Archive for The Complete Book of Outer Space

Review: The Complete Book of Outer Space

Posted in 1953, 4:Stellar!, Review, Summary Review, The Complete Book of Outer Space with tags , , on October 19, 2009 by Aaron

Jeffrey Logan, editor
1953

Well, I’ve pretty much said it all in each chapter as I delivered each in this blog, but this is just to deliver a final few thoughts overall.  This book brings back some nice memories for me.  The feeling I got while reading it is similar to the feelings I had when as a boy between about 5 – 10 years old I would browse the various volumes in the Time-Life series – the Life Science Library and the Life Nature Library.  We had these two series at home and I would sit for hours just flicking through looking at the pictures and reading what I could.  The illustrations and photographs in those books captured my imagination like not much else has since.  The Complete Book of Outer Space is delivered in much the same way.  Not-too-technical-nor-long articles accompanied by interesting and imaginative photos and pictures.

Much of it is very outdated now, but as I pointed out often in the brief intro to each chapter, it’s incredibly interesting from a historical perspective.  It takes us back to a time when sending man into space was still a goal, and the possibilities for the conquest of space seemed immediate and endless.

Here it is, all in one click or chapter by chapter:

The Complete Book of Outer Space – All 14 parts

Part 1 – Intro & The Development of the Spaceship
Part 2 – Station in Space
Part 3 – Space Medicine
Part 4 – Space Suits
Part 5 – The High Altitude Program
Part 6 – History of the Rocket Engine
Part 7 – Legal Aspects of Space Travel
Part 8 – Life Beyond Earth
Part 9 – Exploitation of the Moon
Part 10 – Interstellar Flight
Part 11 – The Spaceship in Science Fiction
Part 12 – A Plea for a Coordinated Space Program
Part 13 – The Flying Saucer Myth
Part 14 – The Experts

This work of non-fiction is an interesting accompaniment to the Gnome Press stable of Golden Age Science Fiction.  It provides a ‘hard’ backdrop to the creative fiction all around it – in some ways giving us a glimpse of the ‘pegs of reality’ on which the imagination of authors like Heinlein, Clarke and Asimov spent some time hanging.

It’s been an incredibly enjoyable and interesting way to deliver this book over the past 6 months and I’m sad it’s over.  I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have.

The Complete Book of Outer Space – Part 14 of 14

Posted in 14 - The Panel of Experts, 1953, The Complete Book of Outer Space with tags , on October 2, 2009 by Aaron

The Panel of  Experts

Well, this is the final installment.  It’s a little bit emotional for me as I’ve enjoyed bring this incredibly interesting book to you.  Actually, I’ll spin one more installment out of it – in a couple of weeks I’ll do a Review.

Here are the experts who contributed to this book – what a stellar line up of names from the times.  Also a couple of very brief comments on trips to The Moon and Mars, plus a glossary of terms. Enjoy.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed these episodes as much as I have.  Remember, the review will come in a couple of weeks.

The Complete Book of Outer Space – Part 13 of 14

Posted in 13 - The Flying Saucer Myth, 1953, The Complete Book of Outer Space with tags , on September 18, 2009 by Aaron

The Flying Saucer Myth

Editor Jeffrey Logan attempts to examine the fiction (or not) of UFOs.    To my way of looking at this article, with the title and general tone, he seemed to be attempting to take a position on the skeptic side, yet the article came across as a bit confused as to where his final position really was.  But whatever his ultimate opinion, it was still interesting to read a couple of UFO accounts from back then along with the viewpoint from all those years ago.

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The final installment from this book I’ve called The Experts.  It contains brief biographies and pics of the contributors, as well as an appendix of a sorts including a couple of charts and tables and a dictionary of Space Travel.  See it in a couple of weeks.

The Complete Book of Outer Space – Part 12 of 14

Posted in 12 - Coordinated Space Program, 1953, The Complete Book of Outer Space with tags , on September 7, 2009 by Aaron

A Plea for a Coordinated Space Program

Dr Wernher von Braun makes a compelling case for a focused and driven program of rocket development leading to putting men in space. Perhaps what he’s arguing against is existent in the space industry today: too many hand-wringers, bean counters and apologists.  Lets just get stuck into it!!  I wanna see people on Mars!!

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The next installment takes into the realm we love so much.  These UFO things… are they real, or as editor and party-pooper Jeffrey Logan suggests, are they just The Flying Saucer Myth.

The Complete Book of Outer Space – Part 11 of 14

Posted in 11 - Spaceship in Science Fiction, 1953, The Complete Book of Outer Space with tags , on August 26, 2009 by Aaron

The Spaceship in Science Fiction

A few days late, this installment is put together by the editor of this book, Jeffrey Logan.  There is little substance to this piece, and the issue of “Spaceships in Science Fiction” is only really examined by the many fine photos and illustrations that make up the bulk of the chapter.  There are a couple of things of interest though.  First is a comment in passing that the Logan makes about science fiction writing being an ‘art’.  I thought this an illuminating observation made by a writer in the 1950s as to how SF was viewed by some.  The other thing was the mention of Hugo Gernsback and his suggestion that science fiction writers be given automatic patent rights over any technology they describe, supported by his description of ‘remote hands’ that came to be.  I forget the name of those hands at present, anyway, enjoy!!

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In a couple of weeks the eminent Dr. Wernher von Braun sends A Plea for a Coordinated Space Program.

Waldo. That’s what they’re called, I just remembered. Interestingly, the Remote Manipulator wikipedia page credits Robert Heinlein with their imagining.

The Complete Book of Outer Space – Part 10 of 14

Posted in 10 - Interstellar Flight, 1953, The Complete Book of Outer Space with tags , , , on August 9, 2009 by Aaron

Interstellar Flight

This installment was written by Leslie R. Shepherd, then technical director of the British Interplanetary Society.  It is a very interesting piece, as many of the challenges and much of the science haven’t changed a lot in the intervening years.  Distance and time being the two major considerations along with possible methods of propulsion to help overcome these issues.
A couple of the observations within reminded me of Brian Aldiss’ novel Non-Stop, A.E. van Vogt’s short story ‘Far Centarus’ in Men Against the Stars and another Gnome Press book Starman’s Quest by Robert Silverberg.

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I don’t know what the next chapter is, I’m in New Zealand at present and this book isn’t.  You’ll have to wait a couple of weeks to find out…

The Complete Book of Outer Space – Part 9 of 14

Posted in 09 - Exploitation of the Moon, 1953, The Complete Book of Outer Space with tags , on July 23, 2009 by Aaron

Exploitation of the Moon

Science Fiction legend Hugo Gernsback speculates on the need for, and possible methods of extracting resources from the moon.  The tag-line under the title of the piece introduces Gernsback as an “Pioneer of Science Fiction and Outstanding Science Prophet.”  Indeed he was, and rightly deserves his reputation as one of the fathers of modern science fiction.  This article though, suffers from the idealism of the times and presents an almost child-like speculation of the matter.  Nonetheless, it shares the historical points of interest, charm and naivete that all the articles in this publication possess to a greater or lesser extent. Enjoy.

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In a couple of weeks time, the then Technical Director of the British Interplanetary Society, Leslie R. Shepherd has a look at the issues surrounding Interstellar Flight.