In Space: 1999 "Matter of Life and Death" they were planning to just move to that new planet, abandoning the Moonbase.

Yeah, but then what? What was the plan? Become farmers and go back to a pre‑tech life? Because they would have almost nothing except the few things they could bring along on an Eagle.

Is this simply a completely overlooked part of the story, or am I missing something?

  • 8
    “A few things on an Eagle”? I assume you’re engaging in hyperbole. The Exodus would have every Eagle on the base stuffed to the last cubic centimeter with stuff, in as many trips as could be squeezed out before the moon was out of range
    – Blaze
    Sep 5, 2021 at 17:43
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    @Blaze when evacuating before Katrina, we packed our minivan to the top, in case we never came back. You can pack an incredible amount of stuff in one of those when packed carefully. (Stow and Go seats are amazing.)
    – RonJohn
    Sep 6, 2021 at 7:56
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    Becoming farmers would beat becoming corpses - there are no more supplies from earth, they have a radioactive dump next door, and the prospects for long term survival probably do not look great even before Alphans are being decimated by the monster of the week. Sep 6, 2021 at 10:13

1 Answer 1


From a hard science perspective, an agrarian subsistence lifestyle isn't a "forever" trap, or at least, doesn't have to be. The key difference between "us" in the "now" and our distant agrarian ancestors is insight. We know about mathematics, physics, engineering, and all the artifacts we could make, from plows to looms to cars, airplanes, and computers. Without the insight we now have, our ancestors had to learn and discover, proceeding in small incremental steps without really understanding where those steps could or would ultimately lead. Knowing what our modern world looks like, and knowing how it works, the process our ancestors followed could largely be "short-circuited". Obviously, technology would have to be built up - you'd have to do some "re-learning" of techniques so you could make ceramics, steel, and glass before moving on to building steam engines and electric generators, refining fuels and making plastics, growing crystals and making computer chips. But, knowing the road map makes it faster and easier to get to your destination.

All this is to say that having unlimited resources to sustain life doesn't lock you into a primitive lifestyle, assuming there are also resources to feed a technological evolution. I would think that it was not an overlooked aspect of the story so much as an aspect that didn't require exposition.

  • 1
    do you mean "limited" in the first sentence of your last paragraph?
    – Ben Bolker
    Sep 5, 2021 at 21:07
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    @BenBolker No, I mean unlimited, as described in the story synopsis on the wikipedia page linked in the OP's question. I think the point is that the crew of Moonbase Alpha could grow all food they could ever want or need - the planet imposed no practical limitations. They would only be limited by their own labors.
    – Anthony X
    Sep 5, 2021 at 21:33
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    Depends how much knowledge you had. I know all about electric cars, jet engines, nuclear reactors - but not enough to actually build one (plus all the required infrastructure!). Steam engines would be an easily-understandable stepping stone that I could personally achieve, allowing others to make improvements with those other technologies in mind, until we arrived there which would still be "ahead of schedule" relative to not knowing about them.
    – flith
    Sep 6, 2021 at 7:38
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    @Valorum I'm not so sure about that - skipping steam engines, where would you go instead? electrical engines or internal combustion I guess? Those require much better materials and/or precision manufactoring than steam engines. So at the very least, you'd want steam engines as convenient "Machine-to-make-the-machine" helping you excavate coal, transport ores, and generally power machines that refine metals or create parts. With those parts maybe you can then build the next step, but going from "smithy with a hammer" to "electrical engine" would be harder than the steam stepstone.
    – Syndic
    Sep 6, 2021 at 9:08
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    @Syndic - Let's see what our friends on Worldbuilding:SE think; Do they skip the steam engine?
    – Valorum
    Sep 6, 2021 at 11:56

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