Profile: Pierre Belmondo

FEBRUARY / 15 / 2098



Pierre Belmondo


Pierre Belmondo was one of the original pioneers of anti-gravity technology. Aged 94, his current position as Chief Executive of the F5000 Anti-Gravity Race Commission has made him something of a father figure both to the sport and to all those who benefit from the technology he helped develop during the first quarter of this century. He has been at the heart of the sport ever since it was established, always innovating and encouraging the development of ever more powerful craft. His birthday is marked annually by a special presentation to the individual who has done most to advance anti-gravity technology and promote its use over the preceding year.

Unfortunately, there now appear to be commercial forces eager for him to ’vacate’ his position. The development of a powerful caucus opposing Belmondo’s continued dominance of the sport has led to increasing rivalry between certain factions; it is unclear how this situation will resolve itself.

Pierre Belmondo himself explains how the urge to conquer gravity came to eclipse all other passions in his life.

"I was a boy like any other, and my growing up was done in a tiny village in the Charente region of my native France. I loved to run and play, but most of all I loved to read - my father had such a library he couldn’t ever have known precisely what he had in that huge, shelf-lined outbuilding where all his books were stored. We didn’t even have a computer in the house - just books.

One day when I was about seven years old, I was climbing the book shelves to reach a fat, enticing volume on the very top. I could read the title clearly as the text was so large - it was called ’The Tyranny Of Nature’. I had no ladder, so I was forced to clamber up and down the wooden planks that bent with the weight of literature ranged along them. And as I stretched to reach the book I wanted, I felt the dark beams begin to split beneath my tip-toed feet. In panic, I grasped the books in front of me, tightening my grip round the musty pages as the entire stack of shelves began to crack and splinter, and my body fell back into the dry air of the library. I fell and fell and fell - it was a tumble of books and wood, and amidst it all was my young body, plummeting towards the ground.

I imagine that I cried out but I cannot recall it - even if I did, it would have been to no avail as my mother and father were at the market. The noise of breaking wood seemed to split my ears, and even as I thudded to the floor with the shelves collapsing around me, the flurry of torn pages seemed to echo round the library like an escaping of panicked doves. It was as if suddenly, the knowledge into which I loved to dip my inquisitive nose had been freed from a lifetime of strict order and arrangement. Stacked in neat rows, upright and tightly bound, the pages were now floating as free as ideas, fluttering in the sunlight and coming to rest on my fallen self.

I was hurt, of course, but I was not damaged. I could scarcely believe it, but as I apprehensively tested each part of my body, I realised I had luckily escaped serious injury. And as I lay there letting thoughts flow, I remembered how a falling apple had conjured the laws of gravity from a greater mind than my own. I saw myself falling from those shelves, a slave to that same gravity, unable to conquer or diminish it. I considered how, once set in motion, the physics of my fall were pure and predictable, how I knew what was to happen and yet could do nothing to prevent it. The name of the book I had been pursuing flashed before my eyes - ’The Tyranny Of Nature’. Suddenly I realised that until we - mankind - could conquer gravity once and for all, we would forever be slaves to the nature of our planet. It seemed an outrage that in those young years of the 21st century, we were still ruled by that infernal magnetism, and in that moment I resolved to pour the passion of my life into a struggle against the mighty power of gravity. I wanted to break the natural laws of physics and finally, unequivocally, set us all free at last."

Belmondo studied the laws of gravity and all related topics throughout his school career. His teachers often described him as an ’average’ pupil, simply carrying out the work required of him without flair or any special dedication. This was true, but they remained unaware of the extent of his extra-curricular activities. In fact, he rarely did anything other than study. Indeed, by the time of his application to the Federal European University in 2021, his school teachers were still marking him as a ’C’ grade pupil whereas the staff of the FEU were moved to report, "Belmondo has developed a simply astounding grasp of gravitational physics. It was incredible to hear him speak and outline the course of study he wishes to follow at the University - quite simply, he is so far ahead of any member of staff, we are all tempted to resign and let him take over right away."

It was clear to the course leaders that his knowledge and ambition would be used to its fullest extent if he was immediately seconded to the Foundation For European Anti-Gravity Research. Within a matter of months, he dropped out of the University (while retaining close contact with key members of staff) and joined the Foundation on a permanent basis. There is no doubt that he felt he had found the organisation within which he wanted to work. Equally, there is no doubt that his contribution to the Foundation’s work was fundamental to its subsequent success.

The Foundation For European Anti-Gravity Research was a member organisation of the World Anti-Gravity Research Congress. Funded by the World Technology Symposium, the organisations within the Congress were briefed to extend anti-gravity research (which had been carried out by clandestine military organisations for some years) into areas of benefit to civilian populations across the globe. Their primary area of study was the development of anti-gravity transport solutions which would prove capable of superseding the standard internal combustion engine with its limited speed capabilities and high levels of pollution.

With the arrival of Pierre Belmondo, the European team quickly found that their research was bearing fruit. Their data seemed to be leading inexorably to a workable anti-gravity generator, results which astonished the other teams from across the world but which resulted in frantic information exchanges allowing the rapid progress to benefit as many scientists as possible. Belmondo was invited to become the Director of the European team early in 2024, an unprecedented decision considering he was still only 20 years old. His evangelical zeal seemed to permeate the entire organisation as jaded researchers found themselves suddenly brimming with excitement at the possibilities which were daily opening up before them. One of Belmondo’s chance sayings was made the unofficial motto of the worldwide project - "We are leaving the earth behind."

In late 2024, the politics of transport technology almost destroyed Belmondo’s career. On November 24th, a single memo was despatched to all member organisations of the World Anti-Gravity Research Congress and key personnel from the world’s press. It read as follows:

08.57 EST.






Widely reported and supported in the press by eminent government scientists from across the world, the Symposium’s decision was intended to stop anti-gravity technology ever being developed for civilian use. It seemed inconceivable to Belmondo and other anti-gravity pioneers that the Symposium had come to this position by studying their research data; after all, their results showed that anti-gravity generators were possible and would be suitable for mass transport systems. It seemed clear that there were other forces controlling the World Technology Symposium and government-backed scientists; the recent massive tax increases on conventional fuel suggested that governments perhaps had too much to lose if anti-gravity technology ever became a success. They were interested only in their tax revenue, not the transport needs of an entire planet.

Belmondo was furious with the World Technology Symposium and the government scientists he believed to be conspiring against his beloved research.

"I felt dirty every time I mentioned their names. I burned with hatred and anger - they were betraying the entire scientific community. No - more than that. They were betraying the trust of the peoples of the world who needed more than anything to free themselves from the earth’s tight grip. We could give them that freedom - I knew it and my colleagues knew it - but without money or help from the Symposium, what could we do?"

His decision was made quickly. Following an urgent meeting with key members of the European team, Belmondo committed himself to the continuation of anti-gravity research in secret. He was evidently not alone in his bitterness, as within two days of the Symposium’s memo, Belmondo received a brief message from Chuck Hoffman, the U.S. anti-gravity research team leader:


And so in the face of official disinterest and hostility, the research into anti-gravity systems carried on. The work was necessarily small-scale as they were now working with a minimum of funding, using their own savings and desperately collecting money from every sympathetic benefactor they could find. But just as before, the power of Belmondo’s mind coupled with his intense desire to break the laws of physics for the benefit of mankind meant that progress was rapid and his team believed they were on the verge of making history. Faced with adversity, the taste of success simply sweetened.

Although the research teams tried to maintain secrecy and keep their work hidden from prying government eyes, it is inconceivable that official bodies did not know how the work was progressing. They were still very interested in appropriating anti-gravity systems for military ends and intended to take action against the scientists only when the time was right. Belmondo and his team were producing results so much faster than the military researchers that a number of secret airforce research establishments were simply closed. It made no sense to invest in them when the prized anti-gravity system was inevitably going to emerge from one of the unofficial teams on their shoestring, self-financed budgets.

By 2034, ten years after the World Technology Symposium had supposedly cut off their funds, Pierre Belmondo’s Foundation For European Anti-Gravity Research was operating a prototype anti-gravity generator capable of carrying a single pilot. Belmondo was 30 years old and his dream was becoming reality. Powerful government agencies decided the time had come, and they moved to take the technology for themselves. Had Belmondo not possessed the evangelical spirit that was his defining characteristic, it seems likely that they would have broken him and destroyed his team within days. Fortunately, this was not to happen.

On October 21st 2034, the world’s press were met by a tightly co-ordinated and carefully timed barrage of propaganda that left the reputations of the anti-gravity research teams in tatters. As each time zone awoke, the lead news story detailed the scandalous ways in which the so-called ’AG community’ had frittered money away under the pretence of research. Belmondo, Hoffman and other team leaders were held personally responsible for pursuing paths of self-interest, allegedly in the knowledge that anti-gravity generators were an impossibility. They were said to have deluded their benefactors, stealing funds to enable them to live lives of luxury at the expense of others. Government scientists appeared on every news bulletin, hurling abuse at the AG teams and branding them charlatans, insisting that they be made to face public trial for their ’crimes’.

Predictably, the public outcry was swift in coming. Belmondo was driven into hiding as his home was bombed by furious mobs of ordinary people who believed he had been taking money from their bank accounts. As he cowered in a safe house, he realised the only way to win back the confidence of the world would be to demonstrate his prototype technology and show its genuine potential. Only by making his work public would he ever be able to appear on the streets again.

Belmondo’s own account of the demonstration makes for interesting reading:

"I will never forget that day. It was such a gamble for me, for all of us. Believe me, we even thought we might be killed as soon as people realised who we were - that was the level of hostility we were facing. We might be dead before the demonstration had even begun. But at the same time, we knew that if we could just show what our work was achieving, suddenly things would be? not so dangerous for us. And besides, there was simply no other way of clearing our names. No way at all.

We planned to show our Nx1000 vehicle to a group of the most sympathetic science journalists we could think of. And this was a struggle in itself, because very many journalists had been warned not to speak to us or to meet us. Thankfully, there were enough of them who did not trust any government source and were ready to hear our point of view.

The ’show’ was planned for April 14th 2035 - we had a site in the Nevada desert which the previous week had hosted the Iron Man Gathering, a frenzied primal music celebration attended by the youth of California. Many of them milled around as we set up the display, body painted and pierced and sharing their food with us. They were the first people I had met in months who did not recognise me or want to tear my limbs from my body. I remember them with great affection.

The US team had co-ordinated the invitations and travel tickets for the journalists - they did a wonderful job. Only a handful of guests failed to arrive, and those that did knew that we could not afford accommodation for them, so they had to pay out of their own pockets. When I arrived at the site, I immediately realised that a few of the assembled science writers were spies sent by government agencies, but by this time I did not care. I was with my colleagues, my comrades, and we were beginning to feel strong again.

As for the Nx1000 demonstration, I have run it through in my mind so very many times since then that it has taken on mythical qualities. Yet I know I was there, I know I saw it happen. Not that I believed it would fail - remember that the work we had done was not rushed, nor was it the result of mere speculation. We had invested all our skills and knowledge to get that far and we knew we were in control. The journalists, of course, did not know this, at least not until the demonstration was over.

As our prototype vehicle disappeared into the distance, my skin crawled with the prickly dimples that come when you are thrilled to your very soul. This was not a hovercraft or a jet engine in any conventional sense. This was not a device which was spewing out poisons or using brute power to defy the inevitable forces exerted by the earth. This was a vehicle running a genuine, working anti-gravity generator. It was generating its own physical laws! We had reinvented physics!

There was an awed silence, then the journalists began to scream at the tops of their voices and throw their datapads into the air. I thought for a moment they were angry and I could not understand what we had done wrong, but when I saw Chuck Hoffman running towards me, his arms outstretched and the widest grin I have ever seen splitting his face in two, I realised these were the screams of people who had just witnessed the impossible. There we were, this dusty band of renegades with our roughly built yet revolutionary machine, and we weren’t the enemies of the world any more. Suddenly, we were saviours. The freedom I had dreamt of was ours.

We had proved that our research was real, and in many ways that was a battle won. It was not the end of the war, of course - this technology was going to change the way we all travelled across the planet and there was much convincing of closed minds to be done. But out in the desert that day, we silenced those spies from the frightened governments and showed that we were not criminals or lunatics. The story spread across the world’s news media within two hours, perhaps three. Within a month, the taxes on conventional fuel fell away as governments realised there was nothing they could do to prevent the adoption of our cheap transport solution. And two years later, I am pleased to say, the World Technology Symposium destroyed itself through backbiting and recrimination. Scientists who allow politicians to rule their heads and hearts deserve all the torment they get."

Shortage of money was the least of Belmondo’s worries in the years that followed. Commercial concerns invested heavily in the research programmes, and by 2040, Belmondo was appointed the first Director of AG Systems, the commercial arm of the Foundation For European Anti-Gravity Research. He was anxious that although anti-gravity technology should remain free to those who used it for the good of mankind, it should not be open to abuse by profit-hungry organisations. AG Systems marketed the spin-offs of research and protected the rights to the technology - it became clear that Belmondo’s business skills were becoming as highly developed as his research credentials. Even when AG Systems was bought by a Japanese consortium which transferred the entire operation to Tokyo, Belmondo remained as Director and figurehead. Such was his reputation.

With mass transport research well underway, Belmondo realised that there were other ways of bringing humanity together around his beloved technology, and it was during his tenure as head of AG Systems that he initiated an investigation into the possibility of building specialised racing craft which would be based on anti-gravity principles. He felt that the involvement of competitive teams would accelerate technological development which could be of use in civilian applications - this would free him from the ethical dilemmas posed by military use of his systems.

The F3600 Anti-Gravity Race Commission was established in 2044, briefed to establish an anti-gravity league competition which could begin in 2050 and would run on an annual basis thereafter. Belmondo resisted the temptation to head the organisation, fearing that he would lose his ’hands on’ involvement in day to day research. Instead, he invited popular Datacast celebrity and successful businessman Dirk Breakwater to become the first Chief Executive, preferring himself to remain at AG Systems where he could begin work on his own race craft designs and ensure that there were AG Systems craft competing in the first championship.

Dirk Breakwater’s public relations skills and personal high profile proved invaluable - the Commission managed to establish anti-gravity racing as one of the world’s most popular sports, a position it has now maintained for almost fifty years. Breakwater died in 2062 and was succeeded by Chuck Hoffman, Belmondo’s old friend and research colleague. By this time, Belmondo was cutting his ties with AG Systems in order to move closer to the Commission on an official basis where he could promote anti-gravity racing as a whole. He was concerned that its popularity left it open to exploitation of the worst kind by those who cared nothing for his own humanitarian tradition - he wanted to ensure it was not destroyed by the pursuit of money.

His suspicions were proved sickeningly prescient in the early summer of 2080, just as the 31st F3600 Anti-Gravity Championships were about to begin. Chuck Hoffman left his seat in the VIP stand at the Altima VII circuit - traditionally the opening race of the season - in order to make his way down to the pilots’ enclosure. He often met pilots prior to competition, careful to ensure he was in the presence of all competitors to guard against accusations of bias. As he descended steps at the rear of the stand, security pictures show a masked figure tripping him, before shooting him calmly in the head. He died instantly.

Hoffman’s murder resulted in chaos. The 2080/81 season was abandoned and accusations were made that certain Datacast barons had conspired to kill him in order to take control of the lucrative sport for purely commercial ends. It was widely believed to be an attempt to sever the sport’s connection with its progressive scientific origins, a link personified by the original research scientists such as Hoffman and Belmondo himself.

Belmondo moved quickly to bring order to the organisation and ensure there would be no more than a single season of disruption. He felt he owed it to his dead friend to continue the tradition they had worked so hard to begin, and so he installed himself as Chief Executive, immediately taking direct control and outmanoeuvring those he believed had killed Hoffman. He was not alone in his suspicions, and the resulting backlash against the Datacast corporations enabled him to make his position secure.

Belmondo refused to let the sport stagnate and proved himself unafraid of change. Over a five year period he managed the transition from F3600 to F5000 Anti-Gravity Racing, a change which resulted in higher grade craft capable of destroying and being destroyed. A few close colleagues were dismayed at this, believing that Belmondo was betraying pure principles of anti-gravity competition. However, he explained his actions in his own words:

"It is true that anti-gravity racing was intended to be a clash of technologies, a race in which people and machines tested the limits of anti-gravity capabilities. I insist that this is what it remains, but we found ourselves in a position in which cosmetic alterations had to be made. The Datacast corporations would have insisted on far worse changes had they gained control - they would have destroyed the sport’s soul. In a sense we placated them and earned ourselves time to consolidate, and we increased the sport’s spectacle. Now, we are more popular than ever before.

We live this life with our feet on the ground. Heads in the sky, it’s true, but for years, decades and centuries, our bodies and imaginations remained anchored to this planet Earth. So when we stood beneath the burning sun of Nevada all those years ago and demonstrated our anti-gravity system to an astonished world, I realised that life on the planet would never be the same again. The vile pollutions of aeroplanes and rockets, devices that simply bludgeoned the laws of physics, would never again taint the mists from which we draw breath. Our new technology was so pure. Our calculations were like a ballet of numbers. The floating craft we had perfected split the air like a razor through flesh. To conquer the infernal pull of gravity was to conquer everything that stopped us being free.

I truly believe that in anti-gravity racing, we have created a hymn to the soaring human spirit."

Others remained unconvinced. Stefan Geist, a backup pilot in the Qirex team responded:

"We race. We die. There is no beauty any more."

The F5000 version of the Anti-Gravity Race League is now well over ten years old and Belmondo remains an inspiration to fans and participants across the world. It is widely regarded as unacceptable behaviour to publicly challenge his position at the head of the sport - indeed, he has never had to contest an election. Unfortunately, this does not mean that he enjoys universal support as his opponents rely on more underhand means to make their opposition known. Mindful of the fact that they could never succeed in making a legitimate challenge, they spread rumour and uncertainty with the intention of discrediting Belmondo’s brand of scientific evangelism and powerful belief in promoting the common good.

There are two ’opposition’ camps who can boast a certain degree of influence within the sport, though it should be stressed that these interests are not represented by any members of the F5000 Race Commission. The first are the race purists who are known to feel that the sport’s move up to F5000 status was a ’betrayal’ of pure racing principles. The introduction of physical damage as a factor was instrumental in maintaining its ever-increasing popularity, but there have been a number of high-profile deaths and although the pilots know the danger when they enter, a minority of those involved believe it is an innovation too far. Although we are loathe to name names for fear of parodying an individual’s genuinely held beliefs, a number of Belmondo’s former friends are supporters of this point of view. Indeed, it is a position for which he has a certain degree of sympathy, though as a pragmatic scientist, he believes it to be overly idealistic and unsustainable.

While this body of opinion is an irritant, the more insidious view comes from those who take their instructions from the Datacast corporations. There are various commercial empires who would dearly love to take control of the F5000 Race Commission, thereby acquiring all access and broadcast privileges connected to the sport. The amount of money involved in such a coup would be vast, and the power to shape the sport’s future would inevitably lead to destruction of anti-gravity racing in its present form. It is likely that F5000 events would become entirely stage-managed affairs ’performed’ solely for the benefit of Datacast receivers. Every moment of every race would be scripted in advance to maximise visual spectacle and ’screen friendliness’. It would, in essence, cease to be a sport. The power and anonymity of this bloc makes their threat difficult to assess, though their dislike of Belmondo is not a secret.

Despite it all, Pierre Belmondo retains his passionate belief in the inherent good of anti-gravity technology. Although we identify him most closely with our sport, he retains an advisory role on the Committee For World Transport Solutions and as he nears his 95th birthday, he still promotes research with extensive university tours and public appearances. Adept at encouraging a spirit of compromise and calm within a sport which could otherwise find itself held to ransom by rampant commercial interests, the F5000 Anti-Gravity Race Commission is proud to name Pierre Belmondo as its continuing Chief Executive. The only question which remains is this:

Where is the new Belmondo?