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What's Etherium? In a universe beyond reality, it's that void between planets. You can breathe in it. It teems with life of every shape and texture. Amongst the stars, mighty space galleons sail, propelled by solar winds. Gigantic Orcus Galactici swim through its temporal seas. And throughout its infinite reach, Earth does not exist.

Etherium is the stuff of dreams. It's also the domain of Treasure Planet, Disney's latest animated motion picture. For directors John Musker and Ron Clements, it's the fulfillment of a dream that has lasted over 17 years.

"When I was a kid." Clements recalls, "I was a big fan of Disney and science fiction. And I thought, 'Gee, Disney should do something in that genre. A space fantasy would be cool.' "

Clements eventually teamed with Musker — they co-directed The Great Mouse Detective (1986) — but still searched for a property that might become Disney's foray into animated space opera. He found that concept in the classic 1883 novel written by Robert Louis Stevenson.

"Treasure Island came to mind." says Clements. "It's the ultimate adventure story. It has wonderful elements — with the quest for treasure and the coming-of-age rite-of-passage story. Treasure Island was a cultural phenomenon in the 19th century. It was a bit like Star Wars, in that Stevenson took all these great elements from other pirate and adventure stories and mixed it all together in a way that had never been done before. It became a huge sensation."