A Journey Through Our Solar System in Under 5 Minutes
Below is a simple outline of a grand story rooted primarily in science, not science fiction, and it was to be produced for a one-of-a-kind exhibition format. This high-level story was one part of a massive proposal – that included over a dozen stories – for a brand that will remain unnamed. This project afforded the chance to create and share an immersive journey into space – in under 5 minutes. And, in earthly terms, it was an opportunity for me to build a team with world-class creative shops like FuseFX Los Angeles, which creates VFX and animation for great shows and movies, including from the Marvel Universe. The pitch was lost but, of course, much was gained from the exploration of these ideas and partnerships. It’s vital to flex one's storytelling and collaborative muscles regularly. Connecting the proverbial dots is a skill that can be honed; it's only magic in part. I hope you enjoy this short but grand journey.
NOTE: I’ve added ellipses (…) where text was extracted to preserve anonymity.
A JOURNEY TO THE OUTER PLANETS
To experience a journey to the outer planets in our solar system, and beyond, will surely be the trip of a lifetime! Once we lift off … and travel out of our atmosphere and into space, we will pass the hard-working, elegant International Space Station (ISS) and the always-searching James Webb Telescope … before hurtling deeper into our solar system … to seek out the elusive 9th planet.
We see Mars from a distance, but zip past it – we'll save it for another trip – and we pick up the Juno satellite and ride its coattails toward Jupiter where we see the stunning, and, perhaps, life-sustaining moon Europa, before looking upon the beautiful – and massive – gas giant itself, Jupiter (pictured below).
We head past this beauty and pick up the path of Cassini to continue our journey to Saturn. We follow her path and travel close to the iconic rings of Saturn and then, at long last, we pass through them! We finally get a glimpse of the majesty of Saturn, just like the final images delivered by Cassini before her collision with the surface…
We are back on our journey and now following the path of Voyager 2 to see the outer reaches of our solar system. We take a quick look at Uranus and Neptune – both cold but beautiful – but we brace ourselves as we travel through the Kuiper Belt with all its wonder and danger. We get a glimpse of Pluto, its most famous object, but our focus turns – like expeditions of old – to discovering something new, namely the 9th planet in the farthest reaches of our solar system. There is great anticipation, but we do not find the elusive 9th planet. At least not on this journey.
We look out at the edge of our solar system and the solar winds of our Sun are all but gone, but we sense the interstellar winds of countless other stars and realize this is a good time to head home. A wormhole – a break in time and space – will allow us to return close to Earth. We re-enter our atmosphere – with great exhilaration -- and touch down safely... We are back home...
That was the end of this very high-level, preliminary story outline. Of course, there was much more to learn and more depth to explore to fully flesh out the story. We also needed to uncover more conflict and moments of discovery that would make this journey powerful, memorable, and everything therein, earned. This tale was as much for children as it was for adults, so I tested it on my fifteen-year-old daughter. Well, the story had her pretty riveted (not easy to do) and then she got uneasy near the end of the story, as our solar winds dissipated on the edge of our system. I knew I had about the right balance of tension at this point. I also realized it was time for us to race back home (yes, with a hint of sci-fi magic) to the safety of Earth. We would save the journey – beyond our solar system – for another video.
And, a final aside, but I did months of historical research for a documentary treatment about the development of democracy, which I was commissioned to write a decade ago. Most of those powerful stories – including from ancient Athens, my father’s hometown – never left me. And, sure enough, they made their way into my first novel, Zeus Rising, that was published this past January. (Zeus became a believer in democracy after years as a ruthless despot.) In the end, the dots do often connect to build great stories as we move through life. Perhaps the same will happen here. Let’s all keep learning, creating, and telling great stories. They are vital to our bonds, especially at times like this when we need one another more than ever. Together, we shall prevail.