Thursday, September 17, 2009

Voyagers Headquarters~What's it all about?

In the television series, we are offered a brief glimpse into the world where Phineas Bogg was trained to be a Voyager field worker.  Frankly, we are only allowed to see the main courtroom and Voyager Drake's office, which pretty much resemble courtrooms and well..an office from 1982-83.  Still, its very old fashioned and I wouldn't have been surprised if the three head council members, Voyagers Garth, Brendall, and Kane, wore white judicial wigs, respectively. It has the usual wood paneled courtroom trappings, library cases filled with dusty historical books and encyclopedias, and plenty of paintings and marble and brass busts to go around, depicting various, nondescript 'men of history.' Maybe we don't recognize them because they are founding Voyagers...though one distinctly looks like Socrates..or is it Plato? Don't take stock in my knowledge of Grecian history.

 I give them points for all the neat quill pens and parchment paper, and it looks like they can read and write in Latin! (Well, if it's not Latin then it's a form of extreme calligraphy!)  I wouldn't be surprised if their letter 'S' still looked like the 'F.' At least the judges and Phineas can understand the writings when they read the scrolls that contain the future history of Jeffrey Jones.
Did I just create an oxy-moron? Future history? That's okay, sometimes I am a complete oxy-moron unto myself! I am totally loving the electric and waxy, swirly mounds of orange candle sconces on the walls ala 'House of dark shadows.' Barnabas Collins would be so proud...but his flickered like paper! hehe. 
The only thing that makes this uber-dull  courtroom stand out is the brassy 'V' on the wall (In my opinion it should have been solid gold, but, they probably have to watch out for Voyager thieves among the ranks! Yikes!) and the Red and Gold Voyagers flags that stand beside the judgment seats. I wonder if the graduating class has an anthem to go with it? (I shudders at the memories of my high school anthems.) It's visible in this screencap and a version designed by a true Voyagers fan (He was also the one who pointed out that they HAD their own flag! How astute!)
 

They naturally have a court stenographer, with a very high and bat-like collar that makes her resemble a witch...or a stand-in for Kiss of the spider woman!
The Highlight of the Voyager courtroom is this amazingly cool doodad-thingamajig called the 'Omni Memory Recorder.'  It looks like something invented by Thomas Edison himself, and you wonder if it will eventually pop a spring and blow a little gasket while it huffs and puffs for much too long before it gets started.
Above this contraption is an oval screen with a mirror. Whose the fairest one of all? Why Bogg of course! Apparently, all the data and visuals must come complete with a mysterious fog before they are displayed. This is where things get very fascinating.  As you can see, trying to grab the omni while it's activated will send something like 10,000 blue volts of electricity coursing through you...but don't worry, it's not deadly...at least it wasn't for Bogg! The Omni Memory Recorder literally reads all the vital information in a Voyager's omni and stores it in it's memory unit. How it does this is not revealed. I imagine it is equipped with some mini camera device, but then for the most part, the only thing it would record are voices and Bogg's sash, groin or the hand that holds and operates the omni.
Big Brother is watching you! I have no doubt that there is a whole crew up at VHQ that sit behind the scenes drinking cappuccinos and laughing their heads off at the antics of a field worker.  It is certainly an incentive to keep a Voyager on good moral ground, I mean, this machine can record EVERYTHING.   Watch this scene to see how it works.  :D




Somehow, it was rigged to start up whenever Drake brought an accusation against Phineas and when Phineas gave his defenses. Voyager Drake is also somehow able to manipulate the clips he shows in court to prosecute innocent Voyagers.  I would love to be a video editor for VHQ!  There must have been a little man behind the curtain taking cues.

No doubt the courtroom is only one aspect of the unique Headquarters situated on Planet Voyager.  The notion that there is a planet filled with 'time cops' was used for the 1984 'Voyager from the Unknown' film. If you read the many fan fiction stories on the web there is a cornucopia of descriptions of Planet Voyager. For the most part, all of us writers step beyond the boundaries of the courtroom.  The Planet is sometimes described in vivid detail (I'm guilty of that!) and there is always the famous 'OCC' or Omni Control/Command Center as certain authors like to call it.  In this section, technology is super-duper advanced beyond our era and can sufficiently explain how Time travel is made possible and all Voyagers are monitored.

They attempted this in the 1984 movie. It was cool that you see the computer valiantly tracking Bogg and Jeff with rapidly scrolling Einstein equations and it's wheels spinning...but come on, are we really supposed to buy that the history of the universe is kept in full alignment by a TANDY? (Gosh I love Bill Bixby!!)

   
So, in a nutshell, Planet Voyager is what you make of it. It can extend beyond the boundaries of a stuffy courtroom and into your wildest imagination. Perhaps it's a world like the movie AI? (Not necessarily it's red light district...doh!) Or what about 'The Fifth element?' with flying cars and such? Or, as the paintings in 'Voyager from the unknown' depicts and the opening scenes of the trial episode, it's a vast, as yet unexplored wasteland with just a giant city/area specially designed to house the growing race of Voyagers.  The vision, my Voyager friends, is entirely up to you! Just know that when you first land there, things might be a little foggy...


3 comments:

  1. Wow. Awesome article. I'm just getting reaquainted with the series. I had no recollection of Planet Voyager. Wow. I am behind on my Voyager-ese.

    Love the little Bill Bixby insert. How I adored him.

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  2. Ack! What happened? I commented on this a day or two after you posted it, and there's no sign of my comment!

    Anyway, here's what I remember of what I said, which was largely concerning Jeff's future history. (Not an oxymoron at all; Isaac Asimov used the same phrase in his "Foundation" series.)

    As a former student of Latin, I can categorically assure you that the file was *not* written in Latin. The form of calligraphy used resembles nothing a professional calligrapher I know has ever seeen before, and it matches nothing I was able to turn up on paleography sites (that's a 20-dollar word for "ancient handwriting"). The Guidebook itself gives us a possible answer: "Your Guidebook is written in the language of the Omni inventors. However, all the information within you will automatically see in the language to which you are accustomed." This simple paragraph tells me two things:

    1: Jeff's "future history" is also written in the language of the Omni inventors, as are all the other Voyager logs. That single sheet we are given a glimpse of in "The Trial of Phineas Bogg" is actually a sample of that language. Of course, when I first saw it on TV, I, too, assumed it was Latin; the glimpse was so incredibly brief that I couldn't make out any of it. Only with modern technology is it possible to get a good look at it (aka, freeze-framing or screencapping).

    2: The intro to "Voyagers of the Unknown" actually has it partially right: The Omni was not invented on Earth. In support of this hypothesis, I cite an incident in "The Travels of Marco...and Friends": The auctioneer, attempting to sell the Omni, calls it "a talisman of great power, created by sorcerers on a far-off island." To this, Bogg mutters, "He's close."

    This opens up an entire galaxy of possibilities regarding VHQ; personally, I like the one VoyagersFan presents in his stories: There are Voyagers for every inhabited planet in the galaxy, each world represented by its own Headquarters on Planet Voyager.

    The Guidebook also makes reference to something called a "Field Office;" as I told you earlier this year when I first got the book, Ginger, you hit the nail on the head with your "Voyager's Aide" trilogy. This also opens up a myriad of story possibilities.

    Fanfiction is not a new phenomenon; only the name is relatively recent. Anyone who's ever been to a sci-fi convention has seen fanzines, the primary form fanfiction took before we had computers. I have to wonder if Parriott had that phenomenon in mind when he threw out those little hints... Man, I wish someone in our fandom had contact with him the way the people in the QL fandom have with Belisario!

    ---Jake

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  3. Yay, Bill Bixby! Man of a thousand shirts, all of them in shreds. :)

    This film that you mention must be what I saw years ago. Late eighties or very early nineties, I rented out a video that had Jon-Erik on the cover, and it turned out to be him playing a time-travelling pirate. No internet in those days, so I'd never heard of Voyagers!. Odd, but I could have sworn it had something about the French Revolution in it. Guess I must have confused it with something else though, as there's certainly nothing like that in the series.

    The series is much better than the film, anyway!

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