Edward Lans In Space September

to 7cm in height. Both changes get reversed on the ground, bill it is easy to imagine permanent lunar settlers taking on Selenite-like characteristics and becoming incapable of returning ¡o Earth.

The pair are also aided by their ability to leap metres in a single bound. Actual moonwalkers held back most of the time: Apollo 16 s Charlie Duke holds the high jump record at 1,2m (4ft): "But as 1 Straightened up, [he weight of my backpack pulled me over backward... 1 fell the four feet, hitting hard - right on my backpack. Panic!" Duke's suit remained intact, but he didn't dare leap again.

Time warps

Lower gravity also messes with Bedford and Cavor's sense of time. Wells employs this as a literary device; apparently they have only been on the Moon a matter of hours, but in fact the 14-day lunar daytime gives way to 'the greaL nighL of space'. Desperate, Lhe Lwo men separate to hunt for the sphere. In reality, the lunar surface plunges from a high of 100°C to -150° at night. The lack of convection in a vacuum means these extremes don't present a huge problem for air-conditioned spacewalks of only a few hours, buL ihey have doomed various robot landers, such as Russia's two Lunokhod rovers.

In the event, Bedford returns to Earth alone, his sphere lost after landing. But the story isn't quite over. A Dutch scientist informs Bedford he has picked up messages from Cavor on the Moon: "Suddenly - this English, out of the void!" This would have chimed with readers: in 1899 electrical pioneer Nikola Tesla informed the world he had detected intelligent signals from Mars. He was ridiculcd, but the concept persisted; in 1924 the US military performed special radio monitoring during the Red Planet's closest approach, the earliest instance of govern men t-sponsored SETI.

* Mark Gotj55 as Prof Cavor (right! and Rory Kinneor as Julius Bedford emerge from their Edwardian equivalent of the Apollo lunar lander

Don't miss The First Men In The Moon, screening this autumn on BBC Four. You con watch o trailer for the drama at www. bbc.co.uk/tv/comingup/ thefirstmeninthemoon

Cavor travels deep into the hollow lunar interior, meeting the big-brained 'Grand Lunar'. He alarms the Selenites wiLh Laik of mankind's warlike nature, after which Cavor vanishes forever "into that silence which has no end".

For a scientific romance, The First Men On The Moon turns out surprisingly strong on science. Even frozen lunar air wasn't beyond the then-realms of possibility - possible lunar snow bad been reported in the 1890s. Wells's main oversight comes in proposing that the Moon's lower density means it must be hollow - we know today it is a legacy of its 'big splash' origin, when light terresLrial crust was shot skyward by a planetary collision.

Ultimately, though, the Edwardians would never have made it to the Moon; a computer is as essential as a rocket. Apollo spacecraft, headed for a Larget moving at lkm/s, had to steer not to where the Moon was, but where it was going to be. ©

Moon man

Mark Gatiss talks to Sky at Night Magazine about his production

My version starts at a village fête on the day of the 1969 Moon landing, when a little boy gets lost and ends up in a tent where a very old man Is showing kinematograph movies and saying "those chaps on Apollo won't be the First men on the Moon - I was the first. In fact I was the first man in the Moon]" and then flashes back to tell his tale.

I've always loved the book and the 1960s movie; that's a neglected work too - Ray Harryhausen is better remembered for films like Jason And The Argonauts or Sinbad. In Moon terms, those making the 1960s movie felt an obligation to keep things close to what was known from the Space Race, but what I'm much keener to do is put Wells's original ideas on screen So it looks like the Moon we know, except it's covered by what looks like snow that evaporates each sunrise to Form air. And rather than having Edwardian spacesuits, they're able to walk around like Captain Scott in the Antarctic, I thought it was better to go for Wells's concept of a habitable planetoid - we would hove done the lunar jungle too except we couldn't afford it. And yes, we do end up explaining why the Moon does not have an atmosphere any longer. Paradoxically, having less money gave us a greater chance to stick to the original story. Being on BBC Four instead of BBC One, there isn't the same pressure to make it mainstream. It's literary, but it is a scientific romance, full of wonderful images and quirky ideas.

I play Cavor, a part I've wanted all my life - a knîckerbocker part I call itl Our effects company Rushes has never had the chance to do monsters before so it gave us an extraordinary amount of work for our effects budget."

Get closer to Norway's Arctic sky at night on an INCREDIBLE HURTIGRUTEN ASTRONOMY VOYAGE

Thrilling snowmobile ride'

Why a HURTIGRUTEN voyage is the best way to explore Norway

Thrilling snowmobile ride'

Exhilarating Husky dog sledging'

Go in search of the Northern Lights this winter on a 10-night Hurtigruten Astronomy Voyage sailing north from Bergen to Kirkenes deep inside the Arctic circle before returning back to medieval Trondheim. This spectacular journey accompanied by our onboard astronomer Dr John Mason will bring the night sky to life with a series of engaging and enlightening lectures. Dr Mason will also be on hand to explain the brightest stars, visible constellations and the elusive but magnificent Aurora Borealis. You can also pre-book exciting winter excursions and activities to help you get closer to Norway, its culture, wildlife and people.

Call 0844 448 7630 quoting BBCSAN

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment