Imagine, if you will, an Earth where history did not write that we pulled back after the Apollo missions to the Moon; that we did not turn giant leaps forward into tiny, hesitant, almost backwards crawling motions. Instead, imagine history wrote that after we took those first few steps, we continued taking more, even bolder leaps, expanding lunar exploration, sending ever-increasing numbers of missions -- robotic and human-crewed -- into the rest of the solar system.
Disasters only increased our international resolve, especially after a brief but nearly catastophic war that vividly reminded us of the value of life, and prompted unprecedented multi-cultural, international cooperation that sped up humanity's progress into space.
By the year 1999, humanity had invented new and more powerful spaceships (including one type named in honor of the first manned lunar lander -- "Eagle"), partially domesticated the forces of artifical gravity, taken up permanent residence on the Moon, and was on the verge of launching the first people beyond the confines of our solar system. We were also dealing with the difficult problem of what to do with massive amounts of nuclear waste. Years before, we had begun storing it in special dumps on the far side of the Moon.
This is where Space: 1999 begins.
As the countdown to the launch of humanity's first extra-solar spaceship continues, a new commander is sent to Moonbase Alpha to deal with a deadly situation threatening the launch; while no one is aware that another, more sinister countdown is already underway, one that is set to reach zero much sooner, and affect far more than the mission. People have been dying on Moonbase Alpha, and the new commander quickly finds the very adminstrator who assigned him to deal with the situation has also been obscuring its severity.
Once it becomes clear that the warning signs point to an overlooked form of chain reaction building up in the nuclear waste dumps, they try to stop it. The futility of their attempts becomes horrifyingly clear in the light of a sudden false dawn of an enormous nuclear explosion, which in its minutes-long burn acts as a tremendous engine, propelling the Moon out of the solar system, to begin an incredible -- however unexpected and involuntary -- journey of discovery. They become castaways on a fast-floating island -- a Moon they can rarely control -- encountering alien beings and forces, as well as other human or no longer quite-so-human castaways.
The Alphans have only their wits, hope, and limited resources to use as they try to survive in a sometimes friendly, but often indifferent or hostile universe; one that is filled with a bewildering array of aliens ranging from the near-human, to the bizarre or even horrifying, to the virtually incomprehensible. The Alphans are told by one alien that their 'odyssey shall know no end' and that they 'will prosper and increase in new worlds'; while others tell them they 'have no future', and are 'a contaminating organism -- a fatal virus.' Is there any truth to be found?
Almost completely cut off from an Earth which itself is dying, they struggle to find a hospitable planet to settle on; trying to escape their confined, almost sterile moonbase where survival is on a knife's edge. The wearying damage they continue to take -- physically, mentally, and emotionally -- threatens to drive them to madness or extinction. The survivors increasingly draw together; and they even welcome an alien shape-shifter, after the Alphans convince her all is not right with her father, leading to actions which result in the destruction of her world.
The choices they make are often surprising and even shocking. In often perilous times, there are no easy answers. It is often important and even vital to find the right way: the way the Alphans will not only survive, but avoid devolving into some insane, brutal semblance of themselves. There must always be hope.
This, then, is Space: 1999, the story of the strong-willed people of Moonbase Alpha, fighting to survive overwhelming odds in an unpredictable, often dangerous yet beautiful universe, learning about it and themselves -- growing in unexpected ways as they struggle to find their place in the universe.
by David Welle
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[Written in either 1997 or 1999; refrmt A-09/15/07]