Land of the Giants – Revisited

Three giants look down on three tiny humans on a tabletop
Land of the Giants, “Target: Earth”

As groundbreaking as the original Land of the Giants series was and as much as some of us have cherished certain characters or scenarios featured therein, some aspects of the series’s premises were (unnecessarily) incoherent, silly, or simply thoughtless. Why did all the giants speak English, and why did their streets and cars bear such a strong resemblance to those found in mid-century Burbank? The Spindrift supposedly set out on a routine suborbital flight from Los Angeles to London in 1983, but here in the third decade of the 21st century not even Jeff Bezos commutes that way.

I am not currently aware of any substantive plans to remake Land of the Giants as a new series; some studio has undoubtedly bought the rights to all the Irwin Allen productions, but they’re under no obligation to do anything with the rights anytime soon. Nevertheless, I think there is merit in trying to conceive of how the setting for the show could be improved over the original as well as updated for the 21st century.

One element of the series that I always enjoyed was the technological advantage the tiny heroes enjoyed over the giants.  It gave the giants a plausible reason beyond basic cruelty to marshal resources to hunt the Earthlings, and it gave the Earthlings a little leverage in their interactions with non-hostile giants.  What follows is the product of about a day of brainstorming a new take on this premise.

I have no immediate plans to write any stories set in this world.  My most compelling story ideas are typically self-contained, with characters whose encounter with size-fantasy are thorough and complete.  I have, however, felt challenged by recent efforts of other authors to create worlds where characters can come and go and size-fantasy can be encountered repeatedly with multiple variations and scenarios.  So I thought I’d post this here and let anyone use it as they saw fit.  You never know where inspiration will come from.

Land of the Giants

A community from the 22nd century is dimension-shifted to a parallel universe, where they find themselves over 100 years in the past and at 1/25th scale.

Earth-2132:  Climate change and technological disruption have destabilized the global economy and political system.  Quasi-feudal Corporations have assumed many functions of government.  Automation and wealth inequality keep the majority of people locked in an underclass dependent upon subsistence-level welfare.  For millions, the highest ambition is to become a Corporate Contractor, a form of indenture that holds a promise of meritocratic advancement in return for corporate loyalty.

Chinook Arcology:  A self-contained community located near the western coast of North America on Earth-2132.  Two Corporations have established local Houses in Chinook:  Amazon and Tata.  The Arcouncil is the titular government of the arcology, but in practice the corporate oligarchy dominated by the two House Directorates hold true power.  In recent years, however, the Tribune movement has renewed a democratic spirit among many citizens, including some on the Chinook Arcouncil.

The Shift:  Scientists from both Corporate Houses in Chinook have been conducting experiments in inter-dimensional projection into pocket universes.  It is the secret plan of the lead scientist, Dr. Matsya, to use this technology to locate a world capable of supporting human life and to escape Earth-2132 with as many people as possible.  When a super-volcano erupts from the Yellowstone Caldera, spewing millions of tons of ejecta into an already unstable atmosphere, Matsya creates a dimensional projection field containing the entire arcology and pushes it through the rift.

Earth-Prime:  Chinook Arcology emerges from the dimensional rift and displaces an equivalent volume in a remote area of the Nechako Plateau in northern British Columbia.  Initial exploration reveals that the new world is almost identical to Earth-2132 with two exceptions:  1) the climate conditions resemble the early 21st century, 2) all indigenous life is 25 times larger.  During the first chaotic weeks after the Shift, Matsya disappears.  Rumors of both his murder and his suicide abound, but no body is ever produced and the official statement from Matsya’s patron, Tata House, is that he fled the arcology two days after the Shift.

Shift Year (SY) 1:  Both Corporate Houses concentrate their resources on replicating Matsya’s work, either to return to Earth-2132 or to Shift again to a world not populated by giants.  The political upheaval caused by the Shift creates an opening for the Arcouncil to assert greater authority, led by bold members of the Tribune movement.  Scouting parties infiltrate local giant settlements and confirm the parallel history of the giants’ world with Earth-2132.  Tentative connections to the giants’ internet shows that the Shift brought the arcology into the giants’ equivalent of the year 2001.

Quarantine:  After multiple scouting parties disappear for unknown reasons, the Corporate Houses seal the arcology and prohibit anyone from leaving without strict supervision by Corporate Contractors.  Only defensive reconnaissance missions are permitted, operations intended to prevent the giants from discovering the arcology.  The Houses’ priority remains on finding a way to Shift the arcology again.

Diaspora:  In SY 3, the Tribune movement is divided between those who want to escape the dominion of the Corporate Houses and flee the arcology and those who believe that avoiding the giants’ scrutiny is paramount.  A brief insurrection results in over a thousand citizens escaping into the giant wilderness.  The House Directorates demand that the Arcouncil send out patrols with orders to terminate any citizen who refuses to return to the arcology, but in a narrow decision the Arcouncil votes against this measure.  Corporate security squads are dispatched in their stead, but most refugees escape.

Tension:  As the years pass and the Corporate scientists fail to make any progress in replicating the Shift, the political claustrophobia in the arcology turns toxic.  Both among the Houses and the Arcouncil, privileges and resources are hoarded in preparation both for vendetta and for escape.  Colonies of key skilled and favored personnel are secretly established outside the arcology.

Catastrophe:  Whether it is the result of a failed Shift experiment , terrorist sabotage, or a desperate attempt to avoid discovery, in SY 9 the arcology’s fusion reactor overloads and explodes, destroying the arcology and killing all remaining residents.  Worse, the giants quickly arrive and begin sifting through the rubble.

It is SY 22, the giants’ year 2023.

Shiftee technology:  The refugees from Earth-2132 have fairly advanced technology, but they are cut off from their industrial base and cannot risk discovery by engaging in large-scale resource extraction or energy generation.  Anti-gravity tech applications include hovercars and personal AG belts that permit long-range travel at speeds faster than a walking giant.  Common communicators have a relatively short range.  Small arms include blasters that are effective against insects, and small mammals and birds, as well as neural stunners that can (but don’t always) temporarily incapacitate a giant human.  Corporate Contractors are a tiny minority of Shiftees, but they are generally far better equipped.  It is believed that some Corporate Contractors have figured out how to hack the giants’ cell phone networks and have secure anonymous internet access.

Influence on Giant culture:  There have been no officially confirmed sightings or capture of Shiftees, but the giant Department of Homeland Security thoroughly inspected the arcology site and may or may not have collected living or dead Shiftees.  In the giants’ year 2005 (SY 4), “Little People” became a popular meme on the giants’ internet, with edited images and videos depicting people on the same scale as Shiftees appearing in many different venues and occasions.  Alleged sightings of Little People are rapidly debunked as urban legends, but the memes persist to the present day.

Suggested characters:

1.  Shiftee, female, daughter and oldest child of Arcouncil member who led the vote against sending termination patrols after refugees in SY 3.  Proud believer in the Tribune movement, prudent and streetwise about avoiding giant scrutiny.  Makes regular expeditions into giant city called Vancouver.

2.  Shiftee, male, younger brother of #1.  Idealistic, reckless, wants to eventually contact giant society to warn them about dangers of climate change.

3.  Giant, male, University of British Columbia student, maintains “Little People Central” website and collects evidence of alleged Little People sightings, which eventually attracts the attention of both Shiftees trying to find each other as well as Homeland Security.

4.  Giant, female, University of British Columbia student, uncommonly fascinated with the idea of Little People, selfishly motivated but open to being persuaded

Originally published on 29 Mar 2014.

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