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Rogue Planet

(Original Novel)

From: Simon Morris ( Subj: Re: ROGUE PLANET novel Date: Wed, 27 May 1998 11:52:18 +0100

Well, I'd say that Edwin Charles Tubb (I wondered what the initials EC stood for...and today I found out)has fashioned a better tale with ROGUE PLANET than with his first offering. Certainly I found it somewhat more readable than ALIEN SEED though with some of the same problems. As with his first book there are elements which are taken from the tv series(this is not just Tubb;Rankine does the same)---this is not to lessen the content of the story,merely to prove perhaps that it is hard to be original when you are making a story out of a mould that has already been cast by another medium(in this case,tv)? Where Tubb falls down a little to me is that there is nothing in the novel that could not have been easily done on the screen. He tends to concentrate his stories on Moonbase--and for short periods on nearby planetoids etc--instead of taking the opportunity as Rankine does to take the characters away from Alpha and on to strange new worlds. Again,I do not criticise this. Indeed, realistically the Alphans would spend 99.9% of their time NEVER leaving Alpha(and I'm sure many would prefer stories set on Moonbase to reflect this). However, in science-fiction, a few sentences can create fantastic worlds and experiences which no special effects could ever hope to (cheaply)match. Why then didn't Tubb take advantage of this and perhaps create a truly spectacular story of such scope that it doesn't merely seem like a small screen adventure set to words??

I loved the opening scenes in the book where(something like ANDROID PLANETs opera on Alpha)they are preparing for an amateur production of HAMLET. I suppose to me it was inevitable that Tubb would choose something so dark and grim for the Alphans to perform. I'm sure in reality they would have chosen something rather lighter in tone....but not as Tubb portrays the characters! Anyway,the production is used as a rather nifty device to introduce a the latest threat to Alpha... a "sentient" planet which causes them to age at an incredicble rate. The HAMLET ghost's speech (" I am thy Fathers spirit, Doomed for a certain term to walk the night....." etc) segues seamlessly into a warning of approaching menace ("Move not ahead on this thy present path to ruin,but Retreat, Withdraw,Return!...."etc). The announcement leaves Alpha in a state of panic. Like I say,this was quite imaginitive as a sort of "hook" to the novel and similar in concept I suppose to the beginning of "THE TROUBLED SPIRIT": all weird sitar and howling winds seguing into a spooky seance. As to Tubb's take on this in RP...well,I'm sure William Shakespeare would have approved!

The Tubb tendency for lecturing arises early on when Helena and John are watching the play and Helena starts lecturing him (while they are watching the play! Remind me never to go to the movies with her!)about Hamlet and the Oedipus complex. Similar speeches about physics and what-have-you pepper the book. My eyes just glaze over and I skip these bits I'm afraid....

There is a nice line in the book from Bergman early on:"There was so much they still had to learn",which echoes Victors emotional farewell to Alpha speech in WAR GAMES. It always seems to me that Bergman comes off best in terms of characterisation in the Tubb novels,whereas I have to repeat my earlier criticism of ALIEN SEED that the other characters(Koenig especially) come over as overly harsh and unsympathetic to the reader. Koenig is quite sarcastic in some scenes in this novel. Nothing wrong there,but I don't think he would be so sarcastic to his friend Victor,as when he says to him: "Nothing has happened and yet one man is dead and several others injured for no reason at all...".

Horror,death and violence has its place in the book---and its spookily well done,matching the atmosphere of Y1 (whereas Rankine's violence and death is more akin to the Y2 action adventure style). The Alphan Sam Blake kills himself in the Medical Center by breaking a bottle and driving it into his throat when he is sent mad. Somehow I don't think ITC would have approved that if Johnny Byrne had put it in a script... From the start, ROGUE PLANET always seemed to me to have the dark overtones of a story trying to be a mix of sci-fi and Gothic horror and I suppose it partly succeeds.

There is another "brain" featured (something similar to RING AROUND THE MOON I suppose) and also another Bergman shield/forcefield to protect the base. I must be honest and say that I've never been sure what sort of life-form or phenomenon was behind this"force" that was causing the Alphans to age. Certainly they conclude that a force is triggering rejective responses in their brains which causes various Alphans to want to run away and kill themselves. But though there becomes no doubt about who/what the enemy is (and that it must be destroyed..which the Alphans do with great efficiency and the usual atomic destructive power) I am not sure that it was made clear *why*....but perhaps I never read the book that closely and missed the point.

Overall then: not a bad effort. Tubb doesn't over-cram the book with different situations in this story and so it seems less cluttered and more tightly plotted than ALIEN SEED. I still did not find the book either as interesting or as exciting as ANDROID PLANET,although it was far better than ALIEN SEED. My biggest moan about the book has to be once again that I did not care much for the characters:people like Koenig and Carter particularly just do not come off well and I find it hard to sympathise with their predicament. One thing I think Fred Freiberger was always right about was that you have to like and care about your characters. Even in Y1(where I do think more could have been done to "humanise" the Alphans) no-one comes off as badly unsympathetic as Tubb makes them in his novels........

Anyway,I'm just finishing PHOENIX OF MEGARON before writing up my thoughts on it. By the time people on the List read this and my comments on "PHOENIX"(which will be forwarded by Mateo at the appropriate time if all goes well) I shall be sunning myself on a beach for 2 weeks. So I look forward to coming back off hols and hopefully contributing to the episode analyses for Y2. One things sure:its easier to watch a tv episode and comment than it is to read a novel and do the same! There's only so many hours in the day.....

Simon Morris

Date: Mon, 1 Jun 1998 17:57:34 -0400 (EDT) From: Ellen C. Lindow" ( Subj: Re: Space1999: Fwd: Re: ROGUE PLANET novel

I'll have to admit, I was rather surprised when I read Rogue Planet. I doubt I've read it in the last 18 years or so, and I liked it better this time around than I ever did before. Simon gave a good synopsis of the plot-- although he forgot to mention that one of the people dead was killed by Dr. Russell while they were all under the mind twisting influence of the Omphalos. Tubb sort of glossed over it in the book too-- there was so much going on at the time they pretty much ignored it. I would think that Helena would probably be pretty upset over the whole thing.

The scene where she saves Alan's life reminds me of the scene in Seance Spectre where John in unconscious on the floor of the Eagle and she revives him. Again, there were echoes of both 1st and 2nd season scripts in this novel.

Tubb's novel, as usual isn't very personal. You don't ever get inside anyone's head. You have to make your interpretations by their actions, not what they're thinking. As Simon said, that's a lot like watching this on TV rather than reading a print story. Still, it was better than I remembered it being, and was a lot less "busy" than Alien Seed.

Ellen Lindow                    | "This is the world we live in
Wife, Mother, Media Specialist  |  And these are the hands we're given
Pasco Middle School, Dade City, |   Use them and let's start trying
Pasco County, Florida; Boy Scout|  To make is a place worth living in."
Leader,  Girl Scout Leader      |      Genesis, Land of Confusion

From: South Central ( Date: Mon, 1 Jun 1998 20:32:28 -0700 Subj: Space1999: ExE

This week: Rogue Planet. I am still in the middle of Android Planet!! I have been so busy that I haven't had time to finish.


From: Paul Dorion ( Date: Sat, 06 Jun 1998 10:13:52 -0700 Subj: Space1999: Space: 1999 Rogue Planet

WOW!!! Now this *is* a novel worth reading !

The plot is fast and furious, from the mysterious and frightening opening scenes (what a wonderful "hook") to the nail-biting ending. I feel two distinct, but related stories are told : the one about the psychic attacks, and the one where it is discovered that those attacks were actually warnings to prevent them being trapped with the energy-draining Omphalos. I agree with Simon Morris that this novel reads as it could have been seen on the TV screen, and I feel this should have been the two-part episode that for my taste is missing from Y1. Anyway, almost everyting that is happening is propelling the plot forward and is a necessary element in the tale being told, so I feel that Tubb has a better grasp on the plot than in his previous effort.

I also agree with Simon that the characters are rather harsh and edgy, which for me brings this story in the very beginning of Y1 (characters having to cope with the depressing sense of loss after leaving Earth, and Koenig in particular having to find how to balance the autority part and the sympathy part that are both required for a good leadership). So, I would probably place this story between A Matter of life and death and Ring around the Moon (Hello Petter!). This is why I find it somewhat ironic that the photo shown on the cover is from Y2, which really is unrelated in any way with this tale.

As Simon told, there is indeed horror and violence in this book (maybe a little bit too much for my taste), but Tubb is able here to let the reader feel how those violent death are unfair, how those characters had potential and what a loss it is for Moonbase Alpha (Koenig says near the end that Alpha as a community needs all its members alive - in this line, I feel he praises his people for their skills, their dreams and their passionnate drive for life).

IMO, this is really the best novel so far (far more interesting than the previous two). We'll see if Phoenix of Megaron can top this...

Paul :D

EDITOR'S NOTES: The next note is only has part of its contents shown in this thread, because the rest really applies to another thread: ExE Part One Afterword.

From: Paul Dorion ( Date: Tue, 09 Jun 1998 00:37:07 -0700 Subj: Re: Space1999: Rogue Planet, Y1 ranking

Petter Ogland wrote:

Paul Dorion wrote:
I also agree with Simon that the characters are rather harsh and edgy, which for me brings this story in the very beginning of Y1 (characters having to cope with the depressing sense of loss after leaving Earth, and Koenig in particular having to find how to balance the autority part and the sympathy part that are both required for a good leadership). So, I would probably place this story between A Matter of life and death and Ring around the Moon (Hello Petter!).
Hello Paul! Do I read this as you appreciate RING AROUND THE MOON on a high level as well? Wonderful!

Hum.. Well.. Actually Petter, you're on your own on this, as I feel that RotM is among the weakest episodes of Y1 (although *not* the worst episode).

What I meant by my previous message was simply that I feel that, in the three episodes from «A Matter of life and death» to «Ring around the moon», that Alphans show by their actions and attitudes that they are experiencing acutely the traumas of their predicament, actions and attitudes that I feel are related to the ones in the RP novel. To me, the first signs of acceptance of their new situation comes with «Earthbound» - which would explain Simmons' remark about there being no more action done about the return to Earth (Sorry about the rough quote as I watch 1999 in french !!).

To me RING AROUND THE MOON is the probably my finest hour of SPACE:1999 watching.

Yes, I think everybody on the list knows this by now ... ;)

Anyway, I feel RotM was intended to be viewed as a surrealist episode (as opposed to a realistic episode). That is how I relate to the events described in the plot (people appearing or disappearing out of nowhere), the confusing plot points (Helena being medically blind, but nevertheless seeing things around her), the sharp transition between scenes or train of thought, the strange way of expressing facts or ideas (the «universe» of Triton)... Even the camera angles enhance, in my view, the dream-like nature of this episode. I have always linked in my mind this ep to the Prisoner episode «Living in Harmony». Anyway, from this point of view, RATH is not the worst episode (athought not a good one either); I only feel that they tried to do something different.

[Editor's Note: snip unrelated topic]

From: David Welle ( Date: Sun, 07 Jun 1998 22:12:00 Subj: Space1999: Rogue Planet

Interesting. I had missed E.C. Tubb's first original S19 novel, Alien Seed, though I apparently didn't miss the best novel (I'll still have to go back and read it some time, however).

Anyway, I enjoyed Rogue Planet for the most part. It was interesting in contrast to Rankine's Android Planet. I'm going to end up comparing the two a lot in this review. For several reasons, there seemed to be a strong basis for comparing the two.

Rankine (author of our last study subject, Android Planet) was great at scene setting, describing whatever room or world the Alphans were looking at. Tubb (for this week's story, Rogue Planet) did just about as well, but for some reason, Rankine's seemed more vivid.

What *was* very vivid about Tubb's story, however, was how the psychological distortions colored their almost every perception. This story involved particularly powerful hallucinations, the variously unique ways these manifested themselves on each individual, and how each person dealt with -- or failed to deal -- with them. The one Alphan who was working on the Moon's surface and thinking about aging and early vs. later death -- later dying an early death. Koenig believing himself to be aging and it then physically manifesting itself. Even though it was fictional, it was powerful stuff. I am not particularly fond of stories involving pure paraphysical forces, but this did well.

More realistically, Tubb startled me for how much science he put back into science fiction. For a change, real science was not ignored (at least where it didn't conflict with basic S19 permises such as the Moon's travel, or the immediate paraphysical things in the episode). Tubb uses real world measuring units, and even the fictional elements are approached in a scientific manner. He even demonstrated that the scientific method can admit when there isn't enough knowledge to really know what's going on, but that turning around and trying to find that knowledge is important. Things are reasoned out, and even the unknowns such as the mental attacks are approached in a reasoned manner, with people presenting possibilities that are discussed. Science is equally about what we currently know, what we thought that we knew but has been contradicted, and the method itself -- the method itself being about gathering evidence and trying to draw conclusions, equally open to the verifying AND contradicting facts. Well, now I'm maybe lecturing (Tubb did a bit of that to -- more about that later), but my point is more that this comes off as a series of mysteries to be solved. This story was equally science, fiction, horror, and mystery!

He paid attention to the details. Where a confusing gap was left, Tubb eventually came around to close it -- at just the right moment for character or plot development. A well-woven story, in many ways. In other words, he'd leave some nagging questions dangling, then close them well, without lessening the sense of mystery or bewilderment -- the difference between being left with a feeling of mystery and grandeur vs. being jammed with lots of little nagging questions about minor points.

Yes, Tubb could go a little too far at times, lecturing instead of doing; but most of the time, I thought it worked well, often better than some of the slow scenes in Y1 episodes where the characters went over the simplest things, taking forever to get to the main points. Tubb did that sometimes too, but his much, much higher degree of scientific accuracy and more realistic approach made even that tendency work a lot better here than in the episodes. It's one thing to take a lot of the time getting to the point, through steps that make sense, then through nonsensical steps where you want to scream "no, no, NO!"

I'm not sure whether he used the word, but everything hear painted a powerful portrayal of entropy. Even the aging fit within that scenario. The order of the things around Omphalos was being broken down for the sake of -- and by -- the Omphalos. The final descriptions of the Omphalos itself, and its possible nature and history, are intriguing as well.

Wow, Tubb isn't one for long "good-byes," though. Pretty much, "Boom! End of story." It seems rather abrupt, even for S19 Y1, but it somehow worked just fine.

Some of the various descriptive and thematic elements do resemble things from other episodes. The description of the Omphalos, and the Eagle shielding used, do remind me of "Ring Around the Moon," though I thought it all worked considerably better in Rogue Planet. The initial "brain" appearance did taint my feelings negatively for awhile, I must admit, because I strongly disliked "Ring," but I got over that quickly, because most of the approaches to the idea were different. (One neat thing was how, in the Alphans suggestible state, Helena's first suggestion that it looked like a brain, stuck in everyone's minds after that.) The way people were dying right and left from exposure, was eerily reminiscent of "Breakaway," and the final result was chilling, for a different reason. The sphere of influence, being in a "different" kind of space, and the shield used around Alpha were suggestive of "Black Sun."

Sometimes, this story did seem derivative of other stories, and that sometimes bothered me, though E.C. Tubb did, in the end, present a different story with different plotting.

Some other parallels I found intriguing were actually from our last book analysis, Android Planet. It's interesting that both stories began with the production of plays! Somehow, that does seem just "right" for Alpha. Rankine's shift from calm to danger was interesting for how he showed the "rudeness" of the interruption of reality back into fantasy, while Tubb also did well in a different way, by bringing the danger right into the play itself!

I wonder, though, if, given Alpha's continuously dark, dramatic, dangerous circumstances, whether the Alphans would really be in the mood for other heavy situations in terms of Hamlet, a tragedy. I'd personally find that a little depressing for a first production. Escapism can go too far too, but Hamlet is would hardly even resemble an escape. Of course, the play was *still* a break from routine, just as it was in Android Planet.

I'm puzzled, though. Was the producer character, Sarah Pulcher, ever used in another of the S19 novels or novelizations? She seems so terribly familiar, both in her persistent, demanding nature and the rest of her general description -- and I'm not thinking of another character from outside S19. I'd never read Rogue Planet before, so I don't know why she's so familiar. Any thoughts?

Also, of a lesser parallel, was the way the Alphans in both Planet stories had to protect themselves from unusual forces. In AP, it was magnetic, whereas in RP, it was hallucinogenic. Except even RP brought up magnetism. This is actually a pleasing bit of continuity, if only in the sense that given that "Breakaway" made up a previously unknown "magnetic" effect, it made sense to revisit the idea of odd magnetic effects elsewhere. More than that, though, it just seemed striking for Rankine to have those degaussing (or whatever term he used) helmets and Eagle defense, while Tubb had the Alphans work on a heterodyning defense. Given Tubb's better grasp on science, he actually brought up a realistic area of study. Though not quite for the same idea as the Alphans had in mind, the idea of countering various forms of noise with completely opposite, canceling noise, is very realistic.

One thing, however, which Tubb was weak on, in my opinion, was characterization. Though individual character traits showed through, their interaction was, well... rough. They all seemed, almost without exception, to treat each other to sarcasm and criticism. Even Alan was non-stop gruff. Helena, whom I almost always have complaints about in Y1, was actually good on her own, and featured more compassion and common sense than usual. Kano's "love" of the computer was taken to, ahem... a "higher" level than even I had suspected before (and the computer has a mellifuous voice?). Victor was rather snippy throughout, but Paul once again seemed to have a minimal role. Sandra really didn't stand out much either. After Rankine's wonderful characterizations, I found Tubb's portrayals a letdown. This story would really fit more with some time *soon* after Breakaway, when the shock of that event hadn't fully faded, when everyone was adjusting to being stuck on the Moon and with each other, the lack of truly deep-space experience, and so on. Seen in that light, it does work better, but the still-existing difference is that this is a novel, where character can still be explored more than was in Rogue Planet.

Both were strong, tautly-written stories. Plotting was excellent in both (though Tubb had a slight edge in his attention to detail, though sometimes at the cost of pacing), and both authors had tremendous descriptive capacity. Rankine did better with characterizations, whereas Tubb had a strong scientific base, even when dealing with the paraphysical stuff. I've never cared much for the paraphysical -- as opposed to metaphysical -- stuff in general; but even that was handled well by Tubb, in a vivid, engaging manner in Rogue Planet.

In the end, I'd give the stories equal billing as strong, engaging stories. Give me a week before deciding if one actually edged the other, though... :-)

My 1.999 cents,

David Welle

From: Date: Mon, 08 Jun 1998 12:43:11 EDT Subj: Space1999: Rouge Planet

As one who voted to discuss the novels, I have been remisss in not throwning my hat into the ring. Frankly, I didn't care for this one. I wonder if Tubb was working under a constraint limiting the size of the book. This one had the potential to be a great story but it focused too much, IMHO, on the horror sequences. I also found the ending to be very anticlimactic - they just shoot some missiles at the Omphalos and the problem is solved. Too ST:TNG for me. You know, doubletalk the deflector beam into working another way and bingo! problem is solved.

In short, the imagery of the individual sequences was great but the overall plot was lacking. Almost as if Tubb had more stuff he wanted to include but had an arbitrary limit placed on him so he had to cut and paste as best he could.

David J Lerda

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