Tower to the Moon

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A cache of empty bheer cans that inspired the Tower. Photo by Boob Stewart.

The Bheercan Tower to the Moon was the contribution of 1950s Berkeley fandom — Terry Carr, Pete Graham, Dave Rike, Ron Ellik, Boob Stewart and "Carl Brandon" (a hoax fan) — to the space race. As one version of the story goes, while the Russian Sputnik went over like a lead balloon and the U.S. Vanguard rocket fell on its face, Carr used the principles of trigonometry he'd learned in a college astronomy course to determine the size of and distance to the moon. Getting a parallax view of the moon from two different vantage points in Carl Brandon's back yard, Terry was able to calculate that the moon was about 20 feet in diameter and approximately 150 feet above ground level.

He appealed to his fellow Berkeley Bhoys’ love of science fiction to get them to make a contribution to the space race by using all the "profits" they would have made from the various fanzines they published to buy six packs of bheer; he even went so far as to pledge all of the money sent in to subscribe to Innuendo to the project, rather than to defray the costs of publishing the following issues. The Berkeley Fen pledged, quite selflessly, to drink the bheer (even though they preferred scotch and rye whiskey) so as to be able to use the empties to create a Tower to the Moon in "Carl's" back yard.

As the Tower rose, various plans were suggested, from harpooning the moon with a church key to climbing the Tower to bring the moon back down to the surface of the Earth where it would be kept forever safe from the hands of the ghodless commies who were trying to grab it before we could.

Dave Rike, asserted, however, that the Tower grew from his commentary in a mid-1950s WAPAzine. In any case, it was a running gag throughout the mid- to late 1950s.

Occasionally, even today, partying fans at conventions will construct such a Tower out of bheercans in Terry Carr's memory. At MagiCon, this was attempted on a night when the moon was not visible but Art Widner was heard to intone, "If we build it, it will come."

See also: B(h)eer, Beerfandom, Bheer is the Only True Ghod.

From Fancyclopedia 2, ca. 1959
(Rike&Carr) A project of the Berkeley Bhoys to build a tower to the moon out of empty beercans. Much calculation and enthusiasm (and not a little constructive support) has been expended on it by fans, but Poul Anderson points out that as the Earth spins any such tower will tend to trail behind the point it's attached to and eventually form, not a tower, but a loop encircling the planet. And he points to a well-known astronomical object with the warning: "The rings of Saturn! Don't you understand? It's been done before!"

Fanhistory 19541959
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