Sunday, January 04, 2009


While going through some old files related to my former job, I came across this very brief synopsis of an episode of Ultraman I proposed sometime in the mid-90s.

The episode was to be titled "Shiki Soku Ze Ku" or "Form is Emptiness." It was proposed for a series which was to have been titled Ultraman Neos. Eventually Ultraman Neos was shelved in favor of a show called Ultraman Tiga. My episode was never produced.

This version has been rewritten for a proposed Ultraman novel, which would have featured the characters from the original Ultraman TV series (the one that was shown on UHF stations over here in the US in the Seventies). The novel never happened either.

What I present here is from the synopsis of the novel that I planned to send to publishers to get them interested. This section would have been chapter five.

There was a lot more detail in the story proposal I submitted. But I have no idea where that is anymore.

ULTRAMAN CHAPTER 5 "Form is Emptiness"

A Zen Buddhist temple in the mountains is attacked by a monster. Ultraman appears and battles the monster. But before he can defeat it he finds himself transformed back into Hayata and held prisoner in an alien space ship. It turns out that the monster and the temple were all an illusion created by unearthly creatures to make Hayata reveal himself as the human form of Ultraman. While Hayata is imprisoned the aliens create the illusion that he is still among the members of the Science Patrol.

Meanwhile unknown flying saucers hover ominously over the world's capital cities.

In Tokyo as in the rest of the world the people become increasingly convinced that the aliens intend to attack. Hysteria builds and finally the attack comes. A gigantic creature descends from the ship and rampages through the city. Hayata, still held prisoner, watches in amazement as Ultraman appears and battles the creature.

Before the monster can be defeated, both the creature and Ultraman disappear. The city, destroyed in the battle, resumes its previous state. The face of a young girl appears in the sky. She says that the entire encounter was an illusion projected by the beings of the Galactic Federation, a group of peaceful planets throughout the galaxy. The purpose was to discover how humans would react to the presence of alien beings in their midst. Humanity failed the test and are refused entry into the Galactic Federation.


Rick said...

We all can't be Isaac Asimov.

grisom said...

I like it. Reminds me a lot of Philip K. Dick, only more accessible.

Anonymous said...

Please don't cast Klaatu Reeves as emissary of the Galactic Federation, I don't need any more of that emptiness.


proulx michel said...

I've often felt that fiction can be much more eloquent on a given subject that hundreds of pages of explanations.

Why don't you create a novel with a Western Zen "Master" for a hero?


Jinzang said...

The problem with "it was all a dream" story lines is that any sense of dramatic tension evaporates. Anything can happen in a dream, so there's no sense that the conclusion follows from what preceded it.

Jinzang said...

Why don't you create a novel with a Western Zen "Master" for a hero?

Monks don't lead interesting lives. And spouting fortune cookie like Zen wisdom won't cut it. You could make the Zen master a police detective or bad ass kung fu practitioner, but both have been done (van de Wettering, David Carradine.)

Anonymous said...

"Why don't you create a novel with a Western Zen "Master" for a hero?"

Rich said...

The illusion theme fascinates and hooks me because so many times I fell into others or my own illusions. Right now is just another illusion and the Federation can go to hell because the Mayans escaped from federation control 4500 years ago and brought with them all the secrets and knowledge of Federation illusion techniques which I happened to fall upon on a recent expedition.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of sci-fi illusions,
right now we are suffering an
"Invasion of the Body Snatchers."
Are you one of the
Pod People?

how ironymous said...

ah, yes, we humans fail at so many tests to prove all too conclusively our very HUMANESS

thus, we never fail at being humans

(I've always HATED that lame excuse, I'm only human--of COURSE YOU ARE YOU SNIVELING SNOT RAG!!)

I expect no excuses
although I guess it is perfectly human to give them

Anonymous said...

past plots are just so coulda, woulda, buddha

c'mon what new plots are you hatching?

proulx michel said...

Jinzang wrote: Monks don't lead interesting lives. And spouting fortune cookie like Zen wisdom won't cut it. You could make the Zen master a police detective or bad ass kung fu practitioner, but both have been done (van de Wettering, David Carradine.)

Boh, he/she/it could be psychologist, a social worker or even just an office worker...

Lauren said...


An office worker that just happens across a book on Zen in a bookstore and struggles to figure it out, and apply it in his/her daily life... hmmm that plot sounds vaguely familiar too...

On second thought, give me bad ass Caradine again. I loved that show.


andro said...

The novel might be interesting if the "Zen Master" was a bumbling fool, constantly screwing up but doing so with equanimity.

Anonymous said...

what if it wasn't 1 but 4 and they all were musicians in a band called 'Zen Masters of Yore' or something and they played great rock tunes and girls go wild when they play and they escape all the women running after them by various means of public transportation they are rescued by a group of Suicide Girls who show them everything but give them nothing and they understand the emptiness of form and they all sit zazen and the film ends on a quiet note right before the punk music over the credits pumps up
and you could tour with the film as well as your book--wait--you could write the screenplay of your book!! You've hinted its steamy, but I think that's just the hot springs you soak in while at Tassajara. Make sure you add the character of the cute and sexy researcher writing her PhD thesis on significant trends in post modern post punk zen buddhism (chapter you're in--Practitioners with a Penchant for the Pre-historic)

Rich said...

The only thing I would change is that what they understand is that emptiness is form and they doing it just to make a living and the cute sexy researcher falls in love with the chief zen master.

cute sexy researcher said...

Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at
Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but sees the wrod as a wlohe.

Anonymous said...

I like the "Zen Masters of Yore" idea for a TV show; the baddies of the show could be a rival Christian band ("Just Say Jesus" - think JonasBros, only less) who play bubblegum pop and try to "exorcize the punk-Satanic" Zen Masters' gig, but at the last minute, the Suicide Girlz slash their bus tires, so the Zen Masters show goes on! Rotate this plot a few times and you'd have a decent first season.

Rich said...

Ofcause, the cute sexy researcher falling in love with the chief zen master realizes that form is emptiness. The Suicide girls being attached to the emptiness is form understanding become jealous and do everything they can to undermine and destroy her status with the chief zen master. This is based on a true story.

Jinzang said...

Wisconsin Zendo Massacre

A bunch of students from a local college pull into an abandoned zen retreat center to party. Little do they know that the retreat center is still occupied by an embittered zen roshi whose students have abandoned him because of his eccentric behavior. Enraged by all the precept violating behavior going on around him, he catches each college student when they're alone and kills them. Before killing them, he recites an appropriate koan: "A buffalo can get his body through the door, why can't his tail pass through?" before crushing the hapless college student in a heavy door. And so it goes until the last and only virginal college coed manages to kill him.

diarmuid said...

The Movie

Coming to a theater nowhere near you.

coburn in seattle said...

I'm down with Jinzang, and Andro. Although, Andro; I think Peter Falk as Columbo might qualify. The pertinent requirement would have to be that the word "zen" never be uttered. We can't sell "zen" with a TV show, movie or anything else. Zen doesn't exist. Thankfully. My other thought, what's the device used to explicate an "illusion?" This is a purely mechanical (narrative) question Mr. Warner, just wondering. Oh, and if you're reading this (which I doubt you have time for, but just in case) Google "divining rods Portland" then the "friends" icons for "the untouchables", "the real chris newamn" "napalm beach" and "sno bud & the flower people." All bands of Chris Newman, back alive from too many junk-addled years in S.F. and, still a man cursed with the "G" word. Zen is emptyness, emptyness is Zen!

Anonymous said...

ok ,
how about a movie about a devout fortune-cookie-writer?

he or she could be upset about the lack of personal monetary fortune found in this work, and then later realize the fortune of happiness found in the share of tiny bits of wisdom!

also, the tiny bits of zen are found are some teabagtags as well!

how bout it?

hope you found this entry as useless as I do!