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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

UFO Annual 1970
Polystyle Publications
Writer: Unknown


A flashback story to a time during the construction of Moonbase reveals attempts at sabotage.


Read the story at the SHADO: UK website




This is an 11-page short story that appeared in UFO Annual 1970.


Except for bookends taking part in "present day", this story flashes back to shortly after the founding of SHADO, when Moonbase was still under construction.




At the beginning of the story, Straker's omission of Colonel Foster when he lists the people who know the complete secrets of the setup of SHADO suggests that the "present day" bookends of the story take place some time before Foster's recruitment in "Exposed".




On page 37, Straker says only he, Freeman, General Henderson, and NASA astronaut Ralph Baxter know the complete secrets and setup of SHADO. NASA, of course, is the United States' official space agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.


Also on page 37, NASA astronaut Ralph Baxter is described peering through the transparent beaten gold visor of his space helmet. NASA space helmets actually do have a visor coated with a thin layer of gold to filter out the sun's harmful rays.


Baxter takes part in a survival test in the Moon Terrain Survival Simulator at the NASA Simulation Training Center. As far as I can tell, this is a fictional simulator and center. Page 41 goes on to suggest that the designers of the simulation have somehow managed to reproduce the sensation of moon walking quite well; is it related to the artificial gravity technology that is suggested to exist within Moonbase in "Training"? The current story also suggests that the computers in Moonbase have a means of controlling the station's gravity.


Page 38 features a photo that is presumably meant to represent Moonbase while it was under construction. The shot is actually of the Russian moon base that appears in "The Responsibility Seat".


Page 39 reveals that Baxter used to be an intelligence officer with NATO. NATO is the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a military alliance of most of the western world's democratic nations.


Also on page 39, Baxter uses the British idiom "that takes the biscuit". It seems unlikely he would use this expression since he's American, where the phrase is largely unknown. More likely, he would use "takes the cake", which has essentially the same meaning, i.e. an expression of incredulity.


Page 40 suggests that, at the time of this story, SHADO has only recently formed and the organizations, astronauts, and pilots were still being trained.


The photo on pages 40-41 is from "The Dalotek Affair".


Page 41 reveals that Moonbase is still under construction during this flashback story. SID is already in orbit around Earth, however.


On page 41, Straker states that there are several other installations on the moon besides Moonbase, such as NASA geological and mining stations and the Interstellar Lunar Observatory. In the real world, there are as yet no stations based on the moon.


On page 43, Straker reveals that a single company has built all of the current installations on the moon, including Moonbase. The company remains unnamed.


Freeman tells Baxter he has 16 hours until liftoff from Cape Kennedy. The NASA launch facility of Cape Canaveral, Florida was officially known as Cape Kennedy (as a memorial to the assassinated President John F. Kennedy) from December 1963 to October 1973. Before and after that time, it was known as Cape Canaveral, a name applied to the area by Spanish explorers in the 16th Century.


The photo on page 43 is from a scene in "Flight Path". The story here suggests that the gun in the picture is an atomizer, but in "Flight Path" it was more of a bazooka, as it required a new explosive shell to be loaded after each shot.


After sabotage induces a decompression and weightlessness incident in Baxter's Moonbase quarters, page 44 suggests that the computer finally restores normal moon gravity to the room. In "Training", it is suggested that the gravity inside Moonbase is somehow adjusted to something closer to Earth standard than the natural gravity of the moon; since Moonbase is still under construction at this point, it may be that the full technology for inducing Earth-level gravity has not yet been installed. 


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