p. 00 pp. 12-13 p. 15 p. 52

THE SOLAR SAILER, A fragile-looking vehicle that resembles a satellite with vast gossamer wings, glides along a beam of yellowish light. As weightless as a specter, it sails through great canyons of angled metal and above a floor that pulses with patterns of color, floating toward its redoubtable destination: the fortresslike headquarters of the Master Control Program, ruler of this strange, glittering world.

The most remarkable thing about this and other sequences in Tron, Walt Disney Productions’ new $20 million science-fiction feature, is that nothing in the frame has any physical reality. There are no models of the Solar Sailer, no miniature sets of the faceted canyons. They exist as ideas in the mind of writer-director Steven Lisberger, as sketches by his designers — including Moebius (Jean Giraud of Heavy Metal), airbrush artist Peter Lloyd and futurist Syd Mead — and as pulses of energy in the memory banks of computers.

Lisberger and his associate, producer Don Kushner, have been planning this fantastic adventure, which takes place inside the circuitry of a mammoth computer, since 1976. A stocky man of thirty—one with dark hair and dark eyes and a trim beard, Lisberger radiates an intensity and tension that sometimes suggest a toy that has been wound one turn too tight. His attention bounces from subject to subject, and he speaks with equal enthusiasm about right—left brain functions, elements of Chinese and Meso-American art, and Tron.