For a while, the Soviet Union was ahead in the Space Race. It launched the first artificial satellite, Sputnik, in 1957. Yuri Gagarin was the first man in space in 1961. Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space two years later.
These early victories spurred the United States into action. President John F. Kennedy set a goal of putting an American on the Moon before 1970. NASA, created by his predecessor, Dwight Eisenhower, received massive funding. The Apollo program succeeded while the Soviet space program languished. Following the 1969 Moon landing, both sides returned their attention to Earth.
What if they hadn’t? What if the American program had failed and the Soviet Union had continued its exploration of — and expansion into — space?
Continue reading “The Soviet Union in Space”
Andrei Sokolov was one of the most prolific Russian space artists. He worked closely with cosmonauts, in particular his friend Alexei Leonov, to make sure his depictions were realistic. Some of his works were carried into space aboard the 1971 Soyuz 11 mission and later transferred to the Salyut space station.
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Robert Theodore McCall (1919-2010) was an iconic illustrator of the Space Age. He created concept art for 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) and was hired by NASA to document the history of the Space Race.
He also painted many scenes of what the future of space exploration might look like.
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An American military base on the Moon, defended by nuclear grenade launchers. If that doesn’t sound like an atomicpunk fantasy, I don’t know what does.
Except it was a real plan.
A 1959 feasibility study, codenamed Project Horizon, argued for a lunar outpost, manned by about a dozen soldiers, to keep the Moon out of Soviet hands.
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Maciej Rebisz is the man behind Space That Never Was, which imagines the Space Race didn’t end. Spacecraft based on the Apollo mission that first landed men on the Moon now travel to Venus. The Soviets reached the Moon. There are crewed missions to Mars. Private space companies flourish. The people of Earth, as Rebisz puts it, have “never stopped dreaming big and aiming high.”
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Vincent Di Fate is an American fantasy and science-fiction illustrator. He started his career in the 1960s drawing for pulp magazines and has since produced artwork for IBM, NASA and the National Geographic Society, among others.
He is also the author of some 300 articles and three books and a professor at the State University of New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology.
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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.
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Kurt Röschl (1923-1986) was an Austrian graphic artist and painter who illustrated various science-fiction stories in the 1950s. There’s not much information about him online, but it seems he illustrated quite a lot of books for Erich Dolezal (1902-1990), another Austrian.
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Imagine a space opera-style movie with both casual, practical and elaborate costumes, visually pleasing combat scenes, all kinds of alien, human and everything in-between species, interesting villains and bombastic space ships as well as magnificant scenery.
Well, you don’t have to imagine it any longer, because the creators of the Matrix trilogy are back with a new cyberpunk sci-fi epos: Jupiter Ascending.
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Dieselpunk fans will be familiar with the 2012 movie Iron Sky, which shows how a group of Nazis fled to the Moon after Hitler’s defeat in 1945 and return to Earth with flying discs and a huge zeppelin-like spaceship.
Not all may be aware that the fantasy of a German Moon base precedes this film.
Continue reading “Nazis on the Moon”