The Catacombs Criticism
The Mysterious Unknown Force

The term "Mysterious Unknown Force" first appeared in an article by David Houston in Starlog magazine describing the second series: "Not once (as so often happened last year) are we told to accept the fuzzy 'mysterious unknown force' as an explanation of how something came to occur." The term was quickly adopted by both fans and critics of the series as an apt description of the more metaphysical aspects of the first series. David Hirsch's articles in Starlog explored the "M.U.F." in detail for the first time.

"THE MYSTERIOUS UNKNOWN FORCE"

Miniseries Written by David Hirsch for Gerry Anderson's SPACE REPORT
Starlog - May/June/July 1980
Thanks to Paulo Jorge Morgado for scanning this.


Part One

Have you ever finished watching an episode of Space: 1999 and had the feeling that you'd missed something? Maybe somewhere in the middle of Act Two you had the suspicion there was something cut out? Maybe there were too many disco dance lesson commercials instead of dramatic action?

A short time ago I had the opportunity to screen an uncut print of the episode "War Games," in which Commander Koenig travels to an alien planet to plead for the lives of his people. Suddenly I was watching footage I had never seen on TV before. The male alien tells Koenig his people are no more than a virus-a plague of fear with no future. Koenig attempts to justify his people's right to survive by telling the alien:

"Ever since we were blasted away from Earth we have been fighting for survival. We have survived. How, I don't know. There's no rational explanation. What I do have is an absolute faith in the strength of the human spirit and the belief that someone or something is looking after us. God, if you like. And we will survive. " No "rational explanation" to the reasons for their survival, he says.

I began to wonder.. If this dialogue was cut from "War Games" in my area, what other important scenes might have been deleted? I have always been attracted to the idea that the series was attempting to portray humanity's first voyage into space with the understanding that it was all... well, unknown. Nothing would be the way we know it on Earth; there would be great mysteries, unexplainable events with no easy answers. After hearing that one statement from Koenig, I thought that they had in fact set out to do just that confuse the audience. Perhaps there was no failure on the part of the writers or producers; they may have intentionally set about to leave us guessing, right along with the men and women of Moonbase Alpha.

In 1975, Isaac Asimov reviewed Space: 1999 for The New York Times, commenting that many of the show's scientific errors stemmed from ignorance. Again, it is true, that in many cases the writers appear to have bent reality to their advantage. However, is it possible that in some cases they were aware of this?

Let's make some assumptions and see what we come up with. In the third episode, "Black Sun," the Moon is caught in the gravitational web of a deadly space phenomenon. While author David Weir's use of the term Black Sun is incorrect (black hole is the correct term), his concept of Alpha travelling through the collapsed star is theoretically possible-if one can negate the crushing gravitational pressure of a black hole.

It is quite obvious that Prof. Bergman doesn't expect his forcefield to really protect Alpha. The forcefield is nothing more than some thread of hope for the doomed humans to cling to. As the Moon enters the event horizon, we are shown glimpses of familiar Alpha personnel waiting out their final moments. Even though the forcefield is operating at 100 percent power, few people appear to believe they will survive. As Paul Morrow makes a final round of Main Mission, he tells Koenig and Bergman that he never thought it would end this way. This sequence was cut from the New York airing, as was another important scene in which Bergman tells Koenig that all of his calculations show they should have died when the nuclear waste areas went up (this scene was shown, but not the following). He then asks Koenig an important question:

BERGMAN: Have you ever wondered just how and why we've survived?
KOENIG: Not until now.
BERGMAN: Have you got any answers?
KOENIG: You're not referring to God, are you?
BERGMAN: Oh, I don't know exactly. I'm a scientist, I don't know anything about God. No.. it's a cosmic intelligence that I've got in mind...
KOENIG: ... which intervenes at the right moment. ,
BERGMAN: It's one answer. Ultimately, I suppose we all believe what we want to believe. Perhaps that's what reality is.

Here we are in only the third episode of the series and already the question of improbable survival against impossible odds has been raised. Are there powers out there in space that can slice through the precious theories on which we base our existence? Centuries ago, religion was the source of our knowledge about the physical universe. It was accepted as fact that God created Earth and humans and animals - and the rest of the universe - in six days. Then along came Charles Darwin who stated that we evolved from primitive, ape-like hominids. All animals, in fact, evolved from lower forms. God appeared to play no part in Darwin's science ("I'm a scientist, I don't know anything about God."). Is it possible that we now know so much that concepts like Einstein's Theories of Relativity will always be found correct?

This brings us back to the age-old science fiction question: Are humans the most intelligent creatures in the galaxy? I'd like to think not. It's fascinating to think that we might even be under the watchful eye of some all-powerful being or beings.

Fanciful or not, the fact does remain that throughout the first season of Space, some greater power affected the journey of Moonbase Alpha. We are never given a clear-cut idea as to who -or what- this power might be. The "intelligence" that Koenig and Bergman contact as they pass through the black hole avoids giving direct answers as to its identity. It states only that it is a friend which lives a greater lifespan than ours. The final "I think a thought in every thousand of your years" places humanity in a relative position to the alien as intelligence in the insect world is to us.

Are they talking to God? They get no answer. Perhaps this intelligence isn't even the one responsible for their safe passage through the black hole. Who is this mysterious unknown creature or force that guides the Alphans to their ultimate destiny (which is?) somewhere in space? We can only guess.

Next issue we'll attempt to uncover more of this great power that seems to watch over Moonbase Alpha and reveal its purpose (if it indeed it has one).

Readers are invited to send in their own thoughts and comments on this subject. The best of these letters will be printed in a later issue.


Part 2

If some alien super-race is looking after the men and women of Moonbase Alpha, as discussed last issue, what are their reasons for doing so? What is the ultimate future of the Alphans?

In the Space. 1999 episode "Collision Course," Alpha's commander asks this question of an alien woman who seems to know what the future holds. "You shalI go on," she tells Koenig. "Your odyssey shall know no end. You shall prosper and increase in new worlds, new galaxies. You will populate the deepest reaches of space. "

Perhaps Earth is not the planet of birth of the human race. Perhaps, as some suggest, aliens visited in the past and seeded Earth with humanity. Could it be that those forces that guard Moonbase Alpha are in fact representatives of those same aliens, still guiding the future history of the human race?

In the final episode of Space: 1999 Series one, "The Testament of Arkadia," the Alphans discover a planet very similar to Earth, yet a million light-years away. Vast improbabilities crop up throughout as the Moon is locked tight in space by some undetectable force. Once in range of the planet Arkadia, the Alphans become pawns in some great plan. The pieces to this jigsaw puzzle don't begin to fit together until we've seen the entire episode.

Once locked in space, the Moonbase's generators begin to loose power until the base is almost uninhabitable. A landing party is launched to investigate whether the Alphans can survive on the planet. Down on the Planet, they discover that at one time a great civilisation had lived there. Some unknown holocaust had occurred, rendering the planet lifeless and now, centuries later, the planet has stabilised, the radiation count is normal and the planet is ready to be reborn.

Further checks reveal even more improbabilities. Forty varieties of trees, all native to Earth, cover the landscape. Inside a cave, they discover humanoid skeletons and an inscription written in an early form of Sanskrit, a basic proto-European root of languages. The Alphans find it hard to believe that people from Earth visited this planet before, but when the inscription is translated, they discover that the Arkadians fled their planet 25,000 years earlier to colonise other worlds, Earth being one of them.

Two Alphan scientists, Luke Ferro and Anna Davis, become obsessed with the need to renew life on Arkadia. They force Koenig to release supplies to them. Before Koenig can go after them, the Moon is sent on its way, leaving the two Alphans stranded on Arkadia like some 21st-century Adam and Eve.

Referring back to "Collision Course," the alien woman, Arra, says that the destiny of the Alphans is to populate space. Yet here in "The Testament of Arkadia," Alpha has not only populated another planet, but has brought life back to a planet that originally populated Earth. The Alphans were guided to Arkadia, perhaps by the Arkadians themselves, who may have mutated into an intelligence without a body.

If man's determination in reaching into space is one of repopulation, could this be a reason for the fact that many aliens in Space: 1999 are humanoid? Raan, the alien anthropologist in "Missing Link," admits that his race is linked to ours. Raan's people are higher than we are on the evolutionary ladder. They have cast off emotions for logic, but perhaps logic isn't the answer as Raan sets out to learn from Koenig. In the end, both men discover that while logic without emotions works for one, it makes survival for the other impossible.

We know evolution is a process of adaptation to an environment. Just as skin colour, diet and culture has been affected by local environment here on Earth, so can it be true on other planets.

What then, has been revealed in Series One? First, we have a powerful, intelligent force that sets out to guide a group of men and women to some prearranged destination. Secondly, we have a Universe populated by humanoid races which seem to have a common. The Kaldorians, in the episode "Earthbound," are strikingly similar to Earthlings, but they have learned to use their emotions wisely. They think before acting and face the truth instead of denying the inevitable. The Zennites in "Missing Link" have abandoned emotions for logic; the Sidonians in "Voyager's Return" are too proud to accept the fact that they act on emotion, not logic. The other aliens encountered in Series One prove themselves all-to-human in their desires or fears. Perhaps they are examples for the Alphans to learn from.

There are hundreds of other examples from the series to support these theories. However, it really boils down to the viewers' perception of what they have seen and the desire to either accept something at face value or to dig deeper,

Readers are invited to send in their comments and opinions on this subject. A representative selection will be printed in a later issue.


Part 3

Just who or what is watching over the men and women of Moonbase Alpha as it journeys deeper and deeper into the void of space? Why do they intervene with powers that cut across "established" facts of physics to rescue them from certain death? In the last two issues we have presented the evidence as seen in various episodes of Space: 1999, but the final answer has always been left for the viewer to reveal. Here are the findings of two viewers:

. . Alpha's purpose is that of a universal catalyst, for metamorphosis into other planes of existence. The breakaway of Alpha fits into this plan. Note that the breakaway happened shortly after Earth received mysterious signals from the planet Meta. When the Alphans arrived on the planet, they encountered Dr. Russell's husband, Lee-or was it? Could this Lee Russell have been a messenger trying to explain Alpha's purpose in relation to the Universe?

He said, "You know so little. Children thrown into the dark. Afraid, facing forces and entities that you cannot understand. And yet, about you there is something commendable, a sensitivity, a concern-it must not be wasted." These words are analogous to children growing up to face, or maybe change, a new world.

Perhaps the positive side of humanity (their childlike innocence) is a valued asset for continued growth and evolution in the Universe. The Alphans are the children (no alien society was beneath Alpha's level of technology); the Universe's new hope. Like children, puzzled by the working of the adult world, the Alphans could not understand the many alien worlds they encountered.

When Commander Koenig met Arra in "Collision Course," her attempt to make the Alphans accept the need for the two worlds to touch was like an adult trying to explain something to a child. Arra also stated that her people had waited a long time for that moment. Perhaps the Alphans must also wait for their ultimate destiny. All this would surely point to a cyclic Universe.

The "Mysterious Unknown Force" (and perhaps there is more than one type) was not always beneficial, but the Alphans persisted and grew. Perhaps these encounters are designed to gradually point the Alphans in the right direction. Look at it in terms of a great surgeon, artist, philosopher-he probably would not be able to explain every little factor or force that made him who he is or who he will be.

Peter Lauk
1154 Bonview Lane
Atlanta, GA 30324


... What's all this nonsense about the pseudo-religious content of that classic turkey, Space: 1999? So the writers believed in God? Wonderful. Too bad they didn't believe in Man. Be honest; Reliance on a "deux ex machina" to resolve dramatic conflicts is nothing but sloppy storytelling. The Lord helps those who help themselves, remember? When the characters in Space: 1999 got in trouble, all they did was gnash their teeth and -wait to be plucked out of danger by their handy-dandy "mysterious unknown force." That's what made them so god-awful boring. A story of religious belief is one thing; divine intervention is something else altogether. The first is an illumination of human nobility. The second is an indictment of human weakness. Space: 1999 celebrated human weakness. Perhaps that's why it's not around anymore.

Allen B. Ury
741 Hibbard Road Wilmette,
IL 60091

I can't remember anytime in the series when the Alphans sat around waiting for the "M. U. F" to pluck them out of danger I remember the Alphans as fighters. The "M.U.F" played no part whatsoever in episodes such as "Last Enemy " and "End of Eternity" wherein the Alphans fought against more powerful odds and won by their own ingenuity. However, in episodes like "Black Sun," the need for the assistance of the "M.U.F. " against the collapsar is not a sign of human weakness. If 50 people were about to crush your head, it isn't a matter of weakness that you can't stop them alone... the odds just are not in your favour...


... First off, I agree with you about the existence of a "cosmic intelligence." I personally believe that somewhere there is a supreme intelligence (God if you wish). However, what he is and what he can do is beyond the understanding of man. I merely know that he exists. (Or she exists; or it exists - Ed.)

Following my logic, would a real cosmic intelligence bother to help a group of hairless apes? I mean, in the cosmic scale, we humans don't really get up in the top 10. Even if there were one intelligence that was going around helping lesser races, why didn't this being help races like Maya's and other humanoid races down on their luck. The people of Psychon were in much worse shape than the people of Earth (they only numbered two while Alpha has close to 300).

A normal cosmic intelligence wouldn't bother about Earth people, but one did. Why? The only answer is that this intelligence has a special interest in the people of that planet. He was their creator. This is the only solution. As in 2001: A Space Odyssey, some intelligence merely instilled the promise of intelligence into some furry apes that were running around. And so the story goes....

Beyond that, I will not try to interpret a being who must be above me as I am above an ant. He may have felt pity for the race he created, but he never really helped them as much as he could. Why didn't he grab the Moon and put it in orbit around a suitable planet?

As the saying goes, they all move in mysterious ways.

Matthew Kennedy
2515 Sugarloaf Ct.
Xenia, OH 45385

In the first two parts of this series, you may have noticed that at no time did I mention anything involving the second season of Space: 1999. In an upcoming issue, I will explain why I do not consider Mr. Kennedy's question about Maya and Psychon applicable to the concept of a "M.U.F." Granted, the possibility of this "cosmic intelligence" being our creator is something to consider, but Ido not think that it's just random chance that Alpha is being helped.

However, consider this: Are the Alphans the only race being assisted by this unknown entity?

David Hirsch, Editor

The Space Report column ended shortly after this series by David Hirsch, and no further articles about the MUF appeared.