Advertising the Space Race, a Prelinger Library book

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Boing Boing heroes Megan and Rick Prelinger run the Prielinger Library, an amazing privately-funded but public "appropriation-friendly" collection of books, magazines, and ephemera in San Francisco. In my opinion, the Prelinger Library's materials have the vibe that I imagine a Boing Boing Library would feel like. Megan has been working on a fascinating book, "Another Science Fiction: Advertising the Space Race 1957-1962," that will be published in May by Blast Books. Judging by today's New York Times preview of the book, it's going to be a doozy of retro-futurism and atomic/modernist design. Congrats, Megan! From the NYT:
Spaceraceeeeee Some of the most extravagant of these visions of the future came not from cheap paperbacks, but from corporations buffing their high-tech credentials and recruiting engineering talent in the heady days when zooming budgets for defense and NASA had created a gold rush in outer space.

In the pages of magazines like Aviation Week, Missiles and Rockets and even Fortune, companies, some famous and some now obscure, were engaged in a sort of leapfrog of dreams. And so, for example, Republic Aviation of Farmingdale, N.Y. -- "Designers and Builders of the Incomparable Thundercraft" -- could be found bragging in Aviation Week and Space Technology magazine in 1959 about the lunar gardening experiments it was doing for a future Air Force base on the moon. Or the American Bosch Arma Corporation showing off, in Fortune, its "Cosmic Butterfly," a solar-powered electrically propelled vehicle to ferry passengers and cargo across the solar system...

The book, she said, was inspired by a shipment of old publications to the library, including Aviation Week & Space Technology and Missiles and Rockets. "I little expected that the advertising in their pages would seize my attention more than the articles themselves," she writes in the introduction to her book.

"Reaching for the Stars When Space Was a Thrill" (NYT, thanks Greg Long!)

Another Science Fiction: Advertising the Space Race 1957-1962 (Amazon)


  1. Congrats Megan!

    Woo, my futurepast design sensibilities are all a-flustered at this treasure trove of spacey riches.

  2. Megan and Rick stopped at my office for lunch today and I got to actually hold this book. Jaw dropping wantage.

  3. Speaking of serious wantage. I saw this at the library yesterday – ‘Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow’ by Brian Fies. Graphic novel – beautiful and amazing to see.

    Product Description From Amazon:

    Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow?, the long-awaited follow-up to Mom’s Cancer, is a unique graphic novel that tells the story of a young boy and his relationship with his father.

    Spanning the period from the 1939 New York World’s Fair to the last Apollo space mission in 1975, it is told through the eyes of a boy as he grows up in an era that was optimistic and ambitious, fueled by industry, engines, electricity, rockets, and the atom bomb. An insightful look at relationships and the promise of the future, award-winning author Brian Fies presents his story in a way that only comics and graphic novels can.

    Interspersed with the comic book adventures of Commander Cap Crater (created by Fies to mirror the styles of the comics and the time periods he is depicting), and mixing art and historical photographs, this groundbreaking graphic novel is a lively trip through a half century of technological evolution. It is also a perceptive look at the changing moods of our nation-and the enduring promise of the future.

  4. This reminds me of the story of Jack Parsons.
    He helped found the Pasadena Jet propulsion Laboratory, but he was kicked out of the JPL & his company Aerojet when the US Government discovered he was the head of Aleister Crawley’s cult OTO in America. He died in an explosion at his home lab in 1952. THE MARVEL is a webcomic that ells his story, & BoingBoing turned me on to it.

  5. “It is also a perceptive look at the changing moods of our nation-and the enduring promise of the future.”(Saskplanner)
    Right on ‘S.’The Dark Ages happened when we collapsed our dreams. The Renaissance happened when we opened them up again. We need to remember our nations promise.


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