Pictures in the Navigating Screen
To REACH THE navigation centre, Anouxia took John once more to the elevator; this time they floated upwards for some distance, then emerged into a large room set about with banks of complex instruments on the walls and on control desks around the periphery of the room.
The centre of the room was occupied by a big horseshoe-shaped desk, about three feet high - 0,9m- and about two feet six inches-0,75m- wide; the inside diameter of the horseshoe was about nine feet-2,8m. A chair was fixed in the centre of the concave side, and another opposite to it; other chairs were provided for other parts of the great table. Some of these other chairs were occupied by silver-clad persons.
Anouxia went to the chair in the centre of the concave side, and indicated that John should sit opposite to him. The desk surface was divided into two equal contrasting zones: to Anouxia's right hand, the entire surface of the desk was crammed with instruments, knobs, switches and little coloured lights; John said it was so crowded, you could hardly have got another one in: to his left hand, the desk surface was black, smooth, bare and featureless (uten særpreg).
Indicating the desk, and the room as a whole, Anouxia said: "This is for navigation". (I note with some satisfaction that the Janos people do not use made-up 'space' words, such as 'astrogation', beloved of some science fiction writers; when speaking English, and presumably translating from their own idiom, their terminology is derived mainly from the language of the sea. The very craft in which they live and travel is, to them, a 'ship' - much less frequently, a 'spaceship'. When Anouxia first welcomed our family aboard, he said: "Welcome to our ship". Nothing more clearly indicates the original maritime nature of the Janos people; we had many occasions to note their passion for anything to do with water and with craft that sail on water. A flying saucer is, to its makers and crew, a ship, not an aeroplane.)
John, unfortunately, has never quite recovered his full, detailed memory of sound, including speech, during this part of the incident; though he did eventually, after some hard work and persistence on the part of the hypnotist, recover enough speech-memory to get the main substance of the story, with some important verbatim passages. This may be partly why one tends to get the impression that Anouxia's English speech is less fluent (flytende) and less idiomatic than that of Uxiaulia; though it would be reasonable to expect some individual variation in aptitude for languages.
John therefore missed quite a lot of the sound-track, as it were, of this first section, in which Anouxia tried to explain to him the operation of the complex control system. Anouxia kept on pressing buttons and turning knobs; and little coloured lights would light up: but without the speech, John does not really know what it was all about. It seems, moreover, that he did not understand at the time, that is not merely that he does not remember understanding; for there were other passages in which he knows that he heard and understood at the time, but does not yet remember what was said. John does remember that Anouxia, on this occasion, realised that he was not taking it in, and repeated the whole demonstration.
It should be remembered that John, while an intelligent man and skilled in his occupation(yrke), does not have the specialised training which might have made some sense of the button-pressing; without it, and without most of the speech-memory of this part of the incident, a full understanding is hardly to be expected. I suspect that his difficulty in remembering speech in this highly technical section is caused by his lack of understanding.
It may be, too, that scientific principles were involved which would be unfamiliar, even to a scientist; though in general, we find that we are able to understand the basic science behind what the Janos people are able to do: where we cannot follow is in their technology; how they do it. When it comes to their apparently complete control of gravitation and inertial mass, we cannot even follow the basic science.
John does remember, at this point, that he asked Anouxia:
"Where do you come from?" - and Anouxia answered: "I will show you".
They moved over to the blank half of the navigating table, and at once a large rectangular area within the smooth table-top lit up as a screen; there was room for a second screen beyond it, John says. At first he could see nothing but a uniform blue background, which gradually darkened as various planets began to appear on it.
At first he saw what he called under hypnosis "a large round like a ball, with curved ridges on it. Like mountain ranges on it. About six inches -15cm-across. Brown with a golden tinge (skjær) to it". (By "six inches across" he means the actual size of the image, on a screen of about 42 by 27 inches -107x69cm.)
Next he saw a picture of the Earth from space; he recognised the shape of Africa, and Anouxia said the word "Earth". An oddity (særhet) of the pictures of planets which he saw in the screen, is that they show no cloud-pattern, even where one is present at all times; one could not photograph Earth from space without recording the characteristic delicate fleecy veil of white clouds; and Janos, seen later, likewise had no clouds: it may be that the photo-technology employed was such that it did not show clouds, so that the planetary surface was sharp and clear; this would be an advantage in their accustomed task of planet survey. John is convinced that it really was the Earth, and not a model.
The picture of the Earth was followed by one of the Moon with its characteristic markings and craters, which he knew from pictures in books. Next, a brown planet with markings on it, which he did not know, but from his description it could have been Mars. Then a whole series of planets of many kinds, mostly golden-brown in colour where the sunlight caught them, went streaming slowly by; these were all unfamiliar. Once there was a large brown planet with crater-like markings; it looked like a half-moon, the sunward edge brightening to a golden hue.
Next, he saw the curved edge of a planet quite near; and looking beyond it, he could see a small planet or satellite much further away. John says that the '3-D' effect of the screen was very pronounced; he was very conscious of the nearness of the one planet, compared with the more distant one. All the films shown to our witnesses had this enhanced stereo quality; and they remarked more than once on the extremely real and life-like quality of the pictures, so that, as he put it, you felt that you were actually present, and not just watching a film. He was unaware of anything outside the rectangular boundaries of the screen area, and unaware, in the later sequences, that it had boundaries. Leaning forward and looking into the large horizontal screen, he was right there in space, experiencing for himself.
Then there was a very large pinky-red planet, which filled the screen so that the top and bottom edges were cut off; but he had a sense that it was very far away. He said it wasnt because it was near that it seemed so big. (This may have been something he was told; John's memory of speech over this section is still patchy.) He said that the pinky colour was variegated by hundreds and hundreds of vague smudgy squiggles of a colour still pink, but a deeper pink. As he watched the great pink globe, the camera viewpoint swung slowly round it, as if the craft carrying the camera were orbiting, for about half an orbit. Because of its great size, and his sense that it was far away, I have wondered whether this was not a planet at all, but a cool star - a 'red giant'. The 'squiggles' could well be a variant on the granular structure of our own Sun's photosphere.
All the planet-images that he saw behaved in the same way: the planet would appear abruptly, somewhere on the screen, not always centred, and then very slowly drift to the right, becoming smaller and smaller, giving the feeling that it receded, until it moved off the right-hand margin of the screen. John said he had a feeling it wasn't the planets that were moving; it was he who was moving past them (notice again the sense of subjective, rather than vicarious experience).
In this connection, he felt at one point that the whole part of the film that showed planets was being shown in reverse; perhaps he was told this. If this was so, Earth came at the end of the story, not at the beginning. The identity of the ridged (fjell/dalfylt) planet he saw before the Earth was never revealed to us. One should remember, throughout this pictures-in-the- screen sequence, that he was seeing the pictures upside-down compared with Anouxias view of them, since they were on opposite sides of the table. With these 'space' pictures of planets, it probably did not matter which way up you viewed them; but later, when normal views replaced the space pictures, John was seeing them right way up, so the film was evidently presented correctly to his view.
Next there was a golden-coloured planet, with vague darker brownish shapes upon it, arranged as it might be continents on the Earth; but the boundaries were fuzzy and indistinct. It seemed to him about the size of a golf ball. Grouped around the planet were five smaller bodies, round in shape; John said of them: "They're much brighter - more of a white or silver colour. And they're more the size of a sixpenny piece to a shilling piece." This would be from five-eighths of an inch to nearly an inch - 16 to 24 millimetres.
The whole group, as usual, drifted across to his right, receding; but apart from this they kept their orientation and arrangement steady, except that at one point, quite suddenly, the whole group rotated through an angle, anti-clockwise; then stopped again: presumably somebody had adjusted the camera.
The screen had been gradually darkening; by now it was really a very deep blue; in the background he could see many stars - pinpoints of brilliant silvery light, which did not twinkle; of course in outer space stars do not twinkle - this is an effect of the Earth's atmosphere. John did remark that the stars seemed more stationary, compared with the planets which drifted across the screen; he said, carefully: "If they're moving, they're a lot slower".
Later, a cluster of many objects drifted past; these were not round, but irregular, craggy shapes, somewhat elongated: the long axes of all of them were parallel to each other, and also parallel to the apparent line of drift, suggesting a real movement, as distinct from a camera displacement. Some of the bodies were clearly nearer than others. They were brown in colour, with golden edges to them, where light caught them from one direction; there must have been a star near enough to illuminate them. Anouxia said: "These are too small to live on"; indeed, so much can be deduced from their non-spherical shape: a planet large enough to retain an atmosphere must be nearly spherical.
Many of our asteroids in the Solar System have this irregular, craggy appearance; they are not massive enough to crush themselves into a ball by their own gravitation, and certainly not big enough to hold an atmosphere which could support life. Most probably, these craggy shapes that John saw were, like our asteroids, fragments of a broken planet. This would account for their travelling in company.
One must remember that the Janos people were all the time looking at planets, not just to satisfy their scientific curiosity, but as possible homes. These pictures were probably taken at different times during their voyages of exploration through space, looking for a place to live when the time came for them to leave Janos.
A flight of asteroids or planetary fragments, seen by John in a film
Finally, they came to a picture of Janos and its two moons. There was a group of three bodies, forming a loose triangle on the screen: they appeared to be much the same size; but in fact, from what we know from other parts of the story, this must have been a picture taken when, by chance, the two little moons and the planet were almost lined up - otherwise they could not have been seen together in one picture with almost equal apparent sizes.
Clearly the camera was beyond the outer moon (which we think is called Sarnia - pronounced Zarnia but spelt with an initial S, like Saton, the inner moon), and looking inwards past Sarnia and Saton to the planet Janos in the background. No other interpretation of the picture is gravitationally feasible. It follows that the outer moon is smaller than the inner moon Saton, since they appeared the same size, but the outer moon was nearer the camera.
(On one occasion, Uxiaulia remarked to Frances, speaking of Saton, "we could see it from the ground". The name Sarnia was referred to several times by Uxiaulia in the same context; he gestured upward while saying it. Frances was not quite sure what he was referring to, except that it was a heavenly body of some kind; it could have been the name of their Sun, but from the way he spoke of it, it seems more likely to be the name of the outer moon, for which we have no other name.)
Anouxia put his silver-gloved finger on the image of Janos, saying: "This was my people's home". Then he pointed to the inner moon, saying: "This one was too close". Saton was, indeed, too close to the planet for stability; the story has been told in the Prologue of this book. That Saton was too close to Janos was, in fact, the main cause of the disaster which destroyed the Janos people's planetary home.
The planet Janos, as John saw it in this, and later in closer views, was a greeny-brown colour, varied with patches of blue; these blue areas were water. There are many lakes, and some large areas of sea or ocean. This was the only planet other than Earth, among the many that John saw, that appeared to have water on it. The two moons were the usual golden-brown. He saw no white areas on Janos, indicating snow or ice, at any time; Uxiaulia told Frances: "On Janos it was always warm".
The film now cut to a much closer view of Janos, so that it more than filled the screen; but part of the curved edge could be seen. It appeared to be turning very slowly from left to right; but the probability is that the effect was produced by the orbiting of the spacecraft which carried the camera. Indeed the view of the planetary surface gradually came nearer as it apparently turned, indicating that the craft was spiralling in from space towards the surface.
The seas and lakes could now be clearly seen. There were low hills, but nothing spectacular in the way of mountains. In this view of the planet, filmed before the catastrophe, John had an impression of greeny-brown areas which looked fertile (fruktbart); but it was too far to make out detail. Later, he said that some of the green areas - it was a dark bottle-green - did have the look of forests seen from a great height.
There was another abrupt cut in the film, to a much lower altitude: it is a pity that he has not fully recovered memory of what was said to him by way of explanation; he has a feeling that something was being explained at this point, but cannot recall it. When he first described this scene under regressive hypnosis, we did not yet know about the rockfall; we later deduced that the film sequences from this cut onwards were all taken after the catastrophe.
As the camera-bearing craft spiralled in, the ground detail became plainer. The apparent or false continuity, which seemed to bridge the cut, making a seeming transition from one spiralling-in scene, before rockfall, to another spiralling-in scene, after rockfall, confused and misled us for a time; if we had had the full verbal explanation, we would have understood sooner what was happening.
The new, much closer scene made John remark that the land areas seemed covered with thousands of tiny bumps(ujevnheter), of a greeny-brown colour. He was still at a great altitude; as the camera came gradually lower, he began to realise that the land surfaces were covered with a dense layer of great rocks, which had appeared tiny because of distance.
Now he was near enough to have seen forests, towns and cities; but there was nothing but the endless dry sea of loose rocks. Not then knowing of Saton's breakup, I tried to understand how such a weird planetary surface could have developed; I could not understand how millions of loose rocks, piled in a completely disorderly way, could come to cover a planetary surface. Later, of course, it was at once clear; had I been thinking more quickly, I would have made the mental jump in one go, from "this one was too close" to the rock-strewn landscape. It was not until Frances, in my presence, on a later occasion under hypnotic regression, re-lived her viewing of the film which, from the ground, showed great rocks falling from the sky, that the 'penny dropped'. 'This one', meaning Saton, was indeed too close.
The blue areas of sea and lake were still there: rocks must have fallen equally over water and land; but in water, beyond making a lot of tremendous splashes, they would have sunk without permanently altering the appearance of the seas and lakes, except perhaps at the coastline. John, under hypnosis, was clearly puzzled by the juxtaposition of what he thought of as a 'desert' landscape with large areas of water - though this does occur on parts of the Atlantic coast of Africa, where, in some regions, desert rock and sand go right down to the ocean beach.
In one place, when the camera view was becoming really low, John said he could see, on the margin of a lake, some reeds or similar vegetation; but they seemed dead and brown. Nowhere did he see any trace of civilisation: no towns, large buildings, roads or railways, or any sign of habitation; and, as he passed over the dark side of the planet, no glimmer even of artificial light. We all felt a keen sense of disappointment; we did not know, at that stage of the investigation, that he was looking at a world that had been very much alive, but had been crushed out of all recognition by the battering of the rockfall.
Finally, the camera-view of John's present story came so near the ground that he felt the sensation familiar to all of us when coming in to land at an airport: just before touchdown, the ground seems to be hurtling past at tremendous speed, though the craft is now travelling more slowly than at any time in the flight.
John's camera viewpoint came to a stop, perhaps three hundred feet above the ground. The view was directly downwards, into an untidy jumble of greeny-brown rocks - the occasional big one, but mostly small, including a lot of shattered fragments; he could see a fair amount of heavy, gritty dust, no doubt the result of big rocks falling upon earlier-fallen rocks, and smashing and pulverising them -though there is another, more sinister (lumsk) explanation for the dust.
The greenish tinge on the rocks is a bit puzzling: it could, of course, be inorganic; but this part of the picture from other, internal evidence, was probably filmed as late as several months to a year after the end of rockfall, not long before the fleet left for Earth; and it is possible that simple forms of aquatic life in the deeper waters could have survived the radiation holocaust, and were beginning to film over the rocks with unicellular forms of life: rain would wash the rocky surfaces clean of radioactivity after a time. Eventually, no doubt, life, perhaps a much-mutated life, will return to the land on Janos; but it will be a very long time before people will be able to live there safely - perhaps hundreds of thousands of years.
As he watched the film, John was startled to see movement in the centre of the patch of rocky wilderness that the camera covered, looking straight down. There was a slow stirring among the rocks almost as if something big were pushing up from below. The rocks and debris heaped up into a restless mound; and then the bigger pieces began to slide, roll and tumble slowly outwards, away from the centre of disturbance.
Listening to John's puzzled description, in deep trance in the hypnotist's consulting room, was an eerie experience: what new surprise was this devastated world going to spring on us? People under hypnotic regression are apt to talk very quietly, making problems for the microphone and tape recorder; in this passage, his voice becomes unusually faint and indistinct, as if he were far away. I am putting together this account from what he had told me on various subsequent occasions, as his amnesia slowly dissolved and memory came back, first the vision and later the sound - and speech later still.
The rocks seemed to burst asunder (i stykker) in slow motion; and a round, smooth object appeared, made of some shiny dark metal. As it rose steadily out of the ground, the rocks and debris slid away from its smooth domed back, then cascaded off its outer curve, rolling and falling, all in slow motion. The 'slow-motion' appearance is significant; objects fall slowly in a weak gravitational field: we will come to this in a moment.
The whole body of the newcomer now rose clear of the surface, floating above the irregular ground. All the remaining debris slid off it, leaving it clean - and with not a mark or a scratch upon its gleaming surface. In shape, seen as a whole, it was oval rather than circular, with a low domed roof - rather like a spoon seen from the under side. Where the handle of the spoon would be, instead of one long central prolongation, there was a pair of short stout cylinders, parallel to each other, not quite touching.
The craft - for such it proved to be - began to move, at first slowly, then with smoothly increasing speed; the cylinders were in the rear, and they may well have been engines of propulsion, though there was nothing to show how they worked, or by what principle. The craft glided over the surface, picking up speed; it did not rise at all high, but kept well clear of the rocks below.
As it accelerated, it would soon have gone out of the vertical field of view; but the camera swung to follow it, and John had a rear view of the twin cylinders, which were open at the ends.
He found himself, or rather the camera - gave him the illusion of being, actually within the oval craft, as it sped over the rock-strewn landscape. His point of view was that of the driver of a car; he was looking through a windscreen, and could see the 'bonnet', as it were, projecting forward below the glass, and curving smoothly away downwards. Somehow he had not noticed anything corresponding to a windscreen when he saw the craft as a whole from above; but he never saw it from in front.
The craft was now moving fast; and suddenly he noticed that it was approaching a very large and curiously-shaped wide tunnel-mouth: the actual entrance to the tunnel was not just a hole, but a well-constructed piece of engineering. It probably showed some signs of damage; but John did not mention any.
The shape of the opening, and of the tunnel section within, was a flattened diamond with rounded corners: the middle of the roof was gently rounded, then on each side it descended in a sloping line towards the widest part, midway between roof and floor. The line swept round in a fairly tight curve, continuing as a line sloping inwards towards the middle of the floor. In its lowest part, the surface of the floor of the tunnel was flattened to form a roadway, instead of being curved to mirror the curve of the highest part of the roof. A difficult shape to describe; but I have provided a diagram.
The oval craft entered the tunnel at some speed; and John noticed that the tunnel section was a great deal larger than was needed to allow passage to this particular vehicle. Clearly it was designed to take a much larger craft, of a peculiar shape: it did not occur to him to think of a flying saucer, airborne, like the ship he was watching the film in.
Picture: section through one of the great tunnels which lead down to the underground shipyards. Profile of the ship - similar to the one visited - is also drawn. Lower left is the profile of a doble-decker londonbus for the comparison of the size. Right the backprofile of the floatvehicle he saw on the same film.
THE TUNNEL SLOPED down into the ground fairly steeply: for a time it was straight, and the oval craft, in which John was vicariously "travelling", accelerated until the walls simply flashed past. There was enough light to see where you were going; John's feeling was that the vehicle itself carried headlights.
Presently, the line of the tunnel began to swing sideways, in long smooth curves, left, right, left, right. Each time the tunnel curved to the left, the craft or vehicle rode up the slope to the right, until it was well up towards the right-hand margin of the tunnel; when the tunnel swung right, the vehicle rode up the left-hand slope.
At no time did the vehicle touch the ground, not even when eventually it reached its destination and stopped. We do not know the principle which enables these vehicles to float above the surface, while not being actually aircraft; it is tempting to think of the hover principle, but a hovercraft over the very dusty surface of the planet would surely have blown up a great cloud of dust, and this did not.
Since the ability to control gravitation, and make things or people float up or down, is a known part of the Janos technical repertoire, one need not look further for an explanation, even though we do not yet know how it works.
Soon the vehicle was travelling really fast; the tunnel continued to slope down, and by this stage it must have been a long way below the surface. John became conscious of a whirring noise.
Presently it slowed, and eventually came to a halt, still floating. John found himself (under hypnosis he was half convinced that he was actually there) at the entrance to a vast, gloomy cavern, the roof of which, almost lost in the darkness above, was supported by many massive columns, cylindrical in shape, hewn out of the solid rock. The top of each column expanded, trumpet-like, to meet the roof.
At first he reported that he was in complete darkness; then as his eyes became accustomed to the gloom, he began to make out something of his surroundings. He said the place was dirty; there was a lot of gritty dust on the floor. He became aware of a group of half-a-dozen people who shuffled slowly and wearily towards the front of the vehicle, coming from the left. They were carrying something between them - something long and heavy; as the group moved into the lighted area in front of the vehicle, he saw that it was a crudely-fashioned wooden coffin. It was not shaped like ours; just a box.
The people - he could not tell if they were men or women, and it scarcely seemed to matter - seemed not far from death themselves. They shuffled along slowly, in a dejected way, "as if they had given up" he said. Accustomed to the gleaming silver uniforms of the spaceship crew, he found their clothing strange - yet strangely familiar. They were like monks; a monk's long-skirted habit, black, with a deep cowl or hood over the head, half-concealing the face.
It was a merciful concealment. As they came fully into the vehicle's headlights, John could see their faces. He is a sensitive person; and under deep hypnotic trance it really upset him badly, the first time he saw them. At first he said they were "old"; but this could not account for his horror: old people are not frightening in that kind of way. Then he corrected himself, saying they "look old"; they were prematurely aged. (Remember that at this stage, we did not know about the radiation sickness; this was the first hint we had of it.)
When Frances saw the same kind of people in another film, in other circumstances, she also reacted in the same way - a mixture of pity and revulsion, with compassion very strong in Frances. She called them 'Oxfam people'; she said they were 'like lepers'.
The faces looked dead; the eyes were dim, or in one or two, had gone altogether, leaving them blind and groping. Their teeth were all gone, leaving the cheeks sunken in. The hair, originally fair, was limp, lifeless and straggly, like damp straw, where it showed beyond the cowl. The fingers were deformed, swollen and claw-like, with big lumps on the knuckles; though clearly they could still carry a load. No one went out from the vehicle to help them.
The bearers and their load passed under the front of the floating vehicle, and John lost sight of them. Presently, they reappeared without their burden, returning quietly to the shadows whence they came; but separately, not as a group. From what we learned later, we realised that they had loaded their dead into the lower freight hold of the vehicle; and that this was a routine visit, to collect the corpses and take them away for disposal. They were like living corpses themselves; and unspeakably sad and forlorn.
John had always had a tendency to forget he was merely watching a film; under hypnosis he kept talking as if he were actually present at a real event; the vivid realism of the pictures helped the illusion. At this point, he had a moment of illogical panic, thinking he was going to be left there, deep underground with these horrible people, and never get out again.
Presently, to his relief, the vehicle began to move again, at first slowly, then gaining speed. It returned by way of the same tunnel to the surface and daylight; emerging from the tunnel mouth, it sped across the rock-strewn surface. Another film cut transferred his viewpoint back into the spacecraft overhead, so that he was once more looking down from a low altitude. The craft below went out of the picture; and the film ended.
I have told, in the Prologue, how many people, caught by the unexpectedly early beginning of rockfall, had made for the tunnels, if they were near enough, and had made their way - it must have been a long way - to the shipyards deep underground, where they expected to find safety and supplies.
But their death certificates were signed, from the moment, seen by Frances, when the first nuclear power station exploded, triggering off all the others, right round the planet, in a giant chain reaction. They had a matter of months to live, at most. Nothing could be done for them. The people in the ships safety in orbit did not know what had happened to them, or even if there were any survivors - certainly there would be none on the surface.
When they knew the truth, when the rescue ships came, lifting heavy rocks to clear the choked tunnel-mouths, the ship people suffered a deep psychological trauma, which leaves its scars to this day. They could not help the dying people, beyond organising as best they could for their relief, without themselves running the risk of picking up radioactive contamination which might spread to the ships in orbit.
Someone, in a thoughtful moment, devised the monk's clothing, to give them better protection against the lethal dust; perhaps they did it themselves. Our witnesses were told that this was not their normal clothing, but a special garment designed to keep the dust off them; it was much later that Frances recalled the film of the happy, carefree times before the disaster, which has given us our only glimpse of normal private life on the old Janos.
We have wondered sometimes why, knowing that the doomed people underground faced a certain but lingering death, they did not give them a merciful (barmhjertig) euthanasia (dødshjelp/barmhjertighetsdrap), rather than let each individual life drag out its slow and inevitable end. One can only imagine that the idea of mercy killing is just not in the Janos people's philosophy.
* * *
We must look, before we leave this terribly sad episode, at a technical problem: how did the oval craft manage to force its way up from below, through a deep layer of rocks, some of them probably weighing thousands of tons, without showing so much as a mark or a scratch upon its darkly-gleaming polished metal body?
One must assume that it was engaged on the task of clearing a choked tunnel-mouth, coming at the job from below, having entered the tunnel system by another route. The entrance that John went in by was already cleared; perhaps it had been more lightly obstructed, for John had the impression that it ran into something of a hillside, where the rocks might not have accumulated - though he saw, in the later part of the film, no part of the land surface which was not rock-covered. Even a small moon, broken into fragments, will yield an astonishing quantity of rocks.
The clue, as to how these enormously heavy rocks were lifted by a vehicle of no stronger construction than an ordinary bus, lay in John's impression that the whole business of the emergence of the vehicle from below took place in slow motion. As I have already said, a heavy body will fall slowly in a weak gravitational field: we know, from many demonstrations, that the Janos people are able to control gravitation and therefore weight; their own ships and vehicles 'float', and John and his family were themselves floated up into the spaceship and back down to the ground when they left - and we learned that the ship's own elevators work on the same principle; they have no cage - you simply step into the lift shaft through a doorway and float slowly up or down.
I think that what the oval vehicle did was to create around itself a zone of feeble gravitation. The vehicle itself was given a slight lift - a very weak negative gravitational field. Theoretical physicists will, I am sure, inform me that negative gravitation is an impossibility; all I can say is, that through John's eyes and excellent visual memory, saw it happen.
We know that these zones of controlled, even reversed gravitation are closely defined; when the family were on the road by their car, ready to go up into the spaceship, Frances remarked that she did not begin to feel the lifting sensation in her body until the beam of light, which at first fell as a bright circle on the ground in front of them, moved back until the group of people were within its illumination. Either the projector was adjusted, or more probably the ship moved as a whole, just a few feet.
Whether the light beam had any functional connection with the 'anti-grav' principle I do not know; it may have been merely a marker. Other cases have been reported of people floating up a beam of light. At least one of the ship's elevators was at times associated with a vertical beam of light; though when John used one to visit the engine room and the bridge, its interior was almost totally dark. If we are right in concluding, as we did later, that the same elevator was used on both occasions, then it is sometimes light and sometimes dark, for a reason we have missed.
Returning to the vehicle which came up through the rocks: there must also have been some force which prevented dust and debris from adhering to its upper surface; John described it, as soon as it emerged, as clean and smooth, with a gleaming, polished surface of a dark colour. An electrical repulsion field may have been employed.
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