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31 Responses to “The Chariot from Lost in Space: an appreciation”

  1. jaytkay says:

    …later went on to produce solid rocket boosters for the Space Shuttle…

    Specifically the boosters which blew the Challenger out of the sky.

  2. I suppose it is ironic that the one thing you can never be in space is lost. You can be stranded easily enough but given propulsion, life support and a cheap telescope you can always find your way home.

    • Punchcard says:

      I have life support, cheap telescope and a tank full of gas I find it pretty easy to get lost here on earth.

      • Thats because you can’t see where you are going here in Earth. IIRC the Jupiter 2 was supposed to go to Alpha Centauri. That is the closest star to Earth and literally the easiest thing to find in the sky. There is nothing between here and there and no place to get lost.

        • Antinous / Moderator says:

          Are you daft?  Their navigation and propulsion systems were damaged, and they headed off in an unknown direction in some kind of hyperdrive state.  And even in the episodes where they had figured out where Earth was, they didn’t have enough deutronium to get there because Dr. Smith had traded it for an all you can eat buffet.

      • jaytkay says:

        I have life support, cheap telescope and a tank full of gas and we’re wearing sunglasses at night.

        Hit it.

      • Jake0748 says:

         It’s a hundred and six miles to Chicago, we have a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark, and we’re wearing sunglasses.

    • tyger11 says:

       It’s definitely time for a remake of that. Or maybe The Transporter can drive it in the next movie (or in the cool new tv show).

    • Roger Zelazny’s original novella doesn’t give much detail about the overall shape or details of Hell Tanner’s vehicle.  (List of weaponry and munitions, yes.)  But my mental image of the beast has always been that of Jack Gaughan’s illustrations for the story’s original appearance in GALAXY magazine.  As I recall (it’s been a l-o-n-g-g-g time…) Gaughan drew Tanner’s vehicle as a stretched-out half-domed shape, close to the ground, to help keep from being flipped over and around by the high-velocity crap-storms and tornadoes that were a frequent hazard in Zelazny’s blasted landscape.  Shaped, come to think of it, kinda like (irony alert!) a cockroach.

      (Gaughan’s work seems to be largely forgotten today.  A lot of his painted covers for paperbacks weren’t that impressive, but I still remember a lot of the outstanding pen-and-ink illustrations he did for SF magazine stories.  “Damnation Alley”, “The Last Castle”, “The Dragon Masters”, “Golden Quicksand”, and many, many others.  A retrospective collection would be a nice thing to see someday.)

      • Halloween_Jack says:

        The story of Damnation Alley and the Landmaster was pretty fascinating; for one thing, it was supposed to be the big science fiction film of 1977. So much of the film’s budget was blown on the Landmaster that the rest of the film ended up looking really cheesy. (If you haven’t done so already, read Walter Jon Williams’ Hardwired, which was written as a tribute to Zelazny’s original book.)

    • FoolishOwl says:

      I clicked on that, hoping it was a reference to a show I remember from childhood, in the late 1970s. It had a vehicle that looked vaguely like that. That wasn’t it, though.

      Actually, I finally found a link to it just now (after looking, now and again, for years!): Ark II.

  3. eknirb says:

    HOW did they get that inside the Jupiter 2.

  4. Stefan Jones says:

    I’m going to really geek out on y’all.

    Now, I’m not really much of a Lost in Space fan. I watched it faithfully during its first run — I’m that old — but watching a few episodes on Hulu reminded me how juvenile it was.

    However, my rocketry club buddy Jack Hagerty did a great book at TV & movie flying saucers (“The Saucer Fleet”), and the chapter on Lost in Space was fascinating and comprehensive. He went into the whole “where did the store the Chariot?” question, and also the “where did they store the lander” question, and how the hell did they fit in an engine deck shown in one episode. (That bothered me as a kid . . .)

    The scenes with the “Chariot” never featured Doctor Smith or the robot. Why? Because the Chariot was only used in the B&W pilot episode that was made before the robot and Smith characters were conceived of!

    The pilot footage was eventually use in the show. When severe cold threatened the ship, the Robinsons headed off in the Chariot to warmer climes. Doctor Smith and the robot stayed behind.

  5. mack says:

    My mom (science fiction/”trans-genred” writer Kit Reed) sat me down in front of the premiere when I was 5, and it marked me for life in the best possible way. 

    I stayed out there with the Robinsons every single episode, thinking that someday they would be brought back home, and learned about what it is to be a sarcastic robot, an evil meddling stowaway, a wide-eyed kid, but most of all, a space traveler.

    Looking back, the show was cheesy, campy, childish, weak FX – but that’s from the distance that almost 5 decades of genre and moviemaking evolution has given us. At the time, it was the most wondrous, marvelous world I had ever visited, and I never wanted to leave.

    I still keep two little toys of the Space Pod and the Chariot (issued in 1995 by Johnny Lightning) near my desk.

    I fucking loved the Chariot, and it was the biggest disappointment that the movie reboot – which had a thrilling first half – completely fell apart by act III.

  6. Peter Green says:

    I have the Moebius plastic model kit of the Chariot. I keep putting off building it because I’d really like to motorise it with proper tracks and an RC system but that’s somewhat outside my skill level.

  7. 50 years later and we are still not even close.

  8. Scott Elyard says:

    Kind of reminds me of a baby Jawa Sandcrawler.  (Other than that, it would make a killer Microman vehicle.)

  9. James Penrose says:

    The problem was the pilot.  He made Capt. “Wrong Way” Peachfuzz in Rocky & Bullwinkle look like a bloodhound on a fresh scent with his skills.

    This line burned itself into my tiny little mind when I watched this back in the 60′s:

    “I’ll get a navigation fix from Neptune and the Andromeda galaxy and see if I can determine where we are.”  Rather ignoring the fact that if you can *see* Neptune but are still lost, you probably can’t find the front door while on your own front porch.

    One hopes the writers were having a laugh at our expense but I fear those where the only names for things in space they could come up with.

  10. FoolishOwl says:

    I watched the video and kept expecting a thresher maw to attack them.

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