Bastei Lübbe #25011, ISBN 3-404-00959-2, 138 pages, 20 chapters, 38 lines/page
Kurt Brand (1917 - 1991), writer of over 3 dozen books in the German Perry Rhodan science fiction series, steps in for a single effort in the Mondstation 1999 set. Although Kurt Brand may be a great writer of space opera, it immediately becomes apparent that he has never seen nor read any Space: 1999. The few main characters that he uses are relegated to secondary roles, with the exception of Koenig - and even he suffers greatly. Kurt Brand introduces more than 40 (!) new characters through the course of the novel and also manages to use two of H. W. Springer's characters (although with one of the names misspelled). Gone are Mark Macinlock and Jameson, who never really existed, but inexcusably missing are Alan Carter and Sandra Benes. Only five of the Year 2 characters are present: Koenig, Russell, Verdeschi, Maya and Yasko. Notably, Maya does not appear until page 39, has an extremely limited role, and never once transforms into another being.
The novel is divided into 2 stories, with the first story seeming to end rather abruptly on page 98 and the consequences glossed over during the second story. Not too surprisingly, the back cover blurb confuses the two stories as being just one - as no life is ever detected on Torso in story 1 and it is the life forms in story 2 that cannot be communicated with. Both tales have an echo of the E C Tubb original Year 1 Space: 1999 novels Alien Seed and Rogue Planet, with the first story also having some strong parallels to Ring Around the Moon - although overall the book is nearly unrecognizable as even being Space: 1999.
Some interesting technical information is thrown about, although some of it is obviously wrong. Readers are treated to several of the 20 gigantic Oxygen generators being sabotaged and blown up, creating wide-spread underground fires. References are made to multiple massive water storage areas with Medical having a several thousand liter secret supply. And after 80 Alphans are knocked out by a nerve agent, and 45 other Alphans are out in space on Eagles, a reference is made that the staff is down by nearly 25% - meaning Alpha has nearly 500 members. Perhaps this is why Kurt Brand felt free to introduce so many new characters.
The novel begins with Koenig verifying with several astrophysicists that the 46.3 km long by 12.9 km thick asteroid Torso is truly heading directly at the Moon - and directly at Alpha. Data confirms the asteroid will impact 800 km away from the Moonbase in just 55 hours and that the resultant shock waves will most likely completely destroy the base. With this knowledge, Koenig begins Operation: Exodus, although without a base and no suns within any reasonable flight time, there is little hope for survival for anyone.
While one Eagle is prepped for a trip to Torso in the hopes that the asteroid can be deflected, the remainder are stocked up for the evacuation. Unfortunately for everyone else, a group of 30 Alphans, under the leadership of defecting security officer Jean Single, take Koenig hostage and commandeer 5 Eagles - that are then overstocked with fuel and supplies to last for several years. Meanwhile, with Koenig and Tony hostage on the fleeing Eagles, one of the astrophysicists, Hank d'Albert, decides to still attempt the desparate trip to deflect Torso.
Events begin to go out of control, as the fleeing mutineers encounter 3 alien ships that don't fully register on the sensors. Soon, a yellow light envelopes all the Eagles, causing Koenig and the mutineers thoughts to become muddled and eventually knocking them unconcious. They awaken sometime later, having forgotten who they are or what they were doing. They turn the Eagles around, heading them for the Moon, because they have an inexplicable desire to see Moonbase Alpha again. Meanwhile, d'Alberts crew has landed on Torso, but they too begin to forget who they are and what their mission is. Alpha, under the control of Captain Manning, is also going wildly out of control, with dozens of Alphans rioting, dozens more behaving irrationally and all the Eagle pilots down with a mysterious illness. To make matters worse, Torso has altered course and is now bearing down exactly on Alpha.
As the time to collision counts down to zero, it becomes more and more apparent that the Alphans are under the control of an alien influence and perhaps even being tested - but the Alphans can no longer think clearly enough to even begin to connect the dots until it is too late.
The second story in this novel involves a race of invisible energy beings that arrive on Alpha in order to help one of their members suffering from "light sickness". Although whenever the Alphans attempt to help or communicate, the aliens (called Invis), disrupt Alpha's systems - starting with disabling computer, then interrupting the power and eventually destroying the water supply. All of Alpha begins rioting, forcing Koenig to attempt to haul the Invis off Alpha, knowing that at any moment the being can erupt with the force of a nuclear blast.
Operation Exodus starts. The Alphans must vacate the Moonbase as the Moon is on a collision course with the asteroid Torso, a 40 kilometer long chunk of rock, whose impact on the lunar surface will destroy Alpha. But while the evacuation is prepared, the Alphans make a surprising discovery: Torso carries life. On the atmosphereless asteroid exists a strange way of life, which is so bizarre that communication appears impossible. And only these aliens can prevent a collision...
All text © Patrick Zimmerman 2014
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