Archive for HAL

The Prophet

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Mystical Experience, Unknown with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 24, 2012 by javedbabar

The Prophet was a well-structured text. Sophie had read it many times. There were twenty-six poetry essays on topics concerning the tribulations of human existence. It was early inspirational fiction that had lasted in a way that recent over-hyped junk just wouldn’t.

The topics could run sequentially, she thought, starting with love and ending with death. Or somehow concurrently, infused with the essence of the work, which could be described as enhanced awareness.

“It starts and ends with the sea,” said Danny, QARY’s chief technician. He had started as a regular crew member when the old quarry was converted into a multimedia venue, and had proved himself over the past two seasons. He was now Sophie’s right hand man.

“Yes, it does,” she said, “Would that work as a theme?”

“I think it would. At the beginning, Almustafa is waiting for his ship to come after twelve years in Orphalese. Then he stands before a sea of people and runs through the journey of life. Later he bids them farewell and sets sail for home, with a promise of return, like a tide.”

“I need to watch you,” said Sophie. “I think you are after my job.”

Danny smiled and reddened. He didn’t know how to deal with Sophie since she had spurned his advances. They had a comfortable working relationship, but an uncomfortable personal one.

They decided to retain the book’s structure, but split the essays into sections. The quarry’s chambers would each show one third of the work: nine, nine, and eight chapters respectively. Each chapter was self-contained and didn’t need to be seen in sequence. There was a benefit in seeing some sections together, such as love, marriage and children, and these would be kept in their original order.

The finished show was good, though not their best production. There weren’t enough of Kahlil Gibran’s’ mystical drawings to illustrate the performance, and the new ones they created lacked his magic. Digital media will take you so far but cannot replace nuanced genius.

They did the best they could. Sophie loved hearing the Prophet’s profound words. Her favourite parts were those about love, marriage, children, giving, eating and drinking, work, and joy and sorrow.

“When love beckons you, follow him; Though his ways are hard and steep.”

“Let there be spaces in your togetherness; And let the winds of heaven dance between you.”

“Your children are not your children; They are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself.”

“All you have shall some day be given; Therefore give now, that the season of giving may be yours and not your inheritors’.”

“Your blood and my blood is naught but the sap that feeds the tree of heaven.”

“Work is love made visible.”

“Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.”

The words were beautiful, spiritual, meaningful, but something wasn’t right with the show. Sophie wondered what it was. The performance felt empty and a little contrived.

The QARY computer had been given the role of HAL in the 2001: A Space Odyssey show. The computer had enjoyed this role and not relinquished control. All images, words, sounds and actions were now part of a programme continuing forever. The crew and audience were part of the programme too.

Big machines had once hollowed the quarry and violated Mother Earth. Now one of their number, gazing into the past, attempted to make amends. QARY had transcended physical karma and manifested virtual karma. This empty space was now filled forever.

2001: A Space Odyssey

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Mystical Experience, Unknown with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 23, 2012 by javedbabar

QARY’s production of The Time Machine was voted a top ten show by Arcadia’s critics. They said it rang true, and the time travel sequences had exceeded even Sophie’s expectations. Danny and the technical team had done an amazing job.

It was incredible to think that just eighteen months ago this had been an abandoned quarry. Now there was a world famous multimedia show here. No visitor to Arcadia’s west coast would miss it.

Danny had wanted to produce 2001: A Space Odyssey rather than The Time Machine, but when outvoted, he had accepted gracefully, and given 100% to the new show. Maybe he was right in a sense, thought Sophie; not that 2001 was better than The Time Machine, but in saying that it would make a good show in its own right. They needed something spectacular to kick off the third season. They could look at it now. She mentioned this to the crew.

“Really! You want to do Two Thousand and One! That’s fantastic!” said Danny. “I can’t wait to get working on the light tunnel sequence. That will be awesome!”

One of the new girls said, “Sorry, I am not familiar with Two Thousand and One. What is it?”

“It is a confusing story,” said Sophie. “There are bits I don’t understand myself. Danny, could you please explain it in a user-friendly way?”

“Sure, the film was a collaboration between the director Stanley Kubrick and writer Arthur C. Clarke. They played around with the idea for years before settling on the final version. It consists of four parts, each driven by a black monolith that appears mysteriously.”

“What do you mean by monolith?” asked the new girl. “A big stone like at Stonehenge?”

“Kind of, but in the film it’s more like a flat panel. The first part is about the dawn of man. A monolith inspires an ape to use a bone as a tool and then as a weapon, which sets him apart from other animals. The second part is about Tycho-Magnetic Anomaly One, TMA-1, a monolith found buried on the moon. The third part is a voyage to Jupiter, following a radio signal sent by TMA-1, in a ship controlled by a powerful computer named HAL, who takes over the ship, kills most of the crew, but is eventually switched off. The fourth part is the best part, where the only surviving astronaut, Bowman, is pulled into a tunnel of coloured light. He sees himself as a dying man, and then as a child in a ball of light, gazing at the world.”

The new girl looked dazed. “You want us to cover all of that in a one hour show?”

It sounds crazy, thought Sophie, but manageable. They’d produced epic myths like Gilgamesh and Beowulf, and cosmic texts like Bhagavad Gita and Tao Te Ching. 2001 was no more difficult than those.

Danny had some ideas. “We can save cash by painting some old doors black; they will make great monoliths. I can rent a special lens to make blinking eye footage, which will save on film rights. The QARY computer can double as HAL; it’s just a matter of programming some audio files.”

The team produced a show true to the film. It had minimal dialogue and explanations. The imagery was ambiguous and open-ended. It was cryptic and enigmatic.

Blink. Flash. Blink. Flash. Blink. Flash. Blink. Flash. The light tunnel sequence was amazing. Blink. Flash. Blink. Flash. The audience was destabilized and then disorientated. Blink. Flash. Blink. Flash. Things got weirder and weirder. Blink. Flash. Blink. Flash. It felt like they were actually moving. Blink. Flash. Blink. Flash. People began to sway and fall. Many were sick and shrieking.

Danny tried in vain to control the QARY computer. Sophie pulled rank and threw the mains switch. Everything went dark, and then a dark shape appeared from the darkness. She hoped this was one of Danny’s special effects.