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A couple of years ago, Verge listener David Carlson wanted to help his wife. She had a new job with a long trip, and she wanted her to read some of her favorite articles in The Verge, such as All Queens Must Die and Welcome to Uberville, so she recorded audio versions for her to hear them on the way. Since then he has moved to a project of his own: The Hyacinth Disaster, a science fiction story told through the black box transmissions of an asteroid mining ship condemned in our solar system.
The story is set in 2151, where Mars and Jupiter have been colonized and large corporations use contracted crews to exploit the resource-rich asteroid belts in the middle. One of those ships, the MRS Corvus, is taken hostage while working in the territory of a rival company, which caused the crew of MRS Hyacinth to break rules and explode an unauthorized asteroid in the hope of paying the ransom on their own. . Once they reach the asteroid, Saniss 130991, they find more than they expected.
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Image: David Carlson
Carlson tells The Verge that he has always been interested in writing music and recording, and after recording several articles for his wife, creating his own story was the natural next step.
The story, explains Carlson, came from an interesting place: listen to the air traffic controllers. "Most of them did not understand it, because I really do not know anything about pilots or planes," he says, "but every once in a while something would come out that made it interesting to hear it." Around the same time, he says he was becoming a science fiction fan, reading books like Andy Weir's The Martian and watching short films like Wanderers by Erik Wernquist, which made him realize he could tell an interesting story by himself, with the style of those air traffic controllers he had been listening to.
A challenge was imposed: "to tell a complete story using nothing more than the interaction between the crew members", in which everyone and the background story had to come naturally in the dialogue, and in a way that was not two characters that explained to each other. After spending six months writing and polishing the script, he decided it was worth recording, and learned how to create a podcast. He asked several friends to express the characters, mix the sound, direct the actors and create the sounds he used in the program. Later he wrote some additional material that develops the world.
The Hyacinth disaster, says Carlson, was also a challenge to tell a story that was clearly moving away from some of the more traditional film stories. We learn from the beginning that the story is a black box recording of a condemned ship, but Carlson says he wanted to avoid a typical and grim scenario. The story focuses largely on the sense of duty of the characters and how they find a way to complete their mission and save their friends, even if that means they sacrifice themselves in the process. "For me, the story was yes, sometimes when you risk something, you actually lose it, and I wanted to reflect that." He says he thought no one would like it, until he saw Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which made him realize that it was a worthwhile subject.
The story is independent, set in a much wider world, and Carlson says he has some plans to explore a little further along the way with one of the other boats mentioned in the story, but not immediately. He says he is working on focusing on some work and family goals before dipping his foot in the waters of the podcast.