I’m Telling Darren Aronofsky’s Mother! On You

I’m Telling Darren Aronofsky’s Mother! On You

So let me get the quick stuff out of the way – I’m definitely glad I went to see it, I don’t know that I need a second viewing, I have not seen any of Darren Aronofsky’s other films, and this is absolutely not a film for everyone – kudos to Paramount for putting this film out in theaters, and curses to Paramount (but understandable curses) for not knowing how to market this film.

What on Earth Is This Movie?

Well, that’s gonna take me a little while to answer.

It’s About the Anxieties of Mothers

Before I say anything else, let me catalogue something – let me catalogue a mother’s anxieties:

  • I’m afraid I’m not going to live up to some image of motherhood (typically, my mother-in-law’s image of motherhood) – this is the role played by Michelle Pfeiffer
  • I’m afraid I don’t have the perfect home – insert entire film here
  • I’m afraid the world will steal my husband away – insert entire film here
  • I’m afraid the world will steal my child away – insert last act of the film here
  • How am I supposed to keep a neat home when everyone around me is trying to prevent that from happening – insert in particular the “pick up dirty tissues/pieces of toilet paper in the bathroom” scene
  • I’m afraid of having children in this world when war is out there killing children
  • I’m afraid of having children in this world when religion is warping the minds of others – but also putting out “representatives” in the world who want to prey/pray on my children
  • With all the work I do around here, why is none of it appreciated?
  • Why am I being judged by strangers?
  • At what point do I go from provider of hospitality to the actual welcome mat that provides for the wiping of feet?
  • As the heart of the home (more on that later) – I provide all the love that I can – and it’s never enough – worse, it doesn’t come back to me!
  • Other people take advantage of my maternal instincts (portrait of a mom whose son is wetting his pants and wants to use my bathroom and I have to let him)

So, I’m gonna stop there, but believe me, I could go on!  In many ways, this film is a collage of motherly anxieties and fears.

It’s About the Assault on the Nest

Much of the most disturbing imagery in the film is tied to our protagonist’s attempts to defend her nest from a horde of assaults.  “Don’t sit on the sink, it’s not braced yet…”  How many times do we hear that?  And how many times is it ignored?  The bloody hole in the floor – and bear with me on this one – the bloody hole is a doorway (to the basement, yes, but it is also a doorway into some kind of truth hidden in a dark place). The birth canal is also a doorway that is sometimes bloody (and can be trespassed against one’s will). Most of the suffering in this film involves trespass into the nest – the house is raped repeatedly.  The order of the house is raped repeatedly.  The order of particular rooms is raped repeatedly – particularly the bedroom and the husband’s writing room.  The order of the marriage is violated repeatedly – how many times does the “husband” make decisions without asking the “wife/mother” if it’s okay?

Borders are violated repeatedly throughout this film – I’m sure someone could go write a paper on this film coming out at a time when part of the United States wants to build a wall around the southern half of the continent to prevent illegal entry (country rape) while those already inside the country are having their rights stripped and/or violated (personal rights rape).

It’s About a Male Writer’s Interpretation of a Mother

Darren Aronofsky is obviously male, but that’s not the male I’m talking about.  Lest we forget, Jennifer Lawrence’s character, while our protagonist, is a creation of Javier Bardem’s character – we actually see three versions of her in this film – the opening burn victim, the Jennifer Lawrence character, and then the new incarnation at the end.  He’s recreating her over and over, slightly differently each time.  Is he trying to perfect her?  Or is he trying to come to terms with her?  I don’t think the film gives us a clear hint on which direction it leans, but it’s obviously creating versions, so changing the model each time reflects at least some attempt to perfect something.  But what is it?  I don’t think we know.

However, and this harkens back to Mary Shelley, when a man tries to create something (without a woman), it’s possible it might lack a soul.  He’s not getting something right.  Message?  Don’t know what it is.

It’s Telling Us Something about Transformation with Imagery

Frogs…why was there a frog in the secret cavern in the basement?  Well, whenever I see a frog used in an image (“Gravity” comes to mind), I always see it as shorthand for a transformative process – a frog transforms visibly from egg to fish-like creature to four-legged animal in its life cycle.  When I see transformation happening with versions (see the prior section), I think the message here may have something to do with transformation.  Another aspect of frog imagery, however, is the common visual connection between a sperm and a tadpole – a sperm combines with something else to transform into a larger being, and a tadpole just transforms into a larger being – but in either case, transformation is key.

Gold-speckled strands…what’s up with that?  Well, we see that in two places – when Jennifer Lawrence pours her medicine into her glass of water, at least initially it looks remarkably like the mysterious crystal we see at the beginning and end of the film (and which we see in its “destroyed” state in the middle).  I’m not sure what the connection is – is it DNA?  Is it a wedding ring?  Is it coincidence?  I think the fact that her medicine is coming out of what looks like the product of a Nineteenth Century pharmacy is loudly telling us – this clearly isn’t really medicine!  Oxytocin is known as the “love chemical” or “love hormone” – it’s an internally generated chemical that makes us happy when we’re in love – it’s a drug.  And at the end of the film, the crystal removed from her chest is clearly called “her love for him” – so pretty sure there’s something there.  The husband has to regenerate the mother from this essence each time it is destroyed by…fire!

Fire…what’s up with fire?  Well, fire is another gold-speckled strand.  It’s destructive and it warms us – just like love.  It can be all consuming or it can be enabling – just like a mother’s love.  I’m pretty sure there’s something equating love and fire in this film.  Fire is also VERY transformative – and some of the first images in the film show sooty hands (the aftermath of fire) as a creative process happens, transforming ash to physical matter.

Okay, But What About the Film Itself?

Lighting – lots and lots of beautiful lighting.

Cinematography – lots and lots of haunting cinematography.

And again, like “Gravity” – it’s not a movie that’s really trying to tell you what it is.  “Gravity” is a clear adventure story, but it’s also much more, particularly on the transformation front.  We see a character evolve a lot in “Gravity” – but you were probably too wrapped up in complaining that it didn’t have a lot of plot to notice (come on, admit it!).  “Gravity” did a wonderful job with economizing much of its story because it didn’t want to focus on story – it was trying to tell a bigger story than its plot (can you tell I love that film?).

“Mother!” is a marvelous film in that it said screw you if you only focus on story – we always assume that films MUST have plots that are clear – as a result, it’s rare that we truly see film stretching its borders.  James Cameron can spend all the money he wants on blue people and CGI worlds and I don’t feel he’s done a bit to transform film (and I like his films!).  He’s made the colors brighter.  I love a good plot – but when I look at a film like Terry Gilliam’s “Brazil” – I marvel at it because at some point it stops holding onto plot as the only thing that matters (and that’s coming from a novelist who’s in love with plot engineering).  Like “Mother!”, “Brazil” plays with time.  Time as a constant can make a story predictable, can’t it?  You can also kill a good story by coming up with the unexpected time shift – it’s gotta be earned, though, doesn’t it?  I think “Mother!” played fair in that in the first five minutes you could tell that a backwards transform was happening – soot typically doesn’t become solid – it’s usually the other way around.

I admired greatly how the last third of the film was kind of a hodgepodge of scenes from other films – “Night of the Living Dead”, “Assault on Precinct 13”, “Rio Bravo” – do you notice a theme there?  The last third of the film was…a western, and the fort fell to the onslaught of larger forces.

Just like every fort falls – our childhood homes fall apart for whatever reasons – and I’m pretty sure at the heart of all of this – that’s what this film is about.  A house fallen. And the desire to rebuild it and somehow get it right this time.

And isn’t that a message we all need to hear right now?  In America?

I don’t think this will ever hit my top ten favorite films, but man, did it get my gray matter going, and for that, I say thanks, Darren!

What’s New?

I’m having a rare day where I can focus a lot on Powys Media stuff, so figured I’d pop up here and say hello.  Most of the day has been spent working on formatting The Prisoner: Miss Freedom.  Sigh.  Not my favorite way to spend a day.  The primary file we’re using has been through so many people over the years that it’s an inconsistent mess — in many cases I’m reformatting every line on a page, and that’s after using some mad Microsoft Word skillz to whip it into shape.  I’ll be a very happy camper when that book is out.

I attended the Alpha 2017 convention a few weeks back for a couple of hours, long enough to arrange for the foreword for Odysseus Wept (if you read the Final Revolution and saw a familiar face pop up near the end…well…that’s all I’m saying).

Back to today.  I’ve been sitting in one of those marvelous places where I have to figure out what’s going to happen next before I can really write anything more — and I’ve been stuck there for a few weeks.  Think of Odysseus Wept as three small books laced together into one big one.  I’ve got pieces of all three books done but primarily I’m focusing on the first book, I’m about 80% finished with that part I suspect, but that’s where I’m blocked.  I’m hoping tonight I can get past that block point.  The middle section of the book is where some of the darkest things will happen (Steve Foster’s worried now…), and then the third section will tip toward happier prospects.

In the meantime, I’m not getting a whole lot of time to get the Eternity Unbound Special Edition edited.  Plus, I have a draft of Black Doves sitting in my email box that I need to get to.  And a website to finish up.

Yeah, I know, sounds like a lot of whining, and maybe it is.  The publisher hat and editor hat are totally suffocating the writer hat, which is the one I prefer to be wearing.  It was great hearing people at the convention coming over and saying how much they enjoyed the Powys books.  I doubt if you folks realize this but your comments on this web site (and some occasional posts on Facebook) are the only real feedback we get anymore outside of convention appearances.  The forum on the Powys Website is locked to new members (you can thank the thousands of attempts at malicious hackings for that).  But your old logins (if you had one) probably still work.

Anyway, back to work.  I’ll give one little hint about Odysseus Wept.  At the convention, I donated the first 35 or so pages of the current draft of Odysseus Wept to the auction and someone who has posted on this site in the past was the winner.  The feedback I received after he or she read that portion said:  “…it’s not going to be an easy ride for our Alphans…”

Yup.  That’s pretty much what I’d say, too.

Off I go…

About the Eternity Unbound Special Edition

Now that hardcover editions are a reality at Powys, we can start working on the Special Editions of our books.  What does that really mean?  Mostly that these are the final editions of our books.  The editions that should hold up to frequent re-readings as we all start to forget what’s in these books and revisit them occasionally.  We proofread and get any lingering typographical errors fixed, perhaps add a new cover, and what’s most fun, we see if there’s anything left on the cutting room floor that we might share with our readers.  In some cases, we might even add some goodies that weren’t in the original editions.

The Eternity Unbound Special Edition has a little of all of these.  It’s the special edition of both Resurrection and Eternity Unleashed, first of all (Resurrection will likely not receive a separate special edition — what would be the point?).  The End of Eternity novelization will be here (as well as in the Year One Omnibus once that’s ready).  And then there’s Eternity Unhinged.

What, you may ask, is Eternity Unhinged?

Well, first let me lower some expectations.  It’s not a novel, it’s not a novella.  It’s not particularly long.  If you have the existing edition of Eternity Unbound, I wouldn’t necessarily buy the new edition just to get Eternity Unhinged (I’d be more likely to recommend it for the extra goodies like old outlines). But I can tell you it will be totally worth reading!  I’m not going to tell you what’s in it.  But I will offer some hints.

First of all, it is not an epilogue to Resurrection — it takes place before Resurrection.  Keep in mind, that could be at any point in Balor’s timeline — I’m not going to say which part.

Next, it will not rock your world.  If a lost chapter of any famous novel were to be found, it would almost inevitably disappoint — the good stuff’s already out there. A newly recovered lost song by your favorite recording artist is never better than their other songs, is it?  If we ever get to see “London After Midnight” — the lost Lon Chaney film, I can pretty much guarantee you it’s not going to eclipse “Hunchback of Notre Dame” or “Phantom of the Opera”.  That’s just not the way the world works!

When you read “Eternity Unhinged” you will find that it is squeezed neatly between two existing paragraphs of something you have already read (if you’ve read “Eternity Unbound”).  That doesn’t mean it’s one sentence long!  It means I carved out something that already existed and expanded it.

So, why bother?

If you read “Eternity Unleashed” and “Resurrection”, there are characters and events that are mirrored between the two books.  You could argue that Balor talking to Koenig is very similar to Balor talking to Talian.  Some of that mirroring deserved a little more meat on it, at least according to your humble author, and what’s in the final thing that is “Eternity Unhinged” has been something germinating for a decade.  Remember, it’s not earth shattering — but it will give you a look at something that deep down inside we all knew was there.  In “Eternity Unhinged” you’ll finally get to see it.

So, what else is in this book?

The original author’s note from “Eternity Unbound” is included, along with a brand new author’s note.  Including a little discussion about some humor at the end of “Resurrection” that didn’t please everyone!  But most of the extra stuff included in this edition will be content that was either removed or rewritten from “Resurrection”, including some old outlines the include some of the early endings of the book.

Some of the removed content is from Balor’s discussion with Koenig before Koenig’s (spoiler alert!) immortality kicks in.  I will talk about that briefly here. If I thought it were great stuff, it would still be in “Resurrection” — that doesn’t mean I think it’s bad stuff.  That whole conversation between Balor and Koenig was more about timing than content — it’s a verbal fencing match (or was intended to be) where Balor is trying to keep Koenig off guard while planting little seeds in Koenig’s head, helping to push Koenig over the edge as part of Balor’s ultimate plan.  That part of the book was the hardest to work on because there was always the danger of going on too long.  I originally cut it back even deeper than what was published and Mateo asked me to put some of it back in.  So I get that it’s not everybody’s favorite part of the book — it really wasn’t intended to be (although some people out there love it).  It’s a slow burn, to use what is mostly cinema terminology these days. It was meant to have something in there to offend everybody, while all sticking within a common theme.  Balor is really trying to do what demagogues do best — trying to make you lose your faith in reality, waiting for the moment to strike.

For anybody out there who would complain that we’re not spending enough time working on new stuff while we revisit the old, there’s only so much new stuff you can write in a day.  These special editions are more editing projects than anything else, and they can be done in parallel with doing the new stuff.

So anyway, that’s what you can expect — along with a new Ken Scott cover…

Behind the Scenes: Odysseus Wept

Beware of Final Revolution Spoilers Below!

Well, I don’t intend to go that far behind the scenes on Odysseus Wept, but I can give at least a little information.

Regarding Terra Nova…Mateo actually told me years ago where things would end up — so I can’t say that was my idea.  What’s really funny is when I started The Final Revolution, I really had no intention of tying things neatly into Message From Moonbase Alpha OR in getting our Alphan friends onto that planet.  But if you remember the conversation between Morrow and Koenig in Alpha, you could almost tell there was another shoe to drop someday, that there would be another conversation between Koenig and a different Morrow.

When I was working on Final Revolution, the nature of the Alphan’s time and space was kind of out there but had never been pinned down too closely.  For the longest time, I knew there would be this moment when the Alphans were pushed through SOMETHING — I just didn’t know what.  The character they met in that “other space” intrigued me, but I wasn’t sure how he got there. It’s the classic story where you paint yourself into a corner and your mind comes up with some solution that then solves other problems as well and you wonder how much of a story you’re really responsible for and how much just comes from some other place, like someone or some thing is whispering in your ear.  I’m not a believer in such things but I have to marvel that things I may get credit for, I can’t really take credit for them — they just kind of fall into my lap.

The behind the scenes stuff that I’ll offer here won’t give many plot details away, but you may find it interesting from an architectural perspective.  Way back when, the plan was that John Muir would write Odysseus Wept.  John had also written The Forsaken.  So when I was plotting out the mythology that would feed Omega and Alpha, there was always a question of pull in the Space Brains or don’t pull in Space Brains? I certainly didn’t want to hamstring John so we basically left only a very tenuous connection between the mythology and whatever was happening with the Space Brain and/or Terra Nova.  Maybe Paul and company were backup humans, and maybe one of the MUFs was responsible for killing the Space Brain in the original episode.

Fast forward a number of years and John Muir decided not to do Odysseus Wept for the best possible reasons — he’s busy doing other cool stuff and integrating some of Mateo’s plans for Odysseus Wept and getting all caught up in the mythology that I’d been putting down was not going to be an easy thing.  I was really sad!  Not because I’d have to write it — I was just excited at the prospect of another cool John Muir Space:1999 novel.  When I got to proofread The Whispering Sea, I got my reward (man, that was a very, very enjoyable day for me, reading that book — I was sitting there with a smile on my face the whole time reading The Whispering Sea — it was just such a breath of fresh air!).

But…now I have a somewhat daunting task.  I’m writing something akin to a sequel to The Forsaken, and tying in the Odysseus Wept stuff Mateo wanted, and I need to tie in everything that was being set up in Final Revolution, and, to my horror…I needed to invent a new mythology for the Space Brains!  On my own!

So, in Odysseus Wept, you’re going to find out a lot about the culture that spawned the Space Brains (yes, more than one).  I’m trying not to spend too much time in that part of the book but to be honest, I’m having fun with that part.  This book takes place over thousands of years!  In many ways, it’s been like the Omega/Alpha process all over again (but no cliffhanger coming!).  I’m writing it in a way that’s very similar to how I wrote Omega and Alpha — writing whatever sections I feel like writing and then going back and editing them/putting them into whatever order makes sense later on.

I’m also having to get to know Paul Morrow.  Outside of some brief scenes in Resurrection and Alpha, I haven’t written much of Paul Morrow, so I’m getting to know him and really getting inside his head for the first time.  I can talk to Alan Carter in my head and Alan Carter answers — that’s not true of Paul Morrow.

So, in the long run, this is going to be an interesting book, I guess — it should feel like a Powys Space:1999 novel but it’s really something a little different.  The tone of it is different.  Something’s ending while something else is beginning.  That’ll make sense someday when you read it.

Anyway, that’s what’s up.  This book’s taking its time, but in a good way.

 

 

How Do You Wind Up a Series, Anyway?

Space:1999 was around long before I got here, and presumably, it’ll still be around when I’m not.  If there’s a mysterious unknown force involved here, one has to wonder why yours truly is left carrying the mantle for this series and now finds himself needing to wrap up the series in a final novel, Odysseus Wept.

Winding up the series is infinitely more complicated than starting it.  To clarify that point, no, I didn’t start Space:1999, but my novel Resurrection did start this book series.  Mateo Latosa and I spent a lot of phone time talking through the pitfalls of this book series, how to make sure it had room to grow, how we could honor the past but build a framework for new stories, and ultimately, how to really close in on what Johnny Byrne had expressed to Mateo as his hopes for something like a new beginning — not a reboot, mind you, a new series, sort of Space:1999 the Next Generation.

For anybody reading these novels, we’ve been planting seeds all along to make that happen.  The Alphan adventure isn’t ending with Odysseus Wept — but the Powys Space:1999 adventure certainly is.  If I had one wish for the future, I would love it if some fan fiction writer (or maybe more than one) picks up the mantle from where we leave it off.

That’s the easy part — we’ve been building pieces of that foundation for quite a long time.  Now it’s just time to gather the threads into a whole.

What’s hard?  Well, Odysseus Wept is a novel, and novels need character arcs, and plots with beginnings, middles, and ends, and to some degree, a changing of the guard will be happening in this book — it takes place over a long period of time, and just like in real life, your parents were the stars of the show when you were a kid and then at some point in your forties or fifties, you suddenly realize that they’re now sort of supporting characters, and you’re running the show, and your kids are watching the calendar pages pass until one day, they’ll be the stars of the show.

See what I mean?

I have to put aside the “novel architect” on this project and focus more on multiple smaller stories, with smaller arcs, but with different central characters as the “stars” of those arcs.  Every novel has sub-plots — this is really different. This book has sub-novels.  I don’t think I realized that coming in — from an architectural perspective, this is something like six mini-novels — but the “design” portion of each one is just as challenging as a regular sized novel.

For anybody interested, who’s been following the book series (and if you haven’t, man will this sound nerdy/fanboywonkish), here are some, but not all, of those mini novels (oh, by the way, spoiler alert!!!!):

  • Space Brains: Who/What/Where/Why?
  • The Life and Times of Paul Morrow
  • The Life and Times of Ariana Carter
  • The Life and Times of the Koenig-Russell Family
  • Hey, Look, It’s the Moon!
  • Goodnight, Moon (catchy)

And part of me really, really, really wants to be done — there’s other stuff I really want to be working on.  But I look myself in the mirror and say:  “Don’t phone it in, pal, you’ll never respect yourself afterwards.”

So, there’s pulling together the loose threads, there’s laying down all of the separate stories that need to be told, and then there’s wondering — well, what do people want?

That last one is a question that historically WE DO NOT ASK.

That’ll sound pretty arrogant — lemme explain.  The best way to produce something bland and palatable but not great is to try to please everyone.  You end up with something…fine.  That’s just an awful word to me.  I’d much rather have you walk away from one of my books angry than ready to forget you read it.

This book isn’t going to try to be controversial.  It’ll try to be entertaining.  It’ll try to be true to everything that’s come before, particularly our book series.  But I’ll be honest — if I’m gonna pull punches a little, it might be in this book, just because it’s the end of the series, folks — if I have a choice to have a character’s fate be memorable vs. satisfying, this time around, I’m probably gonna go with satisfying.  Much to the horror of my writing instincts.

But in this case, my paternal feelings have to win out.  For at least a little while longer, I’m the step-dad of this series that has dominated much of the last fifteen years or so of my life.  I have only written one non-Space 1999 novel in this millennium, and it’s one you probably won’t ever get to see (there’s pumpkins and butcher knives and we don’t have the rights, many of you will know which book I mean).  I have started other books, and I really want to get to them!  But the only books I’ve finished are on Moonbase Alpha.  I haven’t forgotten how Captain James T. Kirk’s death in “Star Trek: Generations” felt — and I’m determined to really not have that happen here (hey, did I just split an infinitive, how bold!).

But what always nags me is this series — especially given its real life drama, only two seasons, and drastically different seasons at that — this lady deserves an elegant resolution.  And I’m gonna do what I can to make sure she gets one.

How do you wind up a series?

You try for a soft landing, and just keeping going till you see the runway get closer, closer, and then you touch down.

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 begins 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.