Previously on The Fog of Ward:
So, yeah. I haven’t been around here much these past couple of weeks. I promise it’s because I’ve been busy. Even with the holidays, there’s still a list of things to do, deadlines to meet, and projects to keep juggling even as we prepare to kick 2020’s ass all the way to the curb and then stomp it to the painful death it so richly deserves. As such, things like the blog, already far from the most happenin’ place on the intrawebz, has fallen a tad into neglect. I don’t expect that to change too much so long as the novel in-progress continues to occupy the center of my plate, but hopefully I can finish out this year on a high note.
For instance, we have this latest installment of my irregularly recurring blog feature “Tied Up With Tie-ins.” It goes like this: every once in a while, I take a look back at a favorite series of movie or TV tie-in books. More often than not, this means something from those thrilling days of yesteryear with novels based on The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman, Planet of the Apes, and Space: 1999 among others. I’m also up for taking a gander at more recent entries to the genre if the mood strikes, like the previous entry where I yammered a bit about novels based on TV series 24.
This latest installment is probably going to be pretty short as we’re talking about a TV project that has very limited tie-in presence. Indeed, I didn’t even know there was such a thing for this property until just a month or so ago. As it happens, this is a relatively new development, which can be a lot of fun for someone who loves this particular publishing niche. Example: me.
Anyway, what are we talking about this time? It’s a little known, oft-overlooked television film from 1975 called The Day After Tomorrow or, as it was known in the United Kingdom, Into Infinity.
Produced by Gerry Anderson (Thunderbirds, UFO, the aforementioned Space: 1999) and written by Johnny Byrne, writer for Space: 1999 and Doctor Who, The Day After Tomorrow cetners around the crew of the spaceship Altares, a faster-than-light craft traveling to Alpha Centauri where its crew hopes to find a planet suitable for colonization, as Earth has suffered environmental crises to the point that humanity itself faces eventual extinction. On their journey, the crew encounters a handful of space oddities, including a black hole from which the ship is ultimately unable to escape. The Altares is pulled through the black hole to…their crew knows not where, or even when. At the film’s end, they find themselves staring out the ship’s viewports at an unknown planet….
“They have survived their journey through the black hole and crossed the frontiers of human knowledge. They know it is impossible to return to Earth and to their own space and time. They must now come to terms with their existence on the other side of a black hole. One thing is sure – this is not the final word. Not the end, but the beginning. A new universe, a new hope. Only time will tell.”
The film was created primarily to serve as a lead-in to another program, aimed at students and discussing Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity. This is likely why the his famous equation, “E=MC2,” flashes on the screen just before the end credits begin. However, Anderson and Byrne created the story with the idea it might serve as a pilot for a new science fiction series.
Coming from the people who gave us Space: 1999 and featuring contributors to that series behind and in front of the camera didn’t hurt. Neither did the special effects and even sets, much of which was influenced by the series and indeed props, set decoration, and wardrobe are modified and used here in this film, produced as it was between Space: 1999‘s first and second seasons. Nick Tate, who portrayed Nick Carter on the show, is cast here as the Altares‘ pilot, Captain Harry Masters. Brian Blessed, who also had a memorable guest turn in the show’s second season as the father of Maya, the shapeshifting alien, is also recognizable to fans in everything from Kevin Costner’s father in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves to Boss Nass in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace to Prince Vultan in the 1980 cult classic Flash Gordon, is the expedition’s scientific leader, Dr. Bowen.
In the U.S., The Day After Tomorrow was broadcast on December 9th, 1975 as an episode of NBC’s Special Treat, a series of short films and other specials for the teenager audience, much in the vein of ABC Afterschool Special. If you’re around my age and were into such things back then, you might remember seeing it, but don’t feel bad if you missed it. A lot of people did. Anderson’s hopes for launching a new series never came to pass, and for fans of a certain age (:: cough ::) the film is one of those fondly remembered 1970s SF gems.
Despite only watching it the one time (until recently), The Day After Tomorrow was one of those things that stuck in the back of my brain. It would pop up in conversation or message threads here and there, but except for older fans it doesn’t seem to be anything that’s well known at all. In 2017, it along with a few other shorts and other oddities were packaged into a DVD, The Lost Worlds of Gerry Anderson. The DVD also includes Space Police, the pilot for a series Anderson tried to develop and which ultimately was the basis for a show he did get off the ground, Space Precinct. You can also stream The Lost Worlds of Gerry Anderson on Amazon Prime.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that was the end of the road so far as The Day After Tomorrow was concerned, but you’d be wrong.
Almost by accident a couple of months ago, I came across Into Infinity, Book One: The Day After Tomorrow. Published in 2017 and reissued in 2019 with a fancier cover (see left), it was written by novelist and screenwriter Gregory L. Norris after he was approached by Anderson Productions, the book is exactly what you think it is: a novelization of the original film. However, Mr. Norris was able to add in material cut from the film as well as expand on various elements of the story and characters with an eye toward continuing their adventures in prose form. Once I realized what I was looking at as I held the book in my hands, I knew I had to have it for nostalgia reasons if nothing else, and it currently sits on the bookshelf next to my collection of Space: 1999 novels.
Only after discovering this tome did I realize it’s actually the second novelization of the film. Way back in 1975, author Douglas R. Mason – who under the pen name “John Rankine” penned five novelizations of episodes from Space: 1999‘s first season – adapted the film for Futurama Publications. When it became evident that there would be no followup TV series, the novelization was scrapped. It’s never been officially published, and I have no idea whether there are any copies of the manuscript floating around out there, but it wouldn’t surprise me.
Meanwhile, back in the near present, Mr. Norris wrote an original Into Infinity novel, Planetfall, which also was published in 2019. Picking up where the events of the film (and subsequent novelization) left off, the story finds the Altares crew needing to make repairs to the ship and find some kind of fuel source. This puts them at odds with a number of obstacles and in the crosshairs of an alien race who sees great value in a faster-than-light ship. And hijinks ensue. The setup seems reminiscent of the classic 1960s Lost In Space series, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, is it?
Will there be more Into Infinity novels? My Googlin’ has turned up nothing on this front, but obviously anything’s possible, amirite? Here’s hoping!