31 December 2018 Reviews

Foreword to Spaceflight: an illustrated bibliography of pre-1958 publications on rocketry and space travel

Book authors, and many readers, will recognise a labour of love when they see this book. For decades, its author has been collecting and cataloguing books published before the dawn of the Space Age, and this illustrated bibliography is the result of his passion (full disclosure: this reviewer is acknowledged in the prelim pages as a ‘peer reviewer’).

The main section of the volume comprises a list of some 240 books, sequentially numbered but alphabetised by author, with title and publishing details and a short summary of important aspects. The following significant section uses the numbering system to illustrate the dust covers of the books, featuring nine per page. This creates an extremely attractive overview of the publications which, for true space buffs, will instil a Pavlovian feeling of nostalgia for bygone days. The names of Clarke, Cleator, Lasser and Ley evoke not only the early days of space exploration, but also ostensibly gentler, less hectic times (though perhaps that is more rose-tinted than real!).

The book also includes a “Russian Addendum” featuring 163 Russian-language space books followed by a section including books in eight other (European and Scandinavian) languages. As a whole, the volume concentrates on what the author calls “speculative non-fiction” related to the use of rockets for spaceflight. Future book collectors will thank the author for his work in compiling this volume. Many will be surprised at how many books were published before mankind managed to launch anything into space; so imagine the task of compiling a similar book for just the first decade of the Space Age!

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