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Space: 1999 Convention

June 13, 2000
logo for convention Remember the TV show "Space: 1999"? I loved that show when it was on, and sometimes you can still catch repeats of it. The main premise was that a nuclear accident causes the Moon to blast out of Earth's orbit, stranding a group of people on a moonbase (I wrote about the show on my Bitesize pages). Like Star Trek, the show has a devoted following. If you're one of these devotees, then you would have loved Main Mission: 2000. It was a convention for fans of the show, held in New York City on September 1-3, 2000. Many of the stars of the original show were there, as well as writers and others involved with the production.

Eagle Transporter from Space:1999 I was invited to give the "Reality Check" talk at the con, which is a science-based talk about the show. I talked about things like, can you really blast the Moon from the Earth's orbit? (well, no), how many planets are really out there, and other astronomical topics that were in the program. I was also on a few discussion panels with the writers, where we answered questions from the audience.

It was a huge amount of fun. Below are some pictures that I took or were taken of me from the meeting, with descriptions.

thumb of Year 1 panel The Opening Ceremony of the con started with the introduction of the guests, including Yours Truly. It was the morning of the first day, so I was still feeling awkward and a bit out of place among the stars and writers of the show. Still I took my place and talked when the time came. I was immediately made welcome and had a few laughs from the crowd. This was the start of a warm fuzzy feeling that lasted throughout the weekend. From right to left we have Zienia Merton (Sandra on the show), me, Barry Morse (the redoubtable Professor Victor Bergman on the show), Keith Wilson (set designer), Prentis Hancock (Paul Morrow on the show), Chris Penfold (writer), Johnny Byrne (writer, bent over) and Tom Lowery, MC of the event.
thumb of Catherine Schell, Zienia Merton and Monica This is a picture of Catherine Schell (who played Maya in the series), a young Swedish women I met named Monica who runs a website about the show (as if it were an internal page for the Moonbase), and Zienia Merton.
thumb of Chris Penfold and Johnny Byrne Here we have Chris Penfold and Johnny Byrne, two of the writers for the original series. I found them both to be personable and friendly. Johnny has a deep interest in tying physics and metaphysics, as can be seen in many of his episodes. Chris is more quiet and everyone found him to be a perfect gentleman.
thumb of costume party A lot of folks dressed up for the costume party. The costumes were great, and some were from the original show.
thumb of SciFi Divas Left to right is Zienia Merton, Grace Lee Whitney (Janice Rand from the original Star Trek series) and Catherine Schell. This panel was called Sci Fi Divas, and was basically a side-splitting hour of Tales From The Women Stars. There was a lot of scatological talk and gestures, and it was shocking to hear Catherine, an elegant and graceful lady, say "Who do I have to [very bad word] to get off this picture?"
thumb of Doug, me and Dave My hotel mates Doug (left), me and Dave (right). These are great guys, and I'm really glad I had the honor to meet them. We spent one night talking until about 4:00 in the morning, laughing until we basically passed out.
thumb of Star Wars guys in VIP room Here I was, finally getting up the nerve to sit in the VIP guest room, when in walk these clowns. This photo was taken by one of the Galactica fans; more pix of the con by them can be found at the Battlestar Fan Club convention photos page. From left to right is me, Terry Lee (Ms. Schell's assistant for the duration of the con), Catherine Schell, James H. (Jim) Burns (author and actor), Johnny Byrne, Chris Penfold (facing the camera), George Bellak (who wrote the original version of the "Space:1999" pilot) and Sophia (something), a writer who is Richard Hatch's girlfriend.
thumb of Star Wars guys in VIP room Another shot of the green/VIP room.
thumb of Richard Hatch and me Richard Hatch, star of "Battlestar Galactica", wants to revive the series. He has a short trailer which is actually pretty good. He has an idea for a new series which also sounds pretty interesting, called "The War of Magellan ". With any luck, he'll need an astronomy/science advisor for that one...
Another thumb of Richard Hatch and me Another shot of Richard and me.
thumb of people at a bar A few of us went barhopping in New York and found a place inauspiciously named Hurley's. From left to right are John Muir, Kathryn Muir, Robert Ruiz (second in command of the con and going on about two hours sleep in the past week when we went out), Greg something (anyone know his last name?) Roy Bjellquist and Tera Baker.
thumb of Year 1 vs Year 2 panel I had the honor and pleasure of serving on a panel discussing the relative merits of the first season of "Space:1999" versus the second season. The stars, writers and set designer described their mistreatment on the show's second season, and after a few minutes of this the mood was somber. Finally, John Muir turns to me and says, "So, describe the science differences between the two seasons! " Ah, right. With the atmosphere so grim, I decided to simply be myself and make jokes. I did, and I humbly submit (pbbbbt, right) that it helped lighten the mood considerably. In the picture, that's me on the left, with Johnny Byrne, Zienia, Catherine, John Hug (an Eagle pilot on the show, and a man clearly enjoying himself immensely at the con), Prentis Hancock (Paul Morrow on the show) and Chris Penfold.
thumb of  Year 1 vs Year 2 panel Another shot of the panel, while things were still glum.
thumb of  Year 1 vs Year 2 panel A longer shot of the panel, showing hosts (from right) John Muir and Tom Lowery (who also was commander in chief of the con). To the left of Tom is set designer Keith Wilson.

©2008 Phil Plait. All Rights Reserved.

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