The Andromeda Mystery
English Translation Available
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For my translated copy, I updated the cover design with English text and also refreshed some elements of the imagery to differentiate it from the original. Shown instead is the Andromeda Galaxy, without any of the Milky Way stars present - depicting the situation presented in the novel. As well, the battlecruisers were replaced with an alien ship of my own design, reflecting the bizarre spacecraft that's encountered in the novel.
Bastei Lübbe #25007, ISBN 3-404-00903-7, 151 pages, 18 chapters, 34 lines/pageBACK COVER
The image transmitted into Moonbase Alpha's Command Center from the infrared observatory was both fascinating and frightening. Before the Moon, lying in the infinite expanse of the great emptiness at the edge of the Milky Way, floated the wrecks of spaceships. There were hundreds of ships, all hanging motionless in the void between this galaxy and the Andromeda-Nebula. "We need to observe one up close," ordered Commander Koenig. He did not realize though, that the Guardian from Andromeda was already observing them...
As the back cover for Das Andromeda-Rätsel states: Moonbase Alpha is at the edge of the Milky Way and heading out into intergalactic emptiness. No more stars are in the sky above Moonbase Alpha - just the dim glows of incredibly distant galaxies. And although the Moon is on course towards the Andromeda Galaxy, it will be thousands of years before reaching its outskirts. Of a more immediate concern to the Alphans though is the Tiranium supply; which, at most, will only last for three more months.
As the novel begins, the reader is quickly brought into this bleak and depressing scenario. We are shown how the situation is affecting the behavior and morale of various crewmembers. We see apathy, religious enlightenment and even murder. Worse still, Commander Koenig is slowly losing control of the situation and beginning to have dark thoughts of his own - thinking back to the lost opportunity on the The Immunity Syndrome planet, seen in the final story of The Edge of the Infinite .
Soon, however, Alpha encounters a bizarre collection of hundreds of spaceships hanging motionless in space at the shore of the infinite gulf separating the galaxies. Can these ships offer the Alphans hope, who are otherwise faced with certain death? Upon investigating one of the strange ships that has the appearance of a Medusa's head of snakes, one of the Alphans encounters three recognizable humans: Moses, Mary and her young son. They state that they, as well as all the other ships around them, have been trapped in space, their ships turned immobile, by the mysterious Guardians from Andromeda. After a short debate, Koenig gives them sanctuary on Alpha.
Although the aliens are friendly, Koenig remains suspicious of these beings who have the appearance of biblical figures and he wonders about their true natures. These suspicions are well founded, as these aliens will turn out to be more bizarre than any Alphan could have guessed. But even more important to the Alphans than discovering the true nature of the Djuaner and their desires, will be finding out why there is a graveyard of spaceships at the edge of the galaxy and if the Guardians from Andromeda really do exist.
Intriguingly, the first of the German original novels, Das Andromeda-Rätsel, provides a resolution to Michael Butterworth's The Edge of the Infinite cliffhanger. The Moon is at the edge of the galaxy and is about to enter intergalactic space. The Alphans are now facing their worst predicament since blasting out of Earth orbit - as there will no longer be any hope of planetfall for thousands of years. H. W. Springer makes one significant change to the setting however - the Moon is now, and throughout all of the prior adventures, has always been - within the Milky Way galaxy. Butterworth, however, placed the Moon at the edge of the Andromeda galaxy (p 99 and 100 The Edge of the Infinite) - the Moon having hopped from galaxy to galaxy via multiple space and time warps. There are other elements in the novel that indicate that prior to writing this book, H. W. Springer had read some of the Butterworth novelizations for characters and situations.
The Andromeda Mystery, besides featuring the six main cast members, (John, Helena, Maya, Tony, Alan and Sandra), introduces the reader to 13 new crewmembers living on Moonbase Alpha. These crewmen and women have parts of various lengths; from just a few pages to extensive secondary stories. Additionally, H. W. Springer also brings back principle characters from throughout the second season that were only seen in several episodes or even just once - such as Dr. Vincent, Yasko and Annette and Bill Fraser.
One character that was very surprising to encounter, however, was Mark Macinlock, who makes a quick appearance near the end of the novel. As diehard fans will recall, Macinlock was a name used in an early draft of The Metamorph as the replacement character for Alan Carter - prior to Nick Tate being asked to return for a second year. Although the character was never used in the show itself, Michael Butterworth, who was adaptating his novels from early drafts of some of the scripts, used the name in his first book The Planets of Peril. Making the situation even more confusing is that Butterworth appearantly kills Macinlock in his book The Space-Jackers, when he never returns from his mission to examine the Beta Cloud (p 137 US edition). Another bit player that only appears in The Planets of Peril and who also makes a cameo appearance in this book is Jameson (which is the original name for the character Petrov), the operator of the surface lasers.
The story is a fast paced action adventure set squarely in the Year 2 mold, although with a little more thought placed on the logic of the story, and even the scientific aspects, than depicted in many of the shows. Although a "Mysterious Unknown Force" puts all of the events of the novel in motion, by the end of the story the mysteries are all fully explained and all the loose ends are tied up.
All text © Patrick Zimmerman 2016
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