Thursday, April 29, 2010

New York World's Fair 1964/1965 Souvenir Book

Forward into the past! 1964 was the middle of the space race and visions of our glorious future abounded. If you were a very lucky child you got to go to the World's Fair in New York. (Now famous from Men in Black cameo).

Wood, N. and Editors of Time-Life Books. New York World's Fair 1964/1965 Offical Souvenir Book. New York: NY 118 pp. 31 cm.

The space pavillion allowed you to see some of these wonders. One of the highlights was a 3-D movie of space flight in the near future.

You also saw models of future space craft and the details from the upcoming Apollo missions and our conquest of the Moon

It all seemed just around the corner in the brave new future!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Speeding Into Space (1954)

Speeding into Space! Yet another of the beautifully designed children's books of the golden age of space illustration.

Neurath, Marie. Speeding Into Space. New York: Lothrop, Lee and Shepard / London : Parrish. (36 p.) 22 cm. (Also 1956, 1958, 1962 editions.)

Text and illustrations show rocket theory, space walks, space stations and a Moon landing. Illustrations are stylized and "blocky", very different from the usual "realistic" paintings. The choice of using only a few colors make the illustrations that much more striking.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Adventures of Peter Pupp (1944)

With my love for rockets in children's books I am always interested in illustrations. Before 1950 there were few illustrations of rockets for children outside of the Buck Rogers etc. type. This one is a charming fictional book about exploring the solar system.

Roche, Ruth A. Coloring by David B. Icove. Adventures of Peter Pupp. New York, NY: Action Play Books, Inc. 6 1/2" x 8" 30 pp.

Not really rare, just obscure.

Peter is given a chance to go to the Moon in a home-made space ship. The design is more like an wingless airplane with rockets attached. In an alternate universe I imagine this as the first SSTO vehicle. It launches from a ramp but returns and lands on wheels.

He has a wild voyage trying to control the ship.

Upon finding the Weather Man (who lives of course up in the sky) they zoom home again.

I find books like this right at the core of why I like books about space. Fiction or non-fiction they present the idea that space is a place a child could go. It is an adventure waiting and even if you have to build the ship yourself, I still find myself remembering how much I wished I could go too.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Drift Marlo #2 (1962)

With a classic cover image of rescuing a space chimp from a capsule Drift Marlo #2 was a treasure worth seeking out. However what I want to point out is the USAF Space Shuttle inside.

Drift Marlo only had two issues published. This is the Oct-Dec issue. With all the discussion on other groups about the delta wing, I thought this was interesting to see. Fictional stories reflect the times so this one has some nice images of what the future was supposed to look like.

This illustration of a "space expo" is very interesting. At the time you could go to various trade shows and exhibitions where the aerospace contractors would have displays of their coming products.

These pictures of how a delta wing would launch are also a nice illustration of space art hiding in "children's" books. The sequence looks so similar to the real launches going on that the story seemed perfectly reasonable as a projection of the near-future.

Note also how the expectation was that there would be a "space force" under the U.S. Air Force (not NASA) to patrol and solve problems in near-Earth orbit.

The idea of a USAF Space Force continued to be contemplated well into the late 1970s as the shuttle was being developed.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Flights into the Future (1953)

Flights into the Future is basically a science fiction anthology for children. It has stories by A.M. Low, Jules Verne, Harry Harper, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It looks like many of the other British annuals.

Flights into the future. London, Thames Pub. Co. 125 p. illus., 28 cm. Cloth, DJ

What makes it interesting are the color illustrations (by Long?). They are not from the stories but rather illustrate a version of the British Interplanetary Society's (B.I.S.) plans for a moon landing.

The BIS was a group of rocket fans who included many of Britain's "space thinkers" including Arthur C Clarke. Their idea for a moon-lander was this "bug-shaped" pod.

Also of note are the "diving-suit" spacesuits.

I like how this suggests that exploration of the moon will be like exploring any foreign place. You collect samples and explore.

I especially like this fake article. We will land on the moon sometime after the year 2000. It suggests the only way we will know if people have landed on the moon will be because of reflected sunlight signals back to earth. At the time people were not sure how radio might work over very long distances. And of course the only way we would get to the moon would be in a "atom-powered rocket."

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Space Atlas (1961)

The late 1950s and early 1960s saw an explosion in space art from private contractors. The aerospace contractors used this art in proposals, advertisements, and to promote themselves. Lots of this was used in public documents or appeared in books from the time. This book, while not strictly for children illustrated a number of great "possible" space vehicles .

United States Naval Institute. Space atlas; valuable information on universe, solar system, moon, earth in space, tide, calendar, time, coming exploration of outer space. New York: American Map Co. 48 p. 26 cm.

General Dynamics gave us illustrations of Passenger gliders...

Reconnaissance space ships (not space stations) never intended to land on the surface.Nuclear passenger rockets

And solar powered space ships. While NASA showed their version of how the future would look.

All I know is that space travel looked a lot cooler before actual physics and budgets came into play

Monday, April 12, 2010

Rocky Jones Space Ranger Coloring Book (1953)

Rocky Jones was one of the many television "space heroes" that appeared in the early 1950s. He is better remembered that most because his show was filmed rather than staged in front of television cameras. This meant special effects could be better and that the films could be re-released on videotape and DVD.

To learn almost too much about him check this site out:

The reason I mention this fictional character is how fiction started being influenced by popular non-fiction representations of what space would look like in the future. I came across some original art from the coloring book that illustrates my point.

This illustration looks much like Buck Rogers or Flash Gordon. We have the older scientist, the young boy, the female interest, our hero, and a strange device. Fictional space stories were not that different from stories about magicians and knights. A "magician's special powers" detect a threat and the hero is given a quest. Science is indicated by the strange devices and the solar system diagram.

The space ship also doesn't reflect any science (or realistic streamlining). This illustration could be from almost any time 1930-1950. Also notice that the ship looks nothing like the cover illustration. By 1953 we all "knew" rockets didn't look like this illustration, they were finned and V-2 shaped.

This however is something new. Circular space stations were put forward in 1952. This may be the first space station in a coloring book. You can start to think about the science of it. How do the ships land and take off? We also see a radio antenna and have some idea of the scale of the structure. It can't be the future without a circular space station can it?

Finally there are the tailored space suits. Oxygen tanks, 3 finger gloves, and bubble helmets. These suits reflect the real research going on with corregated joints that allow bending when under pressure. Also boots have thick soles to insulate from the surface. They still have holsters for their ray guns but are also carrying coils of rope for exploration. Finally like all good space heroes men's and women's suits are "cut" differently.

Even though fictional, these drawings do show the brave future that seemed sure to come.
For "Doc Atomic" :)