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Early Science Fiction

SF links

SF Illustrations


Something like this grows on you. In my student's days I devoured lots of American SF novels and short stories by all the great names of the sixties. Then I was struck by the similarity of some tin toys and paper models. later I became intrigued by science fiction models based on books and films, and started searching the internet for them. The next step was obvious: most of these films are still readily (and cheaply) available, and fun to watch.
At the moment, browsing Google Images I keep coming across old book- and paperback covers. Sometimes the links lead to names of illustrators, and more 'Early Science Fiction' images. There are countless pictures; here I will only show those that - hopefully - may inspire like minded designers.
Want to search for yourself? Go to Google Images and enter cues like space ships, or space travel, or phantasy rockets, or SF paperbacks, and start following up some of the more promising pictures. Loads of surprises guaranteed.
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Unlike Shakespeare said in Hamlet: there is no system to this madness. No logical order of any sort. I will just add pictures as I find them on the internet. Suggestions more than welcome!
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Book covers
Two Dutch childrens' books, late '50ties. Monus ran for years as a radio play, Sunday  nights at 17.30 hrs.
In Holland, 1950 saw the start of a large series of adventure books for boys, selected in cooperation with the Dutch Scouting movement. Appropriately published by De Verkenner (The Boy Scout), Baarn. Quite a few popular SF writers featured here:
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1953, 1955: UK and the Netherlands, 'Journey into Space', in Dutch 'Sprong in het Heelal'.
This radio play written by Charles Chilton (translated into Dutch by P.R.O. Peller) ran for years. In Holland, on Sunday nights, 21.30 hours. Of course in those days children were not allowed 'up' at that time of night. But a crystal receiver (kristalontvanger) was enough to enjoy the story - and it added a lot to the enjoyment. No batteries, just a few parts and one half of an old set of headphones did the trick. And of course a long aerial on the roof, and serious earthing. Yes, it worked. And parents had no idea, like nowadays they have no idea what their children are up to on the internet...
Both the English and the Dutch versions are now available on CD.
I found the following nice book covers from an American series of boys' books, Tom Swift. Completely new to me, although 30 million copies of 100 titles were sold worldwide (thanks, Wikipedia).
The Outpost in Space has already been made into a paper model by Mike Hungerford - would anyone like a go at the other two?
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Another children's book, with black and white illustrations, UK 1955: The adventures of Captain 'Space' Kingley.
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Christmas Cards
12/2011: I was sent this appropriate Christmas card.
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Of course all illustrators allowed themselves to be inspired by all other illustrators and film makers. Spot the differences and  similarities...
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Ron Turner (1922 – 1998) was a British illustrator and comic book artist (Wikipedia, English). Apart from his numerous book covers, he was also involved in many of the great SF film and television series, and illustrated comic strips.
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Space Patrol, or Commander Buzz Corry / Corey was an American TV and radio series in the early fifties. The name was also used on tin toys, and even on a piggy bank. Note the racing car in the curious (lunar?) background - do not expect logic or scientific truth in these flights of fancy...
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Chesley Bonestell
Just a few to whet your appetite - there are dozens more of his exciting and colourful phantasies on Google Images.
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Vintage Tin Toys in space
Collectors are fond of vintage tin toys - Google Images and eBay are endless sources of information. There do not seem to be too many flying saucers, but rocket ships and space racers come in all sorts.
I used to have this curious TV cameraman, and the Gemini in my collection... a serious collector now owns them.
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The Three Stooges,  ca. 195
Even the famous American vaudeville trio got in on the space act.
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In 1949, American car manufacturer announced a new car: the 'Rocket 88'. The first posters didn't even show the car itself: it only promised speed and sleek lines...
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Dandridge Cole, 1921 - 1965
Involved in designing the Titan II, which launched the Gemini space capsule, Cole had a more solid grounding in science than most 'space visionaries. He wrote a large number of books and articles. On the left his idea for a giant spaceship, the 'Aldebaran 2'. On the right, his 'Antares'.
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Illustrator Robert McCall (1920 - 2010) is best known for his work on the poster for Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey.
The second picture was published in Life Magazine, April 1961.  It shows two so called 'solar space sails'.
Go to the sites on the Links page for many more pictures.
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More Dan Dare:
Cryptosian spaceship / Astral queen
Dan Dare book covers
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More Polaris, Space Cadet Tom Corbett:
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Girls in space
Science Fiction books and films and their writers have always had a rather juvenile, or boy scout attitude to 'the other half': girls, women and (God forbid!) sex always play a very minor, and generally purely decorative role in their creations. While male space heroes are always wrapped up to their eyebrows in space armour and well insulated suits, the poor girls appear in bikinis - or less than that. The airtight fish bowl helmet is often just an afterthought.
I have selected some of the more modest examples, and leave the rest to your imagination - and to Google Images. The girl in the middle is the 1963 reality:
Space girl with ray gun / Bowling in space / Valentina Tereszkova, first female astronaut, 1963 / Retro space girl with two ray guns
Oh, and the poor dears all too often find themselves the threatened victims of BEM's (Bug Eyed Monsters).
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Absolutely terrible Early SF movies
I picked up a dvd box with 50 'Sci Fi Classics' on eBay. Many of the movies can hardly be described as SF, and most of them are absolute trash - but at about 50 cents each, I am not complaining...
1960, Assignment: Outer Space
If you want to know more about this 'classic',  go to http://millionmonkeytheater.com/AssignmentOuterSpace.html
for a very entertaining review. The makers have obviously studied the Von Braun / Bonestell / Disney material very closely.
The BZ 88 is a nice variation on the Saturn Shuttle theme.
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