Believing in a Better Future


Space: 1999 took a somewhat jaded look at the future on Earth, while at the same time focusing on our ability to survive and build something better as the survivors of an horrific accident clung to hope against a backdrop of mystery, struggle and the implied terror of being lost in deep space.

The Alphans were at the mercy of nature, unable to control the trajectory of their accidental gigantic spaceship (the moon) – but able to control the way they lived and maintained a focus on the possibility of something better.

It’s a message as relevant to today as it was to the often times tumultuous 1970s.

Space: 1999 taught me that while we can’t always control the bigger things in life, we can control the ways in which we react to them and, through our choices, make a gradual impact on what might initially appear to be something we cannot effect.

It’s a message we might want to consider as we make the transition from one year to the next, particularly as we look back on 2016 – a year that has brought us great challenges, and as close to a guarantee of an uncertain global future as we’ve had, at least since the days of the Cold War.

What a year.

In my day job, I’m a Counsellor and a Community Development specialist.  I’ve built an accidental career around working with the survivors of trauma with a primary focus on young people and professionals in the industry, and in turning what are purportedly community spaces into more inclusive places for people who are often (accidentally?) excluded or feel excluded or not catered to – young people, refugees, and unexpectedly these last two years, people from what we in Australia call the QUILTBAG community (Queer/Unisex/Intersex/Lesbian/Trans/Bisexual/Asexual and Gay) – particularly Trans and Non-Binary individuals.

I’ve been doing this work for two decades, starting it in my early twenties.  Back then, it felt like we had a real chance at solving the world’s problems (which was, I now know, naive).  Now, in my fourth decade, life has “reality checked” me and more often than not I’m seeing more inequality than ever before, and more turmoil and uncertainty.

I don’t know a way to fix that, but I’m still dedicated to doing my own small part.

Because of my day job, I’m a big fan of reflection.

At the end of every year, particularly since hitting my 40s, I lock myself away from the world and deep dive into the experiences I’ve had over the previous 360ish days.  This process is my way of staying grounded, of planning my way forward into a new year, and it’s my way of avoiding vicarious trauma and eventual “burn out” (in my industry, the average ‘life expectancy’ of a professional is 2.5 to five years).

Part of that process is remembering what’s inspired me.

Over the years, I’ve made no secret of the fact that the reason I do the work I do is because I was inspired to do it by my love of science fiction.

Recently, in a supervision session (which is where professional allied-health workers review their performance at regular intervals with someone older, more experienced, and better qualified than them), I was asked by my supervisor how I got into the industry and why I thought I was still surviving it.  I was at a career impasse.  I’d reached the top and had no idea what to do with the rest of my life, and my supervisor felt looking back would help me see my way through and forward into the future.

I reflected to her that from a young age I’d been inspired to try and reach an ideal – one that had been shaped by Star Trek, and influenced by the actions, bravery and compassion of characters in shows like Space: 1999, Babylon 5, Battlestar Galactica (the original) and Star Wars.

She gave me a look that clearly indicated she thought I might be losing my grip.

Maybe I’ve been losing it for years, but I can’t deny how much my inexplicable love for science fiction has influenced my life – both personally and professionally.

Deanna Troi inspired my trek into Counselling, as did Doctor Helena Russell, Doctor Leonard McCoy, and Ambassador Delenn.  Only one of those characters was a counsellor, but the rest dabbled in it or offered carefully thought out counsel to those around them.

Spock, Princess Leia Organa, Captain Apollo, G’Kar, Commander John Koenig, Commander Jeffrey Sinclair, Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Captain Benjamin Sisko and Captain Kathryn Janeway encouraged me to act with integrity and courage.  Doctor Beverly Crusher, Doctor Stephen Franklin, Maya, Kes, Commander Adama, and Vir Cotto inspired me to keep compassion and consequence at the centre of my decision making, and the futures of hope displayed in each of these series – hope they’d find a home in Space: 1999, hope they’d find Earth in Battlestar Galactica, hope they’d maintain peace in Babylon 5 and then eventually the hope they’d overcome a corrupt government, the promise of a selfless future in Star Trek, the hope that good would always triumph over evil in Star Wars, shaped everything about me.

These things still shape me today.

Remembering those inspirations, despite the surprise another professional expressed regarding the source material, I was reminded that we still have a long way to go and we’re only going to get there if some of us keep dreaming of a better future, and if most of us allow ourselves to continue to be inspired by visionaries who focus on that future or on our better qualities as human beings.

The future – at least a future that’s worth living in – is created by people who dare to dream and then act on those dreams.  It’s created by people who allow themselves to be inspired, rather than mired down by fear and those who peddle in it.

As we enter a period in our history that is being defined by events and often frightening challenges like Brexit, ISIL, astonishing political change in the United States, disappointing political fracturing in Australia, threats to Democracy and effective, non-totalitarian Socialism throughout Europe, the ever present issues of homophobia, transphobia and racism around the world, and the effects of Global Warming, it’s more incumbent than ever on those of us who prefer hope over fear to keep doing what we’re doing and pushing back by choosing to focus on the positive.

There’s a school of thought that suggests we create our future through the things we focus on – at both the micro (personal) and macro (national or global) level.  There’s not a great deal of evidence to support this, though some scientists have made interesting steps forward in attempting to quantify it.  I’m choosing to believe in that theory and focus on what is extraordinary about humanity, rather than what’s disappointing about us.

I get that people are frightened of terrorism, of Donald Trump, of global warming and of the fact too many of us are literally two pay checks away from poverty or homelessness.  I get these things, and share these thoughts, but hunkering down in fear won’t solve the issues we’re facing.  If anything, they’ll exacerbate them.

2017, at least in my view, is the year we turn the tables and make a commitment to hope again.  These things, historically, are cyclical.  In my life time alone we’ve seen the end of the Cold War, the collapse of the Berlin Wall, the mapping of our DNA, realistic plans to head to Mars, Gay marriage in some countries, and we’ve seen a number of women assume the ultimate positions of power in their respective countries despite the fact most of them only obtained the right to vote last century – and in some countries, shockingly, in the latter half of that century.

In a short space of time we’ve taken great strides forward, and we still can – with a little reorientation.  Some people, born in the first quarter of the last century, saw the austerity and fear of the depression, replaced with the excess of the 30s, the terror of the 40s, the boom of the 50s, the free love movement of the 60s, the Cold War and multiple other wars of the 70s and 80s as well as the crazy “greed is good” excess of the 80s and 90s, the fall of the World Trade Centre towers, the mining boom, and more recently all of those other things I’ve already mentioned that have led our collective psyche to a dark place.  Soon, hopefully, we’ll return to happier times and bounce back from the brink we sometimes feel like we’re at right now.

As we move forward into a new year, hopefully some of us (or most of us) will play our own individual roles in creating a brighter future and heralding in a happier time.

Television often reflects where we’re at as a people, and television fare these last few years has definitely been bleak.

With the upcoming release of Star Trek: Discovery, and their pledge to bring back a focus on hope and humans as positive change makers to television, maybe a change is coming?

As a one-time fan of The Walking Dead who got over it after a time because of how depressing it was, it’s interesting to hear a lot of people are now turning from the show because of how bleak and hopeless it is.  It’s happening to a lesser degree with other big, often depressing television shows, so maybe – as a people – we’re ready for something different and we’re tired of seeing human beings in a bad light, and our future as hopeless.

As we prepare to welcome in a new year, here’s to overcoming and rising above the fears caused by global terrorism, here’s to an end to homophobia, transphobia and all of those other ‘obias’ and ‘isms’, and here’s to embracing a future among the stars where there are moonbases and Mars outposts and a humanity focused on enhancing the species rather than destroying or victimising it.

And, here’s to a TV Network or production company being brave enough to rebirth Space: 1999!  I still believe, as a show, it has a unique ability to show us an incredibly positive and amazing near future.

Happy New Year, everyone.  Let’s do our own small part to build a better, brighter future that’s worth living in.

As you go through your own end of year process, whether it results in resolutions or not, I hope you find wisdom, joy, and the courage we all need to be positive change makers.

Space 2049 Page Break

It’s Time for a New Look at Space: 1999


It’s obvious I’m a fan of Space: 1999, so I’ll happily declare there is a bias present in this article.  To me, the show had a lot going for it – compelling characters, amazing sets, decent (for the time) special effects, and a tone of mystery and hope set against a subtle backdrop of disillusionment and mistrust (two feelings that permeated the 1970s, and coincidentally the twenty-teens).

The series was cancelled before its time despite its popularity, with the sad reality being it kind of killed itself with a lot of retooling between seasons that didn’t sit well with its fans.  Space: 1999 is probably the best example of how not to “fix” a television show if you want that show to survive.  Though season two gave us Maya and Tony, it took from us compelling storylines and a handful of fan favourite characters like Paul and Victor.

Space: 1999 wouldn’t work today as an exact and completely faithful reboot, because we’re 17 years past the titular date of 1999, and we also know more about our moon, our solar system and the near galaxy than we did then.  Not to mention the fact scientists are pretty certain that the moon being ripped from Earth orbit would destroy it and our own planet!  But that doesn’t mean we should dismiss this show and it’s underlying premise.  The characters, the (then) future forward but still focused in reality design aesthetic, the message of hope and exploration, and the crew of Alpha’s fight to survive against overwhelming odds (like we are today with climate change, global terrorism, changing political sensibilities, growing poverty, rising unemployment etc) are as relevant to today’s world as they were 40 plus years ago – and perhaps resonate with more potency now than they did back in the 70s.

With the renewed focus on exploring our solar system and the recent focus on space tourism, asteroid mining and setting up colonies on both the moon and Mars, Space: 1999 is more relevant today than it was in the 1970s when it was first released.

No other science fiction property can so eloquently show us the near future as authentically – if the series is retooled effectively and respectfully.

To clarify that point, shows like The Expanse and the new Star Trek: Discovery (due for release in May next year) do and will focus on the issues I mentioned above, but neither do (or will do) it from a timeframe close to right now.  Though Space: 1999 got a lot wrong (we don’t have a moonbase, we’re not dumping nuclear waste on the moon, and we haven’t received mysterious signals from nearby exoplanets), it did do its best to predict what the near future would look like 24 years into the future (and a lot of people still think the set design and ship designs stack up today, with the Eagle Transporter still spoken of as one of the most realistic space ships ever designed).

For a show like Space: 1999 that has maintained a strong and loyal fan base for 40 years, there are dangers in rebirthing or rebooting it.  There can also be benefits – a lot of them.  No one can forget the trepidation and then remarkable love many of us felt for the Battlestar Galactica reboot.  Ronald D. Moore kept the premise intact, giving more thought and background to the Cylons than the legendary Glen A. Larson had back in the late ’70s, and he kept many of the characters the same – controversially changing some (Starbuck becomes a woman, as does Boomer, and Athena is no longer Adama’s daughter, but a Cylon) and adding in new characters to flesh out that ‘world’.

Someone seeking to bring Space: 1999 back could go that route, but there are other approaches that would be equally as successful.

One alternate is the one I ascribe to here on this site, with the budding fan script I’ve been writing.

Space 2049‘s premise attempts to remain completely loyal to the original idea of Space: 1999, but instead of destructively blasting our moon out of Earth’s orbit, which, as mentioned above would be pretty apocalyptic for all of us down on the planet as well as the people on Alpha, it blasts a second moon – an asteroid that was captured by Earth’s gravity – out of Earth’s orbit and sends that second moon on a trip through our solar system toward an anomaly transmitting radio signals toward Earth from Jupiter orbit.

Most of the characters are the same, with one or two added in to reflect the role business will play in space colonisation, and with one or two secondary characters having their races and genders changed to better reflect a diverse settlement.  Overall the premise is identical and follows the thematic tone of the first season of Space: 1999.

As a devoted fan, that to me, makes sense.

While there is only the remotest of chances our homeworld will capture an asteroid and make it a second moon, it is entirely possible according to the research I’ve done.  It’s certainly more possible and less catastrophic than our moon getting ejected from orbit.

For the record, I looked at a space station being blasted out of orbit, but after two weeks of exhaustive research discovered there was NO WAY an artificial construct could survive that sort of catastrophe intact.

A few years back, Jace Hall of V (the reboot) fame attempted to bring Space: 1999 back as Space 2099, but that very quietly fell apart about two years ago.

From what I can find online, Space 2099 was going to honour the original in theme, but not necessarily in any other way.

I was a fan of this attempt at a reboot, but admit I would have been disappointed if too much had changed, and would have been really upset if Koenig, Russell and Maya hadn’t featured in it.

The pre-production efforts of the team behind Space 2099 didn’t reveal much to the wider public, though they did actively communicate with us all for a while at the forum on their website, but despite inviting the fans in we don’t know a lot about the show.  What we do know is that the reboot is no more.

Looking at the very few promo images that made it into the public domain, all I – all any of us – can do is guess.  My guess is we would have had a Moonbase Alpha, but there would have been no object blasted out of Earth’s orbit.  I believe they would have used Alpha as a jump point for a ship tasked with exploring beyond our solar system.

Regardless of what anyone might do with a reboot, it really is time for another look at Space: 1999.  Despite the rubbish monster of the week show it turned into in its second season, it was originally an intelligent, philosophical, meaningful show that would be successful right now in the current television landscape.

Even with a controversial new President due to take power in the United States in January, and a very unstable global community with issues like Brexit and ISIL featuring in world headlines on a daily basis, it seems clear that NASA and other interests will continue to push toward the moon and Mars.

As our climate continues to change, as our planet’s population continues to exceed our homeworlds’ ability to support humanity, and as our earthly resources continue to diminish, we’ll be forced more and more to focus on space as a solution to our growing global problems.

Has there ever been a better time for a show like Space: 1999 to shine?

A show that looks ahead a few years and poses realistic solutions to growing world problems could be really important, and that postulation could all still happen against an allegorical background of space adventure and fun.

Hopefully someone in TV production land is thinking the same thing.

It’s time for a new look at this old gem.

I wish I knew what derailed Jace’s vision, but more than that I hope someone sees value in a show of this kind and gives Space: 1999 a new life that the fans can love and a new TV audience can celebrate.

Space 1999 Page Break

Welcome to Moonbase Alpha

Space 1999 Year 1 Promotional Poster

If you were a child born in the 1970’s in Australia, chances were one of your first introductions to science fiction was the television show Space: 1999.

At the time it aired down under there wasn’t a lot of science fiction available.  Star Trek was already in syndication and would pop up haphazardly on Aussie TV screens, and Star Wars was just about to be released, or had only just hit the cinemas.  There was Doctor Who, but my family thought it was a terrible show so I was never allowed to watch it, and we were still a few years away from the first video cassettes so you couldn’t drop down to the local shops and pick up a copy of 2001: A Space OdysseyLogan’s Run, or Silent Running – some of which had been at the cinema before I was born.  There were books, of course, but I was five or six when I first discovered Space: 1999 and hadn’t yet fallen in love with the simple pleasures of reading.

Space: 1999 blew me away when I saw it.  I’m pretty sure it was early 1977 when I stumbled across the first episode and I saw the second season long before I discovered the much stronger first season.  The episode that grabbed me was “Black Sun”, and thankfully it also grabbed my family otherwise I would never have been allowed to watch more.

I remember it filled me with a sense of wonder and awe, and it began my ongoing love affair with science fiction.  Space: 1999 also launched my interest in the space program.  I remember asking family members how I could become an astronaut and all they could tell me was that I had to be really smart and needed to get good grades.  As I was just starting school (in most states of Australia, children begin school at the age of five), I set out to be the best student I could be – until nine years later when our all boys school became coed and I discovered girls.  Up until then I’d been in advanced maths and science classes.  Thanks puberty.

Having already discovered Star Trek, Space: 1999 gave me something different and I recall enjoying both for their unique visions.  To my five or six year old mind, Star Trek was all bright colours and action and I didn’t relate on a visceral level.  Space: 1999 was different in that things looked familiar.  It took hold of my imagination in a different way.  It showed me a future not too distant from my own, and one I would most likely still be alive in.  That really stuck with me as a kid.

As an adult, Space: 1999 does something different to me now.  It gives me a sense of nostalgia, and its characters resonate with me (as do the characters in Stat Trek).  It also pisses me off, because I see so much lost potential.  Almost 40 years after seeing Space: 1999 and Star Trek for the first time, I remain convinced good science fiction is character and plot driven, and technobabble is the enemy of good story-telling.  Yes, Next Gen and Voyager (DS9 did that a lot less often), I’m looking at you!

When you watch some of the stories from the first season of Space: 1999 and compare them with some of the offerings from the modern Star Trek series’, your jaw drops.  The Space: 1999 writers didn’t try to solve every mystery and they didn’t try to wrap everything up neatly, and they certainly didn’t ‘Macgyver’ the climax of an episode with expository technobabble that is as frustrating as it is nonsensical – which adds a sense of realism and drama I still admire and respect today.  Sometimes we don’t need an easy or comfortable resolution, which the rebooted Battlestar Galactica went on to so eloquently prove.

I discovered the first season of Space: 1999 first through the novelisations of the episodes while I was still in primary school, and then through video while I was at University.

As a child reading those books, I once again dreamed of being on Moonbase Alpha.  That future was so close I could taste it.

As a teen at university my imagination took flight in other ways.

I’d dropped out of psychology, turned down a law degree and taken on a performing arts degree majoring in acting, screenwriting and film making (my family disowned me for two years, they were not happy).  The first season of Space: 1999 captivated me with its dark, brooding, philosophical content.  What was a fond memory from my childhood took on a whole new meaning as I watched this show that more often than not left questions unanswered.  As a writer and budding film-maker I loved it. I could not understand how any sane person would cancel such a challenging and intelligent show.

I later learned there had been many attempts to revive the series, but none had gotten off the ground.

Then a decade or so later something miraculous happened, Ronald D. Moore, a former writer and producer for the various new incarnations of Star Trek, rebooted another series I had loved as a child – Battlestar Galactica – and turned it into a critical and ratings success.

Before we knew it, V was resurrected, and talk began about rebooting Space: 1999 and calling it Space: 2099, because the year 1999 had passed us by without the moon being ejected from Earth’s orbit.

I hadn’t been so excited since the mid 1980s when they announced Star Trek: The Next Generation!

Space: 2099 was going to be produced by Jace Hall, who had been part of the V update, and everything he was saying about the show sounded great.

The V reboot’s first season had been a critical and popular success, though its second season had had problems.  I thought if Jace and his team could take what they had learned from V and apply it to Space: 2099, then we would be in for something special.

And then it didn’t happen.

The last thing we heard about Space: 2099 was in 2014.

Sadly, that’s not all that surprising.  Space: 1999 has a devoted but small fan base, and it’s moderate popularity in the SF world may have been what made the people who own the rights reject Jace’s proposal.

If that was the reason, it may have been a little shortsighted.  It’s true that 1999 doesn’t have the brand recognition of Star WarsStar TrekTerminatorAlien or a host of other television or movie series that have since been given a reboot, but it did – and still does – have themes that are just as relevant today as they were back in the 1970s.

Space: 1999 was a pretty challenging show that initially tackled the nature of existence and our concept of self and fate way before DS9 went there, and way way before the new BSG received so much praise for confronting its audience with similar ideas.

It captured the fears of the 70s and suggested we all take a leap of faith and ‘go deep’ to find a truth that might help us evolve as a species.  At least, the best episodes of the first season did.  The second season told us to shoot the crap out of everything and hope for the best.

In the 1970s people were suspicious of their governments thanks to the Vietnam and Korean Wars, Watergate, the Cold War and more.  They were sick of armed conflict, terrified of a nuclear holocaust, and were worried about conspiracies, but despite all that they were also a little hopeful – believing that people, not science and governments, were the power that could change the world with a little hope and a little faith.

Today, after the opulent navel-gazing of the 80s and the relative stability of the 90s, there’s similar stuff going on again: we trust our governments less than we ever have as they change laws to benefit the state and create new ones that let them spy on us and detain us (ostensibly for our own protection).  We’re still worried about a nuclear holocaust but those fears have largely been supplanted by the threat of terrorism as we all wonder whether or not some fanatic is going to blow us up in the name of a religion that actually doesn’t promote violence.  On top of all that we’ve lost faith in organised religion because it’s kind of stupid, become exasperated at science because one week red meat is going to give us cancer and then the next week it’s sugar.  We’re over informed by news services that prefer to exaggerate and comment than report factually, and we’re frustrated by the climate change debate as our world heats up around us. Plus, our politicians are a joke, and social media – which was meant to bring us closer, is doing the exact opposite as it isolates us behind devices and gives us the illusion of connection. We’re probably more lost and confused than we’ve ever been.

We’re questioning again.

It feels like the right time for Space: 1999 to come back.

A few science fiction fans might disagree with me, because apparently there was a bit of a tiff between Space: 1999 and Star Trek fans back in the day, but they both have their merits, and they both owe each other a debt of gratitude.

There’s a wonderful book called Exploring Space: 1999 by John Kenneth Muir that goes into great depth on the series, it’s cancellation, those fan issues and more.  It looks at what influenced 1999 and what 1999 influenced.  Check it out.   If you’re a 1999 fan, this book is worth your time.  If you’re a student of film and television it is fascinating.  I couldn’t put it down. It’s an insightful, fantastic read and is available in paperback as well as on Kindle

For Maya fans, it also features a special interview with the actor who brought the mysterious Psychon to life, Catherine Schell.

Despite its ups and downs, Space: 1999 is still fondly remembered by many, and continues to he discovered by new fans in syndication.  Space: 1999 owes its continued existence to its fans, who have never given up on it.

Despite how big or small 1999’s fan base might be, it has a premise that, with a little tinkering, could give current scifi offerings a run for their money.

As I said earlier, it feels like the right time for a thoughtful show like Space: 1999 to come back.  It’s definitely time for a drama that explores the next 20 or 30 years, rather than the next 200 or 300.

As one of those fans who has dreamed of a revival or remake for years, and who has often fantasised about what he would do with the series if he had the chance, this site is my way of keeping Space: 1999 alive, and exploring what it might look like of it were retooled for a modern audience.

Space: 1999 was amazing, beautiful, cutting-edge television in the 1970s, but a lot has changed in the 40 years (as of this writing) since it aired.  Audiences are more knowledgeable and less likely to suspend disbelief.

The first issue with rebooting 1999 is the simple fact it’s now 2016, and this September 13 it will have been 17 years since the moon, in the show, was forced out of Earth’s orbit.  Also, we don’t have a moon base.  But, we’re getting there!  And we’re talking about putting humans on Mars.  We also have the Internet, computers in every phone, virtual reality, drones… and that fashion misstep known as flares are no more.  Thank goodness!

Space: 1999 can never come back as a continuation of the original, as much as we might want it to.  It’s doubtful Martin and Barbara would commit to a weekly series, or even a few episodes that would allow them to hand off to their children, and, again, there’s that whole ‘the moon is still in orbit’ problem that’s pretty insurmountable.  Nor can it be remade as a carbon copy of the original.  Again, the moon.  Things need to change because the world has changed, and as 1999 reflected the times it was written in, so too must any reboot reflect the here and now – without sacrificing the core of what 1999 was.

I’m going to have a go at giving 1999 an update on this blog.

With a liberal use of artistic license, I’ve taken a few of the first and second season episodes and have started to retool them in a way that I hope honours the original, while modernising the series and making it palatable to 21st Century viewers.  As is the current trend, a season will have only 10-12 episodes.  Let’s see how many I can write!

In addition to rewriting some of the original screen plays, novelising them, and explaining my rationale to you guys along the way, Space 2049 will also report on new developments at NASA and in space travel, and the news section of the blog will also include science fiction entertainment news focusing on series that feel like they are ‘spiritually’ linked to Space: 1999.

The site will also feature as much material on the original series as I can find and it will promote some of the exceptional Space: 1999 fan sites that are still out there on the Internet.

Why the year 2049?  Naively, I think we’re close to colonising the moon, and while our primary satellite isn’t the main focus of this reboot, another moon is.  2049 feels far enough away to give us a shot at succeeding by that date, and it’s close enough that another young person reading this, like me reading the novelisations all those years ago, might think “this is amazing, and I’ll still be alive to see it.”

I hope you enjoy this little trip into the near future, and I hope you either like the choices I’ve made, or at the very least think they have some merit.

The original Space: 1999 was created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson.

No copyright infringement is intended.  This is a passion project and a work of fandom intended for lovers of the original who still dream of Space: 1999 coming back.

Space 1999 Year 2 Promotional Poster