The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Beyond Apollo tells the story of Harry M. Evans, the thirty-eight-year-old sole survivor of an ill-fated, two-man mission to Venus. Confined at a government institution near the Kennedy Space Complex in Florida, Evans is interrogated by Dr. Claude Forrest, a neurologist. The government wants to find out why the mission to Venus was aborted by one or two of the astronauts and what happened to the captain, whose body is missing. Evans’ response is to tell a different story of the events every time he is questioned. In the absence of hard evidence, Evans’ changing testimony increasingly frustrates Forrest, who is not able to establish the truth by the end of the novel.

The various explanations of the mission’s failure make up a significant part of Evans’ first-person narrative. Evans offers a rich variety of possible scenarios, always with the same momentary belief in their truth. There are reports in which the captain, whom Evans alternately calls Joseph Jackson or Jack Josephson, may have committed suicide, tried to rape Evans, or tried to murder him. He also may have been murdered by Evans or had an accident that sent him out of the space capsule’s disposal hatch. The ejection of the captain’s corpse into space is a common theme in most of Evans’ versions, though in a few of them the captain became insubstantial and faded through the spaceship’s metal toward the Sun.

The most outlandish of Evans’ stories involves...

(The entire section is 513 words.)