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Maya Rice as Carissa, Ruby Fulgham as Lorelei. Photo by Paul Bestock.

Dimension Force

In 2015, director Kelly Kitchens got randomly assigned to direct two of my 14/48 plays in one weekend - Krieger's Dilemma and Our Hypothetical Future. We got to chatting about the idea of working together again someday, which came about when she asked me to write a one-act play for her to direct as part of Seattle Public Theater's Youth Program.

The constraints were: a) write speaking roles for 16 kids (!!); b) no more than 70 minutes; c) the kids performing the show would be grades 6 – 9. Shana Bestock, SPT's AD, told me the kids were interested in "time travel, superpowers, and alternate worlds."

The result is Dimension Force - a time travel escapade, my first serious YA effort - something I'm super excited about. Although the script has 16 speaking roles, you could produce this play with 8 people or fewer depending upon your ingenuity. I was going to call it Dimension Squad, but the kids said "it doesn't sound awesome enough". The show was first produced Nov 13-15, 2015, by SPT.

I needed to come up with a marketing description of the play prior to actually writing it, so here's what I came up with:

Dimension Force is a team of exceptional agents, assembled from across the multiverse, charged with protecting reality from unusually powerful criminals and technology. They’re in pursuit of a villain who has stolen one of the most dangerous devices in all of existence, a time machine, which he intends to use to conquer Earth. But how can Dimension Force hope to beat a mastermind who can visit his own future to outwit their capture attempts? They’ll need new recruits whose abilities could be key to saving our planet: a psionic whose mind control skills are so powerful that she is rarely allowed out of a specialized cell; a hacker who has replaced her entire organic brain with powerful cybernetic implants; an interstellar pirate who traffics in illegal alien artifacts; and more.

That's close enough to be considered accurate!

Dimension Force - production script

Kelly asked me to create a study guide to help the kids keep track of the chronology of events (given how heavily the story loops back and forth in time), and to help them quickly get up to speed on sci-fi elements that might be unfamiliar to them, so I produced this reference doc:

Dimension Force - background & chronology

This story heavily remixes ideas and characters from many previous and ongoing projects, most notably my comic Storm and Desire (which is itself a remix of the play interlace [falling star], which was an adaptation of the novel interlace [falling star], which is a sequel to the novel Lullabye For Thunderstorms, etc). Three of my Crime & Rockets plays were reworked into snippets or scenes for this play; and careful viewers (if there are any) may notice how Star Crossed and the other two C&R plays I wrote are set in this same continuum. None of this is considered canon for Storm and Desire, but in spirit, Dimension Force is an origin story for Carissa and Lorelei from the comic.

I was asked to supply "Writer's Notes" for the program, which I never typically do. I wrote:

When I was studying time travel concepts, I realized there were sort of two primary categories of paradox that people think are important, which are the "grandfather paradox" (where you go back in time and accidentally kill your grandfather (or maybe if you're a bad person you do it on purpose, but anyway), preventing you from being born (which, if you're killing your grandfather in the first place is arguably not a bad outcome, but anyway)); and "causal loops" (which have fancier names like the "bootstrap paradox" or the "predestination paradox" or my favorite, the "ontological paradox" (because I am always looking for a reason to use the word "ontological" in a conversation, especially once I learned what it meant, but anyway)), in which an event from the future is the reason that an event happens in the past, which is the reason that the first event happens in the future in the first place (but now imagine "an event" could be "a person" or "information" or (actually that's probably the entire list of probable nouns for this example, which I learned when I tried to substitute "a box of donuts" into that sentence, but anyway)). Apparently modern quantum mechanics has proposed a solution to the "grandfather paradox," but "causal loops" are still considered philosophically "inexplicable."

I didn't know any of this when I wrote Dimension Force; I only studied time travel concepts late Thursday night in order to write these writer's notes. (To be fair, I have watched some Doctor Who.)

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