Over the last couple of years, I’ve enjoyed listening to the Gerry Anderson Podcast, which discusses the shows Anderson produced along with new books, videos, and products associated with those shows. Anderson’s shows included Space: 1999, Thunderbirds, UFO, Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons and more – a few of which I’ve mentioned here at the Web Journal. Back in episodes 188 through 190 of the podcast, producer Ben Page interviewed author John Kenneth Muir, who has written books about Space: 1999, Doctor Who, the films of John Carpenter and more. Over the course of the interviews, it was clear that Muir was very knowledgeable about Space: 1999. However, I was especially interested when Muir discussed his two Space: 1999 novels, The Forsaken and The Whispering Sea. One thing that becomes clear if you watch episodes from the two seasons, is that they’re very different in look and tone. Several cast members left and new ones were introduced. In real life this had to do with a change of production staff that came as a result of a perceived need to make the show more action packed for American audiences. However, as a writer, I always find it interesting to explore ways these discrepancies can be explained within the story itself and that’s one of the things John Kenneth Muir set out to do in The Forsaken.
The Forsaken is set after the events of Space: 1999 season 1. In a typical episode setup, Earth’s moon has drifted into a solar system which contains a planet which looks suitable for colonization. The moonbase receives a mysterious signal from the planet, but it doesn’t seem hostile. While crewmembers at the base set out to translate the signal, a reconnaissance team from Moonbase Alpha, led by Command John Koenig, goes to explore. Soon after they land, the team from Alpha is beset by giant spider-like aliens. It soon turns out the spiders are effectively pets belonging to an intelligent, peaceful turtle-like species. Back on Alpha, teams have interpreted the messages and learn that the turtle-like people call themselves the Cryptodira and communicate through song. As the two sides learn to communicate with each other, we find out the Cryptodira might welcome the Alphans to come and settle. This all looks good, except that in the recent past, the Cryptodiran’s planet, Pyxidea, had been decimated by solar storms. In his explorations, Alpha’s chief scientist, Victor Bergman, finds an alien artifact used to communicate with a lifeform off the planet. It soon becomes apparent, this life form was an alien intelligence the Alphans met – and destroyed – in the episode “Space Brain.” What’s more, the alien intelligence helped to protect the Cryptodirans.
One of the things Space: 1999 did well was to explore the ways science, spirituality, and philosophy intersect. The setup of the novel gives plenty of room to explore questions of the alien intelligence’s place in the universe and whether Earth’s moon had been sent on its odyssey through space for some divine purpose. As the story continues to progress, some Alphans decide they should settle on the planet Pyxidea, others decide they should move on. The results of this conflict explain why some familiar faces don’t reappear in the second season of the series. Muir also sets up the beginning of the move from the Main Mission command center of the first season to the Command Center of the second season. Muir also anticipates some of the political dialogue we find ourselves involved in today in the United States.
All in all, The Forsaken was a fine novel that fit well into the Space: 1999 storyline. It was good to spend time with familiar characters and I look forward to reading Muir’s other novel, The Whispering Sea. You can find copies of The Forsaken at the publisher’s website: https://tkundergroundmusic.wixsite.com/powysmedia/the-forsaken
You can listen to the Gerry Anderson Podcast wherever you listen to podcasts, just search for it by name. It’s available on YouTube, iTunes, and numerous other platforms.
Of course, you can find my novels at http://www.davidleesummers.com