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Bonus: Script for a television documentary
Episode 3 of 'A History of the Triverse' (c) 1972 BTV
The Triverse is
Mid-Earth, an alternate 1970s London
Max-Earth, a vision of the 26th century
Palinor, where magic is real
This week we take a break from our regularly scheduled programming to bring you a bonus chapter. Haven’t had one of these for a while - they’re glimpses into the wider setting of Triverse and serve as fun world building asides. We’ll be back to the ‘Fantasies’ storyline next week…
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Proposed script for episode 3 of A History of the Triverse, a BTV production, presented by Henry Lister. (c) BTV 1972 NOT FOR DISTRIBUTION CREW ONLY
EXT. LONDON, THAMES RIVERBANK ACROSS FROM THE PORTAL STATION (early morning, probably) Crane shot if we can afford it, coming down from above with angle towards the portal station. Boats on the river. As camera lowers, PAN right to reveal Henry, walking along the pavement. HENRY It's been two hundred years since the Joining and our world became...worlds. In those two centuries we've grown accustomed to inter-dimensional portals on our doorstep. (pause, walk, turn to new angle) The idea of the Triverse is no longer remarkable. It has become part of the furniture, and in this series we continue to explore the social, political and economic consequences of those pivotal events of 1772. (music builds) I'm Henry Lister, and this is A History of the Triverse. INTRO CREDITS INT. PORTAL STATION, PASSENGER CONCOURSE WEST A bustling, typical week day. HENRY (vo) The London portal station has served as the hub of the Triverse since its construction in 1773, less than a year after the Joining. In this week's episode, we fast forward to 1810 and an event that at the time was entirely unexpected. EXT. DECK OF CARGO VESSEL COMMODUS, NIGHT Note: hopefully we can get Henry out on a ship - slightly stormy seas would be perfect. If that proves logistically too tricky, we can use stock footage or perhaps get some establishing shots without Henry. Pan from crashing waves, illuminated by ship's lights, to Henry walking the deck. HENRY (shouting/speaking loudly) I'm in the mid-Atlantic. This is the cargo ship Commodus. She has made this journey many times, though it is my first. It is an angry sea, almost as if the gods themselves are urging us to turn back. We are heading west- (points) -towards the site of something so unexpected it upended all scientific understanding at the time - in an age that was still reeling from the original opening of the London portals. (push in) It's not known precisely when it appeared, but sometime between February 1809 and March 1810, a third portal opened on Mid-Earth, right here, in the middle of the Atlantic ocean. EXT. ATLANTIC PORTAL PLATFORM DOCK Show the ship being loaded/unloaded. Henry steps onto the dock (or just VO if that's not possible). HENRY For some context, this was 38 years after the original portals opened in London, and it would be another 19 years before the emergence of the portal on the African continent, in Ethiopia. At this time, in 1810, it had been assumed that London, the capital of the Kingdom of Great Britain, would always be the centre of the Triverse. EXT. ATLANTIC PORTAL PLATFORM, TRANSIT CHAMBER Panning shot taking in the room and revealing the portal. (Note: we'll have to consider lighting here. It's not like the London portal station - this is a scientific station and might need some prettifying). HENRY This portal changed everything, and in more ways than one. Connecting Mid-Earth with Palinor, the Atlantic portal showed that the still as-yet-unexplained phenomenon that triggered the Joining was still active. (beat) The immediate implication was that if one additional portal could appear without warning, it was likely to not be the last. Push in on Henry, silhouetted by portal in BG. HENRY There were serious ramifications for the Kingdom's natural stranglehold over Triverse travel and communications. Many commentators of the time declared it would be 'the end' of Great Britain, fears - or perhaps hopes - that ultimately proved unfounded. (beat) More serious and immediate concerns were of a more primal nature. CUT TO: MONTAGE OF PERIOD DRAWINGS AND PAINTINGS Show illustrations of the Atlantic portal: some of those dramatic depictions of stormy seas being sucked into the void. Also a selection of Palinor-side images, with the portal flood as the Atlantic poured through. Villages washed away, aen'fa crying, koth flying helplessly above the deluge etc. HENRY (vo) The sudden opening of the portal caught everyone by surprise. Being in an isolated area of the ocean, the impact on Mid-Earth was minimal, but the flooding on the Palinor side was catastrophic for the settlements in the vicinity. Show diagram (animation possible here?) of the potential for the Atlantic to 'empty'. HENRY (vo) Some hysterical early reports posited that the entire Atlantic would be emptied out onto the plains of Palinor, causing catastrophic ecological damage on both side of the portal. Fortunately this did not come to pass due to the altitude of the portal - high enough that the Atlantic waters mostly transit only during high storms. INT. ATLANTIC PORTAL PLATFORM, TRANSIT ROOM Henry walking around the room. HENRY These days, of course, the portal station protects the portal and people living on both sides, providing stability and preventing those early floods from happening again. INT. ATLANTIC PORTAL RESEARCH LABS Show researchers going about their business, looking important. HENRY These days the Atlantic station is a scientific outpost. This was not always the case. In fact, in the immediate aftermath of the portal's opening there was a short period of naval confrontations, with multiple countries attempting to claim jurisdiction. The British fleet won out, of course. This was in part due to the other contestants realising that the Atlantic portal was too remote and too inconvenient to be a powerhouse hub like we've seen in London. EXT. ATLANTIC STATION, DECK, DAY Henry looking out over the ocean. Can we get a wide shot, taking in the whole rig? HENRY Despite its dramatic birth, the Atlantic portal heralded a new era for the Triverse. The 1810s proved to be a period of intense technological innovation on Mid-Earth. The opening of better relations between the worlds led to the 'cultural reconsideration' on much of Palinor, with a younger generation having grown up in the new Triverse reality. Max-Earth entered a new period of positive diplomatic relations, following several decades of icy interactions following the so-called 'time terrorism' incidents of the late 18th century, as covered in episode two. In 1818 slavery was abolished by all European countries, in some cases several decades earlier than had happened on the Max-Earth timeline. This was, of course, a requirement for opening the trade routes to Max-Earth. All of this laid the foundations for what would become the Joint Council a century later. (beat) After the break we'll be talking to some of the researchers currently living and working here on the Atlantic station, and what their work means for the wider Triverse--
Thank you for reading!
Well, that was a bit different. Thanks for indulging me. The real-world reason for this momentary aside of a chapter is that this week is half-term in the UK, which means the 10 year old is at home and we have some fun jaunts to museums and galleries planned. Plus it’s my birthday at the weekend, and I’m still at the very tail end of whatever this ‘probably more than a cold’ cold has been. In other words, I didn’t quite have the time to produce the next chapter of the ‘Fantasies’ storyline and do it justice.
Instead, I thought it would be clever to do a shorter but fun bonus chapter. Then my brain decided to turn it into a television script, and it ended up being quite a complicated thing to put together. Ah well. The best laid plans…
Reading: I really need to ramp up my prose fiction reading. Haven’t done nearly enough of that this year. I’m still reading lots, mind you: working my way through the latest issue of Delayed Gratification, which is superb. Have enjoyed some comics - the new Captain America by J Michael Straczynski, and the retelling of Transformers was a fun indulgence with my son. The Cull bycontinues to be a delight, and is still doing crazy stuff with Spectators and Saga.
Talking of comics, I was in London today and discovered Gosh! Comics. What a gorgeous little (big) shop.
Watching: Thoroughly enjoying Netflix’s Bodies. As has been pointed out, it shares certain similarities with Tales from the Triverse: multiple timelines, a central detective-led storyline. A good cast and a story well-told.
Playing: Have been playing Super Mario Bros. Wonder with the boy, as an early birthday present from my wife. Absolute joy. Have also been hugely impressed by Cyberpunk 2077’s resurrection (I’m definitely not playing that one with the 10 year old).
- ’s love letter to Wikipedia has some really hilarious examples of it going wrong, as well as a succinct explanation of why it is still a remarkable achievement.
- ’s account of how he lost an entire manuscript brought many of to tears/panicked breathing. Whatever you’re doing, stop it right now and go and backup your stuff.
Finally, last chance for a couple of ebook giveaways:
Nothing like a bit of indulgent lore spelunking.
Deep inside the rather large Triverse Scrivener project there are numerous documents detailing the history of the world. One in particular, titled ‘the post-Joining timeline’, was especially fun to write. It chronicles events following the appearance of the portals, all the way through to the start of the main story in 1972. Two hundred years of fun alt-history.
There’s stuff in there about the American War of Independence (it didn’t happen), what happened with Napoleon when he tried to invade England and seize the portals in London, how the 20th century played out without the World Wars and so on…it’s all jolly good fun.
The Atlantic portal is something that has been mentioned in the story but hasn’t really featured prominently. This bonus chapter was an opportunity to get a bit more detail about its place in the world.
It was fun to write in script format, although replicating that layout in the Substack editor wasn’t really possible. I’ve gone for a rough approximation here. Something I really wanted to do was have a printed version of the script with producer notes scrawled all over it. I ran out of time, but might update this post next week. I reckon the producer will be balking at the cost of some of these shots, right?
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