Friday, March 13, 2015

First Men to the Moon (1960) (part 1)

I tend to think of March 22 every year as a peculiar sort of anniversary. On March 22, 1952 the first issue of the 8 part Collier's "Man will conquer space soon!"  series was published.

I would like to share a book written by Wernher von Braun and illustrated profusely by Fred Freeman. Both of these men were involved in the Collier's series and First Men to the Moon is a sort of next step in visionary space literature (called sometimes astrofuturism).

Von Braun, Wernher. Illustrated by Freeman, Fred. First Men to the Moon. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston. (96 p.) 24 cm. Cloth, DJ.

This book is a description of a voyage to the Moon with extreme scientific detail (being the only children's book written by Wernher Von Braun). There are sketches and drawings on almost every page. Adapted from a 1958-1960 serial story written for "This Week" magazine. See 1961 UK reprint and a "condensed version for children" as part of the anthology "Treasury for young readers" (1961).

I blogged about the first of these "This Week" issues here back in 2013:

I thought many of you had not seen the Fred Freeman drawings and paintings and would appreciate a chance to sample this book.

For a 1960 book you will see how it looks very familiar to what actually was photographs by 1967 and 1969.

The one big difference is the final stages (3-5) of the rocket in this fictional work is both the lander and the aerodynamic return vehicle.

Even the proposed landing area is not that far from the Sea of Tranquility.

It is the detail in these drawings that I find so fascinating. Put together a visionary space scientist and a talented technical artist and you get some very interesting "what-if" illustrations.  Look for part 2 in 10 days on March 22.

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