lost post 1 (x-posted from lj)
– astonishing revelations will pile up, but they won’t change the situation one iota
– everything will happen to everyone, until the characters are as indistinguishable as angels
– lots of suspenseful music, jungle destruction. The carefully-timed exit of minor characters
– I will be invited to gasp every 24 minutes.
On a related, although plainly not identical, note: I dislike locked-door mysteries. I can’t be bothered to play along, because I know the writer is holding all the cards and I’m basically in for patting myself on the head for the cleverness of ruining the surprise ending in the event I “win”. Perhaps my dislike stems from my time writing computer adventure games. It strikes me that Lost is probably written by and for people who also don’t like locked-door mysteries, but it’s kind of half in locked door mystery drag because we all know that there’s a certain language of suspense about them – so it refers to that suspense without delivering it in fact. Why then do I like it when Tim Powers leads me along by the nose, and I’m always half a page ahead of his revelations, so the surprises are often not, exactly, or at least delivered in a sort of fugue? Is it because I get to pat myself on the head almost continuously, while being distracted by the next layer of the onion? How is that qualitatively different from Lost?
And obviously, the characters are suffering from post-traumatic stress, and they’re still hoping to be rescued, and they’re not really doing everything they can yet, but I’m guessing nobody’s going to really try to think hard about where they are or what that might mean for their chances of sailing to somewhere more useful/less monster-infested. My question is, does this seem reasonable? How rare is the following knowledge, actually?
1. They know they were heading “back” toward Fiji when the accident happened, they know their points of departure and arrival, that they would approximate a great circle route to get there, and that they were “a thousand miles off course” (not less). From this they should be able to narrow down an area for their position.
2. They presumably have working watches, set to the time at the point of departure. Right now they know the date. Add a stick, the sun and patience, and they should be able to get a pretty rough longitude and latitude. Military boy?
3. I’m guessing they departed from Australia or New Zealand and were headed for LA (this is unfair of me: I think they’re going to LA because it’s a TV show, but they’d actually know) – that’s a lot of sea, and not a few unmarked islands, but this is a biggie and it looks volcanic (unlike most of Melanesia/Micronesia, for example). Chances are it’s on a fault line, that narrows things down a bit further. If they were going “back” to Fiji, then they’ll be northeast of it now, and southwest of Hawaii. I’m guessing they’re somewhere around Tuvalu or Kiribati (without looking). If they could get an atlas from the wreckage (and they know where the cockpit is), well, Australia’s a big target. I dunno. Dominant currents would sweep you away from it if you’re around Fiji, but would be all over the place if you’re north of Australia. But if you keep heading southwest, and you have enough water and food supplies (really the critical question – suggests a small crew), and you shift to due west if it starts getting cold, you should run into land eventually.
4. If you’re making a raft, reeds are easiest to work with and nicely bouyant. If you insist on trying to cut down palm trees to make a raft that looks like the Flintstones, palm fibre is tough, strong and reliable. There should be no shortage of improvisable sailcloth in the wreckage.
5. Most fundamentally, the ancient Greeks worked much of this out, starting with fewer tools that our heroes, here. It took a while; during any one genius’ life they might come up with a couple of pieces of the navigational puzzle. The Aegean is a place where you might well just blunder into the next bit of land using hope and a bundle of sticks, very unlike the South Pacific. Fine. But they didn’t know their destination: they were groping about in the dark, coming up with ideas and trying to see if any were useful. Really, actually, how hard is it to derive navigation from basic principles once you know it’s possible? How did the Polynesians do it?
Cheating outrageously, I have to say that it’s worth looking on Google Maps between Hawaii and Fiji, at Howland island, Baker island, and even more at Aranki and Noriti. Just keep zooming in there: it’s like a charming little present.
My great unanswered questions: will they look mysteriously the same for n years, or will the men get long, straggly beards, will the fat guy lose weight, will they start having to make their own clothes, shelter, etc etc? How will they meet their nutritional needs in the short term, the long term? Will this be adequately addressed by just having one of the muscular young men show up with a fish on the end of a stick in the next episode, and never be revisited? There. I’m done.