Monday, May 9, 2011
Rockets Through Space (1957)
Del Rey, Lester. Illustrated by Heugh, James. Rockets Through Space: The Story of Man's Preparations to Explore the Universe. New York: John C. Winston Co. (118 p.) 26 cm. (1957)
The book covers all aspects of space travel starting with the theory of rockets and the first planned satellites. It goes on to describe conditions in space, plans for space stations, missions to the Moon, and exploration of the planets.
The paintings by James Heugh are wonderful, a last goodbye to the romantic images of spaceflight illustration. Realism in depicting spaceflight starts to take over from here.
tennis in Pinehurst North Carolina. I was probably 8 or 9 when that book
Rockets Through Space occupied Dad's loving attention. He worked late
regularly, in a room just at the top of the stairs from my bedroom - in
a beautiful old stone Pennsylvania country farmhouse that I will miss
forever. I watched Dad work like no-one else, I suspect. Looking at his
work tonight (this morning) all these years later brought a flood of
paintings were among those that contain the essence of his pride at the
peak of his power. You really should see the work full size, without the
muddling of the printing process. His meticulous scratchboards (black and
white - ink on white clay board, scratched through for thin white lines) are gorgeous."
"After his 80th birthday, when I gave him a copy of his long lost Rockets
Through Space, he expressed some embarrassment about the now obvious inaccuracy of his imagination: specifically he pointed out that the "starship" (the sphere) couldn't contain enough fuel to have such a huge
flame, nor would it need it. And the skin-tight space suits were all wrong
(although in that case he was following one of the possible solutions as
explained in the text - pressure from the suit's structural "fabric" rather
than a self contained atmosphere.) "