From: Simon Morris (firstname.lastname@example.org) Date: Sun, 24 May 1998 18:36:12 +0100 Subj: Space1999: STORY SUMMARY: [ANDROID PLANET] novel
John Rankine's first of two original SPACE 1999 tales opens with Alpha encountering the Planets Pelorus and Copreon .The computer estimates that they have 6 days in which to investigate Pelorus,a planet which appears to have no life signs. Bergman concludes that the Moon is travelling too fast to be pulled into an orbital path round the planet and is concerned at the devastation that could be caused both on the planet and on the moon due to the proximity of the two worlds. Koenig decides to mount an advance reconnaisasance of Pelorus as soon as practicable.
Before the reconnaissance team can set off, a signal is received from Pelorus. An insistent,throbbing beat,the signal renders all Alphans who hear it (relayed by the base communications system)unconscious. Alan Carter manages to get to Main Mission and terminate the signal before it does too much damage,and the personnel recover consciousness with no lasting effects. The Alphans ponder if the signal was meant to be a warning to stay away...but Sandra points out that their probes pulled the signal in rather than the signal being directed at them with malice aforethought. The command team ponder trying the planet Copreon instead but Kano tells them this is impossible due to it being too far away from the Moon. Koenig decides that the reconn mission to Pelorus will go ahead but decides to take an armed Eagle as opposed to the unarmed craft he had originally requested. Victor is assigned to devise some personal protection for the team in case they encounter the neural stunning effects of the signal. But another danger now faces Alpha...a tornado of Moondust has been whipped up and is hurtling toward the Base threatening it with total destruction.
Bergman believes the latest threat is yet another warning from Pelorus using an energy beam to create a vortex effect. As Alphans head into deep shelter,Koenig Bergman and Carter head off in an Eagle with atomic blasting devices that can be planted to deflect or break up the centre of the Vortex and neutralise the tornado-effect that is heading their way. The plan succeeds,the Base survives and the Alphans ponder who is being the attacks and why. There are still no life signs registering but they conclude that there is a possibility their equipment may not be able to detect it. With another attack a possibility Koenig decides to continue with the reconnaisance of Pelorus. He,Bergman,Helena,Carter,Paul and Sandra leave for the planet while Kana sends a message of Peace and Goodwill to whover might be listening there. As they enter the planets atmosphere,communications with Alpha are cut off...a by product of a layer of strong magnetic signals.
On landing on Pelorus,what seems to be an ideal location for settlement proves deceiving. The grass on which they have landed and on which they are walking is highly acidic...capable of eating into flesh,fabric and even metal. With time running out before the acid eats into the ship,Koenig devises a plan to beat a path to a rocky outcrop where the Eagle can be safely left. The team use Fire Extinguishers with an alkali base to spray on the acidic grass and so burn a pathway through which they can tow the Eagle. They are up against the clock as the grass has an astonishing rate of regeneration and is constantly re-growing behind them as they make steady progress. Once on safe ground they discover signs of habitation and a city appears before them. Leaving Carter in the Eagle on watch,the rest of the party gain entry into the building. There is no sign of life inside and any evacuation of the building appears to have been orderly. While exploring,the team come across the first sign of life: a robot which does not seem to be aware they are there appears and fixes the hole in the glass by which they had forced an entry. Further exploration reveals signs of a civilised and technologically advanced society: elevators,freize-paintings and a monorail for transportation. But there are no signs of *people*. Advancing deeper into the structure they are cut off from Carter and once stepping into an elevator they are overcome by an anaesthetic gas.
The five Alphans regain consciousness in a sparsely furnished but not uncomfortable room where they have food and drink. But they cannot get out. They ponder why they are captive but still cannot imagine that the people being the painting and the technology they have seen are responsible either for their current situation or for the attacks on Alpha. But some questions are answered when an android with the basic features of a human appears and summons them to appear before "The Council of Pelorus". The Alphans appear before a bizarre travesty of a human court of justice,where the presiding officials are emotionless and sinister androids. The androids tell the Alphans that the moons arrival is already causing problems for their planet and that as unstable biological beings the androids must destroy them all. The Alphans discover that the androids are linked to human culture on the planet Copreon,and that Copreons are present somewhere on Pelorus. But the androids are on a self-serving mission to survive and expand as an emotionless and perfected race. The environment of Pelorus proved too dangerous for the "human"Copreons(who have been forced underground)whilst the androids have been unaffected and indeed have flourished within that environment. They are now power-hungry and dangerously unstable to both the Copreons and the Alphans.
The androids reject the Alphans appeal to let them survive and they are returned to captivity. Knowing they are on borrowed time,the Alphans effect an escape. Eventually they manage to escape the building and try desperately to reach the safety of the Eagle,by which they can escape. This is easier said than done and they face a trek to reach the ship,persued by soldier-like androids with deadly weaponry. When they eventually make contact via commlock with Carter,he lands in close proximity to them....the android persuers having beenleft behind. But as they prepare to embark,they are surrounded by humanoids.....
The new arrivals are recognisably human in appearance and are lead by a male and female,Menos and Rama. Though they appear outwardly affable and friendly to the Alphans,something in thier manner makes Koenig suspicious. These are the Copreons which have been driven underground by the androids,and they offer their hospitality to Koenig and his party. Their settlement is also very impressive and technologically advanced,but Menos says that they are as much a prisoner on Pelorus as the Alphans are on the Moon. Nevertheless they wish the Alphans to settle with them...to join forces. While there is much that is tempting in the offer,the Alphans discover that there are no children on Pelorus and at least as far as Helena is concerned,this is a positive demerit. Despite the friendly open-ness of the Copreons,Menos and Rama remain evasive in answering questions. That night,while the other Alphans are asleep,he and Carter discover that the Copreons have been monitoring Alpha all along and continue to do so---despite Meno's claim that they cannot make contact with the Moonbase. It is now clear that the Copreons cannot be trusted and have their own agenda,though Koenig doesn't know what it might be.
In the morning the Copreons are still unaware that the Alphans have made contact with Main Mission. But while Carter and Keonig were prowling,and Morrow and Bergman were sleeping,Helena and Sandra have disappeared. The Copreons deny any knowledge and claim the two women have left to explore on their own. Clearly disbelieving,Koenig threatens to kill Rama if Menos does not start talking the truth. Before he can carry out the threat,Menos raises his arm and stuns Koenig,Carter,Morrow and Bergman. When they recover,Menos and his colleagues have disappeared. As they try to get back to the Copreon settlement they are barred by invisible barriers which appear on each path they try to take. They discover that they are being bugged and tracked by the Copreons. By removing the bugs they become undetectable and are able to make their way back into the very heart of the Copreon complex.
Meanwhile Helena and Sandra are now told by Rama what is intended for them-they are forerunners in a Copreon plan to ensure their survival in the future. Each Alphan woman will be forced in to acting as hosts to Copreon foetuses which will be implanted as eggs in their uterus. The Copreons expect each Alphan woman to bear 2 children a year. This will extend the survival of the Copreon people while they plan for another project. Helena surmises that this is either to get back to Copreon or to overcome the androids and regain control of Pelorus. Not knowing what has happened to the others,Helena and Sandra escape from captivity and try and find them.
Meantime,like some mechanical dictator,the android leader Gregor plots the creation of an android empire that will be utterly pure in logic and ruthlessness. The Copreon plan to use the Alphan women is known to Gregor who realises time is not on his side. A war with the Copreons might be necessary to negate the threat...and this is exactly what Gregor decides to initiate. Time is running out on all sides-including the Alphans.
Helena and Sandra finally reunite with Koenig and the others,who have fairly blasted their way back in to the Copreon stronghold. A shootout ensues between the Alphans and the Copreons and Koenig suffers a shoulder wound. As the Alphans look for a way back to the Eagle, Menos and Rama realise their end is near as they are overrun by Gregor's android forces. The Alphans realise that while this might aid their getaway,they are also targets for Copreons and Androids alike. Rama and Menos commit suicide rather than fall to Gregor and in their last moments ponder if they should have lived their lives differently.They conclude that whatever intelligent order is brought to Pelorus by the ruling androids,it will be a dead world without "the electric delight" that Man and Woman can bring.
The Alphans manage to reach their Eagle and the final threat is a huge android cannon which threatens the ship with destruction. However,with Alpha passing beyond the reach of Pelorus by the second,Kano has sent an Eagle Squadron down which neutralises the threat. As they leave for Alpha they see the planet surface erupt in such destruction that they wonder if anything--Android or Copreon--will survive. Back on Alpha,Koenig admits he is not sure that they will EVER find a new home,but the novel ends on an optimistic note as Koenig realises they would not have come so far if they weren't destined to survive.
(Phew!!! I know I'm not exactly summarising "War and Peace" but that was hard work!! It would've been easier to write a new novel!!!)
From: "Ellen C. Lindow" (email@example.com) Date: Sun, 24 May 1998 20:22:25 -0400 (EDT) Subj: Space1999: Android Planet
I all, I just returned from a Gozilla afternoon. We watched the movie, then visited the nearest toy store to stock up on the latest godzilla toys. My son now has a new Godzilla that shoots a wicked little blue plastic flame. A long time Gozilla fan, he's in heaven. The entire family, (including grandma and grandpa) saw the movie and we all enjoyed it. Godzilla is a lot of fun, and we all enjoyed seeing new York shredded.
Now on with the real message:
I just finished Android Planet. I remembered it being my second favorite of the novels, Phoenix of Megaron being the best. Rankine seems to have a better grasp of the series, and as convoluted as the plot was (great job of summarizing Simon!) it had a believablility about it for what the Alphans would actually do in that situation. There was never a time when I would sit up and say No way would they do that! And the aliens also followed a believable course, each group having its own agenda, and being unwilling to cooperate or communicate in any honest and effective way with the alphans.
My biggest beef with the novel was the extreme use of british idioms that made me pause and wonder exactly what they were talking about. I'm really just a simple country girl, and some of the references to things like a buggers muddle or something about Lombard street were extremely foreign to me. Koenig's words seem very unlike what I would expect to come out of his mouth. Oddly enough, I felt that Sandra's characterization was the best, with Helena's characterization something closer to her second season personality than her first season personality. There were a couple of times where she joked subtly or teased Koenig, that were very reminiscent to her jokes from second season, (or the toothbrush joke that Petter hates so much).
All in all, it was an enjoyable read, and the Alphans are once again denied the planet home they want so much.
(Oh, great, godzilla also came with a rocket launcher, and since the computer is next to the area where my son is playing, I think I'll move out of range.) E
From: Simon Morris (firstname.lastname@example.org) Date: Mon, 25 May 1998 12:35:14 +0100 Subj: Space1999: Re: Android Planet Novel
I've read AP by John Rankine a few times over the years. It remains my favourite of the SPACE 1999 original novels and is an entertaining read each time. As Ellen Lindow says,the plot is a little convoluted but remains fairly straightforward in construction and doesnt try to tell too many stories. A fault of the Tubb novels in my opinion is that they are a little too ambitious for the page count.
In terms of the Alphan characters and what they would do(and how they would react) I feel AP is the best portrayal of the SPACE 1999 series. There is a believeability about it all....and at one point someone(Koenig I think) muses over whether they will ever meet an alien race that are simple,uncomplicated,and haven't got their own nefarious plans. I must be honest,looking at Y2 I had that feeling all the time :-)
All the characters seem true to the series. While the opera is staged,Kano prefers to stay in Main Mission and play chess with his computer. Victor Bergman is a man fascinated by the unknown,getting a little excited at times but ultimately a blend of scientist and humanist. Sandra Benes is probably "fleshed out" far more than she ever was in the series,as was Paul Morrow. Both take a real part in the action and are not just there to feed lines to Koenig and Russell. Koenig comes across like he does in the series: a purposeful Commander who carries his responsibilities seriously,but still has time for a joke-especially with Helena. I liked the warm exchanges between the two which were not overplayed by Rankine at all. There is also gentle and believable humour,such as
HELENA:" What do you think,John?"
KOENIG: "I thought you looked marvellous as a blonde. Now I'm not so sure. Maybe you ought to dye it"
HELENA: "The planet!" (Helena is wearing a dark wig fresh from her acting debut and Koenig deliberately misunderstands when she asks him about the planet which has appeared). Another touch of this humour surfaces when they regain consciousness after being gassed on Pelorus. Helena recovers instantly and ponders the sort of gas which knocked them out. To which Koenig replies: " You're supposed to say ' Where am I? ' Where's your sense of occasion?" "Okay,where am I? " To which Koenig replies "Your guess is as good as mine....".
I don't think this sort of dialogue sounds in any way forced and it also doesnt sound anywhere near as false as a lot of the "humour" and "jokes" in Y2. It also serves to humanise Koenig in a way which Tubb never came near to emulating. I think Rankine was trying to do the same thing as Freiberger in Y2,which was to make believable characters and to make them likeable. Rankine succeeded far more IMHO! There are some phrases which Ellen pointed out that Koenig and the others wouldnt use "Buggers muddle"(which isn't a phrase I have ever heard though even if the word "bugger" is used as a slang expletive in England). Also,the phrase "It was all Lombard Street to a china orange" sounds an English type phrase but I have no idea what it means! I think we should put this down to Rankine's personal writing style...I don't think it detracts generally from what are otherwise accurate portrayals of the series characters. Speaking of which,it is nice to see AP feature(in a minor way-exactly as in the series!)the character of Tanya,showing that Rankine did obviously watch the series.
Rankine also weaves into the stories elements of past SPACE 1999 episodes,which lends an air of authenticity to the proceedings. Thus, Bergman actually makes use of the VOYAGER TAPES which they worked hard for in Y1 to actually gather data on Pelorus. Also he mentions a cliff near Moonbase where in time past Gwent met his end.
There is the usual slightly unrealistic premise of 6 of Alpha's most senior staff all going on a trip together,but I suppose Rankine does recognise this by having Koenig worry about it himself and then concluding that it would take a lot to throw Kano who had been left in charge. There is also one or two command conferences where Victor and Helena etc say their pieces and offer advice etc.This is similar to Tubb's novels except that Rankine throws in a line: "It was nice to have specialists about but Koenig reckoned there was still room for a practical man.." Right on---its a pity Tubb didn't realise that and cut some of the lectures!
There are a lot of interesting situations in the novel: not least the "Acid Grass" and the inventive solution that Koenig comes up with to beat it. I also like the half-track buggies which he brings into the story which I should think would have been carried if the series budget had allowed. Also,in a novel you can do things which couldnt be done on the show: so characters climb up onto the Eagle superstructure to have a look round with binoculars etc
There seems to me to be a wealth of detail in the novel where Rankine uses technology established in the show but extrapolates from it. For example,they adjust their Commlocks and instead of the normal operating beam they emit a beam of light...which seems realistic to me anyway.
There is some philosophy on some pages in the novel but it is not overdone and it doesnt seem preachy. Neither does it slow the rapid pace of this novel. I have always seen it as a mix of Y1 with some of the more desirable elments of Y2 thrown in----generally these elements being better played than they did on screen in Y2. There is characterisation and there is humour,but there is not comic-book type comedy.There is more of the conventional action that Y2 concentrated on I suppose,but to me that just gives the book much more pace and interest than Tubb's rather slow and talky efforts. Helena says early on in the book that its interesting to find out what makes people tick? And to me that is one of the themes of the story...all the different factions in the novel,and each have their own reasons for acting the way that they do,and with each group the reader can't completely reject those reasons. Who can argue with the concept of personal survival,which is at the heart of the Copreons actions? Likewise,the androids mean to rule by the use of emotionless logic-given the way they have been built,can we criticize them for that?. So the book does pose questions.....
I'd have loved to see Rankine tackle a large scale SPACE 1999 novel similar to Tubb's "EARTHFALL". As it is,I thought ANDROID PLANET was an excellent story. Well written,characters well drawn and sympathetic,strong pace. An immensely readable novel all round.
From: Petter Ogland (email@example.com) Date: Mon, 25 May 1998 14:35:21 +0000 Subj: Re: Space1999: Re: Android Planet Novel
Even though I didn't vote for the discussion of the four novels, as I haven't read them myself and wouldn't have much to contribute, I must admit that reading the sort of analysis that Simon gives on the Rankine novel is pure delight. I'm very happy it was decided to have a go at the novels.
The reflections of recent discussions on Y1, Y2, humour, jokes, characteristations, Freiberger etc etc within the context of Rankine's novel makes wonderful reading. A marvellous way of summing up thoughts and ideas between the discussion of the seasons. I also enjoy the splendid stuff from Pat, Ellen, "El Mateo" and others.
From: David Welle (firstname.lastname@example.org) Date: Sun, 31 May 1998 20:29:20 Subj: Space1999: Android Planet
I was looking forward to reading Android Planet. I've had most of the original novels for awhile, and just recently found "Earthfall" as well, but never really had the chance to read them. Well, I had no time for last week's novel, but took AP with me on vacation, and had a great time reading it.
It starts with Alpha's personnel enjoying the production and finally presentation of a play, when they were rudely interrupted. A new and promising planet is approaching, and they receive a signal from it; except the signal is an attack, broadcasting a signal that sounded pleasing at first, but which upset the humans' minds. I liked the way Rankine handled the incident, the way the signal was spread and the tactics Alan and others took to eliminate it.
Then the remote, still unseen attackers created a hurricane of sorts, by increasing the pressure in a certain way. I wasn't sure such a thing could work, because the moon doesn't have an atmosphere to increase the pressure of, but the description was actually convincing enough that I enjoyed going along with how the Alphans quickly scurried to a counter-attack.
Though obviously warnings (which the Alphans realized) they still had to check out the planet for two reasons: it could still be their best bet to settle, even with the hostility emanating from it; and because they feared the attacks would only continue and worsen.
On the first point, Rankine did well pointing out how hard finding the perfect planet -- or even a decent -- planet could be. On the second, it is interesting that the androids (who we later found to be behind the attacks) didn't realize the way reinforcement works. Had the androids only attacked immediately after Eagles were launched, the Alphans would have surely noted the connection, that the attacks were warnings not to approach, and perhaps rethought their stategy. Instead, the androids attacked basically without provocation, and with devastating power. So in fact, the "shots" at Alpha were essentially an attack. No warning shots there, just full out attempts to disable Alpha. So the Alphans still had to launch an Eagle to investigate, if for no other reason than to ensure there were no further attacks. Far from dissuading the Alphans from approaching, the androids only further reinforced the *need* to investigate, turning it from one reason (seeing if the planet is habitable) to two (habitability and preventing further attack).
Rankine obviously was aware that he was writing the story to have most of the senior staff along, because he made a point of mentioning Koenig's doubts of that being a good idea, which probably reflected a debate on Rankine's part as well. Koenig figured Kano could take over the command role permanently if need be. I wasn't so sure, because Kano seems too literal and too trusting of the computer and not enough of the people around him, but Rankine's line to the effect that Kano left the computer post to someone else and took the command post did ring nicely, and even true, somehow (perhaps because I figured Kano was perhaps learning a better approach after several instances -- esp. Piri -- where the computer couldn't be trusted).
These sorts of things demonstrated fine writing on Rankine's part.
What didn't, however, was already mentioned by others, namely all the British idioms he used, some of which left me completely baffled. I realize it is hard to avoid using some idiom, but there was a lot of it in his writing, with numerous odd turns of phrases.
Another turn of words that was irritating (though its meaning was at least clear) was "Earth planet." It wasn't just one Alphan character using the term either -- everyone's reference to Earth included "planet." Is that a "British" phrasing too, or just some quirk of Rankine's writing?
Those were detractions, but minor in the overall scheme.
Magnetic effects were powerful around Pelorus, adding even more difficulty. Would magnetic energy do a lot of what it did? Well, curiously enough, the whole idea of "magnetic" fields causing unexpected disruptions harks all the way back to "Breakaway," where it was treated as a new phenomenon, so it there's a nice sort of continuity here. Speaking of continuity, I loved that the Voyager tapes were mentioned. Excellent.
Eagle Nine landed on Pelorus, and quickly ran into trouble. The local flora was highly acidic, even the "lichen" (the description sounded more grass-like than lichen-like, but that's only a tiny nit at best). This was interesting and well-written. The way the Eagle was hauled off was surprising and inventive, though I had a little trouble picturing the description at first (I never heard the term "half-track" before, for one thing). That an Eagle could put down wheels...! Also, regarding the lichen, Rankine remembered it later in the novel, by having one of the Copreons refer to having another "taking a walk in the lichen" (or something like that) if he failed. The world Rankine painted through the novel was self-consistent, another strength of the novel.
Once hauled to safety, I enjoyed reading how the Alphans penetrated the "terminal" (or was it called a "tower?"), how automated robots started sealing it up again, the travel networks below the surface, being knocked out by gas in the elevator, brought before Gregor and the android council. I got the feeling the androids treated the Alphans as nothing more than a curiosity to be observed, because the androids' minds seemed quite decided against the Alphans already; only one Alphan statement (Helena's I believe) "impressed" them in any way, and that still wasn't enough. Koenig, not surprisingly, launched an attack -- which turned out to be futile -- directly against the androids. The Alphans were reimprisoned (what did the androids intend to do with them, anyway?), then escaped.
They fled through the ridges and canyons, reached the Eagle, then found themselves face-to-face with the still-surviving human population. That was sprung pretty effectively, because the way Rankine built up the story, it seemed like the humans had died. It was in the back of my mind that they may have survived somewhere, but there didn't seem enough livable space on the world to support two antagonistic populations -- and even the book's title said *Android* Planet. Rankine showed the human population was holding its own and actually thriving to a degree, and that they still had much of their technology (though obviously not any artificial intelligences any more). The latter point (retaining tech.) makes sense, because given the situation, it would seem unlikely that a people that *lost* all of its technology would survive on a world filled with acidic plants and arrogant androids.
Yet arrogance was a trait the androids had obviously inherited from their creators, because the humans were no less towards the Alphans than the Androids were to either group. Ultimately, the Alphan women were separated from the men. The latter group ended up locked outside, and also prevented from reaching the Eagle; the former were taken to a medical lab that turned out to be a chamber of horror instead of healing, as Helena and Sandra discovered they were to be turned into living incubators of the children the Copreon themselves could not bear.
Rankine had wonderful words about peoples -- including those from Earth -- always seeming to have ulterior motives.
Rankine had great imagery, both in terms of metaphors for the Alphans, and his descriptions of what was going on. Most of his descriptions allowed me to picture the scenes and characters, although sometimes when he reverted to British idiom, I had trouble following.
One specific thing that I had trouble figuring at points was -- curiously enough -- how much the Alphans were dressed. It seems like *all* the Copreons -- male and female -- were bare to the waist, and it sounds like that's all the Alphan women had when they escaped from the Copreon medilab. If so, the Alphan men -- once they all met up again -- seemed to be consumate professionals in not taking any notice. :-)
References to "pleasure domes," the art at the Peloran terminal station early in the novel, and their tendencies indicated the Copreons were a very sensual culture (Copreon, corporeal?), in any case. The Copreons gave too much intelligence to their androids, left too much up to them, got pushed aside, yet managed to survive, with much of their culture intact. The first half is an old tradition in SF, of course, and well handled; the second half is interesting because it isn't seen that often, because the humans are often destroyed or enslaved by their creations, or battle back and destroy the androids -- it's rare to see these sides in a "Cold War" type standoff.
Anyway... At one point, the androids discovered Rama's intentions for the Alphan women, and I haven't the faintest idea how the Androids could have discovered that. Did Rankine explain that in some way I missed?
It's a key turning point, because it was this discovery, combined with the realization the Alphans had breached a corridor from the outside (a breach the androids could also take advantage of) that prompted the attack on the human population of Pelorus, despite the worsening magnetic conditions that was threatening to damage the androids.
Menos soon found himself not only under sudden surprise attack from the Androids, but the Alphan women were on the loose and running amok on a truck, and the Alphan men had breached the compound and were now carrying on a battle of their own. The Copreons couldn't reseal the hole fast enough, and the androids were inside. All three sides (Alphan, android, and Copreon) were all fighting with each other, with the Copreons getting the worst of the losses.
The humans on Pelorus found they had made a critical and perhaps fatal miscalculation in regards to the Alphans. Just as the androids did, they realized the sheer tenacity of the Alphans was beyond expectation, and made hash of both sides' orderly plans (hmmm, probably the only point both sides on Pelorus could have sympathized about, if the androids *had* any sympathy).
Menos found himself with a battle on two fronts, but instead of just letting the Alphans go, he kept that front up. In his mind, he had to fight for both the short term (surviving the android attack) and the long term (securing their own reproductive future). It was a high stakes battle, and he lost it all.
The Alphans slipped out in the confusion, though not without coming under further attack when as they reached Eagle Nine, then finally made their total escape.
I was a bit puzzled by Rankine's wording at the end, but it sounds as if that section of the world was wiped out by some other sort of calamity. I couldn't tell if it was caused by some massive explosion of artificial works (did the generators explode?) or strictly from the close passage of the moon, or whatnot. Could anyone clarify what *actually* happened to that section of the planet?
Regardless, Rankine's statement that if anything could survive, it would be an android, was interesting. I got this image of a cockroach poking out of the ruins, and it was so appropriate in a way. Even the image of a cockroach and its tough shell seemed to match the image of Gregor's ovoid, grooved but otherwise rather featureless head. Or maybe I'm reaching, just because of the old sayings about cockroaches being the best survivors of nuclear war.
Yet I kind of disagreed with Rankine's having Koenig (?) stating that it would likely be an android that survived the geological calamity, mostly because Rankine described the androids being networked, and sounding as if they were dependent on this system and their artificial sources of energy. I doubt there'd be any survivors.
Rankine could have skipped the geological calamity and left us wondering the outcome of the battle, and where the world would go from there. He did a fine job mentioning the possibilities earlier on, including how the androids pictured a world of perfect stability, free of life -- and how arrogant that was.
In this way, Android Planet reminded me of "Guardian of Piri," while the dichotemy of organic life vs. artificial "life" reminded me of the future episode "One Moment of Humanity."
Of course, "Piri" was about what was essentially a single machine, and it appeared that its original living creators gave it a set of directives that were superficially positive but instead formed the deadliest of utopias that caused their own extinction and a machine run amok.
"One Moment of Humanity" was different than /Android Planet/ in how much more marginalized the human population was. In AP, they were holding their own fairly well, in a precarious "peace" but largely separate and free to live on their own and in their own ways.
In "One Moment of Humanity," the hostile environment left the humans nowhere else to go; they remained alive for two reasons: to serve the androids; and for the androids to learn emotions from. The humans on Vega wisely clamped down on their emotions, but that left them even more trapped -- not to mention robotic-appearing.
Of course, androids (or robots or computers) vs. humans is an old, venerable tradition within science fiction, so in itself is not creative; but the method of carrying it out, as usual for S19, *is* very creative.
The last moments of Menos and Rama are poignant and sad, despite knowing their dark intentions and actions towards the Alphans. The Pelorans were painted by Rankine in several lights. The Alphans, as pointed out, were, like the Copreons, a marooned society with a very uncertain future. The Copreons could not reproduce, and despite being able to greatly lengthen their lifespan, were not immortal. One can feel very sorry for their situation, yet be horrified by their idea of a solution, as we were for the Darians in the "Mission of the Darians," and then feel somewhat sorry for them again as their world figuratively collapses about them, even while knowing as a reader that the Copreons had brought it on themselves.
Alan was well-portrayed. He was consistently reliable, had a way to lighten things without forgetting their seriousness, and handled himself under stress very well.
Sandra was very well written too. Indeed, this was probably her strongest role anywhere in S19, and I appreciated it. It was generally consistent with her earlier portrayals, yet improved it at the same time, by showing her to be more resourceful than ever (and her single-minded handling of the "truck" was also fun to read as well) and less apt to start screaming (yet her single startled "eek!" when a dazed Koenig grabbed a handful of her hair was still perfectly appropriate :-).
Helena was also written very well -- one of her best showings, IMO. I wasn't sitting there reading and wanting the scream "WHAT?" at some action or word of hers, as I so often do with many of her showings. The degree of her and John's love was nicely evident here as well.
John was believable as a strong but not infallible leader (e.g. his figuratively kicking himself and wonder if he was "fit for command" after he and the other men got themselves stunned and left outside the Copreon complex). It showed that he didn't always make the right decision, had self-doubts, yet was still a good leader in that he, in the end, found the right combination and brought everyone back "home." Of course, here, it was others saving his bacon too.
Even Kano matured in a way, in that he was handed command and took it seriously, as I mentioned before, without whining about "Computer" in some way or another. This worked well for me as character growth, however short its mention.
Victor was portrayed just the way I've always pictured him -- as both a scientist and humanist, with curiosity yet wisdom as well.
Paul puzzled me a bit, because he alternated between seemingly almost wanting to hit Sandra (figuratively, anyway, in the sense of getting real critical of her at times, in a rather petty, sniping way) and wanting to, er... slobber all over her (this time a little more literally). I've gotten too used to seeing the calm, dispassionate Paul sitting at his console and relaying orders and going "Right, commander," and it was only when I remembered his bursts of sudden passion (of which his "holy food" explosion in "Last Sunset" was the most extreme, if drug-induced, example) that his portrayal in AP made more sense, though I was still left with the feeling of wondering what happened to the dispassionate (side of) Paul.
That bit of puzzlement over Paul's portrayal is about the only character complaint (such as it is) in the whole novel. In fact, I, almost without exception, found everyone's actions very believable, with mistakes and triumphs that made sense and generated sympathy, agreement, and enjoyment as I read. I never once found myself thinking "how utterly stupid" or "why would anyone ever do such a dumb thing" as I read this story. The mistakes were honest rather than bone-headed, and the inclusion of humor and light-heartedness was done well, at the perfect moments, and in the various ways that made each character different, and with the relationships that developed.
In my opinion, this was probably one of the strongest "episodes" of Year One in terms of character development. Of course, books typically have more "time" to explore details than television (or movies); but in the past, I have read a few E.C. Tubb's *novelizations* of the Y1 episodes, and didn't think he really added a whole lot to the characters beyond what was seen. John Rankine, in my opinion, did. Like I said, though, I didn't read last week's original novel, so maybe Tubb did better there, but in reading some of other people's comments about this week's novel, I gather Tubb wasn't much different in last week's original novel.
Overall, I enjoyed Android Planet a lot. The general theme was a venerable one, and handled well, with quite a few plot twists and sub-themes. Besides what I mentioned, Rankine also did well showing how on-the-edge the Alphans were, how barely habitable planets were few and far between, and how very habitable planets were even rarer. The plot was consistent, enjoyable, and sensible, and very engaging. Rankine also handled characterizations extremely well, showing Alphans that had well-rounded personalities that showed both seriousness and humor, philosophizing and community-building, individual abilities and teamwork. It was the type of story that showed the strongest aspects of Y1, and curiously -- however unintentionally -- foreshadowed many of the strongest aspects of Y2 as well. The "guest" characters, mainly Gregor, Menos, and Rama, were very well handled too.
It will be interesting to read John Rankine's other original S19 novel (Phoenix of Megaron), though I think that's two novels ahead yet. Since I didn't get the chance to read last week's E.C. Tubb novel Alien Seed, I'll be even more interested to read his Rogue Planet.
My 1.999 cents,
From: Paul Dorion (email@example.com) Date: Mon, 01 Jun 1998 23:06:13 -0700 Subj: Re: Space1999: Android Planet
Rankine obviously was aware that he was writing the story to have most of the senior staff along, because he made a point of mentioning Koenig's doubts of that being a good idea [....] Speaking of continuity, I loved that the Voyager tapes were mentioned.
The world Rankine painted through the novel was self-consistent, another strength of the novel.
In fact, I, almost without exception, found everyone's actions very believable [....] The mistakes were honest rather than bone-headed, and the inclusion of humor and light-heartedness was done well
Rankine also handled characterizations extremely well, showing Alphans that had well-rounded personalities that showed both seriousness and humor, philosophizing and community-building, individual abilities and teamwork.
Although I agree with David about the preceding good points of this novel, those qualities, IMO, enhance an interesting tale, but do not redeem an uninteresting one. Unfortunately, I did find the basic plot of Android Planet a little bit boring and thus did not like the novel that much.
There were few new ideas in the basic plot, being Alphans drawn to a planet and upsetting the balance of power between two warring factions - until eventually being rescued in the nick of time before the two warring factions nuke each other out (plot told in many classic SF tales - Beneath the Planet of the Apes coming to mind as an example), or in the main ideas (conflict of Machine vs its creator (Man), newcomers (Alphans) being hunted down and/or used for evil goals by both the warring factions they encounter, etc.).
I have felt uneasy - and somewhat depressed - with some episodes (as this novel) in which events culminate in being far worse after the Alphans left than before (as in the Metamorph and New Adam New Eve where both planets are utterly destroyed in the end of the episode). It may be I am not that much at ease with the Byrne view of humans as a virus that eventually infest - and sometimes kill- its hosts.
Mind you, this is not an awful novel ... only the basic plot did not include enough thrills and/or enough inspiring new ideas to sustain my interest for 160 pages. IMO It was more a basic run-of-the-mill story, and will be forgotten as soon as the book is back on the shelf (and the review sent to the list ;) ).
Two more novels to go before Y2 ...
From: South Central (Tamazunchale@web40tv.net) Date: Thu, 4 Jun 1998 14:45:04 -0700 Subj: Space1999: Android Planet (late)
Sorry I am late with comments regarding Android Planet; I just finished it this morning. Life interceded.
I would just like to say that Android Planet was always my favorite of the original novels. I didn't like the Tubb novels when I was younger. I do now though.
Rereading AP made me remember why I liked it so much. The wonderful detailed description of the planet and the lichen, the great description of the androids, the dead on capture of the characters. I had forgotten the ending and when Eagle 9 was shot down I thought, "Now what?" I didn't want to speculate--just read on!
Elements of certain episodes showed up in this book. Mission of the Darians--two societies engaged in a struggle for survival. One society of advanced humanoids looking to propagate their species by using organs of others.
One Moment of Humanity--of course--though it was made AFTER AP. Need I say more?
The use of the words "personal computer" to mean Koenig's brain again and again and again...made me want to scream!!
The sexual harassment of Sandra by Paul was really ridiculous. I hope they've "got a thing going on" the time of AP or else he is seriously out of line!
My favorite line in the whole book?
"There was no court jester to tell him (Gregor) that he was suffering from vaulting ambition that might well overreach itself and fall flat on its microgrooved face." (p.131, U.S. edition)
Bergman was kind of "just along for the ride" in the second half of the book, unfortunately. Helena was the consummate professional and he captured her well. Kano was well portrayed as well--he behaved just as I feel Kano would behave. Kano is one of my favorite characters. Lots of unnecessary nudity (so to speak). That whole subplot of needing the reproductive capabilities of the Alphan women is ridiculous. WHY were they temporarily sterilized in the first place??? Haven't they any less drastic means of birth control? Ridiculous!! A better tack would have been a hostage situation to get Alpha to attack the androids or to allow the Copreons to go to Alpha, or take them to Copreon, or switch places with the Copreons, or SOMETHING else!!!
That is just my opinion. Hope somebody will respond.
From: David Welle (firstname.lastname@example.org) Date: Fri, 05 Jun 1998 20:25:01 Subj: Re: Space1999: Android Planet (late)
The use of the words "personal computer" to mean Koenig's brain again and again and again...made me want to scream!!
"Earth planet" -- over and over again.
The sexual harassment of Sandra by Paul was really ridiculous. I hope they've "got a thing going on" the time of AP or else he is seriously out of line!
The only character portrayal I had [a problem with] was Paul['s], for exactly this reason. I had to assume they did have something going, but she still seemed so irritated with him. I don't know; found that whole bit puzzling.
Helena was the consummate professional and he captured her well.
Lots of unnecessary nudity (so to speak).
You noticed that too. It was confusing at times, because he tried to tread so carefully at times, especially regarding Helena and Sandra after they broke free (like I said before, either I missed something, or the Alphan males were absolutely consumate professionals).
Of course, other cultures can have different mores, and that was presented even early on, when the Alphans studied the artwork that was in the terminal station they first broke into. That too remained pretty consistent, and the Copreons, having been able to keep most of their technology, still remained by and large a sensual culture, even if they now did all of the work themselves (having fled the insurgent androids).
Rankine actually seemed to play the whole clothes thing pretty subtly most of the time, though, except for that scene where Helena and Sandra were imprisoned in the lab. Rankine's getting more explicit with that scene made what the Copreons did -- and intended to do -- to the Alphans very disgusting and horrifying.
I suppose it could qualify as either horrifying or just tacky. Not easy to read, and definitely not family material....
That whole subplot of needing the reproductive capabilities of the Alphan women is ridiculous. WHY were they temporarily sterilized in the first place???
I assumed it was because the homeworld didn't want its colonies becoming independent.
Of course, Rankine didn't state that, but it's a concept sometimes used elsewhere in science fiction, and it could apply here (or at least I thought it could apply).
Make the miners infertile, and they remain dependent on the homeworld. Allow them to be fertile, and they can start increasing their own population, work on building up their own capacity, and perhaps within some number of generations be strong enough in numbers to fight the homeworld.
The infertility policy implied paranoia, and in the minds of the rest of the Copreons, it was probably considered an excellent insurance policy to eliminate possible future headaches. On a hostile world, and with no chance to have children, why wouldn't the miners want to return to the homeworld?
Hmmm, I just realized how much more that parallels Alpha's problems.
Not having the capacity to have children was stressed in S19, especially in Y2, and that implies a whole host of problems.
Haven't they any less drastic means of birth control?
Maybe, maybe not; but even if they *did* have less drastic means, it would have been easier for the colony (Pelorus in this case) to reverse them and become perhaps become independent.
Just my thoughts, anyway.
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