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 Personal Story by longtime fan Steven Van Der Merwe:

Dear fellow Alphans

Wow, I couldn't believe my eyes when I came across the Space:1999 website for the first time last week. After all these years, having been a fanatical follower of the TV series many years ago as a child, and throughout my life thereafter, I finally discovered a group of like-minded people calling themselves "Alphans"! It felt like a homecoming. It isn't easy to explain, but I have a need to put the above into perspective, and I ask you to bear with me and have an open mind when you read my story.

The first Space:1999 series was aired on TV in South Africa, where I live, when I was about eight or nine years old, and I was hooked immediately. Not only did I fanatically follow Space:1999, I really took the idea of child-fantasy to the extreme and I BECAME some of the characters. Where other kids my age grew up and eventually outgrew their child fantasies, my personal Moonbase Alpha notion simply became stronger over time. Sometimes, even in my late teens, I would sit and daydream and sometimes even deeply BELIEVE in the future scenario "predicted" by the series: A moonbase WILL get built, and in September 1999 it WILL be blown off its course to start its inevitable and wonderful journey of discovery. Of course, this entire all-engulfing fantacy which I have nurtured for so many years wasn't socially very acceptable. The TV series came and went, and over time none of my family or friends could even remember it ever having been screened. To mention it eventually meant ridicule. I had to swallow my futuristic fantasy and kept it to myself, for so many years. Of course, you' ll have to also view this in the perspective of the very sad, turbulent and isolated times South Africa experienced politically during those years. (Thank god all that has changed!)

This entire personal saga is difficult to explain, but my personal Space:1999 fixation eventually approached religious proportions. And remember, all of this followed after I have experienced the TV series only once as a child, and never again thereafter. Never again did I see a single episode, and never again did I come across a single written word about the subject, for so many years that followed. (Even inquiries at our local TV station, which aired the series, proved fruitless).
Eventually, with adulthood in the nineties, came more balanced insight and more mature hindsight. Yes, the unnatural fixation which I developed for Space:1999, its story and its characters as a child, was unhealthy. But enormous good also came out of it. Today I am an avid amateur astronomer, I have a keen interest in all matters regarding space exploration, I have studied physics and computer science after high school, and later also a course in philosophy and journalism - and all of these were the direct result of a direction my life was steered into by one single event early in my life: The screening of Space:1999 on TV when I was young. For more than 20 years following the screening of Space:1999 on local TV, I never saw or heard anything related to the series again. Everything I remembered, what I knew and what I felt about experiencing Space:1999 existed only in my mind and in my memory. Never in all these years was I able to lay my hand on any video recording, article, photograph or book related to the Space:1999 phenomenon - and yet I so desperately wanted to obtain something tangible from this enigma from my childhood, because it had such a profound influence in my life. Yes, I've grown up, but the "soft spot" in my heart for Space:1999 live on to this day.

The above is but a brief description of a very personal collection of experiences and feelings over many years. But I hope it will help you to understand Why this series? Why wasn't my fantasy and fixation ever directed at any other series, movie or story? Deep down, every true Alphan knows the answer to this question: At the right age, at the right time in my life, when I first started to ponder in a child-like manner the questions of the meaning of life, and of man's place in the universe, Space:1999 came along, addressed some of these issues, and made a profoundly deep impression on me. The rest is history - a history of isolation for many years, mostly due to having grown up in what was at the time a politically isolated and socially outcast country, governed by a totalitarian regime. During those years I sometimes even started to think that there never was such an event as Space:1999 in my life. That the whole thing was a figment of my imagination when I was a child. And yet (if I my repeat) it had such a profound influence on my, so many years ago.

Last week, everything changed.

I recently became connected to the internet for the first time. And within a few days of starting to surf the millions of websites around the world, I stumbled, by chance (or is it?) upon the Space:1999 Cyber Museum website. With almost my entire life story above as background, can you imagine my shock, surprise, amazement? Good god, after all these years I suddenly discovered a society whose members call themselves Alphans, and I'm one of them!!! Talk about the lost son who came home! Well, there you have it: A newby pouring his heart out. Where to from here? Does anyone have any comments, suggestions, input? What does it mean to be an Alphan, apart from being "just another fan of just another sci-fi series"? Has anybody had any similar experiences to mine, almost bordering on the spiritual? Is there a deeper meaning to it all? Am I a crazy nutcase?

I'm desperately looking forward to making contact.

Breakaway Today!
Johannesburg, South Africa OR

PS: A last few points:
1.    As a by-the-way, I'm male, 32 years old and I live and work in Johannesburg (work full-time as motoring journalist, employed by a glossy monthly magazine). Apart from interests described above, I'm into scuba-diving.
2.    Mid-September 1999 is a matter of weeks away. This should obviously be a very special time for all dedicated Alphans. Is any special event being planned? I seem to remember some sort of significance attached to September the 13th - can anyone fill me in?
3.    Having read this far, you will understand how deeply desparate I am to get hold of the full collection of Space:1999 series (both) on VHS video cassette. (South Africa uses the PAL television format). Any pointers?

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