Sunday, March 28, 2010

I'm a fan of Lost. Make that a HUGE fan. My geek flag flies high and proud from a do-it-yourself lightsabre. (And no I won't make you one.)

I love Lost, but lately, as it becomes clearer that some of my early assumptions about the show might actually be true, I'm a little irked.

You may or may not remember a post I made a while back concerning "but I'm not copying!!!" syndrome. This is the affliction that hits writers when something they've worked and sweated over for who knows how long gets its legs knocked out from under them by a "hit" of a similar nature.

Everyone who was shopping wizards in the 90's and vampires in the last few years is familiar with this phenomena. Outsiders don't know how much time the writer spent on their baby, so from the outside, it appears like copy-catting, or at least bandwagon dogpiling.

Why is this important? Because I think something I've been tinkering with off and on for the last few years and Lost may be based on the same principle.

Having said that, there's no island in mine, and no plane crash. It's focused on a very small group of characters and there are no creepy columns of black smoke that impersonate dead people at will. The principle I'm talking about is one of a scientific nature (pesudo-scientific, to be more precise.)

When I was 18 or 19 years old, I wrote this thing, and have improved it over the years into something that - according to one rejection - is a "solid studio concept" for a movie. It was based on two things - The Casimir Effect, and tesseracts. (Quantum physics constructs used for time travel and/or dimension hopping.)

So, what does this have to do with Lost?

You know those nifty numbers? (4,8,15,16,23,42, for those of you who don't) Well, those are key components of a tesseract. The numbers of faces/edges/verticies involve all of them except 15 (and the 23 needs to be a 32). At first, those exceptions were enough that it was a coincidence. Never mind that one visual configuration of a tesseract looks like an i-ching tile (and the Dharma logo), and that another is cross-shaped, which accounts for the missing 15 because of its ratios).

Then came "The Looking Glass", the Dharma station where Charlie died. Passing through the looking glass isn't just an allusion to Alice; it's also a quantum physics term for inter-dimensional travel. I started paying a little closer attention.

Books like Watership down and A Wrinkle in Time popped up among the other less than subtle placements of religious metaphors and physicist names (Farraday? Hawking? Seriously?) And Desmond started body hopping around his past/present/future like he was having some sort of temporal nervous tic.

Okay, time travel, no big deal. Right?

Then we see one of the Dharma initiation videos - the one no one was supposed to see where the bunnies got too close together and things start shaking. <--- this is a common assumption of paradox theory. The same matter can't exist in two places at once, which most people think means if Jimmy goes back in time and shakes his own hand, the world explodes. Aside from the fact that Jimmy at 32 isn't the same matter as Jimmy at 17, it would take a full body overlay where Jimmy's liver would have to touch his other liver for that to happen.

Another film strip explains how we got 2 bunnies with the same number stenciled on their side... The Casimir Effect.

This is where "but I had it first" syndrome starts to flare. I'm hoping they're just doing some time travel stories with it, but then we get to Jacob's lighthouse and #108 on the wheel turns out to be "Wallace"... so we're back to A Wrinkle in Time and tesseracts.

For anyone also not familiar with A Wrinkle in Time, it's a book from the 60's about a brilliant family with an especially brilliant son named Charles Wallace. Said brilliant boy wonder and his siblings go tesseract hopping to find their father in another dimension, and in the process meet CW's nemesis - The Black Thing... an amorphus black cloud of pure evil and malevolence. (I did mention that subtly wasn't one of Lost's strong points, right?)

Add in the Donkey wheel to Tunisia and the accidental ripping of a possible dimensional wall into sideways world, and I have to wonder if, when the "big reveal" comes, the island is going to be a tesseract, which is why it was chosen for the experiments with time travel.

I'm smack dab in the middle of a raging case of having something written YEARS ago that's going to come across in two months as Lost backlash. It's frustrating because there's NOTHING in the plot similar to Lost, but anyone who doesn't know better is going to see the words "tesseract" and "Casimir" and assume it came as a result of watching that show.

This doesn't mean I'm going to shelve the story, but it is a little irritating.

The only consolation at this point is knowing that if the concept is interesting enough, no one minds the science.

4 Chiming In:

Tahereh said...

ahhh the tricky tricky world of book-writing. hang in there! the LOST angle might actually work for you ;)

Cynthia Reese said...

Love, love, love WRINKLE IN TIME! And here's hoping that, even if there are similar themes or ideas, your treatment of those themes or ideas will blow readers away. Don't give up!

Josin L. McQuein said...

I'm with you on love for AWiT - Madeline L'Engle was way ahead of her time with some of her themes.

And thanks for the encouragement (and not slapping me for the whinging) The story is definitely different, so I'm not too worried, and those who have read it, liked it. I just dread the possibility of the assumption that there's nothing to the story other than imitation.

Yes, that's a silly assumption, but no one ever said writers have to be rational.


Krista Van Dolzer said...

Josin, this post blows my mind - but in a good way:)

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