Friday, May 23, 2014
Jaunts into Space: Informal Excursions to the Show Places of the Sky (1935)
OK this book is much earlier than my 1945 self-imposed limit. This 1935 book is one of many astronomy books written for children. Buck Rogers had appeared in the comic since 1929 and people were familiar with the idea of rockets going into space from that and other science fiction. What was more interesting was the non-fiction which suggested that this was also a real way to explore space. A number of astronomy books mention this possibility.
Underwood, R.S. Jaunts into space; informal excursions to the show places of the sky (photographs by Yerkes and Mount Wilson observatories with sketches by Everett Fairchild.) Boston: Christopher Pub. House. (79 p.) 20 cm 1935.
I liked the cover and this block of text captures that feeling that something was going to happen soon.
It doesn't sound much like non-fiction does it? Many of these books used a "magic spaceship" to help learn about the planets. In addition these books introduced the idea that maybe there was life on other planets. Both as an idea (presented to children) that we are not alone but also it created a destination in space. Space travel is all about dropping in on the neighbors.