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Photon

Photon is a live-action participation game, which was developed in the 80ies in the United States. The Players of this game are spreading out into a futuristic looking environment with a kind of phaser gun in their hand and are shooting laserbeams at the members of the opposing team. The Photon Novels are an extension of the TV series, both were meant to market the game.


About the game

In spring 1984 George A. Carter III opened the first Photon Center in Kenilworth, New Jersey. He said he was inspired by the laser shooting battles between the Stormtroopers and the rebels in “Star Wars”. In the seventies the necessary technology was not yet developed to realize his idea of a live-action game. But seven years later time had come.
Essentially two teams of up to ten players are shooting at each other with laserbeams in a terrain full of hideouts. They try to get as much hits as possible. The scene of the action is situated in a huge hall and extends over two floors, connected over a ramp. The floor is covered with grey carpet. Synthetic smoke, flashing swirling lights and electronic music create a futuristic surrounding. It is as if you were live in a videogame.
The players wear an epuipment of about twenty pounds, consisting of a helmet with stereo headphones, a battery belt, a control box and a phaser-“gun”. This phaser is shouting laserbeams. If the control box of an opponent registers a direct hit, the shooter gets points on his score. At the same time the hit opponent is not capable of shooting for some seconds because his weapon is deactivated. And he gets minus on his score.
Three small office computers count the scores, which are displayed on video screens at the observation deck. There visitors who aren’t playing in the moment can watch the actual game. And it is observed from there that no one gets hurt.
Protesters objected the martial principle of the game, where you are “shooting” the players of the other team. But the devotees of Photon refused this argument. The game was totally nonviolent, because no one dies or gets hurt. You are quasi going into a fantasy world, and all senses and the tactical skills are challenged during the game.
The game soon had reached a certain popularity, and several Photon Centers were opened all over the USA. Today almost all are closed. Because of legal reasons the holder of the Centers were not allowed to use the name “Photon” any longer. You can find the game halls now under the name “XP Lastersport” (XP seems to stand for eX-Photon).


The TV Series

As typical show for a juvenile viewers “Photon” has a moral of the week in every episode. The plot is simplified about the fight Good against Evil.
In the Photon universe each solarsystem has a Photon crystal. This crystal is emitting light for about 100 years, then he has to be recharged. The Photon warriors are on their way to complete this task. But they have to be quick because the Warlord of Arr is sending his henchmen to fill the crystal with darkness before the Photon warriors reach it. It seems the warlord is sending only holographic projections of his people, for if a Arrian is shot he simply returns to his master. The Photon warriors have no such advantage. If they get killed they stay dead. But of course in the TV series no one good ever dies.
Bohdi Li is a member of the forces of Light. He is a young man from the Earth named Christopher Jarvis, who was recruited by means of the game to fight in this interstellar war. His companions are Tivia, a warrior princess from the planet Nivia, the Cyborg Lord Baethan and others. The supercomputer MOM supports the Photon team.
The members of the evil army of Arr all have names which end to “arr”, like Mandarr or Buggarr.
The “Photon” series was produced by DIC Animation City and was cancelled during the first season. There are about 18 episodes existing.
Some franchise has been produced in this time, for example action-figures and a home version of the game, consisting of a lasergun and a sensor unit.


The books

Two kind of Photon novels were published at the same time - An adventure novel series for young readers and a young adult series. For the latter only one novel was launched: “Thieves of Light” by Michael Hudson. Behind this pseudonym is the author Michael P. Kube-McDowell (à Homepage: http://www.sff.net/people/K-Mac/default.htm). The publisher intended to use the name Michael Hudson as uniform pseudonym for all the novels, even if they were written by several authors. The opening book of the young adult book series became a single novel when the series was cancelled. Kube-McDowell took some liberties with the original concept of the TV series, so some details are different.
For the adventure novels Peter David was hired, who wrote the novels as David Peters. This series was stopped after six books. These novels are full of in-jokes from everything from The Prisoner to Star Trek.


Photon - Thieves of Light





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Michael Hudson
(alias Michael P. Kube-McDowell)
April 1987
Berkley
0-425-09810-9
This novel rolls up the basic story of the series. The reader learns how Chris Jarvis was recruited and became a Photon warrior. The characters get more depth and background than in the tv series.

Photon Adventure Novel #1 - For the Glory





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David Peters (alias Peter David)
April 1987
Berkeley Books/Pacer
0-425-09811-7
The warlord of Arr invents a time machine and tries to recruit Hitler. Bhodi Li must prevent this.
Photon Adventure Novel #2 - High Stakes





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David Peters (alias Peter David)
April 1987
Berkeley Books/Pacer
0-425-09812-5
The Photon forces recruit a new fighter, who calls himself Gambler. He is talented and cunning but also very irresponsible. He leads the team from one tricky situation to another. Finally the teams is at the mercy of the dark warlord.

Photon Adventure Novel #3 - In Search of MOM





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David Peters (alias Peter David)
July 1987
Berkeley Books/Pacer
0-425-10106-1
The central computer of Photon – MOM – was stolen. Bhodi Li is called for a mission and cannot rely on the guidance of MOM. The warlord of Arr does not hesitate to use this advantage to influence the war for his own benefit, to plunge the whole universe into darkness.
In this novel the entire Photon cosmology is explained, how our universe was made and the role of Photon.


Photon Adventure Novel #4 - This is Your Life, Bhodi Li





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David Peters (alias Peter David)
September 1987
Berkeley Books/Pacer
0-425-10185-1
Bhodi Li awakes from coma and finds out that nobody seems to remember his life as Photon warrior. Even the beautiful Tivia claims to know nothing of the Photon forces. Has everything only been a dream?
Photon Adventure Novel #5 - Exile





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David Peters (alias Peter David)
November 1987
Berkeley Books/Pacer
0-425-10611-X
The warrior princess Tivia of the all-female planet Nivia is banished from her homeworld by the Queen Mother, because she made the mistake to admit that she loves a man – Bhodi Li. Tivia goes out into the wide Photon universe and discovers how bad men really be by disguising herself as a man. She ends up on a ship of space pirates which are up to destroy Bhodi Li and the other Photon warriors.


Photon Adventure Novel #6 - Skin Deep





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David Peters (alias Peter David)
February 1988
Berkeley Books/Pacer
0-425-10612-8
Lord Baethan is the forceful Cyborg in the Team. He is captured by an ancient enemy of his race and reduced to a mere human. Without his protecting armor he is now afraid to go into combat.
The book series ended abruptly after this. Fans would have liked novels about the characters Pike, Parcival and Leon, as the last two books were about Tivia and Lord Baethan. Also there were hints, that Warriar is not dead and might actually pose a threat to the Warlord.
It is thinkable that such plots were planned for later novels, but as we know the book series was cancelled.
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But I Digress

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