The Catacombs Space: 1999 Catacombs Essays
The Black Sun

The following is a condensed version of the original first draft script for BLACK SUN as written by David Weir in November of 1973. This presentation is as faithful to the original script as space limitations allow, and we feel you will be able to get enough of an idea of the differences between the original and the script finally aired.

Please note that this script was written during the time when the series was still in pre-production (shooting started later in November), so there are some changes in character (Catani: Carter; Sabatini: Benes) and generic (MTU: Eagle; IDX: Commlock) names.


by David Weir

Condensed by David Hirsch for the Space 1999 convention 1979 program, scanned by Paulo Jorge Morgado

The rogue Moon in space; where the stars seem relatively thin, clustered only in one small area. It came from that cluster. Fast. It was much larger than Earth's moon, and its close pass would cause damage to the tiny, fragile construction that kept the 311 men and women alive. John Koenig, commander of Moonbase Alpha, watched the asteroid on Main Mission's Big Screen as it approached. He turned to Prof. Bergman...

KOENIG: Why didn't we detect it earlier?
BERGMAN: Because it's not on a straight-line course. Look ... you can just see. It's already moving away from us
SANDRA: Central Computer gave an intercept danger alarm, sir.
KOENIG: What's out there with gravitation enough to pull it off course?
SANDRA: Nothing, Sir.
With respect to Professor Bergman, it's... not possible, Sir. It'd have to be huge to move that asteroid. A giant star. And sensors show nothing in space within parsecs of it.

But despite Sandra's objections, the asteroid does indeed suddenly pull off its predicted course and accelerate toward something powerful, something unseen in the void. Then it flares, elongates, stretches as the enormous force takes hold. A comet-like tail forms. At first the light is brilliant, then it becomes transparent. The asteroid disintegrates, explodes forward only. Then, one by one, the fragments race forward to blink out of existence, to disappear from view. Only a ghostly after-image remains.

SANDRA: A star... that huge... right ahead of us ... You'd see it with your naked eyes ... What in heaven's name is out there?
KOENIG: Whatever it is, we're headed straight for it.

In his quarters, Bergman was too engulfed in his paperwork to notice the Multiple Transportation Unit lift off from pad four. He was busy punching his computations into the computer. There was a buzz and a message from Central Computer appeared on the video screen. He sighed...

BERGMAN: Voice, Computer. Or has the cat got your tongue?
COMPUTER: If your hypothesis is correct, it is your duty to report this danger to Alcom Koenig.
BERGMAN: Hypothesis? It's the wildest speculation. I'm not right.
COMPUTER: You have been working now for three days on this phenomenon. My computations are in agreement with
BERGMAN: I can't be right. And if I were, you fancy adding machine, what's the point of telling anyone?

The MTU was well out of lunar orbit and on its way when Bergman reached the base restaurant. He ordered a coffeesub cup from the dispenser and grabbed a seat. He sat, sipping coffee, and ran the problem over and over in his brain until...


The restaurant was near empty, but he knew he could not avoid the confrontation any longer.

BERGMAN: I imagine you don't care what you have. This is just an excuse to run into me casually, mm? Central Computer been telling tales again?
HELENA: I should have known better. However, you are three days overdue for a checkup, and with your physiological condition, you know that's not wise.
BERGMAN: I've just been busy, preoccupied with work. It simply slipped my mind.
HELENA: Work which, according to Central Computer, is putting you under psychological stress. A man with a mechanical heart... resistant to stress.
BERGMAN: Nonsense.
HELENA: ...No.
BERGMAN: If I were under stress, you'd see immediately from my lens, wouldn't you?
HELENA: That even fooled the computer for a little while, yes. Now I know that You've gimmicked your lens and somehow shorted out the circuits supposed to monitor your psychosomatic condition. The only question is - why?
BERGMAN: I'm... found out then. I'd better tell you the truth, eh?

A satellite camera had been dropped from MTU-1 halfway between the moon and its Present Position. ..The camera beamed its picture back to the Big Screen. Koenig watched as the MTU hovered over the position where the asteroid was first caught. The craft was under the command of Lt. Mike Meyer since recon leader Alfonso Catani had already been assigned to another mission. Meyer checked his scanners again and again in an attempt to figure out the strange figures that appeared on his monitors.

Meyer fired his vertical rockets. He watched the area ahead as MTU-1 lifted above his former position. He could see some odd effect in space before him. Suddenly, stars began to appear out of nowhere at the top of his direct vision port. More and more filled his view. There was once more light and colour in space. There was indeed something out there. A disc, round, huge, and blacker than even space itself.

The staff in Main Mission, including Bergman, who had been alerted to the situation, watched as Meyer continued with his exploratory test. A laser beam, fired from the retractable cannon beneath the command module, disappeared upon contact with the black mass. His curiosity was even more aroused. Meyer requested permission to get in closer for further study. He argued with Koenig, then Koenig gave in; he also felt that they didn't have enough data to deal with the problem.

As Meyer's MTU converged on the black mass, his image on the monitor began to break up. Meyer saw it too on his screens as the image of his fiancee, Sandra Sabatini, dissolved into blue-white snow. He whispered softly to no one but himself...

MEYER: Ciao, Sandra.

They watched the MTU move in toward the black mass, lit only from the stars behind. Suddenly it began to pick up speed. Faster and faster and then... at first Koenig thought it was the transmission ... no, there was no doubting it. The MTU began to stretch out. He cried out to Meyer, telling him to abort, pull away. There was no reply from the speakers, but the MTU rotated 180' and its rockets flared-to life. So did the MTU.

The comet tail streaked out from the MTU toward the black mass. It was not the flare of the engines, Sandra knew that. She had monitored too many MTU exploration flights to attempt to convince herself otherwise. The spacecraft became pencil thin. There was a flash of light and the MTU and its human cargo disintegrated into nothingness. They heard no explosion in Main Mission; just the scream of a young woman before shock mercifully pushed her into darkness.

It was time to face facts. All heads at the emergency meeting were turned toward him. Alcom Koenig, Medical Officer Russell, Technical Director Ouma, and Recon Chief Catani. Bergman had tried to ignore the facts and look for an alternative, but there wasn't any. The Earth's moon was being drawn into a black sun. Eons ago the star began to collapse upon itself, and its mass increased as it pulled more and more matter in. Soon the increased gravitational pull, resulting from the increase in mass, had begun to effect all other forms of matter around. The black sun grew bigger and bigger as it absorbed planets, asteroids and other suns. The gravitational pull increased. It doubled, tripled, until not even light itself could escape.

Alpha had only one slim hope of survival. Bergman believed he could construct an energy barrier by using the anti-gravity generators, that might save the moonbase from being crushed under the powerful forces of the black sun. The chance of the barrier screens really saving the base were". at best, a billion to one. Koenig believed that if anything could keep morale going on a positive level, it was this one small chance. If the screens held, the black sun's inability to compress the moonbase into tightly packed molecules might result in the moon passing through safely. He tried to explain it to Helena...

KOENIG: Apparently, forces inside a black sun may do strange things to the nature of space... bend space, even time. Turn space inside out or some such. So, if the screens do hold, we just might be squeezed like some cherry stone and... blip!... suddenly find ourselves on the other side of the universe.

It was quite obvious to Helena that Koenig didn't take all that much stock in that theory. He was just as uncertain about their survival as she was.


Somehow they couldn't seem to react to the absurdity of it all.

Shut Central Computer down! Ouma couldn't believe Bergman was serious. However, the technical director knew that every bit of power had to be used for the energy barrier screens. But no computer? Ouma's inner thoughts battled each other. Indeed the power required by Computer was great and, unless they wanted to shut down life support, where else would the power come from? Yet, wasn't Computer just as vital? Computer also recorded Bergman's statement since Ouma had activated the vocal pickup before Bergman had entered the computer room. While Ouma wrestled with the problem in his own mind, Computer came to a conclusion. Action was taken.

Koenig and Helena watched as the readout appeared on the screen...

+++ 1703 HOURS +++ DAY 294/10 +++


Koenig sighed. He had given a direct order that he not be included on the list. He was about to request that the list be remade when he heard a deep, thunderous knocking on his door. The computer readout was irritating enough, but this...

He unclipped the IDX from his belt and aimed it at the panel by the door. Nothing. He looked at the box for a second until the banging resumed. Koenig typed out his personal ID code on the panel keyboard to release the door panel. Both he and Helena were quite surprised when the manual override failed to respond. Koenig turned to his computer console.

KOENIG: Give me voice, Computer. What's happened to my door?
COMPUTER: Your door has been secured, Commander. Professor Bergman, Dr. Russell and Alcom Koenig will be confined to rooms 2 and 51 until further notice. Food will, of course, be provided. Alpha security dictates this action. It is regretted.
KOENIG: Open that door. Who authorised this?
COMPUTER: I have no authority. You are detained for your own good.

Bergman was deeply into the welter of papers that hid his desk when his monitor bleeped.

KOENIG: Can you hear me, Professor?
BERGMAN: Hm? What?
KOENIG: Professor, are you locked in too?
BERGMAN: What? Oh, yes. Stupid computer's got some bee in its bonnet. But John, the most extraordinary thing something else, entirely...
KOENIG: Will it let you communicate with anyone else? We can only get through to you apparently.
BERGMAN: It wants us incommunicado. Don't worry about it. But I've been working on some calculations, and I've got an incredible result.
KOENIG: Incommunicado? Why?
BERGMAN: It's obvious. See, I wanted analyses of previous dangers we've faced and come through. Bit of a long shot, but Anyway, friend Computer pointed it out. A statistical impossibility.
KOENIG: What are you talking about?
BERGMAN: Probability statistics analysis.
KOENIG: Probability? Will it get us out of here? There's a thousand urgent matters to see to.
BERGMAN: Stuff and nonsense. There's nothing to do that isn't being done. Listen to me. I fed programs to the computer for probability figures for every danger we've been through. Of course, the totals are cumulative. Well, the improbability of our having survived at all... never mind time after time... comes close to within a whisker of being infinite. Now, any improbability that close to infinity becomes, of course, impossible. Ergo, we can not have survived, we must all be long dead. Yet here we are. D'you see what I'm driving at, eh? Mm?
KOENIG: No, frankly.
BERGMAN: There must be another factor not taken into account. A factor the computer and I missed. But we can prove we missed nothing of that order. So that leaves only one possible answer... outside intervention.
KOENIG: You're grasping at straws.
BERGMAN: Someone... something... outside Alpha has taken notice of us, has taken a hand in our affairs, time after time, and bailed us out, saved us. Perhaps inside the black sun...
BERGMAN: Well, the sheer physical powers involved show it's supra-human. Supra, not super, in the sense of not-human, beyond humanity, alien to...
HELENA: And why?
BERGMAN: Ah. Who knows why? Who can know? A being... beings... on that level, a cosmic intelligence, would have unimaginable reasons of its own.
KOENIG: Professor Bergman, I've heard some weird and wonderful ideas in my time, but... Alright, Professor, will you now apply your non-cosmic intelligence to the rather more urgent problems of why we are confined, and how we are to get out.
BERGMAN: You don't know? Oh. Well, the computer heard we shall have to turn it off. Although it has no will to live, this conflicts with its prime directive to keep Alpha safe at all costs. While it tries to resolve the unresolvable, it confined the people with authority enough to deactivate it. As to getting out ... Oh, Ouma will see all this and arrange it.

The double doors of the computer room closed silently behind Ouma. He looked up at the small video camera that watched him.

OUMA: You know, Computer, sometimes I forget. I start to think you're intelligent, but you're not. You're a moron. All knowledge and wisdom. Stuffed full of facts, but no judgement. That's why you're stupid. You know what I'm going to do? I'm going to shut you down myself.

He moved over toward the access panel at the rear of the room. Without warning, it slammed shut in his face. He couldn't help but laugh.

OUMA: Oh, you have a lot to learn, Computer. You have to learn your job. Nobody ever told you to shut doors on people. I can smash you from here, and I will.

He picked a long and heavy metal wrench from the tool locker and raised it above his head.

COMPUTER: It is a ninety-eight point two eight five percent probability that you are bluffing. You are logical. Too logical to destroy valuable and irreplaceable equipment. I can see that you...

Ouma suddenly turned and struck the video camera, smashing it.

OUMA: Now you can't see. I'm not bluffing because you have to learn this. Now open that access panel, and release the Alcom, the Professor and Dr. Russell.
COMPUTER: There is no program for this. I have a prime and over-riding directive to keep Alpha safe in all circumstances. Even against the errors of illogical men. Alpha is in danger of destruction now, and I cannot obey the directive if I have been deactivated.
OUMA: You can't obey if you're smashed either. Now open those doors.
COMPUTER: If that is an instruction, what order of priority does it carry?
OUMA: It's prime.

Ouma gently tapped the access panel with his wrench. A pause, then the doors opened.

OUMA: And the others.
COMPUTER: I have a paradox. Two conflicting primes. If men are my arms and legs...
OUMA: Wrong. Men are your brain. The point is, Computer, you obey orders and no more. If those orders conflict, you report paradox. self. You report it. You do not act yourself. Now open those doors!

Ouma sighed with relief when a group of indicator lights came up on a monitor panel. The Alcom, Professor and Doctor were released from confinement.

COMPUTER: I see. Thank you.
OUMA: Thank you.
COMPUTER: Do I still retain the right to argue?
OUMA: Who could stop you?

As Alpha drew nearer and nearer to the black sun, the technicians of Maintenance and Service worked at breakneck pace to finish Bergman's force field in time. All was moving as near to the time schedule as humanly possible. After the episode with-Computer, Koenig had hoped that all would go well, but he hadn't thought that there would be suspicion growing out of fear. Many Alphans began to ask who the lifeboat was for. Why, the Alcom and Dr. Russell, of course! Rats leaving a sinking ship.

With what appeared to be a mutiny brewing, Koenig decided it was time to inform the base of all the facts. He had wanted to wait until they were sure that the screens would indeed work, but now he had no choice. Koenig hooked himself into the base network.

KOENIG: Now hear this. This is Alpha Commander. We have an unpleasant fact to face now. Despite the Bergman screens presently over our heads, it is no more than a slim hope that Alpha will survive beyond the next few hours. Therefore, one MTU, a lifeboat, has been kept intact and equipped with supplies to carry five male and five female persons. Perhaps, alone in the galaxy, these ten have no better chance than ours, but they will leave Alpha by 1703 hours. Central Computer instructed to select people most likely to survive, and despite orders to the contrary, included me. I hardly need to say that my job is here, and I shall not go. For the rest, here are the ten names...

On screens throughout the base, the list of names appeared oft monitor screens, just the same as before except that the name Lam Yang Ha replaced Koenig's. No one, except Helena, disputed the list. She wanted to remain. Koenig told her she had no reason to stay.

HELENA: Let me give you a selfish reason then. You said it... alone in the galaxy. An alien galaxy, cut off from Alpha's technology, just ten people, certain that there's no possible landfall within scouting distance. The MTU doesn't have a whisper of a chance, and you know it.

Koenig didn't buy it. If Helena's reason for wanting to stay was really something else, she didn't express it.

Trouble. One force field pylon wavered. Very concerned, Bergman put on his spacesuit and climbed the pylon to inspect the generators. He reached up to touch the generator sphere. Instantly he was bathed in a blue fire, his body hurled into space. Had it not been for the moon's low gravity the fall would have ruptured his spacesuit. The force collapsed, blown out. Inert, the crumpled figure of Professor Victor Bergman lay on the lunar surface near the pylon. With the force field gone, the terrifying image of the black sun was reflected in his visor.

The collapse of the force field left Alpha without power. Spacesuited figures moved slowly up and down ice covered corridors lit by the sketchiest emergency lighting. Koenig waited in Medical Center. He couldn't restore power without knowing if it would blow again. Helena finished her work on Bergman who was being kept warm by portable heaters. She had to recharge the batteries on Bergman's mechanical heart. The inexhaustible cells were somehow drained. Bergman began to move.

HELENA: He's stirring. He... may not talk sense.
BERGMAN: Help. Help us. Please help us. Please.
KOENIG: Victor? Can you hear me? Do you remember the accident? What made the screens blow? How do I turn them off? Can you understand me? Victor?
BERGMAN: I think I understand. Otherwise we could have not survived. I'm not a religious man. The only explanation. Perhaps ... perhaps inside... we can make some sort of contact. Intelligence of that order. Communicate... inside... the black sun.
HELENA: I'm sorry. You're getting his thoughts at the time of the accident. Why it happened isn't a memory.
KOENIG: Victor, hear me. This is important, listen. Can I risk restoring power?
BERGMAN: Inside the black sun ... anything's possible. We have to go inside to... talk. I wonder ... yes, I wonder.

Once more Bergman fell back into unconsciousness, leaving Koenig to turn to Computer for help. Together with Catani and Ouma, the three men chipped and melted the ice away from the computer panels. With the assistance of the electronic brain, Operation Lifeboat was put back into action, leaving seven minutes to final departure time. The crew of ten' were ordered to the MTU. Liftoff. The MTU soared away from the moonbase, away from the black sun. Into...

Recovered, Bergman went out onto the lunar surface once more to inspect the force field towers. They were intact. The explosion, the fire, if it was that at all, didn't appear to have burned any of the components. After rewiring the tower that was out of phase (and caused a blow-out in the system), the force field was reactivated. There was nothing more to do than wait. And pray, thought Bergman.

Koenig made one final announcement to the other 300 left on the base. From that moment, they were on minimum life support. They were to all suit up for protection and until further notice, all duty and regulations were temporarily (he hoped) cancelled.

Alone in Main Mission, Koenig and Bergman sat sipping coffeesubs...

KOENIG: What happened to your cosmic intelligences who're gonna rescue us in the nick of time?
BERGMAN: We believe ... what we want to believe. I sometimes think that's all reality is.
KOENIG: Wishful thinking?
BERGMAN: The boundaries... the boundaries between science and pure mysticism are paper-thin, and getting thinner. Sometimes, it makes me feel old.

Aboard the MTU, they watched helplessly as their view of light formed before the Moon became nothing more than a spear of light. Then a ghost. Then, it snuffed out of existence.

CATANI: Mother of God...

To Koenig and Bergman, however, their reality appeared to become insubstantial. All around them their world was transparent as if it no longer existed in the real world they had known. They could hear the terrifying sounds of the screens grating, creaking under the tremendous pressure of the black sun. The sound set their teeth on edge, but the screens held.

There was a temperature drop and the room iced up. Then it suddenly became hot and the ice melted into steam. Then... normal?

Koenig and Bergman suddenly found that movement was an incredible effort. They felt old... so old. Koenig saw his hands begin to shrivel, wrinkle. They looked a thousand years old.

Bergman didn't open his mouth; Koenig heard the voice in his head...

BERGMAN: I can hear your thoughts.
BERGMAN: It's very beautiful.
KOENIG: I see the theory behind your force field.
BERGMAN: It's very obvious.
KOENIG: In fact, it ties up with a unified field theory.
BERGMAN: Does it? Yes, I see how.
KOENIG: So that everything is everything else.
BERGMAN: That's why I called it beautiful.
KOENIG: Of course your screens will fail.
BERGMAN: I suppose so.
KOENIG: Shall I fix them?
BERGMAN: If it gives you satisfaction.

One facet of the force field went black. Then it glowed with new life.

KOENIG: There. If everything is everything else, then the whole universe is living thought.
A VOICE: Who are you?

The newcomer baffles the two men.

BERGMAN: Who are you?
A VOICE: Come.

Suddenly they were outside Alpha, receding from the black sun so fast that it was in moments only a memory. Stars blazed everywhere about them. Faster and faster they hurled through space until the stars themselves resolved into one swirling galaxy ... until the galaxy became one of many galaxies. Each galaxy became a star, a spot of light making up another galaxy among galaxies until... the whole universe became one speck of light.

A VOICE: That is who I am.
BERGMAN: Are you God?
A VOICE: I have a God. My God has Gods.

Koenig watched the speck of light, understanding...

KOENIG: Every star is just a cell in the brain of the universe.
A VOICE: That is a pretty way to understand it.
BERGMAN: Why have I never talked with you before?
A VOICE: Because of time. You... people... seem to think at what you call the speed of light. In eternity, I have no hurry. I think a thought perhaps in every thousand of your years. You are never there to hear it it was good to have known you.
BERGMAN: She's gone.
KOENIG: And maybe time that we did too?

Reality. They were back in Main Mission. There was heat, light. With the exception that they were alone in the control center, it all appeared normal. They raced for Sandra's console and activated the Big Screen.

Stars! What a wonderfully welcome sight.

BERGMAN: We're... through...
KOENIG: Your screens held.
BERGMAN: Somehow, we're on the other side of the universe.

Bergman hit a camera pointing in the direction from which they had come. There was brilliant, blinding light ... a star gone nova.

BERGMAN: Fleeing from a nova.
KOENIG: Your screens held, Victor!
BERGMAN: I wonder how...

With the emergency over, all personnel returned to duty. In Main Mission, they scanned the stars without success for their lost comrades. Then suddenly the automatic warning systems came on. Alarm klaxons sounded throughout the base.

KOENIG: What is it?
COMM TECH: Aliens, Commander!

Koenig activated his screen.

KOENIG: No ... it's the lifeboat...

After the initial greetings from all, Koenig and Bergman escorted Helena, Catani and Sandra back to the control center.

KOENIG: You must have followed us into the black sun.
HELENA: We ran from the black sun.
BERGMAN: You must have.
CATANI: I swear we didn't.
SANDRA: We saw you disappear.
KOENIG: This is... how? If you didn't come after us, how did you follow a million light years?
BERGMAN: Across the universe?
CATANI: I don't know.
HELENA: Something... I know this sounds crazy. Something took hold of us and moved us, just moved us across the universe... as easily as...

At a loss to find a simile, Helena slipped off a ring from her finger and placed it on-the other hand.

HELENA: ...if it were this ring.

David Weir added the following comments at the end of his first draft.

I'm afraid I've spent a small fortune on SFX. But what's the point of hiring a genius designer, and under-using him?
I won't presume to tell him how- but a couple of notes:

1) God knows how you achieve a black sun effect.
However, it might be worth trying to photograph a shiny black painted long tube exactly end on against a black background, for the basic shape.
Mainly, you see it as an absence of light, of stars where it blocks them out, and by the ghosting effects at its periphery.

2) The forcefield scenes.
Strictly, the invented technology calls for this arrangement of circular antigrav fields-

Diagram Each circle is an antigrav screen, its nucleus a Bergman generator.

Which would look very pretty in different colours, but might be too complex. Then, and its allowed for in the script, you could assume the antigrav fields transform into force screens merely by touching edges, and do not require to overlap, to double, over the whole shielded area.

With apologies to H.G.Wells.