But astronaut Richard Martin can tell a different story. Of panic in deep space, of crewmen pushed beyond breaking point, of official indifference towards his own shattered life.
Martin is effectively put under wraps - until the pilot of a moon capsule, loaded with nuclear weaponry goes beserk and a nightmare develops, threatening to engulf the world - a nightmare that only Martin could end.
Hurwitz, who selects Martin's victims, is scared. He made a bad mistake when he chose Doris Jensen; she turned out to be from a competitive network and ruined a taping. Hurwitz's job is in danger.
Walter Monaghan, historically, the 29th man to have walked on the moon, is desperate. He wants to tell the Revelations audience the truth about America's "space program" - that it never got off the ground. If he's just another nut, why is it so important that he be silenced?
Or - like it says in this novel:
"Do you really think that a group of science fiction fans could save this planet? Could understand this situation to save it?"
"I most certainly do," she says. "Who else?"
Who else, indeed?
Not since Frederic Brown's "What Mad Universe" has there been a novel like this.
The diabolically clever Bureau had superbly trained their space pilot, beautiful Lena Thomas.
Nothing could go wrong in an age where science had conquered the universe. In one of their fifteen faster-than-light ships, Lena would reach beyond the over-populated Milky Way, carrying her grotesque cargo: seven programmed prosthetic engineers to give advice and comfort, and 515 dead men sealed in gelatinous fix. Exposed to the unskilled ultraviolet of space, they would gradually become the living again!
But the omniscient Bureau was not aware of the black galaxy in Lena's charted path. And Lena's ship fell into it, fell through twenty-five billion miles of hyperspace, into the lifeless, timeless expanse of the dreadful pit . . .
The cyborg engineers couldn't help Lena now. She was totally alone except for the awakening dead! If she geared the ship up to tachyonic drive, would she break out of the terrifying black hole? Or would she destroy the universe?
The director has come to the charred ruins of New York to re-enact a mad dream from the past - the assassination of President Kennedy. As actors, he has the primitive race who inhabit the city. With them and his glamorous, dark haired lover, he rehearses everything - the motorcade, the shots, the panic.
But at the last moment it all goes wrong. When the flower-filled limousine rounds the bend, the passenger is not Kennedy - but the Director himself.
Shots ring out in a wild explosion of roses.
Earth in the twenty-third century is adorned with corpses as suicides ravage a dehumanised population, compelled to live, or merely exist, in segregated complexes. Despite the technical wizardry of the Church of the Epiphany and the dictates of the unseen rulers, more and more people seek the ultimate exit. One man probes the social disease, but he too fights that dreadful and permanent seduction. If he succumbs, the victory of the Oppressors would be complete.
Then came the Poet, who wanted only to please, but did not know how. His every effort was rejected - but he could not stop trying.
Rogers was the completion, the part above all other parts that made the whole.
And then there was Archer - and the thing in his brain . . .
When man's ambition expanded to fill the solar system, his technology expanded to take him as far as he wanted to go. Technology went on expanding. So did man's ambitions. But there was a danger only dimly suspected, and only poorly comprehended when it began to make itself felt. It was that man's ambition would outleap his imagination; that his technology would outstrip his emotional capacity. It might be that it was just too big, the universe. That there was just too much to of nothing for man to bear.
For George had been informed, by an accredited emissary of the Galactic Overlords, that he had 12 hours in which to prove the people of the Earth worthy of admission into the Galactic Federation. George, and George alone, would represent all of mankind. If he failed the entire planet would be destroyed.
Was this all a nightmare of delusions dredged up by his tortured subconscious? Or a very real nightmare that would end in the Day of the Burning . . .
When man roamed freely among the planets and away to the stars, spacecraft had to carry the best advisers with them, for outside help was usually too far off to do any good in emergencies.
And so the android simulacrum was born - a conveniently storable but believably human package which duplicated all the strengths of the Master after whom each was modeled.
For centuries a Sigmund Freud was standard equipment on long voyages, but put to little use. Then Man met his first etees, and Freud's career entered a new phase - one which would change history forever.
There were those who would have taken argument with Kemper, but Kemper, unfortunately, was beyond dispute; in other words he, like all the other famous and infamous, was dead. Reuter's problem was that he had gone back to Vienna in the early 1800s to be Beethoven. Beethoven, Reuter has decided, was a disgusting man. Someone must listen - don't they realise that it was all a fraud?
"Exactly," the Overlord said, "a forty-one game chess match to be broadcast throughout all civilized sectors of your Universe so that everyone can witness it."
"But why chess? Why me? Why this planet?"
"Because chess is ideal for such a final judgement; it is a methodical game with absolutely no element of luck, and therefore there can be no complaints by the loser. Chess is known only to your plant, and you and your opponent are the most evenly matched living players. Good against evil. No other chess players are so close in true potential abilities. There is no other reason."
Scop is doing his job . . .
He has spoken to President Kennedy, warning him to leave Dallas immediately . . . spoken to Zapruder, asking him not to take pictures . . . pleaded with Elaine Kozciouskos, begging her only to scream, has even fornicated with her - part of the job. In spite of the pain, he has witnessed, on location, the last minutes of Jack Kennedy, King, Malcolm, Robert Kennedy - all for the fate of mankind.
But bitterly, bitterly, he knows he is a failure. Scop is trying to alter, has merely reinforced the future . . .
In a controlled and mechanical world, the only reality is fear and killing boredom. The only escape from mind-blowing monotony is the Game, with predictable rules of stimulus and response. And if you pit yourself against the Games Master, you may lose your last vestige of sanity. Or your life!
'There are perhaps a dozen genius writers in this genre and Barry is at least eight of them' - Harlan Ellison
For a selected, genetically-fitted few among the teeming millions of the twenty-first century, to become a Messenger for the Hulm Institute is to escape the prison that is life, that is earth.
A Messenger is Noble!
A Messenger is One of the Chosen.
A Messenger is a Forerunner of a Time in which Fear and Disease will Disappear Forever.
And inside a Messenger's head is murder, impotence and despair.
If the mission were a success, Folsom's planet would bear his name for eternity. The barbarians would be civilized; the planet would join the Federation; the Federation's integrity would be preserved.
But Hans Folsom had to be on guard. The aliens were intractable, his crew possibly traitorous. There was an incident during the voyage he couldn't quite remember. And a prophetic runic stone.
Had ancient spacemen visited here in the past? Did that explain the strange religions, the ancient ruins, the mysterious runic stone?