Roger Wickes

Creative Software Solutions


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 scurry
"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.
In a 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 Just visit 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 feels 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" 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.

Sooooo.....since 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.

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