The Prisoner: Let’s Make A More Satisfying Ending, Okay?

IMG_1396

“Who is Number One?”

I’m just sitting here re-watching the 1967 series, The Prisoner. It’s as fascinating now as it was the last five or six times I’ve done this. Please tell me you know what I’m talking about, because it’s amazing. If not, forget this and go make that happen. Anyway, although the show itself is brilliant, the ending is a bit of a flub. I thought I’d offer you an alternative narrative for what’s happening overall in the series and how it ends.

I know what you’re thinking. Number One is actually the dark side of Number Six’s personality, the dark side of us all. We’re all prisoners; and freedom is an illusion. When Number Six pulls off One’s mask, it’s himself. Let’s set all that aside for a moment and see what else could be happening, all right?

There is no Number One at all. It’s a boogeyman used to break promising former spies with the intelligence and skillset to be effective at breaking other spies. Number Two’s function is to either reveal Village citizen secrets or determine if they will reveal them. The people we see as Number Two were themselves entirely broken and driven mad enough to serve a short sentence in the role, threatened by the menacing phantom Number One.

If you successfully break your potential successor, in this case Number Six, you’re promised freedom when they take over from you. If you fail, you’re handed over to the terrible Number One. That’s why they keep disappearing, because they snapped. There are terrible mind-altering drugs and techniques at play in this awful place, uniquely and efficiently suited for shattering minds. It happens. We need this system because we want the most effective Number Two possible to optimize the Village’s purpose – to reveal secrets.

“But the phones rang! Number One spoke to those guys.” Actually, no phones actually rang. Hallucinations and conversations with empty air. Every Number Two we meet is schizophrenic. Designed to be so, in fact. That’s kind of the point.

Only a single Number Two, the one played by Leo McKern, was able to emerge from his psychosis long enough to take the office again. Maybe he asked for another chance in a moment of clarity. He lost his battle in the end though, in a devastating confrontation with the unbreakable Number Six.

Number Six realized all this. He knew by the end there was no Number One. Either a single government or a cabal of the Illuminati from multiple governments was running this place, with no single head. It was a factory for secrets, sold or distributed. And he needed to shatter it. But he maintained the charade to lead them on to their climactic attempt to drive him insane and have him take over as the most effective Number Two yet. Fallout.

Fallout was a madhouse of nonsense, engineered as a frothing schizophrenic nightmare and typical of the final blow designed to break the new Number Two. Number Six knew all this and played along, to at least get off the Village and back into London. Even there, back in his apartment, he knew there were more games to be played with these people.

He would be an entirely different type of Number Two. He would run a much larger village, playing along and forging new rules. He would plant secrets, alter them, seed them to muck up the system. All the while, no one would suspect he’s destroying them from the inside.

He’ll reveal them all. It will just take a little patience.

Be seeing you.

Advertisements

Concept Art For Sci-Fi Authors

Harbor and vortex cruiser

We’ve talked about concept art in science fiction before. Honestly, the power of this literary form and genre to light fires and knock down walls – to turn the world upside-down – it’s just so rich that it was born for concept art. New technology in rendering software and 3D art packages, ready-made assets you can drop into place, these things all make it possible for authors with a little free time and initiative to at least put something down in visible form that was previously only imagined.

We’re exploring this alternative way of interacting with folks in a few different ways. One is the Grailrunner Twitter account where you’ll find hundreds of science fiction themed art pieces from some incredibly talented folks. A lot of people tell us they’re using these as inspiration for flash fiction or for their own works. Somebody with the handle ‘Kungfuest’ comes to mind, who posts little flashes entirely in German based on the image. Very cool.

Our Facebook page  is a place for original flash fiction based on images which we either re-post from other artists or which we’ve developed in-house. Feel free to submit to us if you can keep it as clean, inspiring science-fiction under 150 words and include the image that inspired it.

The image topping this post is a Grailrunner original, portraying the towering vortex cruisers from TEARING DOWN THE STATUES. It’s a fascinating new way to engage people with the Salt Mystic series to have them comment on the visuals rather than vaguely discuss some cherry-picked concept from the book that stuck with them. These massive hydro-foil vessels balanced by manufactured whirlwinds only appear briefly in the book; but they seemed striking in our imaginations.

‘The Shenna’ is a low-riding dirigible where much of the book takes place. When I dreamed that thing up, it had a deck on the back where the characters could interact and watch the cornfields and battlefield ruins drift by, with small brass-colored steampunky balloons and a weird figurehead on the bow. The figurehead told its own story (for another day) by portraying a tiny frightened girl holding out an icicle like a sword.

mogmogs in fog

Called ‘mogs’, these light vessels play pivotal roles in the book – both in lighter character moments high on the tops of buildings in a burning city as well as the climax of the final battle scene amid remote-controlled tornadoes.

statue in lake3

The world of the Salt Mystic is riddled with ruined statues and gargantuan monuments. That’s the whole aesthetic. This scene is the sort of thing you’ll come across – a mysterious statue half-submerged and its origin unknown. People take cruises out to get close (and some dive off the top).

waterfall1

The most important location in the book is a very old mountain city perched on the plateau of granite and gneiss cliffs. It’s overseen by a colossus sculpted into the face of the highest cliff; and a waterfall rushes through his outstretched fingers.

scene 4

Cannons firing ball lightning, city-sized tanks of a thousand souls, and artificial intelligence tornadoes color the battles of the Salt Mystic series. The tornadoes actually have entrained steel shrapnel and other shrapnel which we really need to include in future pieces. This work doesn’t do it justice.

bridge with red sky

The creepy, fascinating temple of the world-shaking Augur, where seekers have gone for two thousand years for insights into how to transform their lives in accordance with the Salt Mystic Philosophy We’ve gone inside only in brief snapshots and only hinted at who’s waiting inside. In the second book, we’ll go deep and watch this whole thing explode wide open.

I hope you enjoyed the gallery tour. Let us know if you’re interested in sending some original art in for re-posting, or some flash fiction of your own. Also, keep the comments and kind words coming however you reach us.

It’s a blast to share in unleashing the power of science fiction. Till next time, guys.

Dreams are engines. Be fuel.