Southern Man

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Final Frontier

Southern Man is a child of the Space Age. He vividly remembers watching Neil Armstrong put bootprints on another planet, live on television, and hardly slept during the dramatic return of Apollo 13. He sat wide-eyed in classrooms watching the Skylab astronauts and zero-g science experiments on closed-circuit television. He built countless models of rockets and spaceships both real and fanciful. He devoured Southern Father's old collection of science magazines which almost always packed with articles about our future in space and covers illustrating fanciful future cities and space stations and lunar colonies and our inevitable journey to the stars.

Southern Man was promised all of these things as a child. Promised!

And he (like every other professor and graduate student on that terrible day) cancelled class to rush home and watch in tears as President Reagan sadly announced the deaths of seven brave explorers. And a few decade later (we ran those shuttles for how long?) we lost another one...

Fourteen courageous souls...may they ever dwell among the stars. 

And today, over forty years after that giant leap, the USA can't even put a human into low Earth orbit. And Southern Man now teaches students whose parents never lived at a time when we ventured more than a few hundred miles from our homeworld.

Southern Man's view of the future that never happened will forever be colored by the vivid imaginations of the illustrators of that glorious era, whose work appeared in magazines like Life (which were read by everyone) and on all three (!) television broadcast channels. Like this one by Robert McCall: that moon base hasn't happened yet but he flat out nailed the iPad.

For every dollar that NASA spent on McCall's work they probably got a million in appropriations.

McCall also did artwork for Stanley Kubrick's film 2001.

Another space station under construction. Artist unknown.

This one reminds Southern Man of those wonderful Tom Corbett: Space Cadet books.

What could be better than rockets and a space babe? Bonus: she's a redhead! 

Southern Man mourns the future we never had and will always dwell at least a bit in the worlds dreamt of in the Golden Age of science fiction and the great space illustrators of the last half century. But, come to think of it, we do have a thing or two today that they never imagined. Which is better, the world that is, or the world that might have been? 

Hat tip to Instapundit for linking to this article at Ultra Swank Retro Adventures.


At Monday, May 14, 2012, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good post. I never know what to expect from you.


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