Monday, March 22, 2010

Beyond Mars (1960)

Two covers today. The first (above) is the version you would have seen in your school library. The second (below) is a poor copy of the actual book cover you would have seen if you were lucky enough to have bought this in a store.

Today at last it is Beyond Mars! This one, the last in the Nephew/Chester space quartet, is special because of how it marks the edge of non-fiction and science fiction. When everything seemed possible in the late 50s those "wild" ideas about where people would be in 100 years also seemed possible.
In this one the authors take us into the outer solar system, use solar sails, generation ships, hibernation pods, and travel to other solar systems.
Nephew, William and Chester, Michael. Illustrated by Buehr, Walter. Beyond Mars. New York: GP Putnam's Sons. (72 p.) 23 cm.

First off is traveling to Saturn. You can see that they use the same sort of ships found in Planet Trip. They hook them to a solar sail and travel outward.
It will be a long slow trip so they all grow beards and play cards for the several months it will take to get there. But the trip will be worth it for the view.
Once you are there, you use your ships to descend to the ice-covered surface of one of Saturn's moons.

So once we have conquered the solar system, what's next? Why on to the stars of course. Again (I am open to alternate arguments) I find very few children non-fiction books that present the idea of travel to other solar systems. Especially innovative is using the concept of hibernation or "cold sleep" to get there.

What is even more startling is the concept of multi-generation ships where part of the crew stays "awake" while others sleep the voyage away. The idea of hydroponic plants and rotating the ship to maintain gravity is pure science fiction yet presented as a logical solution to extended space travel

This illustration in particular is interesting. It shows a 2033 "sleeper" waking up, obviously years later. But in addition you can see that the 2098 capsule above her is not due to "awaken" for even more years in the future.
Here is a nice drawing of the ship from the outside plus their landing on the new home. Beyond Mars to another Earth in another solar system. Is it science fiction or an alternate path we have yet to take?


  1. Well, that does it. I can say, with complete confidence, that you've got one of the coolest book collections I've ever had the pleasure of seeing. This is great, thanks for sharing.

  2. John, all I can say about this one (for now) is Jumpin' jets!

    -- Michael S.

  3. "Beyond Mars" was one of the local public library books that spurred me to a life-long interest in space science, so much so that I pursued work as a science writer, received my M.Sc. degree in space studies, and was lucky enough to work at the NASA Ames Research Center as a senior science writer (and write my own book about the Moon). Nephew and Chester's other books, too. Their "Beyond Mars" book has haunted for many years by the illustration of the rocket probes frozen to Saturn's surface (a highly unlikely scene but it is imaginative). I was able to locate my own copy of this rare book many years later. Thanks for sharing.