- SYNOPSIS -
The premise of the series should be familiar to knowledgeable sci-fi fans, but for the uninitiated, the story is as follows: In the late 23rd century, an unknown ecological catastrophe known only as Vastator (Latin for "destroyer") threatens to render the entire solar system uninhabitable within ten years. In response, society starts to break down, with many turning to looting and some even committing suicide.
In an effort to preserve the legacy and culture of the human species, a group of scientists and engineers propose the construction of Earthship ARK, a massive generational ship with enough room onboard to carry at least three million people. The ARK itself consists of a rectangular midsection about 320 kilometres long containing the onboard systems and command section surrounded by fifty-four horizontally-oriented domes containing the vessel's occupants, each about sixteen kilometres in diameter. The domes are designed to function independently in the event of an emergency.
Construction of the ARK occurs at the Earth-Moon L1 Lagrange point and takes five years to complete, with nearly half of the solar system's usable metals mined to facilitate its development. Upon completion, the ARK, stocked with its super-cargo of three million humans and an unknown number of plant and animal species, leaves Earth on a centuries-long journey to the nearby Alpha Centauri system, which will serve as the new home for humanity.
A century into the voyage, however, an accident occurs that destroys the ARK's main command centre, sending it off-course and sealing off the domes. Over the next 400 years, many dome residents, especially those from less technologically advanced societies, simply forget that they are onboard a spacecraft, an illusion further enhanced by the domes' size and use of holographic skies to simulate day and night.
We are then introduced to our main protagonist, Devon, a resident of a dome containing an Amish-type culture living in a small community called Cypress Corners in the year 2790. Devon is considered something of an outcast due to his constant questioning of the status quo, especially his opposition to the arranged marriage of his girlfriend Rachel to family friend Garth. The church elders, led by Elder Micah, consider this questioning blasphemous and secretly plan to have Devon eliminated.
That night, Devon sneaks into the church basement and discovers, much to is horror, that the elders have been manipulating the local computer terminal, known as the "Voice of the Creator", to suit their own agendas. After confronting the church elders and stealing a data storage device containing their pronouncements, Devon tries to present his evidence to Rachel, only to be chased away by her parents. A search party is dispatched to locate Devon, and he is forced to flee into the nearby forest.
Once there, he uncovers a strange circular hatch hidden underneath a covering of leaves and branches. Immediately, the hatch opens, leading into the service areas of the spacecraft. As he hears the search party approaching, Devon panics and falls over, down the passageway into the bowels of the ARK. After perilously navigating the "bounce tube" - a system of zero-gravity tunnels connecting the different areas of the vessel - he makes his way into the service areas of the spacecraft.
After attempting to force open an airlock, which remains partially open for about ten seconds before being sealing shut, Devon immediately comes to the realization that his world is far more vast and expansive than he had previously believed when he sees the vacuum of space for the first time in his life. Journeying further into the inside of the ARK, he comes across a room containing a computer data station.
By accessing the computer's historical records, which are stored on devices known as memory cubes, Devon learns of the circumstances leading up to the ARK's construction. However, he is unable to find any information regarding the nature of Vastator or of the accident that sent the ARK off course, as those particular cubes are missing. He also discovers, much to his horror, that the ARK's current trajectory will take it dangerously close to a red giant star, killing all onboard. With this knowledge in hand, Devon realizes he must return to Cypress Corners and warn the others.
Upon his return, however, Devon is suddenly accosted by Elder Micah's men and taken to the local courthouse. There, he is placed on trial and accused of heresy. Despite all his attempts to convince his fellow dome residents of the severity of the situation, he is found guilty and sentenced to death by stoning. The next morning, Rachel visits Devon in his cell. He attempts to explain the situation to Rachel, but she does not quite comprehend any of it and thus cannot believe what she's hearing.
Suddenly, someone - later revealed to be Garth - pulls the bars off the cell windows with a hook, thus allowing Devon to escape. As the elders prepare for the execution, they are alerted to the fact that Devon - and now Rachel - are both missing, having fled into the forest. After a brief confrontation with Rachel's parents, the two are reunited. Devon takes Rachel to the site of the airlock, where they both make their escape into the bounce tube. Enraged, the elders assign Garth the unenviable task of tracking down and killing Devon and recapturing Rachel. Even though, deep down, he harbours no malice towards his friend, Garth reluctantly accepts and follows the duo down the airlock and into the ARK's interior.
Over the course of the series, Devon and Rachel encounter the many residents of the different domes, each one housing its own unique societies and cultures, while struggling to avoid Garth. On occasion, the two are forced to collaborate with Garth in order to survive. Some of the stories are based on concepts seen in the original series' bible while others are remakes of episodes of the original, though only those that most closely resemble the series' original concept. Over time, the nature of the accident that sent the ARK off-course and that of Vastator are revealed. As the plot progresses further, the focus becomes more on the quest to locate the backup command centre and restore control to the ARK as well as uniting the various societies living in the domes together to prevent the destruction of the last remains of the human race.
- CHARACTERS -
Devon - The series' main protagonist. A resident of a dome containing an Amish-like culture, Devon was orphaned as a child when his parents' farm burned down. As an adult, he is considered something of an outcast due to his constant questioning of the way things are. In particular, he refuses to accept the arranged marriage of his girlfriend Rachel to Garth. While fleeing persecution at the hands of the local church elders, Devon comes across an incedible discovery - that his people have been living for centuries onboard a massive generational ship known as Earthship ARK, a ship that is currently on a collission course with a red giant star. This revelation does not bode well with said elders, and he and Rachel are forced to flee into the bowels of the ARK. Being from a society that rejects advanced technology, Devon is often unfamiliar with the trappings of the outside world, and will occasionally make mistakes in this regard. However, he is naturally curious and a fast learner, and gradually adjust to his new environment.
Rachel - The deuteragonist of the series. Devon's lover, she is nevertheless arranged to marry Garth despite her boyfriend's protests. When it is revealed by Devon that her world is much more expansive than originally thought, she initially cannot believe any of it. However, after he successfully escapes being executed for heresy, she witnesses for herself the truth and the two make their way into the bounce tube together. Although raised to be chattel, she is nevertheless a strong-willed and resourceful woman who gradually learns to enjoy her newfound freedom and comes to appreciate the importance of her mission to restore control to the ARK. Like Devon, she too is unfamiliar with the outside world but learns quickly.
Garth - The series' main antagonist, or more accurately, anti-villain. A childhood friend of Devon's and a blacksmith by trade, Garth is betrothed to Rachel despite showing no sort of attraction to her whatsoever to the point of being secretly supportive of her relationship with Devon. When the duo make their escape from Cypress Corners, he is honour-bound by the church elders to track down and kill Devon and recapture Rachel despite harbouring no malice towards either. Armed with a crossbow, he reluctantly pursues them across the ARK. On occasion, however, he is by circumstance or survival to work alongside them. As the series progresses, he slowly realizes that he must put aside his differences with Devon and Rachel in order to prevent the destruction of the last remnants of humanity.
Elder Micah - The head church elder of Cypress Corners, he rules all aspects of the community with an iron fist. Fed up with Devon's frequent defiance of the establishment, he and his cronies secretly plot to have him eliminated. Devon, however, exposes the plot and steals a data module containing Micah's pronouncements. In response, he sends a search party to locate Devon and punish him for his crimes. Once Devon is actually located, Micah takes him to the courthouse where he is charged with heresy. Despite Devon's attempts to convince him of the gravity of the current situation, Micah refuses to accept his claims and sentences him to death by stoning. When Devon escapes alongside Rachel, Micah is outraged and assigns Garth to find and kill Devon and abduct Rachel, thus setting in motion the main premise of the series.
Rachel's Parents - Strict adherents of the church elders, they follow their pronouncements to the last letter. This causes them to come into conflict with Devon twice. The first incident occurs after he steals the data module, prompting Rachel's father to chase him away with a scythe. The second one occurs after Devon has escaped from his execution. The father once again tries to prevent Rachel from following after him, but she soon subdues her father with a well-timed punch to the face.
Church Elders - Elder Micah's henchmen of sorts, they enforce his authoritarian command over the community. Several of them are present when Devon steals the "tape" containing Micah's orders, and also during his trial and execution.
Dome Residents - Over the course of their travels, Devon and Rachel encounter the inhabitants of the various domes, each one containing a small portion of the remains of humanity. Some of them are unaware that they are onboard a generational ship, others retain knowledge of the ARK which later proves useful to our protagonists. Likewise, some dome residents are welcoming to their prescence while others attempt to kill them. In many respects, the people of the domes represent our world in microcosm. As the story continues, the focus becomes more and more on bridging the gulf between the different cultures and convincing them to work together in order to avert the disaster that awaits.