Re: Sliders: Declassified

Interesting, you know, this concept leads me to wonder if Sliders writers had something of an unwritten rule that the group always arrives on these weirdo worlds AFTER they've been hit by cataclysm or been morphed solidly into some type of fascist society.  They rarely landed in worlds for very long which were quite frankly lunatic-villes.

Re: Sliders: Declassified

Saw this article recently: … 0-1023376/

Buried in the Green New Deal is a geo-engineering initiative to fight climate change.  Geo-engineering has been debated for some time now; and it amounts to quick fixes for our climate problems while, I assume, we work on the underlying cause of climate change.  Basically, geo-engineering buys you time.

Of the various ideas, Solar Engineering of some sort is usually the go to idea.  In modern thought, that equates to filling the air with reflective particles to simulate the cooling effect caused by ash from a massive volcanic eruption.  So, we use air pollution to fight the effects of air pollution.

Another idea for Solar Engineering?  The infamous space mirror:

An that’s what brings us to our Declassified idea today.  I would title it “Eclipse”.

What if Sputnik failed?  Eisenhower would have never created NASA.  Without the existing space program and the Cold War space race, Kennedy would have never made his inspirational speech announcing an attempt to shoot for the moon.  With the wars and civil unrest and economic crises that followed after Kennedy - well, did the space program happen only because it was running in the background and other presidents didn’t have to think about it?  Would other countries pass us up as we were distracted?

Imagine a world that recognized the climate crisis and decided to use the “fix” to crush an unprepared United States at the same time.  A giant space mirror in geosynchronous orbit over the United States - plunging it into permanent darkness.  America eclipsed in progress and in fact.

I see the episode as something that plays with the idea of light.  In complete darkness, light is the attractor - it draws you in and draws others to you.  The vortex is an enormous source of light; and the Sliders entry to this reality is like a signal flare.

This one would not be about changing the world; it would be a pure survival story.  ireactions once mentioned how Sliders could be a different genre each week if it wanted, and he was right.  This episode would be a suspense thriller with a touch of horror.

Re: Sliders: Declassified

Hmm, you're kind of mixing themes from Fever (no penicillin), The Exodus (allowing a space phenomenon to destroy the enemy), very cool.  That in and of itself was something we saw a lot on 60s and 70s science fiction shows, where the cast were often trying to stop global cataclysm.  Sliders basically gave up on that after Torme departed, where they seemed only focused on a micro-micro-microcosm of the given societal issue of the day.

Re: Sliders: Declassified

How can you go sideways with culture to make a Sliders backdrop?  The real world is always dropping ideas. … index.html

As you see in the article, this change isn’t new; it actually happened in the background years ago when most people weren’t paying attention.

Kodak Film is now Kodak Pharmaceutical.  Who would have thought that in 1995?

What other companies could you use this kind of strange twist to create a comical situation?  Well, what if an all-in commitment to the 1980’s New Coke destroyed the company making it necessary to refit into a cleaning product company? … th-coke/2/

Imagine one of the Sliders picking up a Coke can without examining it closely and taking a drink?  On that world, people might think they were drinking cleaning chemicals!  As concerned citizens rush the Slider off for emergency medical treatment, it could be a good opportunity to explore an alternate history health care system casting a light on how ridiculous it can become.

Re: Sliders: Declassified

So you slide into San Francisco, and find people sitting inside bubbles: … 464405.php

Of course, a pandemic is a logical conclusion for such a thought, but what if it’s something else?  What if the idea were a way to examine the more metaphorical idea of “living in a bubble”?

We’re largely there now, and all sides are guilty of it.  Most surround themselves with only people who agree with them; they only watch and read news they agree with; some even only frequent establishments that will be populated by people who think like they do.

“Bubble world” would take segregation to its extreme.  Segregation of thought.  Segregation of ideas.  And the Sliders would fall into hot water for making the mistake of simply talking to somebody.

Re: Sliders: Declassified

I have a question for you, TF. How would you shape your ideas into a story for the sliders (Alli, Reese, Gibbs, Bennish or Quinn, Wade, Rembrandt and Arturo)? What is the introduction, situation and climax for the characters? I ask you this because this is a part of the SLIDERS code that I personally cannot crack even when a visionary like Nigel Mitchell was holding my hand. When writing my own SLIDERS stories, I had a very clear vision for who I wanted Quinn, Wade, Rembrandt and Arturo to be in 2015 and what I wanted sliding to be -- but I did not have any gift for conceiving interesting parallel worlds.

Nigel worked with me, coming up with alt-histories, backstories, little details of visual or societal data -- but I don't think I used it well. Ultimately, my SLIDERS stories featured the character interactions I wanted and Nigel's parallel worlds were a backdrop or Season 3 Diggs-type scenes where someone explains what the world is in a monologue or a conversation. And it was adequate -- but it wasn't the sliders doing what SLIDERS should have them do and what you and Nigel would have them do: get caught up in the culture and workings of an alternate history, encounter inversions of our own struggles, and come out the other side with renewed perspective and even enlightenment.

How do you tell a story with your alt-history concepts? What would the beginning, middle and end of these stories be?

Re: Sliders: Declassified

Probably the bedrock part of my process is looking for a puzzle to solve - how do I explain something and make it logically work?  You’ve given that challenge here, so here we go.  smile

My first personal “rule” on a Sliders story is “don’t change the world”.  I personally didn’t like the idea that the Sliders would come in and radically change human history.  It works in some of instances (like “Last Days”), and it can even work on a smaller scale (like “Weaker Sex” where Arturo could be running for a smaller office like Mayor or City Councilman).  But keep the stories small and personal.  Local level.

My second “rule” is that the Sliders should be the stars of their own story.  Looking at especially the later years, too often the Sliders would land on a world and help random person X with random problem Y.  The Sliders would be reduced to facilitators of some stranger’s story arc.  I suppose that too can work occasionally, but I don’t like it at all for a show such as Sliders.

Sliders is a survival show.  Though often ridiculous and regularly frustrating, Sliders is the story of four people trying to simply hang on until they can make it home.

Those rules in place, I then ask a question - “what is reality?”

There is no set definition of reality for anyone; and even in an individual’s life, the meaning shifts based on the circumstances.  Thinking on that question today, the first thing that came to mind was a strange phenomenon I’ve experienced and is talked of in movies.  When we go on vacation to an exotic locale surrounded by strangers, we become the person we want to be instead of the person we are.  It’s temporary - you change back as soon as you go home; but while on that trip, you are taking a vacation from yourself.

Now with a rough, basic premise, let’s look at the basket of alternate history ideas (something I’m constantly building and have been posting here).  For this idea, we’ll use the most recent I posted - “Bubble World” (where people are segregated based on how they think and feel).

So how can this fit together?  The Sliders land on “Bubble World” noting they are going to be stuck here for weeks, and one of them (probably Bennish) says something pretty tame that deeply offends the people they are talking to.  A heated argument starts; people are running for help; authorities arrive, and before we can grasp what’s happening in the chaos, Alli is injected with something by the authorities and blacks out.

Alli wakes up in a “re-education” center.  Alli is to be taught the “correct” way to act so that she can re-enter society as a productive person.  This training can also be our vehicle to exploring the history of this world. I would recommend a mix of various ideologies as the “correct” idea so that you can hold as many viewers as possible.  We’re often not as far apart as we think.

As part of the training, Alli is put into something like a therapy group; and she is surprised and irritated to find that she has been reunited with Bennish.  In talking, Bennish shares some of his back story; and the longer the episode goes, we begin to notice that Bennish is a better person.  Alli tries a few times to escape; but on one attempt, Bennish stops her.  He has come to believe this isn’t so bad.  He’s a better person, and he likes it.  Seeing this, Alli is starting to believe it too.

Time passes, and Alli starts to change.  She’s calmer.  Happier.  The time comes to be released, and Bennish offers for Alli to come live with him.  She’s a bit taken by how nice their new home is, and it was already furnished; but then she notices something on the desk.  An ID card for Conrad Bennish.  No Junior.  The Bennish she has come to know is the native version of that world - an assistant counselor at the facility she was placed in.  She hadn’t noticed because they were never placed in a “cell” together; they always sat in a ring of chairs where everyone appeared equal; she always found him already in the recreation areas before she got there and never gave it much thought.

So the question it comes down to.  The new person that Alli has become - is this the person she wants to be, or will she revert to her old self now that the vacation is over and it’s time to go home?

I would need to think a little more on a B plot to give Reese and Gibbs something to do (most likely focused on them trying to save Alli but finding only our Bennish instead), but we have our story foundation now.  I did not intend it to be when we started, but this turned into a kind of sideways look at “Post Traumatic Slide Syndrome”.

Of course, the above is not a completed story - it’s the product of maybe an hour’s thought in an attempt to solve the puzzle you presented.  But it has potential.

Re: Sliders: Declassified

This is a really good tutorial in how to write SLIDERS stories. The twist with Bennish is great. I will try to apply it later in theory as a post on this forum.

I mildly disagree with some of TF's views on SLIDERS stories, but given my inability to write them without story ideas from Nigel Mitchell, Tracy Torme and Transmodiar, I'm not sure anyone should agree with me. I would personally be intrigued by a SLIDERS reboot where Quinn and Wade are teenagers. TF astutely says this is redundant as teenagers already feel like the world's rules exist to annoy them and older adults would have a more meaningful reaction to being put off by a parallel Earth. Personally, I think teenagers being predisposed to irritation towards any and all social and societal conventions is precisely why it's a great idea.

I don't really disagree with TF saying he prefers stories where the sliders *don't* save the world and merely survive it. I would say that I like them when they're done well, but it is *very* difficult to write convincing stories where four strangers in a strange land with no resources can somehow topple the dominant regime and bring the local revolution to victory. This is probably why the first episode of SLIDERS was scripted to have the sliders succeed in rescuing Commander Wade Welles of the Revolution but revised to have them fail.

The sliders' success in defeating royalty in "Prince of Wails" required numerous contrivances: that the Professor looks like the municipal despot, that the sliders wander into an assassination plot against the prince, that they then just as conveniently blunder into the rebels and so on. It's incredibly uplifting and endearing, but by the time we get to "Prophets and Loss," the charming and amusing coincidences to have a few hapless civilians defeat a brutal regime has become a lazily executed formula rather than a plausible course of events.

I don't feel I made a mistake in my SLIDERS stories taking on the tropes of a superhero story with resurrection, restoration and the sliders saving the multiverse like it's DOCTOR WHO -- but I would say that I don't think anyone would want an ongoing series of SLIDERS stories to be anything like my deliberately limited mini-series. I've gotten enough fan mail to know that fans *definitely* wanted Quinn, Wade, Rembrandt and Arturo restored and to know who they'd be in the present day -- but once that was done, they would have wanted ongoing SLIDERS stories like the ones TF comes up with.

Re: Sliders: Declassified

TemporalFlux wrote:

So you slide into San Francisco, and find people sitting inside bubbles: … 464405.php

Of course, a pandemic is a logical conclusion for such a thought, but what if it’s something else?  What if the idea were a way to examine the more metaphorical idea of “living in a bubble”?

We’re largely there now, and all sides are guilty of it.  Most surround themselves with only people who agree with them; they only watch and read news they agree with; some even only frequent establishments that will be populated by people who think like they do.

“Bubble world” would take segregation to its extreme.  Segregation of thought.  Segregation of ideas.  And the Sliders would fall into hot water for making the mistake of simply talking to somebody.

Kinda has a New Gods For Old feel to it.

Re: Sliders: Declassified

Recently came across the Star Trek Next Gen episode “Pen Pals” during a BBC America marathon, and it reminded me of another old Sliders idea I had.  In the Next Gen episode, Data receives an audio transmission from a young girl, and it becomes a question of whether or not to save her world and violate the prime directive.  The only similarity to my Sliders idea is the blind exchange of messages, and it relates to the basketball used to demonstrate the timer return mechanism in the Sliders pilot movie.

What if a Quinn double in another reality conducted the same experiment but used a paper airplane.  And when the return mechanism kicked in, what returns is the paper airplane wadded up into a ball.  It now has blood on it.  Unfolding the paper is a scrawled message - it simply says “Help”.

Holding the vortex open with assist from the equipment, the Quinn double begins to exchange written messages with the unknown person on the other side.  This Quinn attempting to build up courage to jump through to obvious danger.  Fighting obstacles to keep the vortex powered so it will stay open.

Finally taking the leap of faith, the Quinn double finds an Arturo (our Arturo) on the other side trapped under the rubble of the collapsed basement.  My original idea featured a world where the Roswell crash happened in China; and after isolating themselves for decades, the Chinese suddenly emerged with advanced technology.   I think I would change that idea now to be more grounded.  I might use the idea of a sinkhole formed by fracking, and that would add drama in that the continued collapse of the ground is causing the fixed point of the vortex to become more and more out of reach.

To adapt this to Declassified, I would exchange Quinn for Reese.  The extra element would be that the Reese double would find our Reese trapped on the other side.  In the course of the adventure, the Reese double mentions how he doesn’t know if he could ever be as brave as our Reese, and it really takes Reese aback.  Has he changed that much and didn’t even notice?  With doubles being a mirror, it’s that interesting idea of a double acting as a sounding board and causing someone to see a person they no longer recognize in themself.

Re: Sliders: Declassified

Cool concept.  ST:TNG was very good at character-driven episodes that delved deep into the past of said character.  Sliders quite frankly was terrible at it.  Which is why reading your idea, my initial thought was, well that wouldn't work on Sliders!  But in reality it's because we just never got to see it.  I think Tracy really wanted to do it with Arturo's jealousy of Quinn but JRD fought it.  A deep dive like that is exactly what the premise for Counterpart, which I really enjoyed.  It's definitely something that a "modern" Sliders iteration would likely go into, especially since acting against green screens is so common now.  I have a feeling the production team back then weren't keen on doing it much, so the doubles were usually off screen.

Re: Sliders: Declassified

Been catching up on my DVR lately, and I’ve been watching through “Cosmos: Possible Worlds”.  I love Cosmos for its examination of often under-appreciated history and how it shapes our future; but episode 13 took a chance to sum up themes of the previous episodes while exploring an idea we’ve discarded in the U.S. - The World’s Fair.

The episode titled “Seven Wonders of the New World” (available on Disney+) reminds us of the past importance of a World’s Fair as it pushed industries and government and civilians to produce show stoppers of future visions.  The 1939 New York World’s Fair showcased the first television set - presented in a clear cabinet to prove it was a video signal and not a film.  The 1964 New York World’s Fair presented a computer that would give you an important history fact for any date you input (amazing for an era where the only option for research was still a library).

But the Cosmos episode takes us to the future - the hypothetical 2039 New York World’s Fair.  The symbol of the Fair is an enormous monument - one of ten so far placed around the world.  An abstract tree of life constructed from compressed carbon sucked from the air in a new process as we clean out the excess carbon dioxide polluting our atmosphere.

Also featured at the fair - the Pavilion of Founders featuring holographic technology tied into A.I. as you can choose any figure in scientific history to be your guide on a tour of the Fair.  Also on the grounds is the Pavilion of the 4th Dimension - through use of VR and augmented reality allowing you to witness an immersive experience of important points in history like the moon landing.

Next to that, the Pavillion of Lost Worlds exploring mysteries of the past like the Indus Valley in the year 2500 B.C. - an ancient civilization that had somehow developed modern conveniences like indoor plumbing and dentistry.

Watching it made me regret that I’ll likely never see anything like those past World’s Fairs in the United States, but then I remembered that I have.  As a kid in 1982, my parents took me to Disney World, and we explored the newly launched EPCOT.  At the start, it was specifically designed to replicate a World’s Fair; and it showcased newly realized concepts like true robotics, hydroponics, alternative energies - all things that are really only hitting the mainstream 40 years later. In 1982, I was walking through the future, and it was something to see.

All of this led me to another Declassified idea - the Sliders land in a World’s Fair.  In a world where the Roman Empire was never sacked by the Visigoths, they skipped the Dark Ages.  A few hundred years of progress were not lost as a result, and this World’s Fair showcases some truly amazing things as a result - including a Pavillion of the 6th Dimension.   Sliding is controlled and presented as a tourist opportunity allowing patrons to stroll through the what if’s and might have beens.  It could be a way home.

But further exploring the idea of “home”, Gibbs runs into something unexpected. Gibbs was a veteran Slider long before Declassified started, and he bumps into members of his first group whom he was separated from years ago.  If the people you’re with are home, then he just found it again - or has his definition changed?

I think it could be an interesting and dynamic foundation for an episode with plenty for the characters to get involved in.  And it could be used to not only present alternate history but an alternate future too.

Re: Sliders: Declassified

It is amazing how history comes back around: … f-a-flask/

Re: Sliders: Declassified

Understanding why we think the way we do can uncover how to build an alternate history.

Remember the good old days? … 1608958860

Re: Sliders: Declassified

This is probably one of my quirks, but I generally don't subscribe to the idea of the good old days. There were no good old days, just days where the problems were different. To look at SLIDERS: even the sacred first season was a time of episodes being aired out of order, scripts being at odds with actors (like Quinn being written as Tobey Maguire but played by Jerry O'Connell), bizarre efforts at ongoing arcs that were never going to make it to air intact in the 90s when people didn't watch every episode, and the inability to decide whether Quinn and Wade were a couple or not from week to week is frustrating.

A much-enjoyed period of DOCTOR WHO and THE X-FILES for me: it was when the properties existed as media tie-ins: novels and audioplays for DW and comic books for THE X-FILES. There was some brilliant material that really redefined the series on paper -- but it'd be foolish to see those eras as the way forward for both franchises when the material was addressing devoted fans as opposed to a general audience and would have only ever served a steadily diminishing number of devotees as the years passed. Was it fun? Yeah! Was it really a good situation for DW and TXF? No, the spin-off media was just keeping the brand on life support.

I have the same feeling about the STAR TREK novels by William Shatner which resurrected Captain Kirk in the 24th century and recreated the original trio of Kirk, Spock and McCoy in the TNG era and had some wonderful stories: nine novels and a one book prequel -- but that really only played to diehard fans despite the merits of the writing, and it was best to get Kirk, Spock and McCoy back onscreen with Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto and Karl Urban in the roles.

Even my personal golden age of SLIDERS (REBORN, which was very personal, only 24 people really participated in it) was a time of intense stress: a nervous breakdown on a roadtrip that led to an eight month delay, a very painful developmental process of exhaustion, a desperate need for it all to be over at the 22 month mark, and then a fun final two months that left me missing it all emotionally but being intellectually aware that the end needed to be the end for my own sanity and well-being. I have a lot of fun listening to the podcast about SLIDERS and re-reading the delightful correspondence over the project and it never fails to cheer me up, but I have to be selective in not reliving the nervous collapse it induced and this was fan fiction.

Another minor issue with SLIDERS in its original conception: SLIDERS often took the view that mid-90s America was the 'correct' route for society and characters acted like any divergence from that was due to a moral or social failure -- at least in the Pilot and "Prince of Wails" and "Fever." There was a certain arrogance in that and to its credit, SLIDERS soon punctured that air of self-righteousness with "The Weaker Sex" and "Luck of the Draw" where those Earths have conquered famine and war even if their methods may be offputting and at odds with the sliders.

And this may or may not be why I am so awful at alternate history (all of my efforts just become alien planets) and social satire (all my efforts just become straight commentary), but that's okay. I'm a sitcom guy, not a sci-fi guy. We all have our strengths and weaknesses as creators.

Re: Sliders: Declassified

Another old idea was meant as more of a reflective story.  Various types of serialized story telling, after an epic roller coaster arc, will take a pause and have an episode where everyone just goes to the beach to decompress and unpack their character development to each other.  This one is no day at the beach, but the same principle.

The horns are sounding.  The streets are clear.  The missiles are coming.  The Sliders are about to be at ground zero of a nuclear strike.  The vortex is open and the Sliders make their escape, but will the vortex close before the detonation?  It does not.

Landing in a desolate area of a new world, the fury and fire of the nuclear blast is raging through the wormhole.  The Sliders clear the opening as best they can, but the focused blast shoots like a super charged beam into the distance.  Destination unknown.

The timer memory is wiped.  The equation that creates the timer countdown is lost.  The roller coaster has stopped, and the ride is over.  The Sliders are stranded with no sign of civilization - just rocks and dirt.  And as they try to figure out what to do next, it gives them a chance to talk about everything that’s happened.  Should they worry about cancer now?  How have they changed as people since they started this journey?

The story would resolve with a solution and encouragement to use it.  The dimensional weak spot theory (often demonstrated in the original series) makes your entry into a world the place where another Slider opened a vortex previously if there was one.  The path of least resistance - if something had torn a hole in existence, the fabric is going to be weak there no matter how well it’s sewn back up.  On this barren world, the Sliders discover that this has happened.  In a nearby cave, they find a skeleton, a piece of Victorian era equipment and scrawled equations on the wall.  A Slider from the same time period as H G Wells.

This is the trick of the 29.7 year rule - if you miss a slide, you have to wait decades until the next window.  But if you miss that one?  Just wait another 29.7.  Our mysterious skeleton was on the path to figuring out how to calculate his own timer sequence.  He did not finish it before dying, but there’s enough information for Reese to use.  Three cycles have passed since our skeleton came to this world, and the fourth window is approaching soon.  It may have taken nearly 120 years, but the skeleton’s equation is about to be put to work.

Using the still operating power source of the timer with the Victorian sliding machine, the Sliders have a way to the next world once the equation is plugged in; and they better do it fast.  Did you wonder where the focused beam of energy went when they entered this world?  It hit a city.  The population believes they were attacked, and they’ve triangulated the origin.  They’re coming.

Re: Sliders: Declassified

This is a really interesting storyline from TF. I have somewhat pigeonholed Temporal Flux as the social satire and comedy conceptualist, but it's an error to forget that he is just as capable with action, danger, risk, paranoia and sci-fi technology concepts. This is less Temporal Flux is Torme/Weiss mode and more TF doing Marc Scott Zicree but far darker and more dangerous than Zicree ever got. There's a certain savagery to the sliders accidentally unleashing a destructive nuclear blast in the process of escaping it. There's a bleak horror to someone missing their 29.7 window and then missing it again.

Not sure if this is where the story ends, but it's incredibly disturbing and stirring and frightening and damn it, Temporal Flux, I was about to go to bed.