Sunday, September 24, 2017

Pssst... Have You Heard About That Top Top Secret Space Program?

(From Ray X X-Rayer #137.

A distraught woman called into the late night radio program.  She was upset, feeling sorry for the people who were abducted and taken to Mars to work on a secret project.

For me the story causing her distraught was obvious: Alternative 3.

Back in 1977 Anglia Television in the UK produced a factual series called Science Report.  But for the April 1st broadcast the company decided to become fanciful, creating a mockumentary called Alternative 3.  Distinguished newscaster Tim Brinton went along with the gag, serving as presenter-narrator for the program.  Everyone else involved in the production were actors pretending to be reporters and interviewees.  Brinton's participation led to some viewers assuming the story was real, not fiction.  

The program, Science Report: Alternative 3, [1] has been compared to the War of the Worlds radio broadcast in 1938.  Each broadcast had the semblance of reality but was only a work of fiction.   Some people overreacted, falling for the hoax. 

Due to a work dispute Alternative 3  wasn't shown until June, ergo the April Fools' Day angle was overlooked, another detail that added to the confusion. 

Alternative 3  purported to have uncovered the truth behind a scientific brain drain. Scientists were leaving England, disappearing without a trace under mysterious circumstances.  Presenter-narrator Tim Brinton explained that Science Report been led into "some strange and unexpected byways" when investigating the brain drain problem. For example a specialist said she was taking a job elsewhere with better research facilities.  Before her departure she refused to talk to a reporter any further about her job offer.  She supposedly left on a flight to New York City but her name wasn't on any passengers list.  Her car was left abandoned at Heathrow Airport.  

So where were all these scientists and other missing people going?  The conspiracy involved the highest levels of the US and the Soviet Union who knew the earth was doomed, facing a total ecological disaster from pollution creating a global greenhouse effect.  Top scientists and others were being taken away to work on Mars to ready a new world before this one died.  Only the Elite would survive.

Mars was an uninhabitable planet -- or so the public was lead to believe.  Life existed on the red planet.  Its real conditions were being kept secret by phony Mariner probe images produced in a movie studio. 

One interviewee, Apollo astronaut "Bob Grodin," was sitting on a great story.  During his mission had stumbled upon a secret lunar base that was part of the conspiracy.  After getting liquored up he told a reporter the Apollo program was just a smokescreen.

The secret space program motif was later used in the TV series The X-Files which debuted in September 1993.  The US government had access to alien technology, secretly working on advanced vehicles that were sometimes reported as UFOs.

But before The X-Files series and the Alternative 3 program there was the first comic book issue of Space Man published in 1962 by Dell Comics. [2]

The cover shows astronauts on the moon, standard spacesuits and rockets for the time being depicted.  But the cover hid what was really inside.

In the first adventure two  US astronauts are rocketing to the moon, Ian Stannard and his co-pilot Johnny Mack, a space cadet but not in the stoner sense.  (Johnny is only 14 years old.  NASA must've created some special working papers for him.)  Others have gone before but they never made it due to a mysterious anti-force that repels all rockets back to Earth.  But this time there is no anti-force.

A surprise awaits Ian and Johnny on the moon.  While exploring the lunar surface they are surrounded and taken away by a swarm of cyborgs.  Both are shocked to see a city.  They are taken into a structure where another earthman greets them, Colonel Hooper, who was reported missing years ago.  (Did Hooper later meet astronaut "Bob Grodin?")

Hooper explains that the anti-force is created at this installation but Ian and Johnny were allowed through.  He stresses that what he is going to share with them is "top top secret."

Fifteen years ago aliens visited Hooper on Earth.  They were humanoid but wore ultra-tech spacesuits complete with transparent helmets.  They stood in the doorway, stating they were on a secret mission for the Galactic Guard.  Hooper responded: "Well, I can't be inhospitable.  Come in."

Hooper learned the Galactic Guard had been observing the earth for many centuries.  They liked the US government (as opposed to those commie bastard governments), wanting it to join the Galactic Guard, helping to defend all peaceful planets with the advanced technology they would provide.

So while the public has been following the standard space program with its relatively primitive technology Hooper and other earthmen have been zipping around in outer space in FTL flying saucers.  Sometimes these vehicles are spotted in terran skies, leading to UFO reports.  As Hooper mentions it's all part of the cover-up, the public thinking that only aliens operate flying saucers, not any terrans.

The cyborgs -- cybernetic organisms, explains Hooper --  that escorted Ian and Johnny are brave Americans, men who volunteered to have their bodies modified to survive in harsh conditions, covered by a skintight protective material from head to toe.

An alarm sounds.  The enemy is attacking.  A great battle ensues: flying saucers versus vehicles shaped like futuristic baby enemas.  The Galactic Guard prevails.

Now Ian and Johnny have to return to earth in their steam engine technology rocket, promising to keep secret the other space program.

Later the two return to the Galactic Guard and have a number of fantastic adventures.  But what is odd is if someone starts the series with Space Man #2 there is no mention of present day (1962) Earth.  A reader would assume the stories were taking place in the future.

Maybe the Government told Dell Comics to avoid that angle.  No reason to get the public thinking about a top top secret space program.


[2]  If you're looking for Space Man #1 as such you'll be disappointed.  The first story was part of an anthology series by Dell Comics called Four Color, so you have to look up Four Color #1253.  It can be found here: .  When Space Man won its own series there was normal numbering starting with issue #2.  You can find the series here: .

Reconnected To The World

(From Ray X X-Rayer #137. )

I tried getting by without an ISP here at my new apartment.  Going around and using various public WiFi spots got old quick.

There was a great coffeehouse, the perfect WiFi spot, quiet, good coffee – but it closed.  All that's left are fake cafes.  These establishments are run like bars, loud music blaring, caffeine instead of alcohol. Raucous rock and misogynistic rap driven into your head.

One evening I went to a fake cafe and the music was blasting inside.  I went outside on the rear patio to get away from the distracting noise.  Across the street some bagpipers started up with their alfresco practice.  Then someone in the parking lot cranked up his car stereo.  Such a cacophony isn't conducive to creative thinking.

For a quieter time I would sit outside a fake cafe after it had closed, using the WiFi on the street. At least there was a bench where I could sit.  I wouldn't be the only WiFi loiterer.  A taxi driver would be parked outside, tagging a connection.  And others like me also were tagging on depending upon the weather.

The public library is quiet but its public WiFi is undependable.  I show up with a smart phone, a tablet, and a laptop but none of them will connect.  At the same time other people are having the same problem so it's not just me.  With the limited hours the library is open it's hard to get any real work.  And with all public WiFi spots there can be security issues.

I did some digging and got a decent price with a internet connection via the cable company.  I was hesitant because locally the cable company has a bad reputation.  A rep will tell you one thing and then you find out that wasn't true.  An installation fee is added to your bill even though the rep during the phone conversation stated that fee would be waived.  The state attorney general recently nailed with company with legal action because of the company's deceptive advertising, promising connection speeds that weren't as fast as claimed.

So far no problems with the cable company but it's still the honeymoon period.  I'm still waiting for my first bill.

It's easy to feel isolated in this jerkwater town.  Among the few friends I had some have moved away for better job opportunities.  Others have died.  There are few people around with similar interests.  The other day I joked to two guys why I didn't drink.  Me and alcohol, I explained, was like Bruce Banner and gamma rays.  They responded with Huh? looks. With popular entertainment the Hulk isn't that obscure, is he?  Like I said, isolation.

Most people here don't realize that there's a big world out there.  But they prefer provincialism.  Thanks to my 24/7 internet connection I can stay in contact with the world in the quiet of my apartment, mentally escaping from this Podunk trap.