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Literature / Deepwater Black

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Deepwater Black (aka Mission Genesis) was a trilogy of Young Adult science fiction books by New Zealand author Ken Catran.

The first book in the series, Deepwater Black, was about Robbie Mikkelsen, an Ordinary High-School Student who starts his story as he's having some bizarre encounter with Yoona, a girl only he can see. Yoona speaks some gibberish about his life being a "long prex", and tells him that there's some ship called Deepwater where their lives are being threatened by some "jel" in the tubes...and she promptly punches him. It turns out that "Robbie" is really Reb, one of an all-child crew cloned from people from the "Solar Colonies" which include Mars and Ceres. And the "prexing" is a dreamlike state owing to the fact that the children are all clones (although Reb's prexes are unusual in this regard—the only other time we see a character prex, it's to Yoona's life on Mars). Together, Reb and Yoona seek to unravel the mystery of the Deepwater, and exactly why the hell their lives are being threatened by the "jel". It turns out that they're out to re-seed the Earth after it was annihilated by a virus (they need to accomplish this by going in the opposite direction, then circumnavigating the entire universe), but to do that, they need the gene banks from another, earlier Deepwater. And the jel is being sent by a rogue computer. Meanwhile, the B-plot centres around the friendship between "Robbie" and local girl Denie Miles.


The second book, Deepwater Landing, reveals that Denie also was prexing, and her real name is Cei. The plot of the book this time revolves around their need to get to the other Deepwater and get their gene banks.

The final book, Deepwater Angels, revolves around school bully Connal "Meatgrinder" Burkitt, as it's revealed that he's the last one to awaken (his name is Conn). This time around, the crew are back on Earth, and Connal has to figure out exactly how to get life to re-start.

The books make for remarkably quick reads, although the pacing leaves a lot to be desired (although this perhaps mirrors the overload Reb gets when he awakens—he's confronted with jel, "Trites", the weirdness of the thing and a large black mass).

When it was adapted to a TV show, several plot points (including the entire characters of Cei and Conn) were jettisoned while others were expanded on. Prexes now never went any further than what was relevant to the episode, but each episode tended to be A Day in the Limelight. It was cancelled after 13 episodes. It was notable for changing the spelling for characters Yoona and Lis (now "Yuna" and "Lise"), and making the characters into twenty-somethings rather than the younger teens of the books.


Tropes shown in this series:

  • Absent Aliens: There are aliens in the TV show, in 2 episodes, but they're never seen, only their (very weird) looking ships. In the books, there are "Trites" (space-dwelling insectoids with drill-stingers that try to bore into the ship; creatures with similar characteristics show up in the TV series) and "Amebs" (form-changing blobs that drift through colour-space). Both Trites and Amebs turn out to be mutated descendants of Mars-based life. In the show, Deepwater also encounters a probe from an advanced civilization that boards their ship and demands one of them as a sample.
    • In Book 2 there are silicone-based lifeforms who are intelligent enough to build their own spaceships with missile-firing capability. We never met them face-to-face.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Most notably Reb and Yuna.
    • In the books, the characters all had different skin tones depending on which part of Mars or the other solar system colonies they came from (blue, green, red, etc). It was said to be a product of the terraforming.
  • Age Lift: All the characters underwent this in the transition from the books to the TV series. They went from early teens to early twenties.
  • AI Is A Crap Shoot: NUN, the bio-computer tasked with raising the kids on Deepwater, became "possessive" and didn't want to let them grow up into independence, so it taught them only selectively about the ship and tried to keep them in a "golden toyland." Most of the problems the kids encounter on Deepwater are thanks to NUN's errant programming.
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  • Composite Character: The character of GEN, a bio-computer that runs the ship, was created to replace both COL and NUN from the book. Notably GEN is much more cooperative and helpful than either COL or NUN, most of the time (when her Emotional Intelligence is working).
  • Emotion Eater: the character Kyra from the TV series has a chemical imbalance which causes her to be this. She is from a Human Subspecies that genetically engineered itself to be immune to the Pandora Virus.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: time-blinking in the books. A colorful swirly hyperspace in the TV series.
  • Fling a Light into the Future: The Deepwater's mission- repopulate Earth.
  • Human Subspecies: Kyra's people, as well as the inhabitants of a number of colonies that experimented in genetic engineering around the time that the Pandora Virus was spreading.
    • In the books, the various colonists on Mars and other places in the Solar System were genetically "tinted" (color-coded by skin) red, green, gold, and blue. The colors identified their origins. Propaganda said that it was a necessity of terraforming, but this was later revealed to be untrue, and more of a class hierarchy by design. In the third book, the kids encounter a tribe of multi-colored humans who are their peoples' descendants.
  • Hyperspace Is a Scary Place: "Colour-space" is filled with lurking dangers, from trites, amebs, magnetic meteors, and solid chunks of nothing (solunks). It's a space-beyond-space, at the edge of the universe.
  • Insectoid Aliens: The trites from the books. Four spiky legs, eyes on stalks, stingers that drill into spaceship hulls, and they can survive in the vacuum of space. NUN mutated them from Martian life.
  • The Plague: The TV series had the Pandora Virus; the books had another virus that devastated the Martian city of Py-Two and other parts of Mars, Earth, the moon, and the Jupiter colonies. The Pandora Virus in the TV series devastated Earth, Mars, the Moon, and various interstellar colonies that existed in the 22nd century at the time of Deepwater's launch.
  • Retool: About the only concept that survived 100% intact was the earlier Deepwater.
  • Raised by Robots: the kids were raised by NUN, a god-like Artificial Intelligence. And a very possessive one.
  • Spell My Name with an S: Yoona became "Yuna", while Lis became "Lise". Reb, Bren, Gret and Zak all stayed the same (although Reb and Bren gained surnames)
  • Switching P.O.V.: A new character gets the viewpoint in each novel.