Postscript Publishing Company Presents:


A Screenplay By James Nathan Post

This is the adaptation of the author's published novel "King's Knight"
now available in a paperback anthology ordered online ( click).



Note: This virtual-reality computer-world science fiction action drama screenplay was first novelized in 1971, before Tron, Brainstorm, Strange Days, and The Matrix, all of which share much of the technical and thematic character and substance of King's Knight, which is still a prophetic look at the social and psychological consequences of the rise of virtual reality technology.


Synopsis:

It begins in a highly-stylized chessboard world where the pieces are each people, and as they move, the complete environment of their character piece comes with them, so the world is a constant-intermix of their characters and their game relationships in a graphic manner. Clearly, this motion picture must be greatly CGI-driven. (It is not necessary that the viewer know how to play the game of Chess to follow the relationships and the action.)

In the beginning, the characters appear to have no memory or awareness of any life other than the Board-- except for Knight Sir Steven, who is troubled by suspicion there is more to his existence than he is able to recall, and that someone is keeping something from him. This desire to find out what has been done to his mind, and what he suspects he can't remember, is what drives his character.

At the conclusion of the game, Steven melts into the board, and is unconscious. Then he finds himself sitting in a monorail coach with other young men and women like himself, all wearing pilot-like jumpsuits. Their faces are recognized as the chessmen. Soon they enter a tropical Park under a dome, where they live simple hedonistic lives of play, with no apparent memory of any other life (including the chessboard), except for Brenda Myers, who is troubled by the shallow recreational sex play with which they fill their time.

Steven eventually tries to rebel in the Park, and on the virtual chessboard. He escapes into the halls of the various support departments of the domes, unseen by the residents. He is captured and sent to a medical facility for computerized mental therapy called “editing” (Engram De-Intensing Therapy). In the process, he recalls his true circumstances, and the nature of the science being fictionalized is made clear.

Steven, Brenda, and the others are young soldiers in the late 21st Century Army of Terra, in a school where virtual reality is used to train a corps of fighter pilots to operate Remote Combat Units -- robots. The system uses “vivipansensory reality” so the virtual worlds are imposed directly on their nervous system through a neural interface with full senses, so the experience is subjectively indistinguishable from normal consciousness. By suppressing sensations from their bodies, the illusion is made so complete that they do not recall their real lives when they are in the virtual space. This makes them “mortal” on the battlefield, so they fight as though their lives were on the line. It also subjects them to the psychological stress of mortal fear and repeated fatal experience-- they must endure “dying for a living” daily.

In flashback (while Steven is in regression therapy) to the campus where they were recruited, a student proclaims his belief that the “Alien War” is like Orson Welles’ War Of The Worlds, a conspiracy of fabricated virtual news which the new world government uses to justify its power to rule and tax. He says they are just training to play in game worlds, and there is no war.

As graduates of the school, they fly a mission controlling robot fighter planes, and as on the chessboard, they believe that the world in which they think they are fighting is real, including poignant music, flags, and all the trappings of patriotism, so they will be motivated to fight self-sacrificingly. Completing the metaphysical metaphor of the virtual life to real mortal life, the closing sequence is a mission on which Steven and Brenda believe themselves to be Robodragons who live on Venus and fight invaders from another star, not as human pilots, but as mortal creatures fighting for their lives and for their kind. The line between virtual and real becomes indistinguishable.

Principal action includes the heraldic swashbuckling violence of the chessboard world, the indulgent sexuality of the Park, and Steven's escape from it, the puritanical rigors of the military bootcamp-like Service Section, the robot fighter plane mission, and finally, the mission on Venus.



Principal characters:

STEVEN, (Lt. Steven Kaskey) an attractive and intelligent young man.

BRENDA, (Lt. Brenda Myers) an attractive and intelligent young woman.

COL. JAMES ROBERT, the scientist in command of the project, who also plays the part of “King James” on the chessboard.

TAKEO, Japanese, compact, wiry, clever and easy-going.

ROMI , tall and blonde.

VANESSA , athletic, tough, and aggressive.

ABNER , black, good looking, eager.

OTHERS , the young men and women who appear as the other pieces on the chessboard, and as the other playmates in their residential park, and the jumpsuited techs of the service sections.







This screenplay is available in downloaded PDF, or in hardcopy if required.

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Postscript Publishing Company