Behind the Scenes: Space 1999 The Final Revolution

About The Final Revolution

Fair warning — SPOILERS ahead.

Space: 1999 The Final Revolution represents the next to last chronological book in the Powys Space:1999 canon, to be followed by Odysseys Wept.  Here are some things you may or may not know about the book.

Birth of The Final Revolution

The Final Revolution’s earliest roots are in the first page of Space: 1999 Resurrection.  A reference is made to the final revolution or the last time the Moon revolved around the Earth before it began its odyssey.  The title was essentially born there.

The concept of someone intentionally using technology meant to deflect asteroids to actually change an asteroid’s course to intentionally hit something was discussed by Carl Sagan in “Pale Blue Dot” (Carl was against developing the technology for that very reason).

At its heart, however, the reference was first connected to this novel due to the idea of a celestial body revolving around some other object as basically passive — in this novel, the Alphans steer the Moon, so it is no longer in its passive revolving state.  You can make an argument that the Alphans take hold of their destiny in this book — and then they’re not sure what to do with it.

The Final Revolution as a Counterpoint to Star Trek

Star Trek and Space: 1999 are often compared — that just happens.  They are, however, very different franchises.  The Final Revolution essentially gives Space: 1999 some of the key technological advances of Star Trek and shows how they work in the Space: 1999 universe (or, to be more precise, slightly outside of the Space: 1999 universe).

Some key abilities — the ability to navigate, the ability to transport matter across distances quickly, mind-melding, and lastly, boldly going where no one has gone before.  Unlike Star Trek, things seem to get worse every time the Alphans use any of these advances.  The ability to steer or navigate essentially tears open the fabric of space for the Alphans, and their “transporter” ability aggravates that tear, essentially hastening the Alphans’ fate.  Taking hold of their ability to move proactively puts the Alphans increasingly in danger throughout this story.  More problematic, however, is the Alphans (for varying reasons, some outside their control) are living in a passive universe.  While they often act, most of their journey all these years has been outside their control, and they adapt to the “current” they follow.  Star Trek is much more active — Starfleet has rules like the Prime Directive specifically to ensure they act passively — it’s not in the nature of the Star Trek universe to sit around and wait.  One could argue that the classic Kirk vs. Picard argument is really about an active versus a passive approach to command –but is it passive or reactive?  They are not the same thing, after all.

The Alphans and Using Technology They Don’t Understand

Much of the Year Three saga in the Powys Space: 1999 canon has involved advanced technology that the Alphans can use, but often don’t understand.  The Psyche/David Kano intelligence spawned out of Born for Adversity for example — it has become god-like and no one really has a sense of how god-like it really is.  The technology Victor Bergman uses on New Leiram in Omega, Alpha, and ultimately, The Final Revolution, is technology he assumes was his own creation but clearly he doesn’t have a full grasp of all of its capabilities.  Bergman is confident that he controls it, however — which turns out to be something of a mistake.

Johnny Byrne’s Children of the Gods explored a race of beings who don’t act with particularly strong ethics, and that race doesn’t always know why it does what it does — it follows routines, essentially, much the same way we do when we keep doing things the same way when there may be improved methods for doing the same things (yes, VCR owners, I’m talking to you).

A few hundred years ago, as long as you could understand fire, you were probably up on technology.  Gunpowder started to change that.  Now, in an age of space travel, nuclear power, cloud-based computing, microwave ovens, etc. — how many of us really understand everything that we use every day?  Lack of understanding and fear go hand in hand.  Believe what you want about GMOs for example — much of the debate about GMOs is more about fear than about science.  We live in an age where paranoia on any side of an argument beings to alter the argument itself.

Space: 1999 is no different.  They do use technology now that they don’t quite have a handle on — in this book, it saved their lives, while nearly killing them — and if they’d had all the facts, they’d have been safe and the bad things on Rua would have happened just the way they were planned to happen, with no harm to the Alphans — had they been passive, they’d have been fine.  So what if evil would have been allowed to prosper?

No easy answers here.  I think that was the whole point, however.