Book Review: Spaceships of Science Fiction

PrintE-mail Written by Martin Unsworth

Review: Spaceships of Science Fiction / Editor: Piers Beckley / Publisher: Ian Allen Publishing / Release Date: Out Now

Ahh.. the wonderful world of the 'bookazine' Not quite a book, and too chunky to be a magazine.

This is actually quite a departure for Ian Allen Publishing, their forte being trains and planes.

The good news, however is Sci-Fi geeks have been treated with the same respect as the train spotters, and 116 page journey through the history of the spaceship is quite a delight.

Beginning with Melies' 1902 classic Le Voyage dans la lune (A Trip To The Moon) and taking in Buster Crabbe's Flash Gordon serials, Forbidden Planet, 2001 right up to Firefly.

It is nice to see forgotten gems from the past like It! The Terror From Beyond Space sit along side Gerry Anderson creations and Event Horizon, Outland and Sunshine nestled amongst the obligatory Star Trek and Star Wars coverage.

Like the title suggests, this is not just another re-hash of synopsis of films, it is a nice look at the machinery involved in the films we know and love. There are some nice facts and figures and specifications for a lot of the ships, so even the biggest fan might learn something new. No doubt the real hardcore fan will be scouring the info looking for mistakes – I can picture it now, “This says Slave One is 70ft long, when I know it was 71ft!

It is no surprise that the craft from Star Trek and Star Wars take up a large proportion of the content, but not so much that it is over powering, and certainly not at the expense of other, lesser known ships.

In an attempt to put all the Sci-Fi into context, there is some chapters to explain the theories of space flight in fantasy, with wormholes, hyperspace and warp drive amongst other explained away in a paragraph.

A minor quibble being the absence of the TV version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (the film version is given one page, but with very little detail on the ships) but maybe that is just me being picky. Plus points go to the section on Industrial Light and Magic, but only because it features a picture of George Lucas looking more smug than I’ve ever seen.

Spaceships of Science Fiction is subtitled 'Sci-Fi Focus Volume One' so I am keen to see where the next bookazine will go – an in depth look at aliens would certainly be worth a look.

While not essential, this certainly is a nice read, and costs about the same as you would pay for a 'special edition' of some genre film mags, but without being full of what the editor thinks is 'cool' at the moment.

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