I have such a sweet spot for retro-style art, especially advertising and illustrations from the 1950s and 60s. It’s not surprising that when I saw the covers for these ABC books illustrated by Greg Paprocki, they caught my eye.
I have fond memories as a kid digging through boxes of books passed down to me from my parents who grew up in the 1960s. My favorites were the comic books, sci-fi books, and the old science books. The science books were great, with fantastic illustrations of space travel and technology. (I especially liked to get my hands on books about the speculations on the future of technology.) As much as I enjoyed those old science books, a lot of the information was outdated in my youth and probably isn’t something I’d want to give to any future children of my own. Recently I discovered some educational children books that present their science with the classic atomic age style of illustration I love from those vintage books.
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.
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.
Discovered this great photoset on Flickr today: The World of the Future: Future Cities from 1979.
Right off the bat I love the foresight of the solar-heated houses and the smart-ish wristwatch (though who would want to watch TV on such a small screen?).
The Home of the Future
The living room of the future, complete with a wall television (check), video phone (check-ish, if we count smart phones), antique film camera (check, especially if the guy in the back is film student using a Bolex), and bowl of fruit (check).
The technology I wish we had: drink serving robotic companion and that spaceship control panel-looking media center (do you think it plays records or is the laserdisc player of our dreams?).
The headphones, record collection, and Bolex camera in the back do make me wonder if we’re peaking into the home of future hipsters. Maybe those jumpsuits are the latest hipster fashion trend?
Perhaps the Russians have secret plans to send cosmonauts… (….maybe?)
The moonbase, appropriately named after Neil Armstrong and expected to be fully established by the year 2000. This underground base would be established for the noble purpose of mining the Moon of all of its natural resources and making money for the “Moonie” run corporations.