Friday, February 26, 2010

Travel to Distant Worlds (1960)

An updating of a 1958 book, this will be my last Russian for a while. It has been fun but as the 50s melt into the 60s the illustrations become more factual and less awesome.
I have been intrigued by how the flavor of these books changed very little over the decade. The books started out predicting space flight as an ultimate goal of the Russian people and ends with showing that it had been predicted all along and changes to concentrating on the true exploits of the Russian people.
The same subjects of the painting appear again and again but the visionary art is amazing. The romantic sense of these pictures is hard to deny. This impressionism was lacking from many of the western paintings of this same technology.

Thanks for the kind comments. I am afraid this series has used up a couple of months of my blogger storage space. I couldn't resist however showing some of the unseen art. When I discovered these books I was thrilled. Since I have no Russian language skill finding them has been hit or miss for me but I treasure each one I have found.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

To Other Planets (1959)

OK again I have a beautiful book: To Other Planets by Pavel Klushantsev. (My helpful readers chimed in on this one to help me out.)

This may be my favorite Russian book in terms of illustrations. Until I got this copy I only knew of it from the 1962 Hebrew translation I had found a number of years ago (I had even less luck translating that title).

But the illustrations were the same and I knew I had found a winner. This is the gold medal of space books. Tons and tons of full color illustrations showing children how man will go to space and what it will look like. Of course it starts off explaining about rockets and showing their launch.

From here it talks about launching a space station and heading towards the moon. The space station illustration seems an "interpretation " of the Fred Freeman illustration from the 1954-1956 Collier's series but has its own Russian slant.

I am still not sure how space station designers got the idea for have a 3 prong stations. Two or four makes sense for balance but the 3 prong was developed for the Disney programs so they would not impinge on the Collier's design copyright. They seemed to have corrected that flaw in this illustration.They laid out the idea for a moon trip in an elegant series of drawings that make the whole mission seems very easy. In 1959 it seemed to every child that we were just a few steps from standing on the Moon.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Journey into Cosmos (1958)

M. Vasiljev. Journey into Cosmos. Illustrations by A.S. Sysoyev (B&W in text), N.V. Shchelznyaka and N.M. Kolchitskogo (colored paintings).

The title has also been translated as "Travel to Space".

The space race gave free rein to all those wild plans for conquering the solar system. The illustrations during this time show an amazing mix of factual and fantasy. Every idea seemed possible now that rockets had actually proven their worth,

Specifically going to the Moon was just the beginning of the journey. The books really jumped from "maybe" we will go to space someday to "this is your future."

I especially like this vision of the ultimate rocket motor. Bigger and better means we can go anywhere we want.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

About Tsiolkovsky (1958)

The launch of Sputnik 1 in late 1957 changed the books being published in Russia as well as the Western world. For all the media coverage space flight up until that point was not seen as possible by the average person. The idea that "someday" something would orbit the earth or "someday" someone would go to the Moon was taken as a vague dream.
It was this iconic image, a actual machine made by people that was flying in space. This image changed everything.

For the "fans" of spaceflight this was a vindication of their dreaming and prodding of others to make rockets real. It took rockets as a weapon to get people to build improved ones, but it was the ability to put something in orbit that was encouraged by these visionaries. There are very few military reasons to bother putting something in orbit but a whole bunch of scientific and creative ones.
The Russians were lead by Tsiolkovsky as their visionary. His writings and plans for how to get to space and what people would do when they got they had gotten into the Russian soul. His writings were part science fiction, part inventor and part religious conviction. He was convinced that we were destined to go to the stars.
This is a 82 page pamphlet about Tsiolkovsky. Part of a classroom series for younger readers.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Discovery Peace (1956)

Lyapunov, B. Illustrated by N. Grishina and V. Noskova. Discovery Peace. Moscow: TSK VLKTSM. 1956.

In the mid-1950s it seemed like the road to the stars was just within reach. The rocket testing of the late 1940s and early 1950s had confirmed that rockets were a powerful new way to explore.

First off in these books beyond the background to spaceflight was a voyage to the moon. It seemed like it was simply a question of will and technology and these books introduce this goal as attainable in the next 10-20 years.

Post world war 2 it seemed like the Earth had been spoken for. If a nation was going to grow it needed to explore new frontiers and establish new colonies.

Furthermore beyond the Moon we were meant to travel into the solar system. Mars was waiting for us and we just needed to expand our horizons.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Valentines in Space

We interrupt your tour of Russian space books to bring you a love note. My wife Sherri has supported and encouraged my love of children's space books for 20 years. Even as the garage has filled, she still oohs and aahs over each new (used) book that I get excited about.

For more of these cards check out the Junior Society blog-
(Thanks to them for the nice referral back to me).

From our vacation on Mars :)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Journey into the Cosmos (1955)

The mid-1950s was a "golden" time for both English language and Russian children's books. With many prediction about how soon people would land on the moon in popular magazines, space flight had reached popular culture. (Journey into the Cosmos 1955)

Illustration from these books look very similar to those from 10 years later. Astronauts in launch couches and weightless explorers in earth orbit filled these books.

A landing on the Moon was a foregone conclusion. I particular like this book which predicted robot explorers getting there first.

But almost all of these books show this image. Men standing on the Moon next to their spaceship. The rockets were all traditonal V-2 shaped but the illustrations often gave the sense that this was not the first visit but rather one of many.

The Russian books almost always included an illustration of a landing on one of the moons of Saturn. I think that was the perfect image to many (copied from Chesley Bonestell perhaps?) of man's conquest of space.

Friday, February 5, 2010

A Journey to the Moon: A science fiction poem for children (1954)

Lots of pictures but no title today. My title translator was unavailable so I will just have to post this as a mystery book.
(Update: One of my loyal readers writes:
"The title in English translation is Vladimir Tschukhrov: A Journey to the Moon: A science fiction poem for children. [adamovicivan] ")

First off, the color you see (other than blue) is crayon, showing this book was owned by a child.

Without my trusty translator what I can say from observation is that it seems to be a book of poetry for children about space travel. Each set of illustrations and text seems lead from a discussion of the history of spaceflight, to teaching it to the children, and finally a trip to the moon.

This sample page(s) seem to be discussing weightlessness:

We should remember that being taught about space in school was part of the Cold War. Each country felt that if their children were to be prepared for the coming rapid changes they had to be taught (and shown) what was coming in their lifetime.

In addition to telling children how the world would change, there is a lot of inspirational power in showing children doing these activities. Showing children on the Moon sticks with them a lot more than just telling about the possibilities.

These next two really show that it was not just about going to the Moon, but that it is the children of Russia who will go to the Moon.

Even with the crayon color, this is an image from an alternative universe, one where Lenin is on the Moon, and The Young Pioneers make field trips to see the statue. Afterwards they stay at the moonbase and do their merit badge science experiments . (Again my reader writes "By the way, in my opinion it is not Lenin statue on the interior picture. No one would be allowed to portray Lenin with a walking stick. It is Konstantin Tsiolkovsky most probably.")