Yun Gee, the painter currently constructing a tunnel to the moon starting from the rear garden of his small apartment in Greenwich Village, finds the future in tomorrow, rather than in the past as Roberts does. As an artist Yun Gee has attracted some attention. An impressionist with a fine sense of color and an extravagant imagination, he has been honored with a one-man exhibit in Newark. He also invented a four-handed checker game.
But his tunnel to the moon is his chef d'oeuvre. It was conceived in the spring of 1946, and might now be in the first stages of construction had not some vile thief stolen Yun Gee’s elaborate set of blueprints later that year. That mishap may have delayed the fulfillment of Yun Gee’s dreams, but it has not discouraged him. While less inspired New Yorkers were wasting time trying to cool off at nearby beaches during the drought this summer, Yun Gee was working up a new set of plans and concocting a brochure which he feels sure will result in the initial capital necessary to launch his gigantic project. Nine million dollars will get things underway. That amount is not, of course, a drop in Yun’s total lunar bucket. The tunnel can be built, without extras, estimates Yun, for 150 billion dollars, considerably less than the total cost of World War Two. “And who will say,” says Yun, “that it will not bring more happiness to the world?”
Nothing makes Yun more unhappy than careless reporters who refer to his project as a “bridge” to the moon. “Scientifically,” he has told me repeatedly, “a bridge to the moon is preposterous. You would never get it beyond the atmosphere. It must be a tunnel so that it can be filled with atmosphere.” For the mechanically inclined Yun Gee’s tunnel will be constructed of aluminum tubing, ten blocks in diameter (Yun is a true New Yorker, measuring small distances in blocks rather than miles or fractions thereof) for the first thirty miles. From then on—that is, for the next 221,006 miles, more or less—it will be possible to construct the walls of the tunnel of bamboo and canvas. The project will employ a million men, and Yun Gee sees it as a giant insurance policy against unemployment in event of an extended business recession. Yun Gee is not enthusiastic, however, at the thought of government financing of the tunnel. “A thing of this nature, involving a certain element of risk, should be undertaken by risk capital. It is all very well, on the surface, for the government to step in and provide material and funds; but frankly, that is not how the American West was won. You cannot open up new frontiers by decree. When this thing is done it will be done by men of vision and daring.” Thus far no men of vision and daring have stepped forth with funds. A neighbor of Yun's applied for the soft drink concession for the tunnel; he offered to pay $100000 for the privilege, if and when completed, but as Yun observed, “It is not the kind of money you can use.”
Like Henry C. Roberts the book dealer, Yun Gee, the artist is not discouraged by temporary setbacks. For he has dreams.
(Tomorrow: Yun Gee’s Patent)