Prelinger Library Blog

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Location: San Francisco, California, United States

An appropriation-friendly, image-rich, experimental research library. Independent and open to the public.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Current Reading: Missiles and Rockets

Thanks to the generosity of the Houston Public Library, our collection has recently expanded to include several interesting and unusual new periodical titles. Among them is Missiles and Rockets, "magazine of world astronautics," of which we now have the first fifteen volumes (or so, we haven't finished unpacking yet). Here in vol. 3, no. 4., April 1958, appear two charts: Atmosphere and Altitude. Both were prepared by the Garrett Corporation's AiResearch Manufacturing Divisions ("as a service to industry and the military"). The photographs included here don't do justice to the artwork, which draws on design conventions popular in 19th century school atlases to show relative scale of world-wide geologic formations. Of high interest to sci-fi fans and San Francisco area residents is the detail in the lower left corner which reveals that the artist is none other than space-age visual fantasist extraordinaire Chesley Bonestell, who subtly included the Golden Gate Bridge, a recurring motif in his noncommercial artwork.
Throughout the pages of Missiles and Rockets are other commercial and graphical illustrations that express a weak distinction between the science of fiction and the science of the Cold War rocket era. The magazine's look and feel has more in common with Asimov's when it was at its artistic peak in the early 'Sixties than with other mid-century professional journals. --MSP