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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr


The Virus
Lost in Space: The New Journeys Book 6
Written by Nancy Krulik

(Page numbers come from the 1st printing, March 1999)

The Jupiter 2 lands on an uninhabited planet that is suspiciously like an unpolluted Earth.


Story Summary


Read the brief story summary at Lost In Space Movie Timeline


Didja Know?


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


This book is easily the worst of the Lost in Space: The New Journeys novels. See the study below for the many ridiculous aspects that almost bring the LIS movie universe to the level of the campiest episodes of the original TV series.


Didja Notice?


In Chapter 1, Will has apparently perfected a computer program he calls a molecular alternator, which allows him to change the molecular structures of liquids. We see an example of this when he seemingly changes water to oil. This seems highly implausible given the complex molecular makeup of common crude oil compared to water. If he was able to accomplish this miracle, he could make himself rich if the Jupiter 2 ever makes it back to Earth. Furthermore, late in the novel, Will uses the molecular alternator to turn his brain to metal so he can download the Robot's information on how to stop the virus infecting Jupiter 2's main computer; not only would that simply kill him, there is not the slightest reason to believe it would allow him to download data from a computer system.


On pages 2 and 15, Dr. Smith lists some of the ignominies he's been subjected to during the Jupiter 2's voyages, saying that in the past month he's been turned into a spider (Lost in Space)...threatened by metal-eating aliens (The Passengers)...subjected to a battery of practical jokes by an insane robot (Journey to the Planet of the Blawps)...attacked by an entire population of color-changing lizards (Journey to the Planet of the Blawps)...practically been turned into a robot (Robotworld)...and finding himself trapped in a completely different dimension (The Perils of Quadrant X, sort of). But the other books referenced suggest that it has certainly been more than just a month since the crew's journey began, and on page 34, Dr. Smith states that he has been trying to get away from Will for months (seems like an editor's mix-up, there). Of course, Smith's list also neglects events in the "mature" mass-market novels, Promised Land and The Vault and the events of "What is it Good For?".


Page 3 refers to the Global Sedition as a group of businessmen on Earth who had their own plans for Alpha Prime. In Lost in Space, they are referred to simply as a terrorist organization.


Page 12 states that Judy found Blawp during one of the crew's early explorations of a planet. But it was really Don who found the creature and it was aboard the derelict Proteus in Lost in Space, not on a planetary surface.


Page 12 also states that Will built Robot himself, but not that's not exactly true; Will repaired and modified the existing Rambler-Krey series robot that was already aboard the Jupiter 2 at the start of the Jupiter Project after it was damaged in Lost in Space.


In Chapter 2, the ship is buffeted through space by what the crew refers to as a tornado caused by a collision of warm air into the empty atmosphere of a black hole! Not a very scientifically accurate description considering they are in the airless void of space!


Page 14 reveals that Judy has a life-size model of the human body in sickbay. It is referred to as Joe.


Also on page 14, Penny seems to state that the Robinsons are searching for Alpha Prime rather than Earth particularly. But on page 55, Will's thoughts suggest the opposite! Most of the other stories in the series imply Earth, though I'm sure the crew would be happy to find either planet.


On page 20, Will reminds his mother that the ship's computer once failed to register nearby animal life forms on the planet with the Blawps on it. This is, of course, a reference to the events of Journey to the Planet of the Blawps.


The Robinsons, particularly Maureen as the life science officer, should have been tipped off to the artificially-created nature of the planet on which they've landed by the existence of Earth-based flowers found there, such as the Queen Anne's lace and daisies picked by Penny on page 21!


Page 22 describes the sensation of touching a morph as feeling like Jell-O.


Page 28 states that Penny created the universal translator now used aboard the ship. In The Vault, it is stated that the Jupiter crew acquired translator technology "a couple planets back". I guess they "acquired" it by Penny's invention of it rather than from some alien civilization. However, Penny has not previously been depicted as such a scientific whiz that she would be able to accomplish the invention of such a device.


Page 31 states that the current planetary stopover is the first time the crew has been able to relax since the Jupiter mission started.


On page 36, Will is shocked to hear his father say that he expects the entire family to be together for the bonfire by the lake that night, due to his tendency to neglect the family in favor of work. This seems to disregard John's order that all crewmembers eat meals together since their journey started, as revealed in The Perils of Quadrant X. Of course, on page 38, the characters are depicted eating alone at different times, again defying John's earlier order.


On page 37, John has begun referring to the planet as Earth II. This may be a nod to the 1994-1995 TV series Earth 2, which has a premise similar to that of the Jupiter Project's initial goal in Lost in Space, to leave the polluted Earth to set up a colony on the only Earthlike planet discovered at the time (Alpha Prime in LIS and G889 in Earth 2).


On page 43, Will comments to Judy on how some viruses die when exposed to oxygen. It is true that anaerobic viruses die in the presence of oxygen.


On page 50, Don states that he is the all-time expert in curing computer viruses and the other crewmembers seem to agree that he has rid the ship's computers of viruses many times. However, The Vault suggests that Will is the primary virus fighter when it comes to the ship's computers; indeed, that would seem to be more in his vein than pilot Don's.


Page 55 states that the Robot is wheeling close behind Will, suggesting the Robot is not locomoting via legs, but possibly on the treads he has in Lost in Space and other early stories in this series. However, The Vault states that Will has replaced the treads with three multijointed, gyrostabilized legs, and Robotworld, which seems to take place before our current story, also implies so.


On page 59, Judy quotes part of an oath she took when she first became a doctor, saying, "First do no harm, remember, Dr. Smith?" This is part of the Hippocratic oath taken by western doctors to obey a certain code of ethics. The original version is believed to have been written by Hippocrates in ancient Greece. In The Vault, Judy reflects on the fact that, while Smith may be a doctor, he does not place any value on the Hippocratic oath.


Page 64 reveals that Penny is considered the communications officer of the Jupiter 2.


Page 72 reveals that there is an escape hatch on the bottom of the Jupiter 2, beneath the lower cargo bay.


Page 73 states that Penny loves the Robot almost as much as Will does.


The author seems to have a strange idea of how to cure computer viruses, having first Don and then Will attempting to "cure" the morphs' computer virus in the Jupiter 2 by rewiring the main computer console. But viruses are software, the code has to be cleaned digitally, not by performing a physical rewiring of the infected system.


On page 85, the Robot states that a storm must have winds of 74 mph or higher to qualify as a hurricane. This is true.


Page 100 describes Will and Penny now realizing that Dr. Smith was capable of just about anything after his kidnapping of the morph in this story. They should have known this long before from his actions in earlier stories, not the least of which was his attempt to murder the Robinsons and Major West at the start of the Jupiter mission in Lost in Space!


On page 101, Will uses his molecular alternator to change water into ice cream for himself and Penny, stating he feels like King Midas. King Midas was a figure in Greek mythology who could turn anything he touched into gold. 


Unanswered Questions


Why wasn't this novel given a major rewrite?


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