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3-Page Treatment 16 - Mars or Bust

This week, Micah made exactly my choice, with Mars or Bust. I loved the idea as soon as I wrote it down, and I  loved it the entire time I was working on it. I don't know why, but I really enjoy... I don't even know what to call this genre. Imagination sci-fantasy. Like, kid books but taken the whole nine yards.

Basically, I just really enjoy the idea of a 12-year-old girl actually inventing a new type of spaceship.

Here's the logline:
When a 12-year-old girl invents a propulsion and landing system that will allow NASA to go to Mars, she refuses to sell it unless she'll be on the first ship there. 


Mars or Bust


Mira is an uncertain, unconfident, 12-year-old genius, getting ready for the science fair. Her science project is an experimental new rocket propulsion system that could allow a spaceship to take off without any external tanks or solid rocket boosters, and that would let it travel through space at .1g. Needless to say, she wins the fair - and she and her friends make sure everyone knows she’s smarter than everyone else.

A couple weeks later, Tom, a representative from NASA, arrives at Mira’s house to investigate her propulsion system. He’s astonished to see a prototype that totally works, and tells her that they could use this to fly to Mars. She agrees to sell her invention to them… but only if she’s on the first flight to Mars.

Her parents laugh at first, but when she makes it clear she’s serious, they absolutely refuse to allow it. Flying to Mars is completely out of the question. It’s too dangerous, and she’s too young. Mira insists, though, telling Tom that if she can’t go, NASA can’t have her technology.

Tom crafts a compromise: the rocket will take a year or two to be built. During that time, they’ll train Mira to go on the trip to Mars. If, at the time the rocket is ready, her parents think she’s ready too, then she can go. Otherwise, she’ll stay behind, and go sometime in the future. Mira is certain she can convince her parents in a year or two, and they’re certain her desire will wane, so both of them agree.

Mira starts her training with NASA, and meets the astronauts that she’ll (hopefully) be going to space with. She takes particularly well to Fatima, an astronaut who got started in the hopes of going to Mars. She looks up to Fatima like a big sister, but though Fatima is really good with her, she’s a little confused and worried about Mira’s presence and plans. She doesn’t look forward to being a babysitter on Mars.

Mira’s work with NASA takes her out of school a lot, but when she is at school, she’s a superstar. Her friends are practically PR agents, controlling who can sit at her table at lunch, making sure she isn’t swamped by people between classes, and cheering whenever she answers a question in class. Mira likes the attention. A lot.

But as she learns more about teamwork and morale at NASA, she starts seeing problems with how she interacts with her friends, and how her and her friends interact with other kids at school. She realizes that she might be… a bully? She tries to tone her friends down, but they assure her that if they didn’t behave like this, she would be overwhelmed.

Fatima talks with Tom about Mira. She loves her, she really does, but she doesn’t know if bringing a little girl to Mars is the right choice to make. Tom tells her that Mira won’t be going to Mars; her parents have assured him that they won’t allow it. That actually makes Fatima a little angry; she’s not sure it’s right to bring Mira, but she knows it’s wrong to lie to her about it and basically steal her propulsion system.

Mira has a rough day at school when she tries to talk to someone after class, and her friends attack the guy and literally drag him away from her. She gets mad at her friends and tells them they crossed a line, but they guilt her into backing down. After all they’ve done for her, she’s going to get mad at them for trying to help her?

The next day, Mira talks to Fatima about how excited she is to go to Mars and get away from all of the drama. She asks if when she’s an adult, things will be simpler and drama-filled. Fatima can’t take it, and she tells Mira what Tom told her. Mira confronts Tom, and then her parents, and they admit it. Mira flips out and runs away.

Fatima is surprised to see Mira show up on her doorstep. Mira tells her she ran away and wants to live with her now. She says she would stay with her friends from school, but she’s not sure she can still be friends with them, because they’re bullies, and she’s a bully when she’s around them. Fatima tells her she needs to confront them about it; they may not want to be friends with her after that, but it’s in their best interest, and she’s not a good friend if she doesn’t do it. Everything worth doing is dangerous, she says; if you let danger stop you, you’ll never do anything worthwhile.

Fatima calls Mira’s parents and lets them know that she’s safe, and is welcome to stay there as long as they’re okay with it. She talks to Mira, and it’s agreed that she’ll spend the weekend with Fatima, and then go back home to her parents. It’s also decided that she’s going to stop going to NASA for training, but that they can still use her technology - she doesn’t want to stop Fatima from fulfilling her dream just because she can’t go.

When Mira gets home, she’s still not exactly excited to see her parents. But they get along okay.

Mira issues an ultimatum to her friends, warning them to stop bullying, or else she’ll stop hanging out with them. One of them responds well, apologizing and promising to stop, but the other flips out and leaves.

When Mira’s parents ask why they haven’t seen the friend who flipped out in a while, Mira explains the entire situation. They tell her that was really brave of her, and they’re proud of her. She says Fatima told her that everything worth doing is dangerous, and that if she let fear of losing her friends stop her from helping them, she wouldn’t be a real friend herself.

Her parents realize that they need to let Mira go to Mars; just because it’s dangerous doesn’t mean she shouldn’t do it. She worked hard for it. And to stop her from achieving this goal would be to stop her from trying as hard in the future.

A year or so later, Mira gets on the rocket to go to Mars.