In my capacity as “Keeper of the Sacred Blueprints,” I have long been aware of - and a fan of - Keith Young. For those not in the know, he basically got a copy of the old “Moonbase Alpha Technical Manual” put out by Starlog in the 1970s, and quickly decided it was a very limited, slapdash, and generally inaccurate product all ‘round. It was, however, intended to be updated, and came in a three-ring binder so that Starlog could send out periodic new pages. These never came, of course. The project was a bust, and quickly abandoned.
Mr. Young, however, decided to expand and complete the Technical Notebook by himself, both by making new pages to correct the wild inaccuracies in the initial printing, and making entirely new sections of areas omitted by the book. Eventually, most interestingly, he started designing his own sections of Alpha, based around things that logically had to be there, or were referred to in dialog, but never seen, or what have you. This was all pretty neat, and, of course, getting copies were a priority for me, even though I’m not a huge fan of the show. Or really a fan at all. When I watch it, I do it with the sound turned down, so I can just soak up the beautiful, sprawling sets, and the great miniature work without getting distracted by the inherent Space:1999-ness of it all. Love the look, not the stories.
And that said, that’s why I wanted these plans, man! I *love* Moonbase: Alpha. Of all the SF shows I’ve ever seen in my life - movies, too - very, very, very few have an actual feeling of ’Place’ to them. That is to say, very few of them feel like they exist when you’re not looking at them. Very few feel like something more than a soundstage. Basically the T.O.S.-Era Enterprise, Moonbase: Alpha, the *first* season of SeaQuest only, “The Village“, and mayyyyyyyybe Babylon 5 on a good day, and that’s about it. And “The Village” from The Prisoner doesn’t really count since it actually *was* a real place. So obviously Moonbase: Alpha has a lot of appeal to me, as a mad collector of these things.
The plans were hard to get, though, as anyone who tried to get ’em back in the day could tell you. This is no reflection on Mr. Young, it’s just the limitations of working in a pre-online world on the fringes the fan community. Hard to network, you know? Harder still to get paid.
But if you soldiered through, man oh man oh man, was it worth it! Great stuff, and plenty of it. I don’t even have the full run, but my old Technical Notebook is so over-full I can’t get the rings to securely close.
One of the happier moments in the early life of this website was when I actually got to *talk* to Keith about the plans and Space: 1999 in general. It was all pretty fascinating, he’s instantly likeable, and you can read that interview here http://www.republibot.com/content/interview-keith-young-talks-about-his-... It was informative, too: He’d been briefly attached to a quickly-aborted official big-screen revival project. I’d never even heard of that before!
For several years now, Keith has been informing me that he’s working on a completely updated digital version of the complete Moonbase: Alpha Technical Manual. I’ve been eagerly following this, and just last week he arranged for me to get a special preview edition. This is not the *full* manual, of course, but just a sort of extended teaser. It’s limited to 75 copies (Mine is number 7!).
The work is clear, crisp, and entirely consistent with the tone of the original Starlog publication, though it’s wholly original and far more accurate and expansive. It’s pretty and logical and utilitarian, and it’s even on a computer, which, when you think about it, is pretty amazing: who *Didn’t* daydream of looking at this kind of stuff on one o’ them thar’ newfangled “Commodore Pet” computer dealies back in 1978? I know I did!
There’s also a lot of extras. I don’t know if these will be on the finished, full copy when it’s released, or if this is just “Added content” for folks like me, but it’s pretty neat: Adds for his initial releases in fanzines and whatnot, sketches dating back to 1980, when he was a kid cribbing stuff off his TV screen, concept art from the failed cinematic revival attempt, alternate arrangements of things we did see on screen, if you’re a geek like me, this is basically the next best thing to traveling back to 1975 and raiding the production designer’s office while he was over at craft services, surreptitiously watching Martin Landau complain about the increasingly awful quality of the scripts. Seriously: This is pretty amazing. And the early, kiddish stuff in the extras - I can’t express how cool that was to me, because that’s the exact same thing *I* was trying to do at the same time. It’s neat to see the fundamental psychological connections between us folks who like Blueprints of fictional things.
And the full version, when it comes out, will undoubtedly be all but a holy grail. Very, very good stuff.
Check it out here: https://www.facebook.com/KeithYoungsMoonbaseAlphaBlueprintPage
Or you can Email Mr. Young directly at firstname.lastname@example.org