A Science Fiction Submarine Extraordinaire

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea is an American science fiction television series based on the 1961 film of the same name. Both were created by Irwin Allen, which enabled the movie’s sets, costumes, props, special effects models, and sometimes footage, to be used in the production of the television series. Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea was the first of Irwin Allen’s four science fiction television series, and the longest-running. The show’s theme was underwater adventure.

Voyage was broadcast on ABC from September 14, 1964, to March 31, 1968, and was the decade’s longest-running American science fiction television series with continuing characters. The 110 episodes produced included 32 shot in black-and-white (1964–1965), and 78 filmed in color (1965–1968). The first two seasons took place in the then-future of the 1970s. The final two seasons took place in the 1980s. The show starred Richard Basehart and David Hedison.

The pilot episode “Eleven Days to Zero” was filmed in color but shown in black-and-white. It introduces the audience to the futuristic nuclear submarine S.S.R.N. Seaview and the lead members of her crew, including the designer and builder of the submarine Admiral Harriman Nelson (Richard Basehart), and Commander Lee Crane (David Hedison), who becomes the Seaview’s captain after the murder of her original commanding officer. The submarine is based at the Nelson Institute of Marine Research in Santa Barbara, California, and is often moored some 500 feet beneath the facility in a secret underground submarine pen carved out of solid rock. The Seaview is officially for undersea marine research and visits many exotic locations in the Seven Seas, but its secret mission is to defend the planet from all world and extraterrestrial threats in the then-future of the 1970s.

Seaview’s hull was designed to withstand a depth of 3600 feet (1 km), and in one episode survived a depth excursion approaching 5000 feet (1.5 km). The transparent-hull “window-section” bow of Seaview was not rounded like a traditional submarine but was faired into a pair of manta winglike, stationary bow planes (in addition to her more conventional sail planes). This was added after the original B 29 -like front with twelve pairs of windows on two levels was modified for “Freudian anatomically analogous issues.” In exterior shots, Seaview’s bow had eight windows in the film and the first season of the television series, and four windows in seasons two through four of the series. The interior shots always showed only four windows although it did indeed imply two levels in the feature’s scene with the giant octopus attack. Also in seasons two through four of the TV version, a pair of sliding metal “crash doors” shut across the face of the bow’s observation deck to protect the four-window transparent surface in emergencies. In Theodore Sturgeon’s novelization of the film, the windows are described as “… oversized hull plates which happen to be transparent.” “They are incredibly strong because they are made of “X-tempered herculite”, a top secret process developed by Nelson. To avoid a claustrophobic feeling during viewing of the 1961 feature film, Seaview’s interior was considerably more spacious and comfortable than any real military submarine. This was further enlarged when the Flying Sub was added to the miniatures with an even more open set for the control room interior.

The stern had unconventional, lengthy, V-shape planes above the twin engine area. On the original Seaview design, a single, central skeg rudder was specified, as well as two trailing edge control surfaces similar to an aircraft V-tail; a combination elevator-rudder or “ruddervator” fitted to the Beechcraft Bonanza and other aircraft. But on the filmed miniatures, the 8 1/2 foot (103″) miniature had three rudders: one behind each nacelle and on the rear most portion of the skeg (see “The Ghost of Moby Dick”). This functional skeg rudder was only fitted to the 103″ miniature and non-operationally inferred on the 51 1/2″ miniature and not at all on the 206″ version which had a fixed skeg.

The Seaview also had a small flying sub that would launch from beneath the bow.

In both the film and the series, Seaview was armed with torpedoes and ballistic missiles. The series added anti-aircraft missiles to Seaview’s armory. They were called “interceptor missiles” in the pilot episode, and “sea to air missiles” in the episode “Terror” (season 4, episode 10).

In seasons two through four of the series, the forward search light also housed a laser beam that could be used against hostile sea life or enemy vessels.

Seaview was also capable of electrifying the outer hull, to repel attacking sea life that were trying to destroy the ship. In the episode “Mutiny” (season 1, episode 18), Crane ordered the “Attack Generators” made ready to use this capability on a giant jellyfish.

Lastly, Seaview was outfitted with an “ultrasonic” weapon capable of causing another submarine to implode, though special authorization was normally required to utilize it. (“The Death Ship”, Season 2, Ep 22)

The ship needed every trick in its arsenal. Sometimes it was attacked by giant sea mutants.

A great ship!!

The beast breaches the surface in the Arctic.

 

Fascinating Alternative History Fiction

Philip Kindred Dick (December 16, 1928 – March 2, 1982) was an American novelist, short story writer and essayist whose published work is almost entirely in the science fiction genre. Dick explored sociological, political and metaphysical themes in novels dominated by monopolistic corporations, authoritarian governments and altered states. In his later works Dick’s thematic focus strongly reflected his personal interest in metaphysics and theology. He often drew upon his own life experiences in addressing the nature of drug abuse, paranoia and schizophrenia, and transcendental experiences in novels such as A Scanner Darkly and VALIS.

The novel The Man in the High Castle bridged the genres of alternate history and science fiction, earning Dick a Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1963.  Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said, a novel about a celebrity who awakens in a parallel universe where he is unknown, won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best novel in 1975.  “I want to write about people I love, and put them into a fictional world spun out of my own mind, not the world we actually have, because the world we actually have does not meet my standards”, Dick wrote of these stories. “In my writing I even question the universe; I wonder out loud if it is real, and I wonder out loud if all of us are real.”  Dick referred to himself as a “fictionalizing philosopher.”

The following Dick novels and short stories were Hollywoodized onto the big screen:  “Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep” was the inspiration for the movie Bladerunner.  “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale”  inspired the movie Total Recall with Arnie.   The newly release movie The Adjustment Bureau is based on the Dick short story “Adjustment Team”.

The Man In The High Castle takes “What If” fictional military history into an amazing new realm.  When I read this novel I could not stop thinking about it for months.

 

Plot summary:

Giuseppe Zangara’s successful assassination of U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in 1933, led to the weak governments of FDR’s Vice President John Nance Garner and of the Republican John W. Bricker in 1940; both politicians failed to surmount the Great Depression and maintained the country’s isolationist policy against participating in the Second World War; thus, the U.S. had insufficient military capabilities to assist the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union against Nazi Germany, or to defend itself against Japan in the Pacific.

In 1941, the Nazis conquered the USSR and then exterminated most of its Slavic peoples; the few whom they allowed to live were confined to reservations. In the Pacific, the Japanese destroyed the U.S. Navy fleet in a decisive, definitive attack on Pearl Harbor; thereafter, the superior Japanese military conquered Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand and Oceania by the early 1940s. Afterward, the Axis Powers, each attacking from opposite fronts, conquered the coastal United States, and, by 1948, the Allied forces surrendered to the Axis.

Japan established the puppet Pacific States of America out of Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, parts of Nevada and Washington as part of the Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere. The remaining Mountain, Great Plains and Southwestern states became the Rocky Mountain states, a buffer between the PSA and the remaining USA, now a Nazi puppet state in the style of Vichy France. Having defeated the Allies of World War II and won the war for the world, the Third Reich and Imperial Japan, as the resultant superpowers, consequently embarked upon a Cold War.

After Adolf Hitler’s syphilitic incapacitation, Martin Bormann, as Nazi Party Chancellor, assumes power as Führer of Germany. Bormann proceeds to create a colonial empire to increase Germany’s Lebensraum by using technology to drain the Mediterranean Sea and convert it into farmland (see Atlantropa), while sending spaceships to colonize Mars and other parts of the Solar System in the name of the Reich.

As the novel begins, Führer Bormann dies, initiating an internal power struggle between Joseph Goebbels, Reinhard Heydrich, Hermann Göring and other top Nazis to succeed him as Reichskanzler.

 

 

A story within a story.

Several characters in The Man in the High Castle read the popular novel The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, by Hawthorne Abendsen, whose title, putatively, derives from the Bible verse: “The grasshopper shall be a burden” (Ecclesiastes 12:5). It is a novel within a novel, wherein Abendsen posits an alternative universe where the Axis lost WWII (1939–1948), for which reason the Germans banned it in the occupied U.S., despite its being a widely-read book in the Pacific and its publication being legal in the neutral countries.

The Grasshopper Lies Heavy postulates that President Franklin D. Roosevelt survives assassination and forgoes re-election in 1940, honoring George Washington’s two-term limit. The next president, Rexford Tugwell, removes the U.S. Pacific fleet from Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, saving it from Japanese attack, and ensuring that the U.S. enters World War II a well-equipped naval power. The UK retains most of its military-industrial strength, contributing more to the Allied war effort, leading to Field Marshal Erwin Rommel’s defeat in North Africa; a British advance through the Caucasus to guide the Soviets to victory in the Battle of Stalingrad; Italy reneging on its membership in and betrayal of the Axis Powers; British armor and the Red Army jointly conquering Berlin; and, at the end of the war, the Nazi leaders — including Adolf Hitler — being tried for their war crimes; the Führer‘s last words are Deutsche, hier steh’ ich(“Germans, here I stand”), in imitation of the priest Martin Luther.

Post-war, Churchill remains Britain’s leader; and, because of its military-industrial might, the British Empire does not collapse; the USA establishes strong business relations with Chiang Kai-shek’s right-wing regime in China, after vanquishing the Communist Mao Zedong. The British Empire becomes racist and more expansionist post-war, while the U.S. outlaws Jim Crow, resolving its racism by the 1950s. Both changes provoke racialist-cultural tensions between the US and the UK, leading them to a Cold War for global hegemony between the two vaguely liberal, democratic, capitalist societies. The British Empire eventually defeats the US, becoming the world’s only superpower.

Retro TV Shows: “Lost in Space”

lost4

Lost in Space is an American science fiction television series, created and produced by Irwin Allen, which originally aired between 1965 and 1968. The series is loosely based on the 1812 novel The Swiss Family Robinson, and on a comic book published by Gold Key Comics titled Space Family Robinson. The series follows the adventures of the Robinsons, a pioneering family of space colonists who struggle to survive in the depths of space. The show ran for 83 episodes over three seasons, the first year of which was filmed in black and white.

lost2

On October 16, 1997, the United States is gearing up to colonize space. The Jupiter 2, a futuristic saucer-shaped spacecraft, stands on its launch pad undergoing final preparations. Its mission is to take a single family on a five-and-a-half-year journey to an Earthlike planet orbiting the star Alpha Centauri.

The Robinson family consisted of Professor John Robinson (Guy Williams), his wife Maureen (June Lockhart) and their three children, Judy (Marta Kristen), Penny (Angela Cartwright), and Will (Billy Mumy). The family is accompanied by U.S. Space Corps Major Donald West (Mark Goddard), who is trained to land the ship. The Robinsons and Major West are to be cryogenically frozen for the voyage, and they are set to be unfrozen when the spacecraft approaches its destination.

lost5

Meanwhile, Dr. Zachary Smith (Jonathan Harris), Alpha Control’s doctor, is revealed to be a saboteur on behalf of an unnamed nation. After disposing of a guard who catches him on board the spacecraft, Smith reprograms the Jupiter 2’s B-9 environmental control robot (voiced by Dick Tufeld) to destroy critical systems on the spaceship eight hours after launch. Smith, however, becomes trapped aboard at launch and his extra weight throws the Jupiter 2 off course, causing it to encounter a storm of asteroids. This, plus the robot’s rampage, causes the ship to prematurely engage its hyperdrive, and causes the expedition to become hopelessly lost in the infinite depths of outer space. Smith’s selfish actions and laziness frequently endanger the expedition; however, Smith’s role assumes less sinister overtones in later parts of the series.

losta

lost1