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 Message
    From: STRACZYNSKI [Joe]
 Subject: I know from pfingle eggs...I let...
      To: GENIE  
    Date: 4/30/1994 9:18:00 AM  

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I know from pfingle eggs...I let David have the reference because...
well, I don't know anymore...I think water torture was involved.

Drys...no. The choice *had* to be either/or. That was the point; to put
the characters in a situation of conflict and see how they handle it.
Sometimes in life there are ONLY two choices, neither of them good. Your
message comes from a position of trying to avoid the hard choices. But the
episode is ABOUT hard choices. It *has* to be either/or.

To support your thesis, you bring up the "Cold Equations" alternate
ending of the pilot cutting off both his legs to make up the weight
differential. Lemme explain something to you. I was there. When we turned
in the script, by Alan Brennert, MGM went nuts. "You can't have a sympathetic
young woman commit suicide! It'll kill the ratings!" So they (the studio
exec) suggested various "fixes." One was that instead of stepping willingly
out the airlock, the pilot shoots her and has to deal with the guilt. (This
by them is a *better* idea?) The other was the notion of the guy cutting off
his legs to make up the weight.

First and foremost, it was a dumb idea because he'd be in no shape to
pilot the ship. Second it wouldn't be enough weight. And finally, the very
*nature* of "The Cold Equations," what the very TITLE means, is that there are
some occasions in which the choices are stark, and there is NO way around
them. If the ship has X-weight, and the fuel is for Y weight, and Y is less
than X, then you've got a problem that can only -- ONLY -- be resolved by
someone walking out the airlock. (And yes, they tried dumping things, but the
ship is lean, not much to get rid of.) That's why it's the COLD equations;
not the LUKEWARM equations.

I fought like hell to retain the original ending, and won. (You probably
read about this, btw, in my articles for TZ Magazine.) This is studio-think,
let's find a nice, unthreatening, safe, middle-ground where we can resolve
this without anybody being upset, threatened or offended by the story. I'm
sorry, but life sometimes hands you hard choices, there ARE either/or
scenarios, in which nobody really wins, and SF should be exploring those as
well as the fuzzy feel-good stories. It's time SF grew up a little, damn it,
and started confronting hard questions that can't always be resolved by
reversing the polarity on the metaphase unit.

jms

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