Somesuch Stories

The Garden of Celestial Delights

The Galactic Expressway Resort had been in development for just short of a decade when they celebrated their soft launch ‘Leave to Remain’ on that fateful Friday of June 24th, 2016…

by Stéphane Guisard, for the European Southern Observatory
No matter humanity’s advancements, an intergalactic excursion never fails to thrill. A sojourn to the stars. A promenade among the planets. The pace of life measured in light years, makes one feel light as a feather, instantly. Indeed, whatever earthbound scales might read prior to departure, soon you really will be, effortlessly, as there’s no need for spin class when zero gravity does the legwork for you – leaving you free to feast on the finest freeze-dried fare without counting a single calorie.


The Galactic Expressway Resort had been in development for just short of a decade when they celebrated their soft launch ‘Leave to Remain’ on that fateful Friday of June 24th, 2016. The intention had been to establish a viable competitor for Dick Pickle’s Coitus Galactic, a flight service offering unencumbered views of our Earth to its ordinary citizens. But the commendable group behind the Galactic Expressway Resort weren’t satisfied with offering mere moments of weightlessness, and a quick selfie before plummeting friends and fuck-buddies back to reality. They facilitated, instead, a home-from-home, a glorious escape from this torrid planet for anything from a long weekend to a lifetime stay.


The resort, built in the Future-Elizabethan style, currently offers accommodation for 255,700 people, the population of Milton Keynes. And in a shrewd move from their PR representation, the purveyors of the resort have announced that they intend to expand their portion of outer space to offer rooms to all who voted to remain in the European Union – aiming to open at full capacity in time for the triggering of Article 50.


In its current form, the Galactic Expressway Resort’s rooms circle a central island that holds covered parklands, entertainment hubs, wellness facilities, learning lounges and a food village. On entry, opulent, threaded ropes lead guests through a bustling conservatory, planted with genetically modified trees designed to thrive in these bizarre circumstances, and past a grand exhibition of portraits representing stars of the Remain campaign including David Beckham, June Sarpong and Brian Blessed. Due to the lack of gravitational pull, to access your room friends have to glide up the conservatory ropes and along through the complex of residences; each decorated in tasteful, muted tones with contemporary European furnishings complete with tie-down detailing.


The food village recalls peak-Las Vegan simulation, and on the same vast scale, with each Rue, Strasse, calle and ulica offering up a glut of continental culinary highlights so guests can devour everything from l’escargot to Sachertorte; goulash to Pastéis de Nata in enviably authentic settings. And of course, there is also much scope for creative self-catering, popular with committed residents who can purchase nutritionally beneficial and psychologically satisfying Fresch© fruits and vegetables, as well as sterilized beef steak, or perhaps scones, from the spacious hypermarkets which boast designated aisles for items from each member state.


The entertainment hubs comprise shopping centres to entice all guests whether budgets accommodate Acne or Chanel, Balenciaga or Zara, whilst regular resupply missions mean your style stays light years ahead, whatever the season down below. Naturally, there are also multiple cinemas, galleries, museums and theatres with programming at each institution bespoke to the resort, and carefully edited to remain on-message. By curating entertainment in this way, friends stay unencumbered by the stresses of divergent opinions, triggering imagery of post-Brexit Britain and those who propagated the unfortunate result. The Galactic Expressway Resort really does seem to be heaven off Earth for Remainers, or rather those who would have remained, had Britain!


Fittingly, the on-board currency is the Euro (<3), which when you’ve grown sick of retail therapy and gloriously high culture, can be utilised at the wellness facilities. There are spas, saunas, gyms, yoga and meditation studios as well as complimentary counsellors, and educational playgrounds for the little ones. The learning lounges, which host classes as well as housing a huge array of books, films and periodicals, are elegantly arranged with contents floating rhythmically behind glass shutters.

Life on the Galactic Expressway Resort can be likened to a spell on one of Earth’s most luxurious cruises, one similarity being that due to the intricacies of the Outer Space Treaty, the shuttle cannot moor for longer than 14 sidereal days in any spot, so one’s view is ever-changing. A curious outcome being the ‘Overview Effect’, something often experienced by astronauts from a time prior to commercial flights, where the view of Earth from space would transform their perspective on the planet and mankind’s place upon it. On returning to earth, they would often describe a new-found appreciation for the interconnectedness of life, the lack of real boundaries between nations and the importance of caring for our environment.


Joyfully, the whole place is climate controlled to a moderate 23C. Our proximity to the sun makes every day seem like a Finnish summer, 20 hours of sunlight at just the right temperature to play swingball without breaking a sweat. The swimming pool is the only location with its own gravity supply, allowing friends to hone their butterfly or just bob about during a morning chat. For moments when the blackness of space gets a bit too much, guests can also project familiar landscapes from Earth across their windows. There’s everything from the Seven Wonders, through to noisy streets, beach scenes and brick walls; as well as the option to upload your own views from home. This seems to be one of few features that entertains nostalgia, the general consensus being that it is best to leave the specifics of one’s recent past on terra firma. Immersion, and all that.


The pervasive air of superiority on the Galactic Expressway Resort is also appealing. Founded in shared opinions and values it appears there is little to dispute except whose turn it is purchase the next bottle of fair trade Bordeaux! However, one issue that seems to arise, quite literally, is that the lack of gravity causes pages from, or entire books to disappear. This also occurs with film reels, and even paintings. According to Alex – who founded the resort but prefers to not invoke traditional hierarchies of profession or gender, so is simply known by their first name – items are occasionally discovered floating through space, having disappeared through a gap in the system. (And in my experience these gaps may well be floating into peoples memories too – there have been multiple occasions during my stay where the mention of the Tory leadership battle, Stranger Things and even Bake Off has been met with bemusement. It’s as if the population has been brainwashed! In fact, on one evening, a long term resident of a certain age grew positively upset by my conversation, and thus I was informed that I must briskly return up the rope to my suite.)


Addendum


I was unable to complete my stay, or my review, as the next day while floating the aisles of the library I was informed that “Due to unforeseen circumstances, [they] were terribly sorry, but the resort would no longer be able to host me.” I was dispatched home via the return leg of a fruit and vegetable resupply mission, an associate having done my packing, and the whole event was treated with a strange and uncomfortable urgency.


On reflection, it seems that I may have hit a nerve, repeatedly. For the last few months life had been ticking along nicely on the Galactic Expressway Resort, their soft launch had been a roaring success, and in the way that returning to everyday life can cause you to entirely forget a holiday, the friends of the resort seemed to be entirely forgetting their earthly lives.


I was soon contacted by a woman that I had met at one of the evening salons – which had bizarrely been held via a chat service, with each of us sat alone in our rooms while we discussed current affairs – and she informed me she had also been escorted from the resort. It turns out my presence had prompted a shift in the consciousness of the resort, until then they had rather successfully immersed the friends in the culture of life on board, but I had brought along a few too many reminders of life on Earth. A group of dissidents had emerged, challenging Alex and the fellow good friends of the Galactic Expressway Resort on the location of the missing literature, asking probing questions about the development of expansive residences for Alex’s best friends and challenging the long-term safety of the resort’s safe spaces.


It would seem that in all their efforts to create a home-from-home in the heavens for all of us who longed for anything but upheaval, the friends behind the Galactic Expressway Resort had gone and dashed our hopes for moral superiority. What had sounded like absolute heaven turned out to be a rather questionable purgatory; where quality of life was dependent on the degree to which you were willing to fall in line. And soon it transpired that, those unwilling to accept the terms, and adopt every intricacy of the pro-Remain stance of the resort, were informed that they were not Europhile enough, and they would regrettably be advised to leave.


On returning to Earth I took a time out to gather my thoughts and booked a week in Lanzarote, where if you haven’t heard there is a wonderful BBQ restaurant powered by volcanic ash! Anyway, while there I saw what I thought was a shooting star, but transpired to be the Galactic Expressway Resort. A fight had ignited over who would be kind enough to lend an organic match to light a ‘Mindfulness’ candle, and in a truly shocking turn of events the whole place had burst into flames.

October, 2016

All text originally published by Somesuchstories.co. All images courtesy of magazine and artist. All text copyright Billie Muraben.

AIGA Eye on Design

What Happens When We Reach Peak Magazine?

Issue 01 of Beige, the modern lifestyle magazine for discerning independent thinkers and makers, was released today to a rapt audience of creative influencers the quarterly considers the entire scope of everyday life for the contemporary connoisseur…

by Sophy Hollington
Dear Editors, 


Below is a list of the most exciting modern lifestyle magazines set for release this week. I am sure they would all be a perfect fit for your creative platform. Feel free to share the news with your communities on your vlog, Snapchat, or heavily-filtered Instagram, etc!


Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you need any more info, pics, or would like to interview one of the esteemed editors, who are all available via FaceTime.


Issue 01 of Beige, the modern lifestyle magazine for discerning independent thinkers and makers, was released today to a rapt audience of creative influencers. Delving deeply into l’estétique beige, the quarterly considers the entire scope of everyday life for the contemporary connoisseur; from cerebral photo stories depicting fulfilling domestic life, to details of accomplished creative work, revered high culture, and the cultivation of a capsule uniform that reflects your irreproachable ethics, subtle intellect, and economic acumen. Beige promotes quality of life through studied, curated takes on life, style, lifestyle, and the means of achieving that lifestyle through a tasteful, ‘Elephant’s Breath’ filter. It makes for a brilliant addition to the newsstand, and although its scope may seem niche, as with all great lifestyle publications, it is really made for anyone with access to a coffee table. “Against a backdrop of beige,” says publisher, editor, art director, and interior designer, Rosalie Verbleken, “everything is illuminated.”


Another exciting release is Louse, the modern lifestyle magazine that explores the life and times of the modern metropolitan woodlouse. The editors take a poetic view on this oft-ignored species, with personal essays, inspired editorials, and woodlouse-themed sonnets, as well as brand collaborations with independent jewellers and clothing designers who draw inspiration from the form and features of the urban woodlouse, a nocturnal crustacean who feeds off of dead plant material. Not unlike us – pass the kale crisps!


Before I go on, I’d like to draw your attention to a podcast series that I think your readers would love. The Dinner Game will focus on one modern food lifestyle magazine each week, diving into the harsh business realities of making a modern lifestyle magazine, and food. After all, isn’t food the one thing we all share? The first season is already slated to include Caesar Salad, the modern lifestyle magazine for political influencers, where every interview takes place over a tax-payer-subsidised lunch; Bro-yo, the modern lifestyle magazine for bros who LOVE frozen yogurt; and Kimchi, the modern lifestyle magazine for women who are equally interested in knowing what’s going on in the world of Korean fermentation, as they are getting the hottest gossip and fashion tips from Kim Kardashian, Kim Gordon, and tyrannical despot Kim Jong-un.


The second series is already set to explore magazines about hair—not just hair, but dyed hair. It’s incredible how much editorial inspiration and advertorial innovation can be mined from even the most prohibitively specific briefs. One of the early stars of the nascent genre is Brunette?, the modern lifestyle magazine for creatives with dyed (is it dyed?) brown hair. What exactly is the life experience of the dark-haired, jet-setting elite? Brunette? intends to find out.


Also fresh to the newsstand is Haven, the modern lifestyle magazine for creative influencers keen to stash their cash offshore. There’s always been a lot of negative press about tax avoidance, but Haven tells a different story—one focusing on the beautiful landscapes, architecture, and pleasure yachts that embezzling billions can afford. Issue 01 heads to Andorra, a stunning principality nestled between France and Spain in the Pyrenees mountains rumoured to be the hot tip for laundering Russian currency in 2017. And the skiing is to DIE for.

Dérive is the modern lifestyle magazine for creative influencers and thought leaders that takes a look at derivative art and design through the lens of the dérive, a practice made popular by the Situationist International. A dérive involves running around, quite aimlessly, and at pace, and in Dérive the interviews are held in this heightened context of breathlessness to deliver maximum authenticity—making even the most mundane interaction seem relevant.


That’s all for this week, but stay tuned for next week’s magazine update, when we’ll be profiling Drip, the modern lifestyle magazine for shy coffee drinkers; Estatic, the modern lifestyle and interiors magazine for creatives living in on-trend housing estates; and Femilist, the modern lifestyle magazine for feminist creative influencers who enjoy listicles. 


And they said print was dead!

April, 2017

All text originally published by eyeondesign.aiga.org. All images courtesy of magazine and artist. All text copyright Billie Muraben.