Pixel Scroll 9/4/21 I Have Become Pixel, Scroller Of Worlds

(1) A HARD ROAD. Sue Burke, author of The Immunity Index, and whose Semiosis made the Arthur C. Clarke Award shortlist and was a John W. Campbell Memorial Award finalist, summarizes the SF novel’s journey from manuscript to print, through editorial and beyond to ‘earn out’ in “Getting a book published” at SF2 Concatenation.

…Here comes the first mistake. I got to work on 20th March 2018, reviewing a folder of notes I have for ideas for stories, and I found one that I liked. Many writers have praised the creative freedom of pantsing (writing by the seat of one’s pants or making it up as you go along) a work, so although I’d previously worked with more or less complex outlines and plotting, I decided to give pantsing a go. It didn’t work. The initial draft was limp and only half as long as it needed to be.

Chastened, I reviewed ideas for ways to improve and expand the failure. This time I made notes and, eventually, crafted a plan. I added another character, rearranged some chapters, and complicated the conflict…

(2) CHARACTER WITH A LONG CAREER. Dark Worlds Quarterly contributor G.W. Thomas shares his appreciation for “The Cappen Varra Stories of Poul Anderson”.

…Shared Worlds of the 1970s

And that should have been the end of our wandering bard, but an unusual thing happened at the end of the 1970s. Robert Aspirin and Lynn Abbey cooked up the idea of the “Shared World“. With Poul’s encouragement the concept of a collection of stories where characters, setting and events coalesce between the authors to create a larger experience exploded as Thieves’ World. (There were others: Ithkar and Liavek being two of the more successful competitors.) The series ran for twelve volumes as well as a dozen novels. Poul saw it as a chance to bring Cappen Varra back! “The Gate of Flying Knives” (Thieves’ World, 1979) was the third story in the first collection. It would be Anderson’s only contribution….

(3) AN APPENDIX YOU CAN’T DO WITHOUT. Howard Andrew Jones pops up again, this time profiling historical adventure fiction author Harold Lamb for Goodman Games, where he explains why Lamb’s work is relevant for SFF fans: “Appendix N Archaeology: Harold Lamb”.

Much as I’d like to hope that Gary Gygax read Harold Lamb, he’s unlikely to have found his way to any of Lamb’s most influential work. It’s not that Lamb wasn’t in print. From the 1940s on, his histories and biographies were a mainstay on library shelves, and many modern libraries retain his books to this day. But as fine as they are – and some of them are very fine indeed – Lamb’s histories and biographies weren’t the texts that were important to Appendix N….

(4) CRIME FICTION CAREER LAUNCH. Astronaut Chris Hadfield has written a murder mystery. According to this review from Shots Mag, it is quite good: “The Apollo Murders”.

When the author has flown two Space Shuttle missions and was the commander of the International Space Station, you know that the technical details in the story are going to be accurate, integral to the story and lend the reader a real sense of being ‘there’….

(5) SHANG-CHI NEWS. In the Washington Post, David Betancourt interviews Shang-Chi star Simu Liu, who explains how Liu’s six-year campaign to get Marvel to cast him as a superhero finally paid off. “Simu Liu of ‘Shang-Chi’ finally gets the role he always wanted”.

Long before he became Shang-Chi, Simu Liu was convinced that the only way he’d be an Asian superhero on an American movie screen was to craft the story himself.

So he did. Twice.

At the age of 22, Liu crafted a wholestory bible for the Japanesemutant X-Men member Sunfire, certain it was his best bet to land a Marvel role.Years later, while a member of the Young Emerging Actors Assembly in Toronto, Liu spent $2,000 to direct, write and star in the 2015 short film called “Crimson Defender vs. The Slightly Racist Family,” about an Asian superhero who rescues a family that doesn’t believe he is a superhero because he is Asian.

Neither of those moments resulted in Liu being fitted for capes. But when Marvel Studios announced “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” would be itsfirst movie with an Asian superhero in the lead role, the 32-year-old star of the TV series“Kim’s Convenience” was convinced he was ready before he ever got a phone call. He even tweeted “are we gonna talk or what” at the Marvel Entertainment account….

Kat Moon explains how she as an Asian American feels better represented by Shang-Chi than by any other Hollywood blockbuster: “Shang-Chi Made Me Feel Seen Like No Other Hollywood Film Has” in TIME.

It wasn’t a profound scene in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings that made me feel instantly connected to the film—not the Mandarin narration that opened the movie or even the early references to customs specific to Chinese culture like eating zhou, or congee, for breakfast and tomb-sweeping on the annual Qingming Festival. Of course, those storytelling choices told me that the latest Marvel superhero movie was crafted with viewers like me in mind. But it was a moment around 30 minutes in that let me know for certain I was watching my life experiences reflected on the big screen in a way Hollywood has rarely done: when Ronny Chieng’s character, Jon Jon, exclaims, “Wakao!”…

(6) DUNE EARLY RETURNS. The New York Times’ Kyle Buchanan says “Venice Film Festival: ‘Dune’ Leaves Us With 3 Big Questions”. The second is —

Will ‘Dune’ be a major Oscar player?

Part of what’s so striking about “Dune” is that Villeneuve has a sense of texture that’s rare among big-budget filmmakers. When a character falls in battle, Villeneuve is besotted with the way the man’s eyelashes flutter as he dies. And during the assault on a character’s compound, the camera drifts from the action to show us magnificent palm trees that have been set aflame, their leafy crowns now a starburst of destruction.

Though sci-fi movies can sometimes be a hard sell with Oscar voters, I suspect that Villeneuve’s distinctive eye will distinguish “Dune,” as the movie looks undeniably ravishing. A ton of below-the-line nominations are guaranteed, including Greig Fraser’s cinematography and the production design by Patrice Vermette. The score (by Hans Zimmer), sound and editing are all more daring than this genre usually allows: The aural soundscape and artsy crosscutting feel almost designed to draw you into a spice-induced trance.

And I haven’t even gotten to the fashion! The costume design (by Jacqueline West and Bob Morgan) is a stunner, and especially during the first hour of the film — with Rebecca Ferguson wearing outrageous space-nun sheaths and a veiled Charlotte Rampling dressed like the Green Knight in Gaultier — “Dune” can seem like a moody high-fashion shoot that occasionally includes spaceships. (I mean this as a good thing.)

Villeneuve’s last film, “Blade Runner 2049,” scored five Oscar nominations and won its cinematographer Roger Deakins a long-overdue Academy Award. Still, the movie couldn’t break into the two top Oscar categories, best picture and best director. Does “Dune” stand a better chance?

I’m taking the wait-and-see approach here….

(7) C.S. LEWIS CONFERENCE IN ROMANIA. The 5th International Interdisciplinary Conference devoted to the life and work of C. S. Lewis, “Of This and Other Worlds,” will be held November 18-20 in Iasi, Romania. Register here. Registration deadline: November 1. An excerpt from the call for papers follows:

The fifth C. S. Lewis conference focuses on C. S. Lewis and his literary and academic kin as creators of worlds. His entire work testifies to his fascination with alternative universes, from his scholarly exploration of Medieval literature, with its haunting myths and arcane symbolism, through his fiction, to his apologetics, where Christianity is seen as a parallel kingdom seeking to be reinstated in “an enemy-occupied territory”. From pain to love, through faith and imagination, he opened a spectrum of realities inviting exploration and reflection. The collection of essays by Lewis alluded to in the title of this year’s conference spans both this and other worlds: “this” realm, which we inhabit, is the necessary, unavoidable starting point for any explorers, conquerors, pilgrims, even refugees into the “others”.

Those willing to venture into the exploration of the worlds of imagination created by C. S. Lewis and kindred spirits are invited to contribute papers in the areas of semiotics, narratology, literary studies (with a special focus on fantasy, on possible worlds in language structures, at the crossroads between referential semantics and fiction studies), translation studies (the challenge of translating fantasy for readerships of various ages and its effect on reception), philosophy, logic, theology, cultural and arts studies, including any interdisciplinary permutation or cross-pollination.

Interested participants are invited to send a 200-250-word abstract for peer-review to the Conference Committee via the organizers: Dr. Rodica Albu (rodica.albu@gmail.com), Dr. Denise Vasiliu (denise_vasiliu@yahoo.com), Dr. Teodora Ghivirig? (teoghivi@Yahoo.com)

Deadline for proposal submission: 25 September 2021…

(8) MEMORY LANE.

  • 1975 – Forty-six years ago this night, Space: 1999 premiered on such stations as Los Angeles KHJ-TV. It was distributed by ITV and produced by Group Three Productions (the first season) and Gerry Anderson Productions (the second and final season). It starred as its headliners Barbara Bain and Martin Landau, previously of Mission: Impossible fame. It was created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson who before this had done only such SF marionette puppetry series as ThunderbirdsStingray and Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. It would last but forty eight episodes of around fifty minutes. Setting John Clute aside who thought it had “mediocre acting” and “rotten scripts”, most critics at the time actually liked it and audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a very splendid eighty six percent rating. You can stream it on Amazon.

(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born September 4, 1916 — Robert A. W. Lowndes. He was known best as the editor of Future Science FictionScience Fiction, and Science Fiction Quarterly (mostly published in the late Thirties and early Forties) for Columbia Publications. He was a principal member of the Futurians, and a horror writer with a bent towards all things Lovecraftian ever since as a young fan, he received two letters of encouragement from H. P. Lovecraft. And yes, he’s a member of the First Fandom Hall of Fame. (Died 1998.)
  • Born September 4, 1924 — Ray Russell. His most famous story is considered by most to be “Sardonicus” which was published first in Playboy magazine, and was then adapted by him into a screenplay for William Castle’s Mr. Sardonicus. He wrote three novels, The Case Against SatanIncubus and Absolute Power. He’s got World Fantasy and Stoker Awards for Lifetime Achievement. “Sardonicus” is included in Haunted Castles: The Complete Gothic Stories which is available from the usual suspects. (Died 1999.)
  • Born September 4,1924 — Joan Aiken. I’d unreservedly say her Wolves Chronicles were her best works. Of the many, many in that series, The Wolves of Willoughby Chase featuring the characters of Bonnie Green, Sylvia Green and Simon is I think the essential work to read even though The Whispering Mountain is supposed to a prequel to the series — I don’t think it’s essential reading. (Or very interesting.) The Wolves of Willoughby Chase is certainly the one in the series I saw stocked regularly in my local bookstores before the Pandemic. (Died 2004.)
  • Born September 4, 1938 — Dick York. He is best remembered as the first Darrin Stephens on Bewitched. He was a teen in the police station in Them!, an early SF film which is considered the very first giant bug film. He’d showed up in myriad Alfred Hitchcock Presents, several episodes of Twilight Zone and has a one-off on the original Fantasy Island. (There’s now been three series.) He voiced his character Darrin Stephens in the “Samantha” episode of The Flintstones. (Died 1992.)
  • Born September 4, 1957 — Patricia Tallman, 64. Best known as telepath Lyta Alexander on Babylon 5, a series I hold that was magnificent but ended somewhat annoyingly. She was in two episodes of Next Generation, three of Deep Space Nine and two of Voyager. She did uncredited stunt work on Deep Space Nine as she did on Voyager. Oh, and she shows up in Army of Darkness as a possessed witch. Oh, and she was the former CEO and executive producer of Studio JMS. Yeah she ran everything for J. Michael Straczynski. Very impressive indeed. 
  • Born September 4, 1962 — Karl Schroeder, 59. I first encountered him in his “Deodand” story in the METAtropolis: Cascadia audio work, so I went out and found out what else he’d done. If you’ve not read him, his Aurora Award winning Permanence is superb as all of the Vigra series. He was one of those nominated for a Long Form Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo for the first METAtropolis at Anticipation. 
  • Born September 4, 1972 — Françoise Yip, 49. She was a remarkably extensive career in genre productions including, but not limited to, Earth: Final Conflict, Andromeda, Caprica, Fringe, Predator, Robocop: Prime Directives, Seven DaysFlash Gordon, Smallville, Millennium, Shadowhunters, Arrow and Sanctuary.  Genre casting directors obviously really, really like her. Her longest running genre role was as Elizabeth Kepler in The Order, a horror series on one of those streaming services you’ve likely never heard of.
  • Born September 4, 1999 — Ellie Darcey-Alden, 22. Though she’s  best known for playing young Lily Potter in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, she’s here for being  Francesca “Franny” Latimer in the Doctor Who  Christmas special “The Snowmen”, an Eleventh Doctor story. She also played Mary in the “Total Eclipse“ episode of Robin Hood, and was in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang for the New Theatre Oxford. And she appears, as do so many others, in The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot.

(10) COMICS SECTION.

  • The Far Side shows how if Worf had known about this, that whole business with the pain sticks could’ve been avoided. 
  • Close to Home shows Spock’s version of “I’m not a doctor, I’m a —“

(11) TBR INCOMING. Fansided’s “Winter Is Coming” contributor Daniel Roman lists “15 highly anticipated fantasy and science fiction books coming this fall”. Due in October —

6. Far From the Light of Heaven by Tade Thompson (10/26)

Leaving the heavy bounds of the Earth, our next book sees us blasting into space aboard the colony ship Ragtime. Arthur C. Clarke award-winning author Tade Thompson, author of The Wormwood Trilogy, has a new standalone science fiction novel coming out that promises to be filled with deep moral quandaries and spiritual reckonings. Far From the Light of Heaven is billed as a mystery meets sci-fi political thriller in space. The acting captain of the Ragtime has to team up with an investigator and several other intriguing characters to unravel a bloody mystery that is taking place aboard her ship.

(12) ASTRONOMY PICTURE OF THE DAY. From NASA: Astronomy Picture of the Day. Description follows.

Image Credit & CopyrightDennis Huff

Explanation: Not the Hubble Space Telescope’s latest view of a distant galactic nebula, this illuminated cloud of gas and dust dazzled early morning spacecoast skygazers on August 29. The snapshot was taken at 3:17am from Space View Park in Titusville, Florida. That’s about 3 minutes after the launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on the CRS-23 mission to resupply the International Space Station. It captures drifting plumes and exhaust from the separated first and second stage of the rocket rising through still dark skies. The lower bright dot is the second stage continuing on to low Earth orbit. The upper one is the rocket’s first stage performing a boostback burn. Of course the first stage booster returned to make the first landing on the latest autonomous drone ship to arrive in the Atlantic, A Short Fall of Gravitas.

(13) EARLY ARRIVAL. Slash Film says these are “20 Movies About Aliens That You Definitely Need To Watch”. One of them is not what you might expect at first glance.

The Arrival

Not to be confused with a later entry on this list, 1996’s “The Arrival” stars a Charlie Sheen still at the height of his health and talent, and pits him against the terrifyingly competent Ron Silver. Sheen plays a radio astronomer who intercepts an unusual transmission from a nearby star and is blackballed from his industry for revealing its extraterrestrial origins. From there, a tangled conspiracy drives him towards the truth: the aliens are already here, and the rapid shift in our planet’s climate is meant to kill off humanity and create comfortable new digs for our new guests.

Directed by Peter Twohy, who would go on to create the Riddick franchise with Vin Diesel, “The Arrival” is surprisingly prescient with how it illustrates today’s climate change fears. A niche topic of conversation at the time, relegated to Al Gore jokes and nervous but unheard scientists, these digitigrade alien mimics are almost comforting now. They suggest that our inevitable future can be controlled — and, in a way that’s all too relatable, imply that someone else will have a good time on this planet at our expense….

[Thanks to Andrew Porter, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, Cora Buhlert, Rich Lynch, Lise Andreasen, Michael Toman, John King Tarpinian,  Cat Eldridge, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to contributing editor of the day Kevin Harkness.]

60 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 9/4/21 I Have Become Pixel, Scroller Of Worlds

  1. First!

    (8) MEMORY LANE. I had to think hard if I remember watching Space: 1999 when it first aired. I’m sure I did but I’ll be damned if this far on that I remember much about it. What do y’all remember about it?

  2. @Cat: Honestly I think what I remember most from Space 1999 is the ITC logo and fanfare at the end of each episode.

  3. (4) Good! (I pre-ordered it.)

    (6) When the Atreides are attacked on Arrakis, IIRC – the palms are outside, a big water-use thing, so of course they’re going to be destroyed.

    (8) Um, 46 years ago was 1975.

  4. Andrew (not Werdna) says Honestly I think what I remember most from Space 1999 is the ITC logo and fanfare at the end of each episode.

    Me too at this point. Did you know that Mattel released a two foot model of the Eagle? There’s lot of them for sale on eBay for a considerable amount of money. Not on my list of things to acquire.

  5. I recall Spider Robinson reviewing the first episode of Space: 1999 and saying something along the lines of, “If you’ve been living in a cave and haven’t heard the premise of this series, go ask an SF fan and wait for him to stop laughing. Bring a lunch.”

  6. (9) “Doc” Lowndes was still going strong in the 50s. Although by the 60s the mags he edited were low circulation mostly reprint titles.

  7. 8) When I was a sf radio talk show host back in 1976, my pet name for Space:1999 was Space:1939.

    And as much as I admire the talents of Barbara Bain and the late Martin Landau, my opinion of it has not changed one iota…

  8. Stephen Fritter: And Doc Lowndes was still writing letters of comment to Geis’ fanzines when I got into fandom in the Seventies.

  9. That Slash Film article has THE ARRIVAL’s director name wrong. There are a lot of Twohy’s listed on IMDB, but “Peter Twohy” isn’t any of them. The film’s director was DAVID Twohy, probably best known for the Riddick films.

    The David Twohy film I most remember, though, was his first directorial effort, GRAND TOUR: DISASTER IN TIME (aka TIMESCAPE), an adaptation of Kuttner & Moore’s “Vintage Season”. I thought he did a decent job as both scriptwriter and director in fleshing out the novella into a full-length screenplay, though some people have expressed reservations with the changes and additional plot elements he included. And some of the film’s budgetary restraints are very visible. (The time tourists’ device is disguised as a date-stamp like you might find in almost any business desk for the film’s period, activated when the tour’s guide stamps the next date onto a tourist’s passport.)

    I think I saw GRAND TOUR: DISASTER IN TIME as one of those VHS tapes you’d rent almost at random from Blockbuster whenever (often) none of the films you’d wanted to rent were on the shelves. I was pleasantly surprised.

  10. (8) “…Gerry and Sylvia Anderson who before this had done only such SF marionette puppetry series as…” This doesn’t take into account their predominantly live-action film Journey to the Far Side of the Sun (1969) and TV series UFO (1970-71).

    Disaster in Time (1992) can be heard at listentoamovie.com, under the title Timescape.

  11. Space: 1999, marked down from 2001

    You can’t hold me responsible for that. I’m not awake, and we don’t control what silly stuff our dreams toss up.

  12. (8) Still a fairly great TV series with its own style (and the music, by Barry Gray, in some countries replaced by a new soundtrack by no other than Morricone!). Buy the blu-ray edition if you want to watch it in the best available quality (Amazon? No way, that’s not a company that ever will get my money, if I can help it, for obvious reasons)

  13. Space: 1999 is very much a game of two halves; the first season had remarkably high production values (mostly through a deal with an Italian TV production company), and, yes, the premise was totally bonkers, and the scripts frequently misfired, but it was weird and ambitious and – on the occasions when it worked – it could be genuinely impressive.

    The second season saw the end of the Italian co-production, and Fred Freiburger (who you may know as the person who made the third season of the original Star Trek so tatty) was brought on to rearrange everything, and the production values plummeted and the scripts ranged from the dismal to the outright idiotic; strictly routine space-opera stuff at best. So, watch the first season if you’re going to watch it at all, would be my advice.

  14. I remember watching the first episode of Space: 1999, when it premiered on German TV sometime around 1979, and being terrified, when the moon broke away from the Earth and the Alpha base almost fell into a crater. In my defence, I was five or six at the time.

    When the show was rerun sometime in the 1990s, I watched it again as part of a quest to rewatch movies that had terrified me as a kid to exorcise them. I quicikly realised that there was nothing to be terrified of (except maybe the scripts) and that the show wasn’t very good in spite of a talented cast. Though the special effects were excellent for a pre-Star Wars show and George Lucas actually recruited Brian Johnson who did the effects for Space 1999 for The Empire Strikes back.

    I did know that there was an Eagle toy (there were also action figures) and in fact, the Eagle toy featured in a car commercial a few years ago (little boy plays with Eagle model that’s older than his Dad and then decides that Dad’s brand new car is much cooler, while I crave the Eagle model rather than the car). I always thought the director of the commercial must have been a fan, because an Eagle toy is such a weirdly specific thing to put in there.

    Talking of rewatching movies/TV shows that scared me as a kid to exorcise them, there is one I have never been able to find again. It was a western, very likely a Hollywood movie from the 1950s or 1960s (I saw it on TV in the late 1970s). Probably higher budget and definitely in colour. There is a trek of pioneers in covered waggons travelling through a mountain range. One of them is a young woman with braided blonde or red hair in a flowery dress. The trek has to cross a very narrow and very tall bridge acoss a mountain chams. The bridge fails and the covered waggons tumble into the abyss.

    This scene is all I remember. It terrified me as a kid and also left me with a lingering phobia of tall and narrow bridges across valleys. I’d really like to watch it again, so if anybody knows what it might be, let me know.

  15. The second season saw the end of the Italian co-production, and Fred Freiburger (who you may know as the person who made the third season of the original Star Trek so tatty) was brought on to rearrange everything, and the production values plummeted and the scripts ranged from the dismal to the outright idiotic; strictly routine space-opera stuff at best. So, watch the first season if you’re going to watch it at all, would be my advice.

    Though the sexy shapeshifter played by Catherine Schell shows up in season 2, as far as I recall.

  16. 8) What I mostly remember about Space: 1999 is the Eagles (I think a friend actually had that Mattel Eagle toy, and I was extremely jealous), and one particular episode, Dragon’s Domain, that scared the pants off of nine-year-old me. (There was a graveyard of derelict spaceships, and in one of them was a very scary door with tentacles.)

    Also that Barry Morse left the show between S1 and S2 (I believe) and because there wasn’t anywhere (in-universe) for him to have gone, they kind of retroactively killed him off with a line of dialogue in S2 about him having gotten a malfunctioning spacesuit.

  17. 2) My favorite continues to be Merovingen Nights; some of the songs are in my repertoire. (As soon as real live filksings happen again (if I live that long), I will be adding the song about Merovin’s seasonal plague.)

    9) Tallman was the high point, I suppose, of the entirely unnecessary Nineties remake of Night of the Living Dead.

  18. 3) Harold Lamb is best read in small doses, I think. He can be quite good but he doesn’t have the exuberance or the exoticism of Howard – stolid is a word that comes to mind. I think his real interest was a particular set of “manly virtues” (bravery and steadfastness, mostly) which he was happy to ascribe to whatever historical figure caught his eye. And to his credit, that means he deals less in racist stereotypes than Howard or other purely pulp writers.

  19. Cora Buhlert on September 4, 2021 at 9:54 pm said:

    Though the sexy shapeshifter played by Catherine Schell shows up in season 2, as far as I recall.

    And wasn’t her dad Brian Blessed or did I imagine that?
    I saw season 2 before season 1 and it was on at a weird time – like Sunday lunchtime or something.

  20. Ditto on Dragon’s Domain. also the genuinely creepy one where a man is haunted by himself.

    Really enjoyed season one, the second was a mess unfortunately. The background extras could be surprisingly diverse for a 70’s show.

    ETA: both Schell and Blessed are also in season one as different characters. In Guardian of Piri and Death’s Other Dominion.

  21. I’m another who was terrified by Dragons Domain and who really wanted a toy Eagle. Like Ian, I remember some of the sets being nicely ‘alien’.

  22. (8) I remember being excited about the upcoming show. In an article, I’d read that the makers of Space: 1999 hired a famous avant-garde fashion designer to design the costumes. And I was disappointed in the result. Is it just me? It was great that they were unisex, so the women weren’t wearing miniskirts. But I guess I expected more.

    I watched some episodes but didn’t really get into the show. Years later, I watched a couple of earlier episodes to see some of the actors. I should give it another try — and on Blu-Ray.

    I might have been influenced by some of the comments from Asimov or other SF writers that made it into newspapers. The whole idea of propelling the moon into space… Uhm… It seems they had SF writers consulting on the show, but they must have really wanted to use this idea anyway. (And apparently, they got a lot of other things right.)

  23. 6: Wow.

    You know a film is in trouble when the critics for high-profile venues start (and end) their commentary by mentioning everything EXCEPT for the plot and acting.

    Yes, guilty as charged of criticizing without having seen naught but the trailer, but there are patterns one becomes familiar with over time and the “positive, gushing review of everything that goes into making a movie, rather than positive gushing over the movie”, by the critics who a studio is most likely to have had someone “talk” to is becoming cliche at this point.

    8: I was too old to be “scared” by Space:1999, but not too old to throw up in my mouth a little bit while watching the first few episodes. Stupid show ruined watching Mission: Impossible re-runs too.

  24. steve Davidson comments I was too old to be “scared” by Space:1999, but not too old to throw up in my mouth a little bit while watching the first few episodes. Stupid show ruined watching Mission: Impossible re-runs too.

    Paramount+ has the complete run of Mission: Impossible on it, so occasionally I watch several of them in the background as I’m doing something else. I had forgotten that Peter Graves didn’t join the cast until the second season.

    Now listening to Machine and my opinion of it is actually improving greatly as I experience this second go-around. It is a better novel than Ancestral Night after all.

  25. I remember a columnist in Starlog years ago writing that the first season of Space: 1999 works better if you think of it as being horror rather than SF. I think the same writer also came up with the MUF theory, that in episodes like Breakaway, Black Sun, Collision Course, and others a Mysterious Unknown Force was protecting Alpha.

    A very small press, Powys Media, has been doing a series of tie-in novels over the last twenty years, but the last few books have spent too much time turning the MUF into a mundane and known force. Sometimes mystery is better.

  26. @Patrick Morris Miller — I never read any of the Merovingen Nights shared-world anthologies, but I do remember enjoying Angel with the Sword, the novel that C.J. Cherryh wrote to establish the setting, and wish it would get an eBook release.

  27. I might have been influenced by some of the comments from Asimov or other SF writers that made it into newspapers. The whole idea of propelling the moon into space

    Of course, Asimov had toyed with the idea of a dirigible Moon years earlier, in The Gods Themselves. An extremist wants to guarantee Lunar independence by importing momentum from parallel universes to send the Moon on its way. This is treated as doable but neither practical or reasonable.

  28. A while back on a fannish email list a few of us tried to imagine a rationalized revived Space: 1999: the premise would have been that the humans on the Moon accidentally activated a damaged alien device that transported the Moon periodically via a wormhole network to some random location on that network. Goofy, but better than an explosion launching the moon onto an FTL trajectory.

  29. (8) I remember watching episodes of Space:1999 in the 1970s when I was 8 or 9 and really liking it, while my mother, who was a big Star Trek fan, really didn’t like it.

    Then, in the mid-1980s, we finally got cable TV and we got the SciFi Channel (an Space:1999 reruns) and the Cartoon Network (before they put all the old cartoons on Boomerang) and I remember thinking “I had no taste or judgment when I was younger.” On the other hand, my mother’s response to the Space:1999 reruns was that she’d been overly harsh and it was actually better than she remembered.

  30. Meredith moment: Ada Palmer’s Too Like the Lightning is available from the usual suspects for two dollars and ninety nine cents. She was the winner of the Astounding Award for the Best New Science Fiction Writer, and the novel was nominated at Worldcon ‘75 for a Hugo.

  31. The premise of Space: 1999 becomes marginally less ridiculous if you watch the episodes in their intended order (the original ITV broadcasts were in some random order that I don’t immediately recall, which is often the way with ITV). The idea was that the moon was blasted out of Earth’s orbit in the first episode (“Breakaway”); in the second (“Matter of Life and Death”), they investigate the rogue planet that was mentioned in the first; the third is “Black Sun”, which sees the moon sucked down a black hole, protected by a cosmic force which might be God, and spat out again in some other place; from then on, the moon is moving through a star cluster where stars are much closer together than they are in the vicinity of Earth. It still doesn’t entirely make sense, but it all hangs together a bit better if you watch it in the intended order. (There are a few other things that work better, as well – instances of character development, or the way the first few planetary missions involve careful crew selection and preparation, while later on it’s just “pile aboard Eagle One and let’s go”.) The whole thing is supposed to wrap up with the Moon meeting its pre-ordained destiny in “Testament of Arkadia”, which… um… isn’t a very successful conclusion, if I’m honest.

    I agree that the spookier episodes – “Dragon’s Domain”, “The Troubled Spirit”, “Force of Life” – are among the best; there are some other stand-outs like “Earthbound”, “Voyager’s Return”, “Death’s Other Dominion” (where John Shrapnel acts Brian Blessed right off the screen, IMO). There are some pretty notable turkeys as well, I have to admit. But overall I feel it’s worth watching.

    (Yes, I have spent far too much time thinking about this!)

  32. Pingback: AMAZING NEWS FROM FANDOM: September Fifth, Twenty Twenty One - Amazing Stories

  33. Eh, I was amongst those disappointed by Space: 1999. Then again, I was a hard-core UFO fan with a hard crush on Ed Bishop (hey, I was a young teen) and just didn’t care for the first episode.

  34. I loved Gerry Anderson’s UFO. It was a great series. Who can forget the women on the Moonbase with their purple wigs?

    UFO aired first in the UK and then in North America. After its UK run there were no plans for a second season but following its success in NA they decided to do another season. But there were delays. Eventually what had started out as the second season of UFO became Space:1999.

  35. @Cathy — I had a very similar experience with the original Lost in Space. I remember literally running home from school in first grade so that I could plop myself in front of the TV and watch it; and then, years later, I was in my college dorm lounge at about 2:30 in the morning and an episode of Lost in Space came up on the TV and it was terrible.

    I do still like the opening credits, especially of the episodes that were in color.

    @Dennis Howard — I was going to say that I never saw UFO but I remember having a children’s book from the series; but after a bit of research, the book was actually from The Invaders (which I also never saw).

  36. @steve davidson, re Dune: that NYTimes piece is an article about certain aspects of the movie, not a review.

  37. When I first watched UFO back in 1971 or so, the show did things I had never seen before in a science fiction TV show. In one episode Ed Straker had to choose between stopping a potential alien invasion vs. saving his son. His son died.

  38. (8) I feel UFO was a much better series (and also had Benedict Cumberbatch’s mom in it). Space 1999 was even more boring and bland than their costumes. There’s a story that when they started doing live action, Anderson said “This is great. We just tell the actors what to do and they can do it.” After a bit he started saying “I miss the puppets. We could make them do whatever we wanted them to do.” LOL

    (9) Patricia Tallman was also quite good in George Romero’s “Knightriders” playing a character with strong parallels to Elaine the Fair Maid of Astolat.

  39. I thought, “huh, I don’t remember a sexy shapeshifter on Space: 1999. Then I remembered why.

    I loved UFO fiercely, and was devastated when it wasn’t continued. I had high hopes for Space: 1999 and was bitterly disappointed. I think I abandoned it after 2 episodes.

     
    Dennis Howard: When I first watched UFO back in 1971 or so, the show did things I had never seen before in a science fiction TV show. In one episode Ed Straker had to choose between stopping a potential alien invasion vs. saving his son. His son died.

    That was one of the things I loved about it, too – that it explored hard situations and didn’t take the Hollywood ending. I remember the episode where Foster crashes on the moon and he and one of the “evil” aliens work together to survive, and when he is finally rescued, they kill the alien before he can stop them. It was a really moving exploration of the idea that what seems cut and dried good vs. evil isn’t necessarily so.

    There’s also an episode where a woman and her lover are plotting to kill her husband. In the end, the SHADO operatives have to let this happen, because if they stopped it, it would cause a public investigation into SHADO.

    A few years back, I rewatched all of the episodes (they’re on YouTube). The series has held up remarkably well for being 50 years old.

     
    gottacook: Journey to the Far Side of the Sun
    I saw that on late-night TV. It was called Doppelgänger when I saw it. I was still pretty young and thought the movie was really mindblowing. Then I saw it again years later and the Suck Fairy had had a go at it. 😐

  40. Steve Wright: Your thoughts in defense of Space:1999 are the kind of thing that keep Fandom fascinating. Everyone’s comments make great reading.

  41. @JJ, I agree that it has held up well. “The Complete UFO Megaset” was the very first DVD series collection I bought when I got my first DVD player. I still have it.

  42. (8) I saw a few of the Space: 1999 episodes a year or so ago. It occurred to me that the show might make more sense if you just drop the idea that Commander John Koenig is a capable leader who usually does the right thing. I mean, since he’s the main character, and played by Martin Landau, that would be the most likely assumption. But what if Commander Koenig is a mediocre middle manager who is way out of his depth commanding what is, in effect, an out-of-control spaceship with no links to the central administration and its supply chain? Once I started thinking of Koenig as Michael Scott from The Office, Space:1999 became a little more interesting.

  43. @Jim Meadows: That does make a lot of sense. If the moon isn’t a particularly elite posting, its commander isn’t going to be a top performer.

  44. (8) I remember seeing Space 1999 when it first aired in the UK. Unfortunately it was scheduled opposite Doctor Who and I tried to follow both programmes by switching rapidly between channels.
    As I recall there was more than one model of the eagle transporter available. I know there was a die cast metal one and a plastic construction kit version. There was also a plastic model of the hawk, a military version of the eagle that featured in a handful of episodes.
    There were also some tie in novels published at the time, I remember reading ones by E.C. Tubb and John Rankine.

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