Phoenix.
I might shop this out to publishers, I cannot provide any more text at
this time. I will commit thought, that after the 20th rejection, I will
give up and post the story here for free. It reminds me of the early
days, when Sears started a service called Prodigy (a precursor to AOL),
there was an author who started blogging a story, and I loved it and
remember it to this day, even some 20 years later. So, maybe you, dear
reader, will be inspired as well.