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Subject: "Star-Crossed I: The Crying of Lot 490"     Previous Topic | Next Topic
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Mar-08-10, 09:01 PM (EST)
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"Star-Crossed I: The Crying of Lot 490"
   Trying something a little different with the annotations for Star-Crossed, namely releasing them in line with the episodes rather than all at the end. There'll be a bit of a delay, because I can't actually compile them until the episodes are finalized for release and I know the line numbers aren't going to change, but I thought it might be fun to try releasing them as a running commentary during the release cycle rather than as a sort of retrospective thing at the end. We'll see how it goes.

[1] This epigraph is an excerpt from the song used as the opening title theme for Star-Crossed. These seven lines, in particular, seemed to me to capture the essence of the Exile's dark heart as Gryphon experiences it.

[21] There are two behind-the-scenes stories involved in the origins of this piece, and both of them date back at least 10 years - one of them, more like 15 at this point.

The first is that much of the material contained in this first episode was originally devised sometime back around 2000 as the beginning of an almost completely different story, which was going to be called The Crying of Lot 490 after the classic Thomas Pynchon novel The Crying of Lot 49. (Obviously, the title survives as the tag of Star-Crossed's first episode.) It wasn't really going to have anything to do with Pynchon's novel, which is a much more intricate and subtle work, but since the opening gimmick was an auction, and I enjoyed the book so much when I had to read it back in college, I figured, what the hell.

For years, The Crying of Lot 490 was one of those tragic fragments that litter my little electronic portfolio - a story that started with a gimmick and then never found an actual story to tell with it. It had Gryphon buying another character at an underworld auction, just to try and save her from something worse, and then having to flee from people who were trying to kill them both for their own reasons, but then unfolded, or tried to unfold, in a completely different direction. None of what would end up being the core references for Star-Crossed even existed back then.

In that version, Gryphon and his unwilling acquisition were going to end up takign refuge at a derelict WDF Deep Space Patrol base in the Enigma sector - Crescent Rock, a hollowed-out asteroid and former home of the patrol vessel Delphinus - and presumably wild and crazy adventures would have followed from there, but I never was able to get a handle on exactly what they would have entailed, and the initial gimmick never really clicked for me either. In the old draft, the character Gryphon ended up buying was an import of Millennium Nocturne from Lost Universe, but they never got along well enough for the dynamic between them to settle into something conducive to wacky adventures. She wouldn't believe he wasn't the Butcher and kept an eye out for ways to cash in on the price on his head - they were like Spike and Faye without the chemistry. Eventually it just got annoying and I tossed the whole thing in the bin.

What prompted me to dust it off and try it with a different character in the cryotube, I couldn't really say. Obviously the fact that I'd just finished Mass Effect 2 had a lot to do with it, but I loved the original Mass Effect too, and nothing like this happened then. So who knows. More on this later, maybe, in the notes for later episodes.

The other behind-the-scenes oddity about Star-Crossed is that the title was originally attached to a completely different Project From Yesteryear: Scrapheap City Shuffle was originally so named. Again, I'll elaborate more on this as we get deeper into the piece.

[67] The original version of this scene happened on Zelfina Station, which was characterized in that draft as an abandoned fueling station on one of the old hyperspace routes to the Rim. In that story, the Black Dragons had moved in and refurbished the station for purposes of holding the auction there.

[80] Apparently his WDF Academy weapons instructor was the Tommy Lee Jones character from Men in Black.

[109] Named after the organization backing the illegal martial arts tournament in that classic Jean-Claude Van Damme movie Bloodsport.

[144] In the Zelfina Station version of this scene, he did do this. The old story was set much earlier in the Exile. He's matured since then. :)

[186] The Rigellians of E.E. Smith Lensmen fame. Tregonsee, one of the Second Stage Lensmen, was from Rigel.

[238] Originally, Gryphon was there to buy a Garland (the one that would later turn up in Altered Appleseed) that the Black Dragons had looted from an old WDF supply cache. In that draft, this graf said that he felt slightly ridiculous paying cr6 million for what amounted to his own property.

[256] If you picture the actor Edward Herrmann with his hair dyed Kool-Aid orange, you've just about got my mental image of the auctioneer. I mean no disrespect to Mr. Herrmann, and I'm certainly not suggesting that that's what his voice sounds like - he's one of my favorite books-on-tape artists - that's just how it is.

[279] The Ranger isn't based on any particular fighter from sci-fi, lest you spend all day Googling for Wing Commander sites or, worse, fall down the Wookieepedia hole. I envision it as an obsolescent and overlarge piece of kit for this time period, but not laughably outdated, like the crappy starting ships in Privateer - the kind of thing it wouldn't be at all unusual to see an independent owner-operator flying in that era. TBF Avenger, circa 1955.

The early draft of this scene had Gryphon and the Black Dragons loadmaster using a hardpoint-and-brace arrangement (which the narration noted was developed by the WDF for just such a purpose) to secure the Garland, in bike mode, to the back of Eight-Ball One, between the Super Valkyrie nacelles. The downside of that was that the VF would be stuck using its hyperdrive because the Garland interfered with the warp field, and of course it utterly screwed up the center of mass and made maneuvering very difficult - disadvantages that, upon further review, I didn't really think were necessary for the upcoming dogfight scene anyway, given that Gryphon would be trying to fight with a passenger in his lap.

[299] I just like the phrase, "one last swing through the Afterlife."

[333] This assumes that quarians have about the same density as humans, which I admit I don't actually know from canonical sources. It seems very likely, though.

[362] "The perennial mystery" could mean a couple of different things, depending on how big a creep this guy is. Given that he's a Black Dragon Society lieutenant who's gotten all cheerful about the unexpected prospect of selling a sapient being at the end of his auction, I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess that he's a huge creep.

[374] I hasten to note here that Gryphon is not indulging in the traditional human sterotype of quarians as thieves; he's indulging in the traditional human stereotype of people caught sneaking around the secure areas at crime syndicate auctions as thieves.

[379] Speaking of stereotypes, you'll notice as the story goes on that, yes, every batarian who appears in Star-Crossed is, at best, a criminal asshole. That's not because they all are, of course; it's because the ones who aren't virtually never leave the batarian homeworld.

[408] The former seems unlikely, given the circumstances, but perhaps Kraad here doesn't subscribe to The Lancet. The line is actually a relic from the earlier version, but I liked the alliterative phrasing too much to junk it just because it's now wildly improbable. And I suppose weirder shit than that actually has happened on Omega at some point.

[429] Always pay cash for quarians.

[491] UF-universe update of the Wing Commander Rapier II, which we saw in WDF and RSN service during the Golden Age.

[590] "What happened, Chuck?" "I dunno, I guess I liketa bust the canopy with m'head."

[634] The story has nothing to do with Christmas or the Yugoslav civil war, but the cited segment of the song fits my mental image of the frantic action in this sequence perfectly, especially at the very end.

[655] The telegraphic choppiness and occasional random-seeming changes of person in this segment are a deliberate attempt to convey the sort of wildly spiraling, camera-shaking, in-and-out-of-focus effect that a scene like this would have on film. If I had the luxury of working in different fonts for full-length stories, this segment would be in a different one than the rest of the piece - possibly more than one.

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  Subject     Author     Message Date     ID  
Star-Crossed I: The Crying of Lot 490 [View All] Gryphonadmin Mar-08-10 TOP
   RE: Star-Crossed I: The Crying of Lot 490 StClair Mar-09-10 1
      RE: Star-Crossed I: The Crying of Lot 490 Gryphonadmin Mar-09-10 2
   RE: Star-Crossed I: The Crying of Lot 490 Polychrome Mar-10-10 3
      RE: Star-Crossed I: The Crying of Lot 490 Matrix Dragon Mar-10-10 4
      RE: Star-Crossed I: The Crying of Lot 490 Gryphonadmin Mar-10-10 5
          RE: Star-Crossed I: The Crying of Lot 490 JustTheBast Apr-07-10 9
              RE: Star-Crossed I: The Crying of Lot 490 Senji Apr-08-10 10
                  RE: Star-Crossed I: The Crying of Lot 490 dbrandon Apr-08-10 11
                  RE: Star-Crossed I: The Crying of Lot 490 Zuki Apr-08-10 12
      RE: Star-Crossed I: The Crying of Lot 490 A Vile Gangster Mar-15-10 7
   RE: Star-Crossed I: The Crying of Lot 490 trboturtle2 Mar-15-10 6
      RE: Star-Crossed I: The Crying of Lot 490 E_M_Lurker Mar-15-10 8
   RE: Star-Crossed I: The Crying of Lot 490 Zemyla Apr-15-10 13

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