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Books
Compiled by Martin Willey

To Everything That Might Have Been: The Lost Universes of Space: 1999 by David Hirsch and Robert E Wood with Christopher Penfold

To Everything That Might Have Been

Telos, UK, 18 March 2022 £16.99
324 pages, paperback
ISBN 978-1-84583-196-7

Hirsch wrote the Starlog Technical Notebook in 1977 (his first professional writing) and became an editor for Starlog. Wood wrote Space 1999- The Future Is Fantastic! (2001) and Destination Moonbase Alpha (2009, also published by Telos), and edited the autobiographies of Zienia Merton and Barry Morse.

The 3 Wood titles, 2001, 2009 and 2022

Late 2021 and early 2022 brought three new Space: 1999 books, the others being the Technical Operations Manual by Chris Thompson and The Vault by Chris Bentley. While this paperback won't look as good on the coffee table as those colourful illustrated hardbacks, it provides a unique insight into the making of the series. It is in some ways a sequel and companion to the 1976 Making Of Space: 1999 by Tim Heald. The blurb for Heald's book promised "controversial eyes-only memos", but "To Everything" is the book that really delivers that promise.

SO, YOU THOUGHT YOU KNEW EVERYTHING ABOUT SPACE: 1999? HOLD MY COMMLOCK ...

Back cover

The cult classic science fiction series Space: 1999 has legions of fans around the world and has been researched and in comprehensive books and documentaries, so fans can be forgiven for thinking there's nothing new under the 'Black Sun'... But they'd be wrong.

Did you know ...

This book takes you back to the beginning, to the genesis of the series, and to early themes, characters, and story outlines. It uncovers a treasure trove of previously unknown information, correspondence, casting lists, production information, and long-lost documents charting alternative realities of what might have been had the series taken any multitude of different forks in the road. And throughout, this book features extensive input from series story consultant and scriptwriter Christopher Penfold.

Any self-respecting Alphan who thinks they know it all needs to read this book and explore the lost universe of Space: 1999!

The book is based on a mixture of ITC press releases, early story treatments and production documents. Most of the shorter documents are reproduced in full here, with summaries of longer scripts, accompanied by discussions by Wood or Hirsch. The discussions pick out both the production information (for instance, actors who were considered for the role of Koenig), and the thematic evolution from early concepts to the series we saw on screen. Christopher Penfold, who was the original script writer on the series, comments in footnotes, plus a foreword and two chapters, about his memories.

A few of the documents have appeared before, including in David Hirsch's articles for Starlog in the 1970s, but most have not appeared before. There are a few, very brief, scene-setting chapters (Gerry and Sylvia Anderson's career in 3 and a half pages, how the show was renewed for the second series in 4).

The documents tell the story of the show, each showing the slow evolution of the series concept, stories and casting. It takes over 190 pages, over half way through the book, before we even reach the start of filming. After the series starts filming, we are pass rapidly through a few pages until we see Gerry Anderson's memo to the crew announcing the series has been cancelled at the end of 1976. The original episode assessments by Johnny Byrne and the summary of meetings between Anderson, the Landaus, Brian Johnson and Charles Crichton are intriguing. Christopher Penfold also gives his memories of his episodes from 2021. There are a couple of provisional filming schedules for the second series with hopelessly optimistic delivery dates, and Martin Landau's notes on filming dates (carefully noting the overtime).

This is not a comprehensive guide to Space: 1999. Other books have already covered the history and episodes; the Chris Bentley Vault should be thorough, and Wood's previous books have surveyed this before. There is little about individual episodes, directors or filming in this book, apart from a few brief fragments. This book focuses on internal documents gives us unique insight into the evolution of the show. Even if the reader isn't familiar with the series, they will get a sense of the wild flux of ideas when a show is created.

A lot of the information is incomplete, because the full chain of documents and verbal discussions is missing. There are internal memos from the William Morris agency which mention actors for the lead role in Space:1999, but we don't know if any were interviewed, or even seriously considered (more).

There are mentions in memos from Landau's agent, from February 1974, and Sylvia Anderson about a theatrical release. The book speculates (p193) that the excessive length of the first cut of Katzin's episode Breakaway may have been deliberate, creating a movie version of the pilot. Unfortunately there is nothing related to Katzin or the filming here, apart from timing estimates in scripts (p102) and re-filming dates (p293, although this omits other re-filming that was done). It seems a pretty big leap that Katzin was semi-officially making a movie instead of a one hour TV show. I guess that they are considering a compilation movie of two or more episodes, like Spazio 1999 or Alien Attack. I think the "90 minute" or "2 hour" Breakaway is an exaggeration (the time grew longer the more Gerry Anderson repeated the story). Unfortunately there is not enough evidence to explain what happened. This is a rare excursion into speculation, in a book that keeps itself grounded in the facts.

There is brief mention of the connection to Planet of the Apes (no mention that the CBS boss responsible was a namesake of one of the authors, Robert Wood). There is also a legal agreement from June 1977 which mentions a spin-off series for Maya, although the concept was vague. A discussion of the science of black holes during the discussion of David Weir's script for Black Sun misses the source of the concept and the name "black sun" rather than "black hole" (the original 1973 edition of John Taylor's "Black Holes" book popularised the concept, and mentioned alternative terms including "black sun"; Weir may not have even read the book, but reviews and features about it appeared in newspapers at the time the script was written).

Keith Wilson art

There are 18 pages of preproduction art, most of which has been seen elsewhere; there are just a few photos of the Alpha model and clapperboards, but none of actors or anything else from the show. The Vault book should fill this gap.

This book fulfils the promise of the subtitle, "The lost universe of Space: 1999". The documents reveal choices and decisions which would have made a very different show. You don't need to know the series well to read about the early evolution of the ideas, and even the fans who do will discover new possibilities.

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Copyright Martin Willey