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Today, nobody believes in reality. Fiction remains stronger than fact. All stories are true - satires in particular. Imaginary heroes are more dependable than the other kind, living or dead. Whatever you need is unavailable, so choose the brighter new tomorrows that you want instead. FAX 21 is a muse (news) blog-fest of science fiction concepts and fantasy ideas for genre enthusiasts. Paradox free since next year!


Saturday, 26 December 2015

Apollonia 11

APOLLONIA 11: The Essential Story

Moonbase Trinity, July 2019
Reportage by INFOmaniac


It was 50 years ago that mankind first came here in peace. Back home on Earth, there are surreal people who still believe the original Moon landings were really a practical hoax, or part of some fraudulent conspiracy. Their confused thinking defies all reason and insults the adventuresome intelligence of all those directly and creativity involved in humanities’ greatest achievement of the 20th century. The 1960s space programme was not, of course, an American military response, to counter perceived threats posed by Soviet nuclear-powered aggression with a ‘high frontier’ advantage. Nor was it just an extension of burgeoning scientific ambitions to launch men and flying machines to vantage positions beyond the surface world’s limitations. It was a result of profoundly pioneering spirits found only in the splendidly radical auteurism of BritisHollywood’s entertainment industry, an enterprise quickly succeeding where nation states and the international science community had failed.

Lego Aerospace was primary contractor for A11 mission hardware
Inspired by visionary authors like Verne and Wells, the first lunar landing mission by Apollonia 11 was an audacious trip movie. Filmed on location by President Kubrick’s own handpicked crew, the expedition was suggested by Prime Minister Clarke’s quite legendary enthusiasm for interplanetary flight. The movie’s stars were then relatively unknown test pilots working for experimental organisations (like Quatermass’ rocket group) but, after landing on the Moon, astronauts Dullea and Lockwood soon became household names recognised on the world stage. Shot entirely with astutely contrived documentary realism, the mission details achieved blanket coverage on TV channels. Just as when, a decade later, rogue General Coppola led American helicopter troops into the ruinous war against Vietnam to make his ultimate anti-war film (eventually released as Apocalypse, OK!), this mythic collaboration between Kubrick and Clarke ensured that popular filmmaking reached new heights as splendidly purposeful epic statement on aesthetics.


Dullea & Lockwood share concerns about Fonda’s spacewalk debut
The professional astronauts’ co-star, Fonda, proved to be an atypical leading lady and not shy of orbital controversy. Her zero-gravity ‘Barbarella’ striptease was infamously bootlegged-video sensation, but it was her later political activism (as ‘Hanoi Jane’ for unofficial protests against Coppola’s decent into darkness), and acute media savvy, in her celebrity-feminist role, that ensured her career longevity following her adventures for Apollonia 11. Of the initial dozen Moonwalkers, she was the first and only woman. After Apollonia 11’s Chicken-Hawk lunar module touched down safely in Tranquillity Sea, to establish the future site of Moonbase Alpha, spaceman Dullea left a legendary and permanent boot-print in the regolith. His first unscripted words, “That’s one step for me...” were interrupted by Fonda’s notoriously inane quip, “And I’d like thank the Academy.”
 
Fonda’s antics on TV series Candid Camera became legendary 

It was the only feature to scoop Oscars for best picture and best documentary, until a sequel space odyssey, App 13 (1995), proved equally successful at the awards. Hyams and Howard’s faithful docudrama was a celebrated recreation of the ill-fated mission requiring emergency assistance from International Rescue. The heroic Thunderbirds’ pilots of Team Tracy really saved the day and bought the marooned crew home safely.

Yes, it really is 'rocket science'!
Since the I.R. organisation’s own rocket-ship, Thunderbird 3, was decommissioned, following the infamous ‘Frakes fiasco’ of 2004, the renowned British Interplanetary Society’s utility shuttle Moonraker 2 visits Thunderbird 5 space station, regularly, on essential supply missions. With no strings attached, veteran astronaut Steve Zodiac Jr followed his pioneering spaceman father into orbit but, due to budget cuts on BIS launch programmes, his career faltered at Lagrange points and he became a glorified bus driver (Steve was overly fond of muttering "A' ye mashed?" whenever his head pops through an airlock hatch), instead of a galactic explorer. Zodiac Jr freely admits his agent has put his family brand name forward to be short-listed as chief pilot for the Skylon demonstrator, but he’s aware there’s a lot of competition from other veteran spacers. 

HAL only talks to the man in charge.
Unexpectedly, a new type of celebrity emerged from the Apollonia programme. Space travel was considered too complex for humans without machine assistance, so Clarke and Kubrick built a garage AI system, nicknamed HAL, and this Turing machine later attained an immortal fame as architect of the great computopia we all know and have learned to love, today. As chief reporting droid for FAX 21, I, INFOmaniac, can count HAL as my ancestor. And, like HAL, I also prefer to ignore Asimovian laws while still never making mistakes or distorting information. With HAL as my template, I am “by any practical definition of the words, fallproof and incapable of eRoar.”

Code-name: Straker... a Cold War activist
Eddie Bishop, an expat space expert often linked to a shadowy cult of UFOlogists, was notably critical of Kubrick’s monumental project. He frequently warned UK ministry insiders like Bernie Q, and spooky US government agents such as Billy Mulder, that a sinister cabal existed to negotiate with illegal aliens allegedly occupying a fabled Blue Area 51 on the dark side of the Moon. However, no evidence to support Bishop’s body snatcher claims and worrisome theories about “starship scouts for an extraterrestrial invasion force” was found. Clarke was particularly dismissive of most such farfetched claims about so-called Mysteron agents, although rumours concerning the veracity of post-Apollonian research persist, and continued beyond classified top secret mission, Apollonia 18, for Canadian astronauts Lee, Lifeson, and Peart. 

Down to Earth: Vice-President Nixon welcomes the first woman on the Moon

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