In May 1953, Hugo award-winning Clifford D. Simak’s short story Junkyard appeared in Galaxy Science Fiction Magazine. In it, a deep-space exploration rocket touches down on a distant planet, completely barren except for an inexplicable pile of alien scrap machinery on its surface. In the centre of the junkyard is a mysterious stone tower. One by one, the crew members begin to experience memory loss, but by the time they realize what’s happening they can no longer remember how to work the controls of their ship. The only hope for their escape lies in the stone tower — but anyone who approaches the tower has their mind wiped clean. The story was transcribed brilliantly into a radio performance for the series X-Minus-One, and can be heard in its entirety here.
For a time I toyed with developing this story into a film treatment with a friend, and began fleshing out the world of the story, including the spaceship the hapless crew arrives in. Eschewing the cigar-shaped rockets so ubiquitous at the time the story was published, I developed several different streams of design extrapolated from current space design — while still attempting retain a sense of polished 50’s design aesthetic.