Thursday, August 27, 2009

Luna Park on the Moon

Transcribing these old pictures of mine brings back so many memories. This one is especially evocative, because it was inspired by one of the most vivid characters I was ever friends with. I will just call her R. I met R. through the science fiction fan community as well as Libertarian fandom. During the late 70s and early 80s I was on the fringes of the Libertarian community in Boston, which had strong connections with science fiction and Ayn Rand fans. This was due to the influence of the Russian expert and her husband and their friends. There is a "movement" of libertarianism in science fiction, especially that of Robert A. Heinlein, Jerry Pournelle, and L. Neil Smith. Even Ayn Rand can be considered a science fiction author of sorts. The movement isn't as popular now as it was then, with Reagan coming to power with a pseudo-libertarian message.

R., who was a professional jazz bass player and played in a swing band, was involved in all of these things. She was also wild about old-time amusement parks and roller coasters. And like my Russian expert friend with the Russian world, R. had built herself an imaginary world based on Robert Heinlein's lunar colonies in his book THE MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS. The lunar colony was a libertarian haven which made most of its money through tourism and entertainment. As she shared this world with me, I illustrated it. The picture you see above is a scene from her amusement park on the moon's surface, called simply "Luna Park." The corridors, game rooms, pneumatic coaster monorail, and other attractions are all pressurized with breathable atmosphere, and spacesuit-clad taggers have left graffiti on the outer surfaces of the structures.

R. and I visited amusement parks where I drew lots of sketches and she rode the roller coaster. I took notes on her Luna Park world and drew illustrations. She enjoyed role-playing in this world though the era of real role-playing games had only just begun. But R. was a musician and not a writer, so most of the verbal notes for this virtual place were mine and are somewhere in my archives.

In the mid-80s, R. decided to leave Boston and move to Southern California, where she hoped to break into the music business as a studio musician. After her move, I lost contact with her, though I heard through mutual acquaintances that she had not been successful as a musician and had to take other jobs. Many years later, I searched for her and found her phone number. There was some very brief contact, but no more. It turned out that R., who was Jewish though libertarian in religion as well, had "converted" to Orthodox Judaism, repudiated her old life as a science fiction fan, and was living in an ultra-orthodox community somewhere in Southern California.

This picture did not go to California with R. It was sold to some family patrons in New York City, and it may still be just where it was on the wall twenty years ago, in their Fifth Avenue apartment. No one there knows what inspired the picture and its setting.

"Luna Park" was painted in 1980, gouache on illustration board, 13" x 9".


Mary said...

This is infinitely awesome.

I was an Ayn Rand fan when I was about 16 (and am still embarrassed about it.) Getting a glimpse of my aunt's work as a nurse cured me of it -- "altruism is a terrible thing" "everyone should be self supporting" are fine ideas until you need someone to clean you up afer you soiled yourself, and we all get sick and or old eventually -- I still find it a very appealing fantasy world. If only the universe really did work the way it does in Ayn Rand novels, it would be wonderful! And in such a universe, where weakness is always a choice and no one who is willing to work hard ever needs to worry about being unable to work at all... In such a universe, Ayn Rand's ethical system would certainly be the best one.

Anyway, though, I love amusement parks and I love the moon and I love it when I am reminded that many of the banal pleasures of daily life -- getting off an airplane, shopping in a supermarket, exercising our free speech on the internet -- actually rest on towering human achievements. An amusement park on the moon evokes all of that perfectly...

emikk said...

An empyreal scene for sure.

Pyracantha said...

Thanks Mary and Emikk. I am an unapologetic Rand fan though like Mary I think that Rand is a science fiction writer who created an alternative universe for her philosophy.
I have often wanted to illustrate Rand and I may have discovered a way to put it into a black and white graphic novel style that I can experiment with, though not for publication due to copyright restrictions.