Planejammer Campaign Setting
Pylons and Matrix Tables
Pylons & Matrix Tables
Pylons are small gold (usually) truncated square pyramids, tall and narrow, spaced approximately every quarter mile in a regular pattern throughout the Land of the Lost. The surface of a Pylon is polished to a mirror-like precision and extremely smooth to the touch; Will described the sensation as being like “touching nothing”. Holly also reported that the surface felt cold. When a Tyrannosaurus tried to bite a Pylon in the episode “Skylons”, the Pylon emitted a powerful electrical shock that frightened it away.
Nearly all Pylons have a hand-sized tetrahedral “key” projecting from about two thirds of the way up one side; when turned, a diamond-shaped patch of the Pylon’s surface below it dematerializes to provide a small doorway inside. Apparently, some pylon keys can be removed from a pylon by shining reflected sunlight on them, sealing the Pylon, and can be replaced by pressing the key back on the Pylon’s surface.9 The interior of the Pylons is an extra-dimensional black void with no discernable boundaries or surfaces and is significantly larger inside than the Pylon appears from the outside, similar in some ways to the time traveling TARDIS from Doctor Who. Each Pylon will typically contain a “crystal matrix control table,” a small square table made of rough stone with a grid (generally 9×9 decimeters) on the upper surface supported by a clear (possibly crystalline) pedestal set into a smaller stone base. Various light crystals rest on the grid. At least two known Pylons also have a large green viewing orb suspended beyond the crystal matrix table used as a visual display.
Note: In Season 3, the Pylons were redesigned after many of the original sets were destroyed. The new Pylons were dull in color and the interior had clearly defined stone walls and floors with a mica-like appearance. Likewise, the matrix tables were redesigned with a stone pedestal and a grid of all-red crystals.
At least one Pylon, the Sun Pylon, features a circular hatch that can be opened and closed with the aid of a special blue crystal “key”. It is the only Pylon which is known to be directly above the Lost City tunnels and the only known black Pylon. Although it’s possible that the Sun Pylon’s hatch is unique given the unusual exterior color and the fact that it is referred to as “special”, it’s conceivable that most (if not all) Pylons might have been erected above such tunnels and would possibly have similar floor hatches as well.
Pylons are part of the fundamental infrastructure of the Land of the Lost; when the light crystals on their crystal matrix tables are tampered with, all manner of effects on the Land can be produced. Examples include causing storms, opening and closing time doorways, triggering earthquakes, and even manipulating the rate at which celestial bodies travel through the sky. Pylons appear to have specialized functions; a “weather Pylon” controls rain, a “clock Pylon” controls the movement of celestial bodies, etc. The synchronization of the pylons with heavenly bodies is also seen in the episode “Pylon Express”; one pylon only opens when the three moons are aligned.
The episode “The Possession” presents the idea that the Pylons were built by the Altrusians. In David Gerrold’s backstory for the series he confirms this, explaining that the Altrusians built the entire Land and everything in it as a way-station intended to let travelers cross between various places. The time doorways are gateways which allow their users to cross into the Land on their way to their destination. The reason that travel through the time doorways is unpredictable, at best, is that the Land has fallen into disrepair in the time since it was built. However, the series as presented remains unclear on this subject.
While the matrix tables are represented in the show as being crucial to the operation of the Pylons, they are sometimes found in caverns as well. Outside of the Pylons, the most frequent use of one is in Enik’s chamber inside the Lost City. This particular matrix is primarily keyed to the dimensional doorways but has also been shown capable of converting matter such as when Enik transforms the entrance to his cave into solid rock. Another matrix table is located in a cavern discovered in “Split Personality”. This table also appears to be able to open doorways and was shown to connect with a parallel universe.
In the 2009 movie, the Pylons have existed since the dawn of Time and – like those of the series – were created to make travel throughout time and space possible. However, in a design departure, the Pylons come to a point at its apex and appear to be made of pure crystal so clear that they are virtually invisible to the normal eye. The crystal emits sonic vibrations which distort soundwaves. While the interior of the Pylons appear to be as interdimensionally vast as those in the series, they were more than an empty void. In the film’s script, the writers describe the inside of the Pylons as a constantly shifting perspective like “an M.C. Escher optical illusion”. Numerous white “floors” could be seen floating in the distance amidst rotating shards of crystal with the floor nearest the doorway possessing a matrix table that seems to appear from nowhere. This table closely resembles the one in the 1991 series with clear shards of various lengths that change color when touched. The table itself seems to lack any type of base or foundation. Instead, it appears to hover over the floor.