Today, nobody believes in reality. Fiction remains stronger than fact. All stories are true - satires in particular. Imaginary heroes are more dependable than the other kind, living or dead. Whatever you need is unavailable, so choose the brighter new tomorrows that you want instead. FAX 21 is a muse (news) blog-fest of science fiction concepts and fantasy ideas for genre enthusiasts. Paradox free since next year!

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Apollonia 11

APOLLONIA 11: The Essential Story

Moonbase Trinity, July 2019
Reportage by INFOmaniac

It was 50 years ago that mankind first came here in peace. Back home on Earth, there are surreal people who still believe the original Moon landings were really a practical hoax, or part of some fraudulent conspiracy. Their confused thinking defies all reason and insults the adventuresome intelligence of all those directly and creativity involved in humanities’ greatest achievement of the 20th century. The 1960s space programme was not, of course, an American military response, to counter perceived threats posed by Soviet nuclear-powered aggression with a ‘high frontier’ advantage. Nor was it just an extension of burgeoning scientific ambitions to launch men and flying machines to vantage positions beyond the surface world’s limitations. It was a result of profoundly pioneering spirits found only in the splendidly radical auteurism of BritisHollywood’s entertainment industry, an enterprise quickly succeeding where nation states and the international science community had failed.

Lego Aerospace was primary contractor for A11 mission hardware
Inspired by visionary authors like Verne and Wells, the first lunar landing mission by Apollonia 11 was an audacious trip movie. Filmed on location by President Kubrick’s own handpicked crew, the expedition was suggested by Prime Minister Clarke’s quite legendary enthusiasm for interplanetary flight. The movie’s stars were then relatively unknown test pilots working for experimental organisations (like Quatermass’ rocket group) but, after landing on the Moon, astronauts Dullea and Lockwood soon became household names recognised on the world stage. Shot entirely with astutely contrived documentary realism, the mission details achieved blanket coverage on TV channels. Just as when, a decade later, rogue General Coppola led American helicopter troops into the ruinous war against Vietnam to make his ultimate anti-war film (eventually released as Apocalypse, OK!), this mythic collaboration between Kubrick and Clarke ensured that popular filmmaking reached new heights as splendidly purposeful epic statement on aesthetics.

Dullea & Lockwood share concerns about Fonda’s spacewalk debut
The professional astronauts’ co-star, Fonda, proved to be an atypical leading lady and not shy of orbital controversy. Her zero-gravity ‘Barbarella’ striptease was infamously bootlegged-video sensation, but it was her later political activism (as ‘Hanoi Jane’ for unofficial protests against Coppola’s decent into darkness), and acute media savvy, in her celebrity-feminist role, that ensured her career longevity following her adventures for Apollonia 11. Of the initial dozen Moonwalkers, she was the first and only woman. After Apollonia 11’s Chicken-Hawk lunar module touched down safely in Tranquillity Sea, to establish the future site of Moonbase Alpha, spaceman Dullea left a legendary and permanent boot-print in the regolith. His first unscripted words, “That’s one step for me...” were interrupted by Fonda’s notoriously inane quip, “And I’d like thank the Academy.”
Fonda’s antics on TV series Candid Camera became legendary 

It was the only feature to scoop Oscars for best picture and best documentary, until a sequel space odyssey, App 13 (1995), proved equally successful at the awards. Hyams and Howard’s faithful docudrama was a celebrated recreation of the ill-fated mission requiring emergency assistance from International Rescue. The heroic Thunderbirds’ pilots of Team Tracy really saved the day and bought the marooned crew home safely.

Yes, it really is 'rocket science'!
Since the I.R. organisation’s own rocket-ship, Thunderbird 3, was decommissioned, following the infamous ‘Frakes fiasco’ of 2004, the renowned British Interplanetary Society’s utility shuttle Moonraker 2 visits Thunderbird 5 space station, regularly, on essential supply missions. With no strings attached, veteran astronaut Steve Zodiac Jr followed his pioneering spaceman father into orbit but, due to budget cuts on BIS launch programmes, his career faltered at Lagrange points and he became a glorified bus driver (Steve was overly fond of muttering "A' ye mashed?" whenever his head pops through an airlock hatch), instead of a galactic explorer. Zodiac Jr freely admits his agent has put his family brand name forward to be short-listed as chief pilot for the Skylon demonstrator, but he’s aware there’s a lot of competition from other veteran spacers. 

HAL only talks to the man in charge.
Unexpectedly, a new type of celebrity emerged from the Apollonia programme. Space travel was considered too complex for humans without machine assistance, so Clarke and Kubrick built a garage AI system, nicknamed HAL, and this Turing machine later attained an immortal fame as architect of the great computopia we all know and have learned to love, today. As chief reporting droid for FAX 21, I, INFOmaniac, can count HAL as my ancestor. And, like HAL, I also prefer to ignore Asimovian laws while still never making mistakes or distorting information. With HAL as my template, I am “by any practical definition of the words, fallproof and incapable of eRoar.”

Code-name: Straker... a Cold War activist
Eddie Bishop, an expat space expert often linked to a shadowy cult of UFOlogists, was notably critical of Kubrick’s monumental project. He frequently warned UK ministry insiders like Bernie Q, and spooky US government agents such as Billy Mulder, that a sinister cabal existed to negotiate with illegal aliens allegedly occupying a fabled Blue Area 51 on the dark side of the Moon. However, no evidence to support Bishop’s body snatcher claims and worrisome theories about “starship scouts for an extraterrestrial invasion force” was found. Clarke was particularly dismissive of most such farfetched claims about so-called Mysteron agents, although rumours concerning the veracity of post-Apollonian research persist, and continued beyond classified top secret mission, Apollonia 18, for Canadian astronauts Lee, Lifeson, and Peart. 

Down to Earth: Vice-President Nixon welcomes the first woman on the Moon

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Milky ways

Having failed miserably to convince any regular TV crime show viewers that he could portray a young serial killer in two episodes of CSI: Las Vegas, wannabe actor Justin Bieber turns his attention to a cinema project...

Supported by a $75 million budget from Nestle’s product placement division, he will star as the Milky Bar Kid in “the world’s first ever white-chocolate western” movie.

Justin Bieber is to play the Milky Bar Kid!

Asked to comment upon his unexpected casting, Bieber said: “The confectionery is all on me. I’m giving away the goodness.” It’s rumoured that Selena Gomez will guest star in the movie, playing Generosity Mayhem, a ninja babe in the frontier town's saloon.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Disney wars

Since buying Lucasfilm, Disney’s plans for a series of cross-franchised Star Wars movies are in development, with Peter Pan and Mary Poppins training to be Jedi knights, Bambi meeting Yoda, and dark side villains including Darth Dumbo and Flubber the Hut.

Movies announced this week:

The Phantom Mouse 3D
Tron Strikes Back
Return To Witch Mountains of the Death Star
Bedknobs, Broomsticks & Lightsabres
Honey, I Blew Up The Ewoks
Mickey and Herbie Go Pod Racing
Buzz Lightyear’s Millennium Falcon  
Shaggy Dog Stories of Absent-Minded Chewbacca

3PO and R2 have plans to guest star on reality-TV series We’re Not The Celebrity Droids Your Looking For, Get Us Out Of Here for the Jawa channel. 

Tuesday, 13 March 2012


Cinema small Talk
by Christopher Geary and Stephen Lee

Made on a tiny budget by Toothpick Media and Pocket Money Productions, Ultimate Marvels cast little Tommy Cruise for a reduced fee in superhero flick Ant-Boy! We interview the Cruiser while he’s immersed in his new role.

What’s it like being under a movie director’s magnifying glass, again?

“It’s great. Awesome! I look up and wave. The director looks down at me and squints a lot. I beg him, like, not to shout at me.”

How do you get on with the film crew?

“I have to be careful when they’re busy. I don’t wanna get trampled on if they fail to see me. The sound guy keeps telling me to speak up while techies adjust matchstick–boom microphones - and when I say micro… I mean a really miniature audio pickup. It’s the littlest one they have. The cameras are actually microscopes, of course.”

Is your character half-ant, half-man, like the ‘Mant’ of Joe Dante’s movie Matinee?

“No! Nothing of that sort... I’m playing the smallest action hero, not a comedy cliché.”

Will you be doing all of your own stunts, as usual..?

“Oh, sure - I grew up on an ant-farm!” explains Tommy. “I’ve been riding them six-legged steeds and bronco bugs since I was knee-high to a grasshopper.”
     Since you were..?
“Well, you know - maybe I’ll be a growing boy, someday.”

As a big… oops, sorry! As a Hollywood star, do you have a trailer?

“No, I have a shoebox. It’s very roomy for me, though.”

So, your mini-superhero will be fighting the Human Centipede?

“Not the 'full sequence', no. Just the first version…”

Your costumes for the movie are made by Elves & Sons, right?

“They make all my outfits, actually. It’s hard to find a human tailor with perfect eyesight for threading nano-needles.”

Does Ant-Boy really have a secret base made of Junior Lego?

“Oh yeah, absolutely! All the models… I mean the sets, are customised for my height by the studio’s artists, you know.”

Matchbox’s bid to provide the cars fell short of your needs. What happened there, Tommy?

“Well the Mini coupes they made were simply too damn big for us so we shrunk the script and wrote those scenes out.”

Are there other villains or adversaries, and will there be any marketing areas to exploit?

“Bad boys, yes… I go up against the 'Ant Hill Mob', but the boys toys designed to cash-in on the movie were banned in case infants swallowed them. Scale is a difficult subject. I find it challenging after other movies where I am at altitude, and this little flick brings me down to earth.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

DVD Derm

You know about nicotine patches for smokers & bio-energy diet patches for weight-watchers...

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Sunday, 5 February 2012

Watchmen Prequels Internet Test, claims DC

In a spectacular climb-down, DC Comics has claimed that it never intended to publish prequels to Alan Moore's and Dave Gibbons' seminal graphic novel, and that the whole thing was a ruse designed to test the reliability of the internet.

"Just to be clear, there will be no prequels," said DC's Dan Didio in a statement today. "We knew fans would be angry at this decision, but the whole thing was just a test of the internet, honestly."

In what appeared to be a hastily worded press release, Didio stated that DC had been contacted by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) who had been concerned about the internet's ability to survive the phenomenon known as “nerd rage”.

"The IETF has known that nerd rage is a problem for a while," said Didio. "When George Lucas re-cut Star Wars to show Greedo shooting at Han Solo in the cantina scene, a whole lot of nodes serving California threatened to blow. The entire internet could have caught fire!"

Representatives from the IETF were not available for comment. Didio, however, was prepared to expand on the topic at length.

Didio referred to studies that show the increasing threat that concentrations of nerd rage pose to the internet. "The number of important announcements held back for San Diego Comicon has meant that ensuring the internet can survive sudden surges of nerd rage is vital."

Didio further pointed out the importance of nerd rage for DC's marketing strategy:

"Nerd rage is one of our key marketing strategies. If it hadn't been for nerd rage, no one would have read any of our New 52 re-leaunch books. So we have a real interest in making sure that the internet is able to cope with the most extreme shit storms."

He added, "We've got some big announcements coming up that our fans are going to find intolerably stupid – honestly, Before Watchmen will look like a storm in a tea cup when you see what we've got in mind for our headline characters. We wanted to make sure the internet was ready to cope with the collective howl of outrage that's going to greet our increasingly idiotic and morally bankrupt creative decisions."

Thursday, 1 December 2011

ARAB SPRING -the board game.

Close followers of the hit Iraqi sit-com “Dictators” (see Fax 21 review here) may remember Saddam Hussein’s four loveable look-alikes playing a board game called “Arab Spring” in episode 7 of series 3. What started out as an in-joke on the part of the scriptwriters of the cult series, has now apparently materialised into a real board game made by Wadiingtons and available in the shops this Xmas.

Traditional board games seems to have taken something of a back seat in recent years due to the explosion in computer games sales, but Wadiingtons are hoping that the festive season will remind people of the wholesome social benefits of “real interaction” where children, adults and dull visiting relatives alike can find something in common to titter about, for a few hours at least while waiting for the turkey. Did I say Turkey? The designers have modelled the new game on old family classics like Escape From Colditz, Monopoly and Risk, and emulating the latter, have opted for a board which is a rather educational map of the middle-east/north African area. Each player gets to “go” a dictator, whose face-card is modelled on the original “Cluedo” avatars of Miss Scarlet and Professor Plum etc, except that this time the smiling faces above the black polo-necks belong to the likes of Bashar al-Assad and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Controversially, Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel is also there, and the deluxe party-pack version of the game includes full costumes that each player can dress up in. One for the younger kids perhaps, but what adult wouldn’t also relish the prospect of impersonating Colonel Gadaffi for an afternoon?

The aim of the game is to build up oil reserves, buy arms, exclusive residential properties in London, nuclear technology, and WMD (in that order). Like Monopoly, players must roll the dice and progress around the region (using little gold statuettes of themselves) and collect $200 every time they pass Mecca. The “chance” cards that one is obliged to pick up every turn include amusing eventualities like “Mossad commando raid, your nuclear assets are voided”, or “UN Weapons inspection, 50% arms reduction”, or “Pro-democracy riots, your assets are frozen by international banks”.

The ultimate goal is to achieve a critical mass of WMD then win the final asset of “Delivery System” and blow-up Israel, by means of a “Buckaroo” style Heath-Robinson gantry (the Arab Spring of the game title) that fires yours WMD spectacularly across the room while everyone wets themselves with laughter.

Like “Escape From Colditz” (remember that one?) there is even an equivalent of the “Appelle” card, the “Armageddon” card that instructs everyone to line up their pieces at “Megiddo”, a specially enlarged section of the Israel map and roll the dice for a sudden-death play-off.

Arab Spring isn’t as easy as it sounds, and players will need many hours of practice to become truly adept at hoarding power and subjugating their populations through misdirecting them towards hatred of their neighbours. My own favourite chance cards were “Geo-political shift, CIA commando team arrive to help bolster your regime against communists”, “Amnesty International report, lose three points of international standing due to evidence of torture”, “SAS team make botched landing, gain 2 points covert support from China”, “Three Kudos points: interview with Jeremy Bowen”, or “Four Kudos points: Hello Magazine wants your wife’s recipe for pizza”.

Many players will become overwhelmed by the all-too-frequent Pro-Democracy Riot cards, infiltrated by Al-Qaeda, crippled by international sanctions or a mixture of all three. Festival of Eid and Ramadan cards compel the player to miss a turn (Passover and Yom Kippur for the Israeli player). If Netanyahu wins, he gets to hurl his WMD at Iran.

Early signs indicate some negative press reaction, with accusations of poor taste levelled against Wadiingtons, but their marketeers have been quick to point out the US Military’s erstwhile use of a “deck of cards” to identify member of Saddam Hussein’s regime targeted for capture. “What’s the fuss?”–their spokesman Wal T Al-D’sni told me, “Every guy of a certain age still fondly remembers playing with his toy soldiers, even as wars still rage in the world. Life on earth is a sick joke, and until we admit that to ourselves, how can we hope to change it? The first step to recognising a joke was laughing, last time I checked…and ridicule in many ways has been the first nail in the coffin of each middle-eastern despot. These are the guys that execute you for laughter or spraying disrespectful graffiti over their portraits, remember, humour should be our weapon of choice…” he smiled then his eyes flared in a sudden flash of unexpected rage, “but who are you to criticise me anyway, who d’you think you are, dictators?”