On Lost

Introduction: Getting Lost

By Orson Scott Card

Back in 1998, my son Geoffrey and I came up with a group of proposals for television series to pitch to various producers and networks. At the time, Geoffrey was writing under the name “Rob Porter” to try to avoid son-of-better-known-author syndrome. One of Geoffrey’s ideas was expressed in a mere two paragraphs:

Lost - Rob Lee Porter and Orson Scott Card

One hour drama series (fantasy adventure): Survivors of the crash of an L.A.-to-New-York flight soon realize that they are not where they ought to be—maybe not even on Earth. Jungle, desert, medieval villages, modern towns where people have never heard of America—they want only to go home, but it’s the one place they can’t find. Robinson Crusoe in Oz.

This idea is dangerous—it could easily degenerate into Gilligan’s Island or Lost in Space. But if properly developed, this story would allow an ensemble of characters to grow, develop relationships with each other, and face important moral dilemmas as they struggle to understand where they are each week and how to get back to reality. Star Trek with civilians—and without having to fake any space stuff.

We even copyrighted this little prospectus, back in 1997.

No, I’m not claiming that we had even a trace of influence on the Lindelof/Lieber/Abrams TV series that this book explores and celebrates; nobody’s going to get sued. My point is merely that what makes this series work is not the idea—or at least not just the idea. Because the idea was “in the air.” Indeed, one might even say that it was obvious.

But not so obvious that just anybody could have done it. In fact, there are  …

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