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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

enik1138
-at-popapostle-dot-com

Promised Land
Novel
Written by Pat Cadigan

(Page numbers come from the 1st printing, paperback edition, April 1999)

The Jupiter 2 is pulled into a gigantic metal sphere in space and the crew discovers a seemingly perfectly-adapted world inside.

 

Story Summary

 

The crew of the Jupiter 2 has been lost in space for many months and are beginning to go stir-crazy. Dr. Smith has taken to producing his own recreational drug called the Kiss of Bliss and has become addicted. Then a world-size metal sphere is detected in space and, investigating, the ship is pulled inside and docked.

 

A double of the Robot is sent to greet them, duplicated from a scan of the ship by the caretaker alien who soon joins them. The crew is escorted further inside the sphere to a beautiful indoor city and invited to stay. During a meal with their new hosts, the crew learns of some oddities about their hosts' cultural taboos and learns that a large number of varying cultures thrive in different parts of the vast city.

 

Will makes the mistake of discussing the Jupiter 2's hyperdrive with some renegade natives who begin a plot to resupply and then steal the ship in order to escape to a new world.

 

While this is going on, the crew don't know exactly how to find their ship again and no one they now have contact with seems to know either. The crew are given the chance to assimilate into the strange civilization by being given separate quarters and allowed to partake in work in the form of the activity each most enjoys. Will works in the artificial intelligence lab with the two Robots, Penny goes to an artists' neighborhood, and Judy works in a medical laboratory. Dr. Smith is given the opportunity to introduce the Kiss of Bliss to some members of the city and greedily imagines becoming rich dealing drugs to the city's inhabitants (except for the annoying fact that they don't use money and everything needed is provided free). John and Maureen seem to take a wait-and-see attitude about how long they should stay.

 

Don is extremely suspicious of the whole situation. He realizes that there seem to be no children or elderly among the population.

 

The renegade inhabitants come into contact with Dr. Smith and, while he's high, learn the location of the Jupiter 2. Judy comes looking for the missing doctor at his new quarters and she is ambushed by the renegades. Then they arrange to have the amoral Smith "dismantled" and take Judy to the ship to help them gain entrance.

 

Meanwhile, Will finally decrypts a map of the city and the location of the Jupiter 2 with his Robot's help. But, at the moment, he is more interested in what is housed in the lowest levels of the city, the Robot learning that there are large numbers of stationary people there.

 

In his snooping, Don finally locates one of the caretakers and learns from her that, in order to maintain the self-contained civilization at optimum, citizens are frequently dismantled...torn down by the sphere's machines into their component parts and the DNA recombined to create new individuals to improve the society over time. She explains that some of these individuals inevitably go rogue and a group is now planning to take the Jupiter 2. Don strikes a deal with her to stop them and allow the crew to leave.

 

Meanwhile, on the ship, Judy tells her abductors that her people's gods will be angry if they don't go through a special ceremony before departure. The superstitious group agrees and she gets them all passed-out drunk on a case of Champagne that Maureen had stashed aboard back on Earth.

 

Will and the Robot make it to the lower levels and discover the dismantling area. They see Dr. Smith about to be dissolved into his component parts and manage to rescue him and drag him back to the ship.

 

Disgusted at how the caretakers are running the sphere's civilization, but unable to do anything more about it, the crew escapes in the Jupiter 2 once again. Judy destroys all the raw materials that would allow Smith to make more Kiss of Bliss and he goes through some weeks of withdrawal before returning to his normal, amoral self.

 

Notes from the Lost in Space chronology

 

The book suggests the Jupiter 2 has been lost in space for 8 or 9 months now.

 

Didja Know?

 

The novel is filled with instances of the characters comparing things in their minds to 20th Century analogs of what they've discovered on their journey. This is a frequent form of writer's shorthand for making alien or futuristic concepts accessible to readers, but it always seems overdone to me for characters in a future time to be obsessed, or at least particularly cognizant of, historical aspects of life a century or more in their past.

 

The book's dedication by the author reads: "For Carnival Diablo, December 1993, Scott McClelland, Julianne Manchur, Ryan Madden, commemorating our own strange trip through time and space." Carnival Diablo is a travelling sideshow operating in Ontario, Canada. It was started by Scott McClelland in 1992 and still performs today. Julianne Manchur and Ryan Madden have been performers in the sideshow act, which involves eating glass, lying on a bed of nails, escape routines, etc. Author Pat Cadigan travelled with Carnival Diablo for a brief time to write an article about it. You can read the article (originally published in Omni magazine) here.

 

Didja Notice?

 

Page 1 reveals that Don now considers himself a former fighter pilot.

 

Page 2 reveals that the (human) crew of the Jupiter 2 have to ration shower water from the distiller to each have a shower once a week; seven crewmen (including Dr. Smith) over seven days.

 

Page 4 reveals that all but one of the bathrooms on the ship have been closed down. Presumably this was done for water preservation purposes, but it's not clarified.

 

Page 5 reveals that Penny is currently keeping a journal of poems she calls Star Songs of the Dream Dancer.

 

Page 6 states that Dr. Smith now has his own quarters on the ship.

 

Dr. Smith is now taking a drug of his own manufacture called the Kiss of Bliss, also known as Head Job on Earth.

 

On pages 8-9, Dr. Smith imagines the Robinson family and their hired hand as a bunch of Okies trekking across the ecologically ravaged land in a truck, to finally be held in a Hooverville. This a reference to the Dust Bowl climate of the American prairie during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Many families from the Midwest fled to the western coastal states, many of them from Oklahoma, hence the term "Okies". A Hooverville was any shanty town built by homeless people in the U.S. during the Great Depression, named after the man who was President when the depression started, Herbert Hoover.

 

On pages 12-13, Maureen is reminded of an old 20th Century poster reproduction she'd seen at the Museum of Modern Art of two vultures perched high over a desert, with one saying, "To hell with waiting, I'm gonna kill something." The Museum of Modern Art is located in New York City. The poster mentioned may be real, but I've been unable to confirm it.

 

On page 18, Judy wonders whether the ship is lost in time as well as space after their experience in Lost in Space. In PopApostle's study, it seems confirmed from my own observations of the story and from the director's commentary that they are trapped about 10 years into their future.

 

After being cooped up on the ship all these months, Judy has occasionally felt the need to take mood stabilizers in the form of a chemical patch.

 

On page 21, John reminsces on an old poem that reminds him life is real, life is earnest. He is thinking of "A Psalm of Life" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882).

 

When the world-sized sphere is picked up on the Jupiter 2's sensors, Don notes that it doesn't appear to have any external damage, so it either had not run into the metal-eating spiders or it had a repellent for them. This is, of course, a reference to the spider-like creatures the crew encountered on the Proteus in Lost in Space.

 

Etched patterns on the surface of the sphere remind John of giant lines and designs he'd seen in South America which some people thought were marked out as landing fields for the chariots of the god-aliens. He is thinking of the Nazca Lines, ancient geoglyphs in the Nazca desert of Peru. Although the theory is not generally accepted by mainstream researchers, many people do think they were built to guide alien spaceships to a landing, most popularly speculated by Erich von Daniken's best-selling 1968 book Chariots of the Gods?

 

The sphere encountered by the crew in this novel is a variation of the Dyson sphere, originally hypothesized by Freeman Dyson, a British-American mathematician and theoretical physicist, as a cloud of artificial satellites around a sun, designed to harness the solar power for use by a stellar civilization.

 

On page 23, Will implies that Coca-Cola helped sponsor the Jupiter Mission.

 

On page 26, Dr. Smith repeats the phrase "give my regards to oblivion" that he used after reprogramming the Robot to destroy the Jupiter Mission in Lost in Space.

 

Page 26 reveals that Will has been tearing down and rebuilding the Robot over and over, trying to improve its parallel processing.

 

Pages 28-29 reveal that Blarp (here spelled "Blawp") has been placed in hibernation. The creature is not seen at all in this novel.

 

The description of people downloading binary files and opening them in a word processing program, yielding pages and pages of garble, is also true today due to incompatible files being opened in the wrong type of application.

 

Page 31 reveals that Penny's station on the bridge of the Jupiter 2 is called Video Mechanics, whatever that is.

 

As the crew enters the sphere, Don reflects that it seems peaceful, not like the last time they boarded another spacecraft. Presumably, this is a reference to the Proteus in Lost in Space.

 

On pages 43-44, as the crew is being loaded onto a subway car inside the sphere, Don is reminded of the Chinese in 19th Century America. He is probably thinking of the large numbers of Chinese immigrants to the United States at that time who often did work laying railroad tracks across the country in often subpar conditions, under racist management practices.

 

On page 44, Judy reflects on an Art Deco era brass floor lamp she used to have in her bedroom back on Earth. The Art Deco era is generally considered to be 1920-40s.

 

Page 48 has Will thinking of a feed from MicroNet. Presumably, this is the future version of the internet.

 

On page 49, Will is pleased to note that the sphere they've entered is not filled with metal-eating spiders or mutated bacteria billions of times larger than the norm. The spiders are obviously another reference to those they encountered on the Proteus in Lost in Space, but what is the reference to mutated, giant bacteria? Is there an unchronicled story in there somewhere?

 

Also on page 49, Penny refers to the domed cities of Earth as comfort domes.

 

On page 54, John wonders if the round shape of the dining table at the meal they're treated to is based on the same thinking that King Arthur had used in choosing the Round Table for meetings with his knights, i.e. since the table has no head, all seated at it are equal.

 

Page 65 reveals that Judy is a better shot with a gun than either of her parents.

 

On page 73, Will is worried he made a big mistake in telling the aliens in the sphere about the hyperdrive on the Jupiter 2, thinking of himself as "the King Kong of dingdongs." King Kong, of course, is the gigantic ape who's appeared in a number of films and other media since his debut in the classic 1933 film King Kong.

 

On page 74, Will worries what will happen to Earth since the Jupiter 2 never made it to "the planet where the gate was being built." This must be a reference to Alpha Prime, but it would more properly be stated that it was where the gate was going to be built, i.e. that was the job the Robinsons' were supposed to do when they got there. Will also wonders if they are still in their own time, though he seems to be thinking not in terms of the temporal portal through which the ship flew early in Lost in Space, but from having flown through the self-destructing planet using the hyperdrive at the end of the film.

 

On page 85, Dr. Smith worries that Maureen will have another baby to add to the Robinson family...and they'd probably name it John-Boy. This is a reference to the 1972-81 TV series The Waltons, about a large family during the Great Depression and WWII; one of the main characters was the oldest son, John-Boy.

 

On page 87, as Dr. Smith is imagining starting his own drug dealing business in the sphere, he anticipates getting his customers to refer to him as Dr. Feelgood. The term originated as a nickname for President John F. Kennedy's personal doctor, Max Jacobson, who was known as a doctor to the celebrities and other high-profile clients and who would administer amphetamines and other concoctions to them at their request to make them feel good. Since then, the name has come to be associated with physicians who administer or prescribe drugs for mental effects illegally.

 

On page 89, Judy refers to Dr. Smith as a terrorist manqué. "Manqué" is a French word for a person who has failed to live up to expectations. She is referring to his failure to destroy the Jupiter Mission for the Sedition in Lost in Space.

 

On page 90, Dr. Smith thinks he should "whistle a la Bogart." This is a reference to the 1944 film To Have and Have Not. Dr. Smith had just quoted a line from the film (originally spoken by Lauren Bacall), "You just put your lips together and blow." After Bacall says this in the film, Humphrey Bogart whistles a cat call.

 

Page 90 reveals that Dr. Smith is incapable of whistling.

 

On page 103, Dr. Smith nearly uses the phrase "brave new world" in describing his vision of what the world inside the sphere could become (substituting instead "bright new order"). Smith was probably unconsciously thinking of the world of Aldous Huxley's 1932 novel Brave New World, which features the theme of a future society in which the populace is controlled by a government that uses artificial reproduction of humans to produce well-behaved contributors to society in a set of castes. Ironically, this is not entirely different from what Smith and the Robinson's soon learn this world has in place already.

 

On page 105, Don sarcastically remarks to Judy, "You really got a way of making a guy feel welcome. If only you had a cup of water. Then we could have another perfect moment together." This is a reference to a scene in Lost in Space, where she dumped a glass of water on his head to cool him down at a moment when he was feeling amorous with her.

 

Page 107 hints that Judy had spent some time participating in gymnastics when she was younger.

 

On page 108, Don and Judy trade a paraphrasing of Satchel Paige quotes. Satchel Paige (1906-1982) was a Major League Baseball player who started out in the Negro Leagues. His full quotes as paraphrased in the novel were: "Keep the juices flowing by jangling around gently as you move," and "Don't look back...something might be gaining on you."

 

On page 110, Don says to Judy, "Oh, I remember that famous those-who-can't-think-fight quote. I can even remember who it was that said it." This is another reference to an interchange between the two in Lost in Space.

 

On page 111, Don describes pulling duty airlifting orphans out of the Mandela Republic when he was 15. There is no real world nation officially known as the Mandela Republic, but the nation of South Africa was occasionally referred to as such unofficially after the end of Apartheid and the election of activist Nelson Mandela to the office of President of the country from 1994-1999. Possibly the name became official at some point before the year 2058 when Lost in Space opens. Don's description of the event also suggests that the military of his time period accepts recruits at a much younger age than currently!

 

Page 135 reveals that Judy spent a summer in Oslo when she was younger. Presumably, she is referring to Oslo, Norway.

 

Page 159 reveals that Don has insisted on having weapons accessible in any part of the Jupiter 2 for emergencies. He also made each crewmember hide one weapon somewhere on the ship where none of the others knew where it was. Only Dr. Smith was excluded from this plan.

 

Page 161 implies that Judy developed the cryotubes aboard the Jupiter 2.

 

On page 163, Penny is already planning a follow-up to her first book of poems. She'll call it Star Songs of the Dream Dancer: Book the Second, the Human Spirit Cycle.

 

Inside the sphere, the Jupiter 2 is outfitted with fresh supplies for a long voyage and the fuel generator modified to distill fuel from available sources while in transit.

 

Page 172 reveals that Maureen had smuggled a case of Champagne aboard the Jupiter 2, to be opened when the hypergate was completed at Alpha Prime. Judy and the hijackers end up drinking most of it, as part of Judy's plan to bring the hijackers to their knees. The Champagne is Dom Perignon, a prestige brand of Champagne made by Moët & Chandon.

 

Page 172 states the Robinson's were expecting to meet a bunch of workers at Alpha Prime to build the hypergate. Lost in Space implies that the crew of the Jupiter 2 will be doing it on their own (though that does seem like a tall order for one family!). Judy was surprised when she discovered the case and learned that her mother is the one who stashed it aboard, having thought of her as the original Mrs. Sobersides. "Mrs. Sobersides" seems to be a term used in England to describe a woman who doesn't drink alcohol.

 

Page 176 reveals that Judy has the following degrees: M.D. (Doctor of Medicine), Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy), and D.V. (unknown, may be a fictional degree of the future).

 

Page 176 also reveals that Judy was known as a lightweight drinker among her colleagues on Earth.

 

Also on page 176, Judy muses on the phrase "On Earth as It Is in Heaven." This is from the Lord's Prayer in the Book of Matthew in the Bible.

 

On page 177, Judy drunkenly begins to think about Earth "a long time ago and a galaxy--". Obviously, she was thinking of the preamble of the Star Wars films, "A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away..."

 

On page 179, in order to give Will information silently while they are hiding from the natives, the Robot projects his words with a light beam, using Will's hand as a screen.

 

Page 180 reveals that Dr. Smith apparently likes to wear to Jockey brand underwear.

 

Page 188 reveals that Will's middle name is John.

 

On page 197, Dr. Smith discovers that Judy has removed the raw materials needed for him to make more Kiss of Bliss.

 

Also on page 197, Dr. Smith goes through psychological withdrawal from the Kiss of Bliss and reminisces on the wonderful times he experienced under its influence, including a description of Escher-like diamond shapes. M. C. Escher (1898-1972) was a Dutch graphic artist known for his finely detailed printed works of impossible architecture and shapes. 

 

Unanswered Questions

 

Why has Blarp been placed in hibernation for the entire novel?

 

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