Soviet Arctic dam map

The Soviet Plan to Thaw the Arctic

These days, we worry the Arctic is getting too hot. Half a century ago, the Soviets wished it was warmer — and they thought of a way to thaw the frigid North.

Popular Mechanics reported in June 1956 that Soviet authorities were considering building a 55-mile dam between Alaska and Siberia. The barrier would keep icebergs and arctic currents out of the Pacific, allowing warm southern currents to sweep unchecked up the eastern shore of Siberia and down the western coast of North America. Warm water from the Pacific Ocean would be pumped back into the Arctic and transform the once-frozen region into a “blossoming landscape”. Continue reading “The Soviet Plan to Thaw the Arctic”

Art by Sandor Leidenfrost

The Art of Sandor Leidenfrost

Alexander Leydenfrost was born Sandor Leidenfrost in Debrecen in 1888, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He was from a noble family and studied at the Royal Academy of Fine and Applied Arts of Budapest.

The First World War and the subsequent collapse of the monarchy convinced Leydenfrost to emigrate to the United States in 1923. He changed his name to Alexander, which was easier to pronounce for Americans, and found employment as an industrial illustrator. Continue reading “The Art of Sandor Leidenfrost”

Airliner by Norman Bel Geddes

Norman Bel Geddes’ Fantastical Airliner

Norman Bel Geddes was an American industrial designer and futurist who had a major influence on the streamlined Art Deco design of the 1930s and 40s.

Few of Geddes’ designs came to fruition. A notable exception was the General Motors Pavilion at the 1939 New York World’s Fair, also known as Futurama.

One of his unrealized designs was “Airliner Number 4,” a nine-deck amphibian airliner that he sketched in 1929. Continue reading “Norman Bel Geddes’ Fantastical Airliner”

MCM Comic Con Belgium

MCM Comic Con Belgium Brussels
The author at MCM Comic Con Belgium, Brussels, November 6 (Hilde Heyvaert)

MCM Com Con has built up quite a lot of fame with its conventions in the United Kingdom, in particular the one in London. They are now expanding to mainland Europe and slowly building up that same reputation here. If the first edition of MCM Comic Con Belgium is anything to go by, they’re on the right track. Continue reading “MCM Comic Con Belgium”

Deutschland 83

Deutschland 83
Deutschland 83

Deutschland 83 is Germany’s answer to the highly successful American television drama The Americans. Whereas the latter follows two well-trained KGB “illegals” in the United States, Deutschland 83 centers on a young East German border guard who is unwillingly thrust into the middle of a nuclear standoff.

The two series have a powerful theme in common: the way in which the extreme polarization of the Cold War could tear families apart. Continue reading “Deutschland 83”

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

Guy Ritchie — maker of the two recent steampunky Sherlock Holmes movies starring Robert Downey, Jr. — gives us a great spy-fi comedy adventure this summer that dieselpunk fans ought to be interested in.

Although the The Man from U.N.C.L.E., based on the 1960s television series of the same name, takes place in the post-dieselpunk era, it contains many of the genre’s tropes and themes: spies, unrepentant Nazis in a plot against the two superpowers, missing nuclear weapons, speedboats, helicopters, industrial decors reminiscent of Thunderbirds and dashing Space Age costumes. Continue reading “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”