I was so excited when I found out this weekend that the classic science fiction book The Runaway Robot by Lester Del Ray is back in print. This is one of the first scifi novels I read as a kid, and may explain my general obsession with robots, especially the idea of a sentient robotic companion. This book has been out of print for years and I’m thrilled to see it’s available again for young scifi fans to enjoy.
Original cover from 1965 by Wayne Blickenstaff. Source.
The story is about a boy named Paul who has been raised with a robotic companion called Rex. Rex’s main role is to be a protector for Paul on the moon of Ganymede, but they become inseparable friends. When Paul and his family are called back to Earth they have to leave Rex behind. The robot’s bond with Paul is so strong that Rex decides to stowaway on the ship, and that’s when the adventure begins.
I actually have an original copy from 1968 that was a hand-me-down from my father (same cover as above). This story influenced me so much as a young reader that I took the book with me when I moved away to college, and it’s still displayed proudly on my bookshelf. I prefer the original cover art by Wayne Blickenstaff to the new edition. Many of the chapters also have some lovely vintage black and white art.
If you can find a copy of the original printing, I highly recommend it for the beautiful vintage art.
A fun factoid: the novel was actually written by Paul W. Fairman, based on an outline by del Rey.
A little background on what the Retrofuturist reviews will be: I don’t consider myself a critic, so these reviews will more focus on how the book, movie, TV show, etc. embody retrofuture elements or execute the retrofuturist genre and what I generally think about the piece. So here we go:
I had never seen Disney and Pixar’s 2004 film The Incredibles before last week. This is insane because 1) I love Brad Bird’s The Iron Giant and 2) I love Pixar. However, I’m not very interested in superhero or comic book movies in general, so the plot never really grabbed me. But after seeing some of the architecture and interior design of the film online, I decided I wanted to check it out.
Note: There may be some spoilers to follow, so if you’re like me and it takes you over a decade to watch a movie, be warned.
Bob and Helen’s retro-furnished living room.
The Incredibles is about Bob and Helen Parr and their children Violet, Dash, and Jack-Jack, who are “Supers” (humans with superpowers) trying to live bland suburban lives and hide their superpowers from a world that disapproves of them. Bob (the former Mr. Incredible) is completely dissatisfied with his new life, until he receives a message asking him to take on a secret mission to destroy a malfunctioning robot. Eventually he discovers this is all the evil plot of the super-villain Syndrome.
Continue reading “The Incredibles – Retrofuturist Review”
One of the reasons I started this blog is to preserve visions of the future from yesteryear and also to support and highlight others with the same mission.
Singularity & Co. saves vintage books that are out of print and languishing into obscurity by tracking down the copyright holders, getting their blessing, and then digitally preserving fabulous vintage science fiction stories for future generations.
Right now Singularity & Co. have a successful Kickstarter campaign running with about two weeks lefts. This is their second campaign after their original campaign two years ago that allowed them to publish 36 ebooks and open a bookstore in Brooklyn.
Their current campaign aims to raise money to rescue even more vintage scifi books. The campaign has already exceeded the original $15,000 goal, and for every $10K beyond that goal, they will archive an additional 10 books.
This is a great project with fantastic rewards at the $10 and $25 levels to receive some of these rescued scifi classics. If you enjoy vintage science fiction and love reading, consider supporting this awesome project.
I hate feminine hygiene ads. Modern ones are ridiculous and vintage ads are cringeworthy. But I discovered half of this ad on Pinterest today and I was so intrigued that something so epic was ever created and published in magazines that I had to find out more.
This lady is fierce. She is an astronaut. She is a pioneer. She has fabulously styled hair. Ain’t no period gonna hold her back in her advancement in a male dominated field.
And then I found the other half of the ad.
Her friend is less adventurous: a DJ heading to spin some discs at a retro-future themed rave.
I understand why the first image is the most shared of this vintage two-page advertisement, with the courages space-age styled astronaut and less repetitive use of the word “napkin”.
Click to view the full ad
More power to you!
This vintage advertisement from 1958 features a vision of your personal flying car, and if you’re still waiting for this one with bated breath, don’t worry they’re working on it!
The advertisement, paid for by American’s Independent Electric Light and Power Companies, brags about how electricity will play a part in the higher standards of living thanks to the technology of the future.
One of their predictions is right on the money, since now children can “dial a library book, a lecture or a classroom demonstration right into your home–with sound.” (I don’t know that kids are much more interested in doing homework though.)
The rest of the predictions have not panned out: dishes washed without soap or water! Beds made at the touch of a button! And of course, the Jetson-style flying saucer car that plugs into any electric outlet for recharging.
See the full size ad at the source
We already know I’m a huge retro-scifi fan, but one of the things that irks me the most about vintage magazine and book covers is how often the women on them are portrayed as “damsels in distress”. They’re often falling victim to evil robots, scary space monsters, or clothing that just won’t stay on their busty bodies.
Although those sexist images are the ones that most often come to mind when you think of pulp stories of yesteryear, there are some glorious vintage covers that feature ladies as more than a trope.
The Conquest of the Moon Pool
Buy an original copy of the magazine.
From “Fantastic Novels” September 1948, we get this interesting cover illustration by Lawrence Sterne Stevens for the story “The Conquest of the Moon Pool
” by Abraham Merritt. Who the blonde woman in the Marylin Monroe-style dress on the cover is I don’t know, but it’s evident she’s in charge with her laser-gun and her army of toad-like creatures from the center of the earth. [Source
Continue reading “14 Vintage Scifi & Fantasy Covers Where Women Aren’t “Damseled””
I found this gem of a retrofuturistic movie clip today from the 1958 German film Bühne frei für Marika (translated to Stage Free for Marika). The musical comedy stars German triple-threat Marika Rökk as a former dancer who has recently divorced her husband and is trying to re-start her career. The only plot summary I could find was in German, and even with Google Translate it was a little tricky to figure out how this video comes into play, though it seems she’s starring in a sci-fi themed musical.
The clip is of a song called Mir ist so Langweilig (translated to: I’m so Bored). In it Marika is an alien girl living on a planet entirely populated by portly men with antenas on their heads. And they are boring. As she laments her uneventful existence, she notices through her telescope the awesome fun dance party people are having on Earth and takes off in a rocket to join in the fun.
Continue reading “A Bored Alien Travels to Earth in a 1958 German Musical”
These vintage sci-fi themed advertisements from 1968 for a now defunct product-line called Tomorrow’s Lestoil display some slick atom-punk style space suits and some outdated projections about women’s roles on the Moon. (For modern times, we are stuck with just general Lestoil.)
Unfortunately, women have yet to set foot on the Moon, and Lestoil’s hope to dominate the lunar home-cleaning market also did not come to fruition (in fact, the 12 men we’ve sent to the Moon have done no cleaning and have actually dirtied up the place).
While I love the design of the helmet, the practicality of it comes into question as it’s not air-tight and she’s not even wearing gloves. I wonder if this is another failed prediction on the part of Lestoil’s marketing department, attempting to kick-start helmet based fashion trends of the future, once our domed moon cities make space suits unnecessary.
At least Mom is making Junior responsible for his messy Martian friend…
Check out this gorgeous retrofuturist-style original art by Tomas Mullar for the cover of Technicall magazine.
I’m absolutely in love with these Acme Archives vintage-style posters.
Introducing the New Axiom (Wall-E)
Power Droid (Star Wars)
See more at Acme Archives.