Posts Tagged ‘Space Travel’

1949 Newsreel Footage of Police Examining Crashed Saucer in Maryland

May 23, 2023

This is another video covering flying saucers. It’s a very short piece from a Pathe newsreel showing American police examining the ragged remains of what is described as a ‘flying saucer’ in Maryland. The piece says that it was found while they were looking for a missing Dr Caldwell, and may be a solution to the flying saucer mystery. This was some of other, competing explanations for flying saucers were as popular as the idea that they were alien spacecraft. Many people suspected they were Nazi or Russian secret weapons. The suggestion here is that the saucer, and the rest of those sighted, may have been the creations of the missing scientist. I find this fascinating, as I haven’t heard of this incident before. It raises several questions. One of these is whether the remains found were those of a genuine saucer-shaped aircraft and, obviously, whether there was any connection to the missing scientist. Could it also have been a fake by the authorities, designed to put the public at ease and off the scent? On the other hand, it also has official aircraft markings on its tail and the Americans were experimenting with saucer-shaped aircraft at the time, so it could easily have been one of these. It would be very interesting to find out more.

Model of Ancient Indian Vimana Aircraft Aerodynamically Tested

May 23, 2023

This is another UFO-related video from the History channel, which has become notorious for having abandoned history in favour of programmes about UFOs. The Vimanas were flying ships recorded in the ancient Hindu scriptures about 1,800 years ago. Some Indian nationalists and that part of the UFO milieu interested in an ancient aliens and lost high technology have suggested that this indicates that Indians knew about aircraft and space travel from far back in their history. The video shows one aircraft engineer building a model of a Vimana as described by the Hindu scriptures and then testing it in a small window tunnel to see whether it would in fact fly. The test shows that it would have generated lift, and that it therefore would have been able to take flight. The engineer very carefully tells the interviewer this, and I noticed that he doesn’t actually say whether this indicated that it existed in reality or not. I’m sceptical of the Vimana, as I think they’re probably mythological. But this test is interesting.

Thames Steampunk Parade

April 23, 2023

Steampunk is the Science Fiction genre that imagines what it would have been like if the Victorians really did have space and time travel, cars, aircraft and computers. It’s inspired by H.G. Wells and Jules Verne, but also William Gibson’s and Bruce Sterling’s The Difference Engine. That book, by two of the founders of Cyberpunk, depicted an alternative Victorian Britain where Lord Byron was now king and Babbage’s pioneering mechanical computer, the Difference Engine of the title, had been built. In fact the scientists and inventors of the 19th century did indeed produce some astonishingly modern devices. There were steam carriages very much like cars, Cayley’s glider anticipates the modern airplane while the French inventor, Giffard, flew around the Eiffel Tower in the 1850s in an airship. This glimpse of a future past and its people comes from the Gordonlawrencevideos channel on YouTube and is of the 2018 parade. As well as the people in costumes, it begins with very Steampunk cars and bikes, some of which look very ‘Chitty Chitty Bang-Bang’, if not ‘Whacky Races’. But it’s all fun, and the ingenuity in creating the vehicles, costumes and other props is brilliant.

Mathematician Eric Weinstein Wonders If Aliens Have an FTL Drive Not Based on Einsteinian Physics

March 21, 2023

This one is more for the science and space nerds among the readers of this blog. This video is a short piece from Eric Weinstein’s appearance on the Joe Rogan show. Weinstein’s an American mathematician who’s seriously dissatisfied with the state of physics and cosmology at the moment. In a previous video he takes square aim at Quantum Gravity. This is an attempt to unify two very different theories – Einstein’s theory of relativity, which works extremely well on the macro level, but doesn’t extend to the quantum world, and quantum physics, which is the opposite. It works extremely well at the level of atomic particles, but doesn’t work at the level of people, planets, cars and the like. Weinstein’s complaint is that great minds have worked for over 70 years on Quantum Gravity without any success. However, because of the prestige of some of the great minds promoting the theory, like Ed Witten and the author Michio Kaku, people are still pursuing it and anyone who speaks against it is regarded as a crank. Weinstein has come up with his own theory, Geometric Unity, which posits there are 4 or 6 extra dimensions.

In this video he talks about Faster Than Light travel. He’s dismissive of the Alcubierre drive, which states that it may be possible to create a warp drive by warping space around the space ship. It sounds like he doesn’t believe it would work because the force of gravity is so weak. The Earth’s gravity barely warps space, for example. He believes that if aliens do have a space drive, it operates on a theory that has transcended Einstein. This would involve there being several dimensions of time. He describes how time might work if there are two or three dimensions of it, but then it becomes impossible for physicists at the moment to imagine what it would be like with more. He says that physicists imagine there being extra physical dimensions all the time, but the only physicist imagining what it would be like if there were two dimensions of time is Turkish Jewish fellow. And indeed only a little while ago there was a refereed scientific paper suggesting Faster Than Light travel could be possible if our universe did have two temporal dimensions.

This is advanced physics at the level where it starts to hurt the brain. Weinstein, however, appears to believe that UFOs are real, or that there is a genuine conspiracy around them. I also wondered if multiple temporal dimensions would explain John Keel’s Ultraterrestrials and some of the tales about the fairies. I’m think here of the tales in which someone stumbles or is abducted into fairyland, and when they finally emerge into the normal world centuries have passed although to them it has been only minutes or hours.

Modified Version of Einstein’s Relativity Would Allow Faster Than Light Travel

January 3, 2023

I came across a really interesting piece of science news yesterday. Scientists at the universities of Warsaw and Singapore have proposed a modification of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, which would permit objects to travel faster than the speed of light. They propose that this would be possible in a universe that was pretty much the opposite of ours with the number of space and time dimensions. Our universe has three dimensions of space and one of time, although it has been suggested that we may also have extra dimensions of space as well, but which are currently rolled up smaller than atoms. The universe the scientists modelled had only one dimension of space and three of time. Objects in this universe could travel faster than the speed of light, but these objects would still experience the speed of light as an unbreakable barrier from their point of view. The reports say that it’s unknown at the moment how this theory could be tested and observed, but they’re working on it.

This is very interesting, but I don’t know what help it is for the scientists and engineers who are seriously interested in FTL travel and warp drives, because as far as I and everybody else is aware at the moment, we don’t live in such a universe. This would only become relevant to us if somehow it was proved that we did, or a way could be found of entering and exiting such a universe similar to the hyperspace theory of FTL travel. Hyperspace is a dimension in which spacecraft can exceed the speed of light. The idea is that a spaceship enters hyperspace at the beginning of its journey to the stars, and comes out of it at the end. Unfortunately, no-one knows how to enter such a dimension. Furthermore, work a few years ago said that in hyperspace, although it would allow FTL travel from the point of view of our universe, for reasons that unfortunately I’ve forgotten the speed of light would remain as a barrier there, so in effect it would still forbid exceeding the speed of light. This new theory suggests that there are universes in which the speed of light would not be a barrier, but there’s still the problem of getting to them and utilising them.

As for extra dimensions of time, I did wonder what our world would be like if there were extra, hidden time dimensions. Would this explain the folktales in which a person travels to fairyland only to find years or centuries have passed since they left when they return?

Charles Cole and the Origin of the Belief that Jesus was an Extraterrestrial

December 21, 2022

I’m sorry I haven’t been posting much over the last few days. Our boiler here packed in last Friday, and we’ve spent the past few days trying to get it fixed. Part of the problem has been trying to get through to the gas company that installed it. We were on the phone for three hours the other day trying to get through to someone. But we’ve managed to sort things out and hopefully it’ll all be fixed before too long.

I’ve started reading a few Science Fiction books I ordered a few months ago, but have only just got around to reading. They’re collections of early, classic SF short stories edited by Mike Ashley and published by the British Library. Each collection is devoted to a different theme. There’s one on the Menace of the Machine, which traces the idea of robots rebelling and taking over from the 19th century to 60s predictions of the rise of the internet. Born of the Sun is an anthology of SF stories set on the various worlds of our solar system, from Mercury out to Pluto, including the false planet Vulcan.. This was a planet a 19th century astronomer believed he had seen inside the orbit of Venus. It’s existence has since been disproved, but as the book says, it lives on in the name for Mr. Spock’s home planet in Star Trek. Each of the stories is prefaced by a brief history of these worlds in Science Fiction. And these are often fascinating.

The introduction to the short story about Mars in Born of the Sun notes the way the planet has also been used to explore theological and religious issues, such as in C.S. Lewis’ Out of the Silent Planet. This was one of a trilogy of books, the others being Perelandra, or Voyage to Venus and That Hideous Strength, all with a very strong theological dimension. The other planets of the solar system, in Lewis’ SF, are unfallen and ruled by angels, and there is a war going on with the demonic forces on Earth. In Out of the Silent Planet a philologist, Ransom, is kidnapped by an evil scientist and his commercial partner, and taken to Mars. Ransom manages to escape and at last makes contact with the indigenous Martians. Meeting the Oyarsa, the angel ruling the planet, he is told of its Edenic state and that neither he nor his captors can remain there, and they are sent back to Earth.

But SF stories about Mars with Christian theological dimension predate Lewis’ by some years. The book states that in 1901 Charles Cole published a story, Visitors from Mars, in which Jesus is raised on the Red Planet. He is sent to Earth to help us, and rescued by the Martians at the Crucifixion, who return Him to Mars. This is very similar to some of the beliefs among the UFO fraternity about Christ. The Aetherius Society, set up in the 1950s by ‘Sir’ George King, knight of the Byzantine Empire (self-awarded) teaches that Christ is alive and well and on Venus, along with Aetherius, an ascended being who sends messages of spiritual improvement to us via King. It also reminds me of Robert Heinlein’s novel, Stranger in a Strange Land, about a human raised by Martians who has great spiritual and psychic powers, and who founds a religion back on Earth. This was one of the influences on the emerging New Age movement back in the 1960s. One of the first neo-pagan religions was the Church of All Worlds, which was an attempt to put the religion founded by the book’s hero into practice. Heinlein himself wasn’t impressed with it, not least because he didn’t believe psychic powers existed. It might be that Cole’s book and other SF stories of the period in which the peoples of Venus and Mars were depicted as angels started that line of mystical speculation which eventually produced the New Age idea that Jesus was an alien. Or it could just be that it prefigured them when they arose later in the century with the emergence of the UFO phenomenon.

Graham Hancock – A Crank, Possibly, But Definitely No Racist

December 9, 2022

My discipline, archaeology, has been massively going after Graham Hancock this week. Hancock’s ah, um,, ‘maverick thinker’, I suppose you’d say, who’s been presenting a series on Netflix arguing that thousands of years ago there was a highly advanced civilisation that perished in a cataclysm, but passed on its secrets to other ancient civilisations around the world. This has understandably annoyed archaeologists and a number have put up videos, some of them lengthy and quite detailed, disproving him. Hancock’s been promoting this idea for some time now. Going back two decades and more, he had a series on Channel 4 with the title ‘Water World’ or something like it, also arguing that there was a global advanced civilisation, whose monuments have been covered up by a flood, as recorded in the Bible and other ancient religions. Now I’m sure that Hancock is wrong, and the criticisms of his dodgy history and archaeology are right. But I take exception to one of the other accusations levelled at him, which is that he is racist.

This accusation is partly based on his false ascription of the achievements of indigenous cultures around the world to this putative prehistoric civilisation. It denies those people the credit for their achievements. But the accusation is also that it’s similar to the ideas of some bonkers White supremacist groups, who are using Hancock’s ideas to promote themselves. One archaeologist posted a video saying that Hancock should have disavowed the use of his ideas by these fascists. It also criticised him for being friends with Joe Rogan and Jordan Peterson. There are fair criticisms to be made of both of these men. Peterson’s an arch-conservative and anti-feminist, but hardly a Nazi. Rogan was pushing anti-vax nonsense and is an advocate for some mind-expanding drugs. A few years ago people were accusing him of being a ‘gateway to the Alt-Right’. Possibly, but he also talks to people from the left, who are otherwise denied a platform by the lamestream media. Journalists like Abbie Martin, who talked about Israeli propaganda against the Palestinians and how she found, when she visited the beleaguered Arab nation, that the reality was nothing like the picture painted by the Israeli state. He’s also talked to biologists and journalists exposing the lies of the trans ideology. This is not Alt-Right, no matter what groups like Mermaids, Stonewall, Antifa and the rest say. The people criticising the gender ideology tend to be radical feminists, many from the socialist left. Part of their opposition against it is that it reduces masculinity and femininity to traditional, stereotypical sex roles. One of the feminist vloggers interviewed one of the leading activists against the trans ideology, who was furious that people like her were being presented as right-wing. Another feminist activist criticised Matt Walsh for misrepresenting feminists as uniformly in favour of trans ideology, and then criticising them for it. Rogan gives a voice to people outside the mainstream. Sometimes it’s rubbish, and sometimes it’s immensely valuable. He has also interviewed a number of Black celebs, so again, not a Nazi.

The White supremacist ideas being referred to seem to me to be the Traditionalist ideology of Giulio Evola. Evola was an Italian Fascist and occultist, who was a major ideological influence on the scumbuckets behind the Bologna railway bombing in the 1970s. A fascist group bombed the station, killing and maiming over a hundred people. Evola believed that there was a strongly hierarchical, ‘Aryan’ civilisation in Hyperborea in the arctic, which was responsible for all the subsequent cultural achievements of the civilisations around the world. This is twaddle. But Hancock’s ideas are also similar to those of others, which don’t come from people in the fascist fringe. A couple of years ago I picked up an old book, Colony Earth, which had been published in the 1970s. This claimed that Earth may have been an extraterrestrial colony, whose advanced civilisation was destroyed in a nuclear war. The pyramids may have been fall-out shelters, as were the megalithic tumuli in Britain. It’s an interesting read, but certainly wrong. I think Charles Berlitz, who started the Bermuda Triangle myth, also believed in this, supporting it in one of his books with artefacts from Aztec tombs that look like aircraft. Berlitz is someone else, who I’m fairly certain has absolutely no connection to fascism whatsoever.

And I don’t believe Hancock is either.

When he was travelling the world on his Channel 4 series he was accompanied by his wife, who is Sri Lankan. Now, White supremacists do not, as a rule, marry dark-skinned people from outside Europe. If they do, they’re angrily denounced as ‘race traitors’. In one edition of this earlier series, Hancock reported on the mysterious ruins of ancient city found off the coast of the Bay of Bengal. He was shown talking respectfully to an Indian gent, who told him how such findings tie in with Hindu ideas of the antiquity of civilisation and ancient Indian legends of flooded cities. Again, this isn’t quite behaviour you’d expect from a genuine White supremacist. He also travelled to South and Central America, where he proposed the old theory that the Mayans, Aztecs and other ancient Amerindian civilisations must have learned how to build their pyramids from someone else. I think this was once again ancient Egypt. But who brought that knowledge to the New World? Black Africans. He pointed to an Olmec bas relief of a warrior’s head, and declared its features to be ‘proudly African’. If this is racism, then its Afrocentrism rather than White supremacy. As for the ancient race behind these monuments, Hancock doesn’t say what colour they are. In this, he breaks with some of his predecessors, who say they must have been White because the legends of numerous Amerindian peoples state that vital parts of their culture were brought to them by White gods. Hancock is therefore less racialised in what he says than his predecessors.

I disagree profoundly with Hancock’s ideas, but he has a right to say them like everyone else. And if it piques people interest in these ancient cultures so that they want to find out what they were really like, that’s all to the good. But I do think it’s profoundly wrong to accuse him of racism. That just further cheapens the word and weakens it as a weapon against the real thing.

Video on Orion, the US Navy’s Nuclear Space Battleship

December 4, 2022

I found this very interesting video on the Found and Explained channel on YouTube. It’s about Orion, a massive space battleship designed, but fortunately never built, by the US navy. The vehicle would have been propelled by nuclear bombs thrown out from the rear of the spacecraft. The force of the explosion would have been caught by a buffer plate on four retracting struts. This would have absorbed the shock, while allowing the spacecraft to move at immense speeds. The ship would have had a complement of 120 men, who would have rested and worked, at least at times, in a centrifuge that would have generated artificial gravity. It would also have carried four shuttle craft, and an arsenal of 140 nuclear bombs. It would also have carried another type of nuclear bomb, the details of which are still classified. This would have been thrown out of the spacecraft and when it exploded would have released a deadly beam of charged particles at its target. It would also have been equipped with a number of conventional naval cannons. I think the intention was to dominate the Earth militarily from space. The navy also planned a number of peaceful missions, including expeditions to Saturn by the 1970s. They didn’t work out any detailed plans but created a detailed model which they showed to Kennedy to persuade him to back the project. It had the opposite effect. Kennedy realised that it would have made the Cold War much worse, and wisely cancelled it.

The video’s sponsored by a Star Trek computer game, and so there’s much comparison between the USS Enterprise and other ships in that series with the Orion battleship. It also goes into the methods by which the spacecraft could be used to become a real starship enabling humanity to reach Alpha Centauri. With its conventional nuclear fuel, it could attain 3.3 per cent of the speed of light, which would enable humanity to reach Alpha Centauri in 144 years. But other techniques could be used, including matter-antimatter annihilation. This could propel the ship to 80 per cent of the speed of light, cutting the journey time to a decade or so. Unfortunately, anti-matter is immensely expensive and so unless or until a cheap method of mass producing it is found, that means of propulsion is impossible.

Sagan mentions the Orion spacecraft in Cosmos, and how it could have taken humanity to the stars. He doesn’t mention, however, the fact that it was intended as a warship. Either he didn’t know, which is unlikely, or that aspect of the ship’s design was classified at the time, and he wasn’t at liberty to divulge it. However, the use of bombs to push a spacecraft forward is actually a sound one. It was tested experimentally on a scale model, and there are clips of this about. The idea goes back to before the Russian Revolution, when an imprisoned revolutionary sketched a platform taking off from the ground propelled by exploding gunpowder bombs beneath it.

Nuclear explosions in space are currently banned under international law, which has helped to prevent atomic war but means that so far only chemical rockets can be used for space exploration. The Beeb a while ago made a science fiction programme about humans exploring the solar system in a nuclear rocket and confidently predicted that, although now fiction, this would actually happen sometime in this century. I’m also struck about how closely the spacecraft resembles the Discovery, the spacecraft that travels to meet the alien monolith around Jupiter in Kubrick’s 2001. That was also nuclear propelled, and its crew also lived in a giant centrifuge to simulate gravity.

I also wonder if JFK cancelled the project for financial as well as geopolitical reasons. Such as spacecraft would have been massively expensive. As it was, the Moon programme absorbed 5 per cent of America’s GDP, and that was for conventional, chemical rockets carrying no more than three men. I can see the construction of a spacecraft like Orion practically bankrupting the entire country, just as trying to keep up with Reagan’s wretched Star Wars programme did the Soviet Union. Scientists have estimated that the technology isn’t necessarily the problem with building spacecraft to other stars. We can almost do it now. It’s just the expense. It’ll be about 200 years before the world can afford to build such spacecraft.

One day a ship like Orion may be built to take us to Alpha Centauri and beyond. But hopefully, not as a warship.

Sketch of Legendary Astronomy Author and Presenter Patrick Moore

December 3, 2022

Moore was for many years the face of astronomy on television in the UK, thanks to him presenting The Sky at Night from the 1950s almost to his death. He was known as much for his eccentric appearance as his subject, so there were plenty of jokes about him wearing the same rumpled suit down the decades. He was sent up on programmes from The Two Ronnies to Dead Ringers, who spoofed him as ‘Old Moore’, a fairground fortune teller. But he remained dedicated to his subject, publishing a plethora of popular books on the subject. This included a series of Sky at Night books, one of which I found in the school library when I was a lad, as well as editing the annual Yearbooks of Astronomy. He also collaborated with the amazing British space and science fiction artist David A. Hardy on books such as The Challenge of the Stars. He also wrote at least two books on Mars. I found one in the central library in Bristol in the 1980s. A decade later, during the excitement about the series of probes NASA and other countries were sending to the Red Planet, he published Patrick Moore on Mars. Its title invites all manner of jokes along the lines of ‘best place for him.’ He also wrote a series of children’s science fiction books about a boy space explorer, Scott Summers. These were hard SF based on the science of the time and what was expected to develop later. They’re now obviously very dated. In one of these, Wanderer in Space, Summers flew to intercept an antimatter asteroid that was threatening Earth aboard an ion driven rocket, clearly anticipating developments in such propulsion that haven’t materialised. Ion drives exist, but they aren’t being used for manned space missions. Another of these was about a human colony on Mars, living in a glass dome. This ends with the colonists looking forward to one day emerging and living free on its surface. This one has been superseded by Kim Stanley Robinson’s trilogy of books about the settlement and terraforming of Mars. As well as these books, he also contributed to a string of popular science and astronomy magazines like Astronomy Now, New Voyager and Focus.

I think he was one of those scientists, with Arthur C. Clarke, who worked on radar during the War but I’m not sure. He never had a formal qualification in astronomy but was always strictly amateur. He was, however, granted an amateur doctorate by one of the universities. I’m sure, however, that at the level he was active in astronomy he would have probably easily passed a university degree in the subject. His maps of the Moon were so good that they were used by NASA in selecting landing sites for the Apollo missions. He never married because his sweetheart was killed during the War in an air raid. In his personal politics he was extremely right-wing, founding the One Country party, which was later merged with another small, extreme right-wing group. I can also remember him appearing on one of the chat shows and remarking that we’d be ‘in the cart’ without Maggie Thatcher. Like many people who have genuinely been through a war, he was deeply critical of it. In one of the chapters in The New Challenge of the Stars, about a possible hostile encounter between an asteroid ark and the inhabitants of an alien planet in whose system it has appeared, Moore makes a sharp comment about man’s folly of war entering a new battleground in space. He was also a staunch opponent of fox hunting. Back in the 90s he was a guest on the comedy programme Room 101, in which guests compete to have various useless and irritating objects or people consigned to the room made famous by Orwell’s 1984. In the vast majority cases, this is just light-hearted fun. But Moore was absolutely serious about sending fox hunting there and talked about how he’d written to various authorities to get it banned. Away from astronomy he also taught himself to play the xylophone and composed numerous pieces for the instrument. One of these was published in a classical music magazine. This did not translate into a career in music, however. He got very annoyed when his planned concert at the Hippodrome was cancelled due to lack of interest.

As well as serious, professional and amateur astronomers Moore talked to during his long career, he also met and talked to various eccentrics, including UFO contactees. One of those he interviewed on the Sky at Night was a man who believed he was in contact with peaceful aliens, and could speak four of their languages, including Venusian and Plutonian. This gentleman demonstrated it by saying the greeting, ‘Hello, space brothers’, in one of them. And although Moore persistently denied it, it seems he was one of the hands behind a hoax book by ‘Cedric Allingham’ about how he encountered an alien spacecraft and its inhabitants during a walking tour of the Scottish Highlands. This was during the first wave of UFO encounters in the late 40s and 50s. When people wrote to the publisher hoping to contact Allingham, he could not be traced. One excuse was that he was off walking in Switzerland. Computer analysis of the text reveals that it was probably written by Moore and revised by someone else in order to disguise his authorship. Moore remained very willing to meet ordinary members of the public and talk to them about his subject even in his retirement. He publicly gave out the address of his home in Herstmonceux, Sussex and said if people had questions or wanted to talk to him, they could drop in, shrugging off the obvious dangers of theft, burglary and so on.

Moore belonged to an age when popular science broadcasters could be real characters, often with eccentric mannerism. There was Magnus Pike, who was famous for waving his arms around while speaking, and the bearded dynamo of Botanic Man himself, David Bellamy, sent up in impressions by Lenny Henry. Since then, popular science programmes have been presented by people who are younger and/or a bit more hip. One BBC programme on astronomy a few years ago was presented by Queen guitarist Brian May, who had studied astrophysics at university before getting caught up in his career as an awesome global rock star. May had just handed in his astrophysics thesis after decades of touring the world with Mercury, Deacon et al. His co-presenter was the comedian Dara O’Brien, who had tried to study maths at university but had dropped out because of its difficulty. The Sky at Night is now presented by about three different hosts, including Black woman Maggie Aderin-Pocock. And I think the face of astronomy and cosmology now is probably Brian Cox after all his series on the subject. But for all this, I prefer the science presenters of a previous generation with all their quirks and foibles. These people were enthusiastic about their subject and were able to communicate their enthusiasm without trying to be too slick to connect with a mass audience. And they succeeded.

The 1984 Yearbook of Astronomy and What’s New in Space, just two of the books edited and written by Moore.

The Amazing Art of Stuart Cowley’s ‘Spacewreck’

October 5, 2022

More utterly amazing space art from Sci-Fi Art’s channel on YouTube. In this very short video, he flips through Stuart Cowley’s Spacewreck: Ghostships and Derelicts of Space. Cowley took the art for various Science Fiction paperbacks and then wrote stories around them, publishing them as guidebooks to the spacecraft of the future produced by a global trade organisation, the Terran Trade Authority. I bought one of these when I was a schoolkid, Spacecraft 2000-2100, which pretended to be a guide to the spacecraft of the 21st century and with a story about humanity’s contact with two species of aliens from Alpha and Proxima Centauri respectively, and humanity’s and the Alpha Centaurian’s war with the latter. I can remember being absolutely amazed by the astonishingly beautiful art of these imaginary worlds and spaceships. Cowley published a series of such books and didn’t confine himself just to Science Fiction. He also created one from the cover art for a number of Horror novels as The Tourist’s Guide to Transylvania. Another book he produced was the alarmingly named Home Brain Surgery and Other Household Skills. I’ve seen a copy for sale in some secondhand book shops and left it meaning to buy it later. When I came back it had vanished. Which just shows that somehow you have to get something while you can. The artists featured in Spacewreck, according to Sci-Fi Art, include Angus McKie, Tony Roberts, Fred Gambino, Bob Layzell, Colin Hay, Jim Burns, Alan Daniels and the music is by All India Radio. I think some of their music has also been used for a video someone made of the spacecraft from Spacecraft 2000-2100 zooming around in CGI animation.