High Strangeness: It's a Good Time to be a Space Geek

Thursday, August 25, 2016

It's a Good Time to be a Space Geek

Wow! Only 69 cents when new!
I recently came across this little gem of a book at an antique store in Antioch, IL, and I had to buy it. "Space Flight: The Coming Exploration of the Universe," published as a part of the "Golden Library of Knowledge" in 1959, was a very special part of my childhood. When I was growing up, the complete "Golden Library of Knowledge" was laid out on a book shelf in my house, along with the World Book Encylopedia and the companion "Childcraft" junior encyclopedia, for me and my many brothers and sisters to use when we doing our homework or just wanted to expand our little minds. I don't know about my siblings, but I read those books a lot.

I could barely contain my excitement when I found this original copy of "Space Flight" in near-mint condition for just $4.00. I snatched it up and read it the minute I got home. The book, written by science fiction author and editor Lester del Rey, and beautifully illustrated by John Polgreen, describes in spare but dynamic prose exactly how the human race will break away from the earth's gravity and send rockets to the moon, to Mars, and beyond.

Amazingly, del Rey even makes the case for women traveling in space! "Girls will also want to go out into the Space Service," he wrote. "They will probably do at least as well as men. For long and difficult trips, women may be preferred, since it has been proved that they are able to stand monotony better than men." 

Ouch.

It's ripping good reading, but I'm pretty sure that I was more attracted to Polgreen's amazing illustrations of astronauts floating about in space, assembling giant space stations and zooming around in bottle-shaped "space taxis." And, yes, female space ladies can be seen in one amazing illustration of the command center of a space station... While man astronauts in business suits do all the important thinking and pointing and stuff, two lady astronauts in dresses and heels sit at futuristic desks and answer the space phone. Imagine a scene from "Mad Men" set on a space station and you get the idea.
In case you forgot what an Encyclopedia looked like...

Anyway, it was pretty cool to reconnect with this artifact from my youth just as astronomers in Europe announce the discovery of an earth-like planet orbiting Proxima Centauri, our nearest neighbor in the galaxy. Not only is it an astounding discovery on its own merit, it also means that "Lost in Space" was right all along! Who can forget that the space-faring Robinson family from Irwin Allen's cheesy 1960's science fiction series was trying to reach the Alpha Centauri system in the hopes of colonizing an earth-like planet? Crazy. I mean, how could "Lost in Space" be right about anything??

So, yeah, it's a pretty good time to be a space geek. And you know what else? We seem to keep on having times when it's good to be a space geek all the time now!

3 comments:

Terry the Censor said...

Another title in the series seems to have been written by Otto Binder.

https://www.amazon.com/Planets-Other-Worlds-Solar-System/dp/B003P5BHR2

Terry the Censor said...

Whoops. This is the link to Golden Library edition.

https://www.amazon.com/Planets-Other-worlds-solar-system/dp/B0006AWXR2

Mark OC said...

Cool! I definitely have to see if Dad still has the whole set.