So, I had this bright idea.
It was a pretty bright idea, actually. It was the plan for a series of chapbooks about my Robots. I’ve gone into detail elsewhere on where the series comes from, and I won’t go into it here. What I will go into is, when the plan met with some satisfaction, then it came down to me having to write the first episode.
That was the hard part. I had to take a head-full of ideas…and I had to figure out where the arrow was that says “Begin Here.”
The opening scene, I knew. I knew that Loeb and Max would get hit by the storm — struck by lightning, really, for don’t they begin in the same way that Frankenstein’s monster did? — and I knew that they’d have to go back inside the ship.
From there, all my plans changed. And I mean a lot. The storyline for the first three episodes (always intended to be a mini-story arc) was completely different from the storyline that actually emerged. In fact, in hindsight, there are pieces of it present. I’d happily point those out to you, but you’ll have to wait for the annotations of episodes five, six, and so on before you’ll get to see what I’m talking about.
I was much happier with the storyline that emerged. It spoke to some themes I wanted to talk about (in a quiet and un-obtrusive way) such as: is violence a default reaction for a sentient creature? and why do some people lead and what do you do when you’re out of options? I touched on all of them and they made me happy.
What I also really dug was The Captain. He came out of nowhere. Or rather, he was planned, but he sure as hell wasn’t planned like that. He was intended to remain sane and properly functional and thus be a danger to Loeb and Max as he tried to track down the malfunctions within his ship. When he took a much darker twist, I was pleased, and I loved him.
A piece of trivia for you: There is an old trilogy of novels, Star Wars novels, which were the Han Solo trilogy. There are two Han Solo trilogies, actually. One was by A.C. Crispin, and this is not that one. This is an older one. Anyway, in it, Han Solo adventured with two robots, named Bollux and Blue Max. I liked them a great deal.
Thus, when Loeb and Max seemed to find their names…of course, someone had to be named Max. Just a happy homage.
Let’s see, what else can I mention?
Right from the get-go of this first episode, we are told there are no organics. I have given you no answer why yet.
Master System was a lot of fun to write. A comparison could be made to the HAL computer, from 2001: A Space Odyssey, and I guess that would be fair enough. In truth, not being a huge fan of 2001 (I don’t understand it. Movie or book. I try every few years. We get to a giant space baby, and I go stomping around the house), Master System’s method of talking and personality came much more from Oz, Great And Terrible. Not an exact homage there, just how I remember him speaking from the books, when I was a child. So if it’s inaccurate, a bit, then it’s because it’s just filtered through lots of years since my childhood. Master System was always just on the verge of saying PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN! Except, of course, there is no man behind the curtain. There isn’t even a curtain.
Final trivia: This episode was originally going to be written in first-person. The joy of doing serial stories is, I can dip in and out of different styles and techniques as they please me. It means I can do things like first-person for one episode, back to third-person for the next. For the first episode, we would have experienced it from inside Loeb’s head.
Mostly, we DID experience it from Loeb’s point of view…but I wanted the freedom to get out and look around, because this early on, I didn’t want to confine myself. For one thing, it would have eliminated the Captain’s scenes. Plus, I just didn’t feel I knew everyone well enough, especially Loeb.
There will be a first-person episode. I think I even know which one it is, and I think it’ll be really good. And you won’t get to read it until late Season 2, by my reckoning.
This episode was written in two days. 8,000 words one day, around 7,000 the next day. Sweet, easy, and exhausting.
And that’s episode one for you.