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alien planet

I have a science fiction movie script rolling around my head, so this morning I sat down and actually wrote the first two short scenes.

I have a proper scriptwriting package, Celtx, which imposes the peculiar formatting conventions demanded by the movie industry. (Celtx is free, open-source software, of course. I wouldn’t use anything else.) However, WordPress messes with HTML that you paste in, so this may not come out looking exactly as it should. Not worth fighting. Here goes:

Opening Scene

Characters:

Captain Patrick Russell – young, intense, rugged, good-looking, educated accent.

Isis – a disembodied voice. She’s the computer, but should not sound at all “mechanical”: warm and entirely human, although perhaps a tiny bit over-precise in her diction.

A darkened bedroom. The decor is sparse and “modern”, but not so futuristic that you might expect it to be in a spaceship. Because it is.

The room has three doors. One on each side of the bed head, probably leading to his’n’hers bathrooms/dressing rooms. The door opposite the foot of the bed is the room entrance.

A single figure lies asleep on his back in the middle of the double bed. Legs and arms straight.

This is Captain Patrick James Russell (as he styles himself).

The camera circles the bed at about waist height.

An alarm clock starts sounding: not unpleasant, but starting quietly and becoming more insistent. Hidden lights flash in sync with the sound, becoming brighter.

Nothing else happens for quite a while.

PATRICK

(Without moving or opening his eyes. A little groggy.)

All right, enough with the alarms. I’m awake.

The alarm stops and the lights come up to a normal internal illumination. Patrick stays immobile for some time.

PATRICK

(Still motionless with eyes closed.)

How long have I been asleep?

ISIS

One hundred and twelve years, four months and six days.

Pause.

PATRICK

(Eagerly, opening his eyes, but not moving otherwise)

So the first two targets were no good?

ISIS

Target one had no terrestrial-type planets. Target two was a complete misidentification: no planets at all; just debris. All the pictures and data are available, but, frankly, not worth bothering with.

PATRICK

(More animated.)

But you’ve woken me up for number three! You’ve spotted something!

ISIS

I wanted you to have the veto on whether we decelerate for a good look. If the planet isn’t worth exploring, we’ll still lose a year recharging the gravity accumulators to get back on track.

PATRICK

Well, if we did, I could go back into suspended animation anyway. Tell me what you’ve got. No, wait! I’m going to have a shower.

He jumps out of bed and enters one of the bathrooms, leaving the door ajar. The camera stays in the bedroom. (Well, you wouldn’t follow someone onto the bathroom, would you?) Patrick doesn’t wear pajamas, but keep it decent. Think of the certification.

His outline is discernible behind the shower screen through the open door.

PATRICK

(Calling over his shoulder.)

Make me breakfast and get the stuff up on the main screen. Good work looking after my body, by the way, I feel great!

SCENE 2 – SPACESHIP control room

Now, this room does look like a part of a spaceship. Three large, padded acceleration couches face a big, curved display screen. A raised gallery circles the room about two-thirds of the way; the screen occupies the rest. Instrument panels line the walls.

Slightly incongruously, the section right at the back isn’t incomprehensible instrumentation. It’s a breakfast bar with espresso machine and toaster.

Patrick is sitting on a stool, coffee in one hand and croissant in the other, looking at the big screen.

PATRICK

So the blue dot is this system’s planet two? We’re still a long way out.

ISIS

I have two high-speed probes running out on opposite arcs. We should get much better pictures within an hour. But it was the spectrum that was interesting.

A graph appears on the screen.

PATRICK

What am I looking at here?

ISIS

Absorption spectrum from when the planet occulted a star. The smaller peak is from methane in the atmosphere.

PATRICK

And methane is good?

ISIS

Methane breaks down very quickly under sunlight. It can only persist in an atmosphere if it is constantly being replenished, and on Earth anyway, the main sources are biological.

PATRICK

Of course! I remember. Cow farts.

ISIS

And decaying vegetable matter, and so on. It could be volcanic, but that doesn’t match the other data I have for the age of this system.

PATRICK

So there’s a good chance of carbon-based biology, and you’re asking if we should stop and have a look?! Of course we should! This is probably the discovery of the century! Well, you know, whatever century it is now. Anyway, drop anchors! We’re going in!

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