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The Dream Machines: Pictorial History of the Spaceship in Art, Science and Literature Hardcover – 30 Sep 1994
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Top customer reviews
It's big, it's expensive, but if you've got a serious interest in spaceflight or in science fiction's depiction of spaceflight this book is unique and valuable.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
One of the best things about the book is that its contents are ordered chronologically. This lets you trace the evolution of spacecraft from pulp magazine covers to illustrations in popular and technical articles to serious design proposals to prototypes to full production. It gives you a taste of what it must have been like to watch all this happen in the middle of the 20th century, and it's fascinating to see all the designs that never made it off the drawing board. In particular, near the end of the book there are no less than 6 pages of drawings that trace the evolution of the Space Shuttle from a winged bullet launched from a jet-powered mothership to the familiar configuration that finally entered service in 1981. A similar sequence shows the development of the Apollo program spacecraft.
If all of that sounds dry instead of inspiring, you'll be pleased to know that all of those shiny silver rockets from the golden age of science fiction are in here, too. Some of them I hadn't seen since I was a 12-year-old watching old movies on Saturday afternoons, and there are many more that I had never seen at all. Radio dramas, television, movies, even prominent spacecraft from comic books and novels are covered.
The book is over 700 pages long and EVERY two-page spread has at least one illustration; most have three or four. The illustrations are in black & white and monochrome color, and there are several sections of full-color pages scattered through the book. Multiple orthogonal views are provided for many spacecraft, which will make this book a valuable reference for scale modelers. The reproduction quality of the illustrations is great, and the cover and binding are solid and of high quality. I know the book is durable because there is a well-thumbed copy at the local library that is still as sturdy as ever.
This is one of those books that you can dive into at random and not look up from for hours. If my house catches on fire, I'm going to grab this on the way out. It's spaceship heaven.
If the book has one flaw aside from some missing subjects (and I understand that this is subjective to me) it is that the illusrations and photos, while excellent and numerous, most are not keyed to a specific entry in the book. An illustration can occur on the same page, or pages before, or pages after its reference in made in the book. It means in many cases, flipping back and forth and searching to find the back-story to the illustration. A simple fig. 1-2 (example) or other identifier on the illustation with a matching reference in the text would have increased my enjoyment.
I still highly reccomend this boos to anyone with a interest in the subject. I continue to find intersting facts and previously unknown knowledge every time I open this book. The funkiness with the illutrations is the only reason I'm giving this book 4 stars.
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