Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Proteus Operation

A dose of Keynesian policies avoided the Great Depression and the rise of militaristic fascism; the capitalist democracies of the West instituted social safety nets; the Soviet Union avoided Stalinism and became a social democracy; following independence, the third world prospered through liberal policies; and by the first quarter of the 21st century, a liberal global order of unprecedented peace and prosperity looked achievable within a generation.

The oligarchs and aristocrats were the losers in this world. They built a machine that could transport people from this world to another world back in time. They went back to the Weimar Germany, where Corporal Hitler’s rise to power was assisted. Similar manoeuvring elsewhere, coupled with the delivery of the nuclear weapon, led to an Axis victory in World War II.

By 1975, the United States was the only liberal democracy left, with all other continents stifling under fascist brutality. However, an elite spy operation uncovered the secret of the Third Reich’s rise. The Americans built their own machine, and a dozen people were sent to the late 1930s.

This group succeeded in getting Churchill to 10 Downing Street and FDR to run for a third term. FDR set up ‘the Manhattan Project, where Einstein, Fermi, Szilard and other leading physicists figured out the science of ‘time travel’, which turns out to be not time travel at all, but travel between alternate universes.

What happens then? I guess you’ll just have to read the book. Try out a chapter here.


Why hasn’t this been turned into a movie yet? One reason is that there is way too much information to be packed into a 150-minute movie. Under a lesser director there is a risk that the movie will sag. Who would make a good director? Martin Scorsese hasn’t done a sci-fi movie. But he has read period films, solid action flicks and character dramas. And this story abounds with period details, solid action scenes in New York and occupied Europe, and scope for intense character development.

The people travelling from the dystopian world to the 1930s where the action takes place included a couple of spook types: a taciturn Italian-American (could be played by Leonardo Di Caprio) and his talkative buddy (Matt Damon could play him). Their boss is another major character, Daniel Day Lewis will could play him. And finally there is the taciturn dude’s love interest — a Jazzstress that Naomi Watts would be perfect for.