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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

enik1138
-at-popapostle-dot-com

The Passengers
Lost in Space: The New Journeys Book 2
Written by Nancy Krulik

(Page numbers come from the 1st printing, July 1998)

The crew of the Jupiter 2 rescues two human children from a lifepod.

 

Story Summary

 

The Jupiter 2 rushes to investigate a distress signal from a ship from Earth. By the time they reach the site, only a lifepod containing two children, Carlos and Caitlin, remains. The Robinsons take the kids on board and Will and Penny are thrilled to have children their own age with whom to be friends. But the two strangers act stranger and stranger and, after about a week, Will realizes they are not at all what they seem. He traps them with the ship's magnetic field and the two admit they are metal-eating aliens who are the last of their species and who took over the bodies of two children from the Earth space station Taurus, which disappeared 20 years ago. Dr. Smith sends the two aliens into a death in space when they break out of the trap and the Jupiter 2 continues its journey, lost in space.

 

Notes from the Lost in Space chronology

 

Page 3 states that the Jupiter 2 has been lost in space for more than a month. This places the book before the events of Robotworld, despite that book being #1 in the New Journeys series.

 

Didja Know?

 

Lost in Space: The New Journeys was a series of six books for young readers, published by Scholastic.

 

Didja Notice?

 

On page 1, Will and the Robot play a game of three-dimensional, holographic chess on a multi-level video chessboard. This may be an homage to the three-dimensional chess of Star Trek and the holographic "chess" game played between R2-D2 and Chewbacca aboard the Millenium Falcon in Star Wars: A New Hope.

 

Page 2 reveals that Penny has titled her journal, which she believes will become a best-seller when they get back to Earth, The Video Journals of Penny Robinson, Space Captive.

 

Page 3 reveals that Will was shortstop on a Little League baseball team back on Earth. Will was shown to be fond of baseball in Lost in Space.

 

Page 3 also reveals that on Earth of 2058, a 10-year old is able to get a driver's license after completing a course in school.

 

Page 3 implies that the crew of Jupiter 2 has already encountered a number of threats in the month-plus that they've been lost, listing hideous monsters, blinding meteor storms, and treacherous black holes.

 

Page 4 states that if the Jupiter mission had gone according to plan, the crew would have been in deep sleep for 10 years, the time required to reach Alpha Prime from Earth. This would seem to contradict some indications in Lost in Space that it would have taken less time than that: when the Jupiter 2 passes through the time bubble and finds the Proteus, which they discover was looking for them after they disappeared and did not show up at Alpha Prime, John speculates that it is about 10 years from the time Jupiter 2 left Earth, implying the trip to Alpha Prime should have taken less time than that.

 

Page 5 has Will grabbing Penny's wrist recorder and rewinding "the tape" to play back a portion of her journal. Somehow, I doubt a piece of future technology is going to be recording anything on a tape; it would be digital recording (or better) as most recording devices are today. 

 

Page 8 describes Blarp's eyes as blue. In Lost in Space, they were more of a yellow. The description may be based on the animatronic puppet head which was originally to be used in the film, which did have blue eyes. (Photo from yourprops.com.)

 

Page 9 states that, as far as scholastic studies go, Penny adores literature and history, not the various sciences in which the rest of her family excels. Promised Land also suggests that she is interested in art.

 

On page 13, Dr. Smith mentions the alien spiders that almost killed them. This is a reference to events in Lost in Space. Will recalls how the spiders had invaded Dr. Smith's body, threatening to turn him into one of them. This seems to imply that Smith has been cured of the bite he received in the film, which eventually transformed him, 20 years in the future, into Spider-Smith, as seen in a time bubble Will had crossed into in the course of the film.

 

Page 16 states that Dr. Smith now has his own quarters on the ship. In "Wake the Dead", he is still being held prisoner in a room of the ship as he was in Lost in Space.

 

Page 18 describes the flight positions of members of the Jupiter 2. Will and the Robot keep an eye on the navigational controls, Penny is at the transmission console, Maureen is at a life support console, and John and Don are at the helm. Judy is not mentioned in this instance, even though she is on the bridge with the others as this is happening; presumably her normal post is in sickbay. And it is stated that Dr. Smith never does anything supportive. In Promised Land, Penny's station is revealed to be something called Video Mechanics; it might be possible to interpret that as having something to do with the ship making and receiving transmissions.

 

Page 22 reveals that the Jupiter 2 has several probe ships that can be used to make short jaunts into space. In Lost in Space, Don mentions the Pod was pretty much turned into scrap metal in the crash, making it sound like it was the only one (the Pod was a small lunar-module-type spaceship seen in the original TV series, used for taking shorter jaunts in space away from the Jupiter 2). Are the probes different than the Pod?

 

Page 24 suggests that Penny doesn't like Dr. Smith. Seems like a reasonable position to take. But The Vault suggests that Penny kind of likes Dr. Smith, despite his treacherous ways, and wouldn't mind so much if he took command of the ship, believing he'd be more proactive in getting the ship back to Earth without the sightseeing and hand-wringing her father tends to engage in.

 

Page 27 describes Carlos and Caitlin having a U.S. flag patch on the upper right-hand pocket of their space uniforms, just like Will and Penny. But in the movie, Will and Penny are not shown with such a patch on their clothing. It could be argued that the two are now wearing spare uniforms they simply never wore in the course of the film.

 

Page 32 reveals that the Jupiter 2 has a hologram projector room that sounds almost like the holodeck of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

 

On page 34, leery of the navigational problems that have begun to plague the Jupiter 2, Dr. Smith reminds John of the Titanic, and suggests he watch out for icebergs. The Titanic was a passenger liner in 1912, deemed by engineers of the time as unsinkable, which struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean and sank, resulting in the deaths of almost everyone aboard.

 

Pages 37-39 reveal that the Jupiter 2 has a small complement of robots and minidroids that perform various small tasks around the ship, besides the Robot himself. Will is in charge of maintaining them all.

 

This book implies a more frequent shower schedule for the crew than the once-a-week (for purposes of water conservation) mentioned in Promised Land. Presumably, at this early time in the Robinson's quest to either return to Earth or find Alpha Prime, they have plenty of water in supply, whereas it is in much shorter supply in the later novel. (Though later in this book, showers are limited to one every three days when the ship crashes on a small moon and is on emergency power.) Novels after this also describe a more frequent showering schedule, so water must just have been exceptionally low for a period of time around the events of Promised Land.

 

Page 40 reveals that Will has been working on a human emotion replication program for the Robot.

 

Page 41 implies that Will had known his great-great-grandmother and she had been fond of old comedy-adventure films. It is not revealed which side of the family the great-great-grandmother was from.

 

When Will begins to get suspicious of Carlos and Caitlin and various aspects of their behavior, such as never showering, Penny sarcastically remarks to him that maybe they melt when hit by water like the Wicked Witch of the West from the Oz books. This is, of course, a reference to the Oz children's books of L. Frank Baum and others. The Wicked Witch of the West only appears in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz of Baum's original Oz books.

 

On page 45, Penny unfortunately finds that the dinner packet of the night is banana beef again. This combination was first seen in Lost in Space; Blarp seemed quite happy with the flavor.

 

On page 49, the Robot defines the name "Carlos" as one of Spanish origin, meaning "strong and manly". This is true. Will interrupts him before he can define the name "Caitlin"; in case you're interested, it is a Gaelic name meaning "virginal" or "pure".

 

Page 50 reveals that Penny likes the Robot. In most other stories, she doesn't seem to have much of an opinion one way or the other. This is pointed out as a commonality she has with Will and in opposition to the adults on the ship, who think of the Robot merely as another tool.

 

This book reveals that John and Maureen trust Dr. Smith to, at least occasionally, perform as a legitimate medical practitioner on board the ship.

 

On page 55, the busted Robot says, "Twinkle, twinkle, little star. Its fleece was white as snow." The Robot has comprised two nursery rhymes into one phrase, "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" (1806) and "Mary Had a Little Lamb" (1830).

 

On page 59, Carlos and Caitlin are playing music by an electronic music group called the Asteroids.

 

On page 60, Will peers through the keyhole of Carlos and Caitlin's room and soon turns the doorknob to enter. Keyholes? Doorknobs? On a spaceship? The movie seemed to present most of the doors as being triggered electronically, not by old-fashioned mechanical means.

 

Page 62 describes the Robot in the process of being consumed by Carlos and Caitlin, with arms and legs strewn all over the floor. At this point, the Robot doesn't really have legs; we must interpret the description as meaning "treads". Will later gives the Robot three multi-jointed, gyro-stabilized legs, so it could more easily travel over all types of terrain, as described in The Vault.

 

Page 77 describes a previous Earth mission involving three families who were to inhabit a space station for four years, but the station disappeared twenty years ago.

 

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