Another Science Fiction: Advertising the Space Race, 1957-1962

Another Science Fiction

Advertising the Space Race, 1957-1962
By Megan Prelinger


"Another Science Fiction is a fascinating entry into the rich history of spaceflight. Prelinger's analysis of the history of the space race, using advertisements and visual culture theory, is innovative and illuminating and shows how developments concerning spaceflight were based on popular conceptions of the past, and especially how science fiction became science fact."
—Roger D. Launius, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution

The late 1950s and early '60s were the golden age of classic science fiction, an era when the furthest reaches of imagination were fed by the technological breakthroughs of the postwar years. While science fiction writers expressed the dreams and nightmares of the era in pulp print, real-life rocket engineers worked, often in secrecy, on making space travel reality. The imaginations of many cold war scientists were fed by science fiction literature—but not only from writers such as Arthur C. Clarke. The aerospace industry itself often promoted its future capabilities with fantastical, colorful visions depicted in its advertisements aimed at luring young engineers into its booming workforce.

In trade journals such as Missiles and Rockets and Aviation Week, something new was happening. In between dry articles about program successes and failures, a new visual vernacular sprang up. Companies such as Lockheed, B. F. Goodrich, Douglas Aircraft, and Westinghouse encouraged engineers to reach far in their work, farther than their minds had ever gone before. Aerospace industry ads pitched the idea that we lived in a time when anything was possible—tthe rocky substrates of Mars and the Moon were the new western frontier. Gravity was history, and soon so would be the confines of our solar system itself.

The shock of Russia's 1957 Sputnik satellite launch lit a fire in America to get a man into space and onto the Moon—the race was on, and the aerospace industry was hot. With nearly 200 entertaining, intriguing, inspiring, and sometimes mind-boggling visions of our new space age in the atomic era, Another Science Fiction presents a fresh, smart, focused look at the moment when American aerospace development and world politics led to Kennedy's 1961 directive to achieve the goal of "landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth."


Megan Prelinger is a historian and a lifelong collector of space history ephemera and science fiction literature. She is co-founder and architect of information design of the Prelinger Library, a private research library open to the public, which houses more than forty thousand books and other print artifacts on North American regional and land use history, media and cultural studies, and technology, including a space history collection. She is also a naturalist and rehabilitator of aquatic avian species. She lives and works in San Francisco.

"Another Science Fiction is a brilliant tour through the iconography and literature of America's grandest corporate dreamtime, the Space Age."
William Gibson, author of Neuromancer and Pattern Recognition

"To the author of this remarkable work must go well-deserved laurels for rescuing rocket/space ad artwork from virtual obscurity. Megan Prelinger's book is a treasure that should find a worldwide readership of space historians, lovers of space art, and all who seek to understand the evolution of humanity's transition to a space-faring species."
—Fred Ordway, former member of the Wernher von Braun rocket team at the Army Ballistic Missile Agency and consultant to Stanley Kubrick for 2001: A Space Odyssey

"I wish I had this book when I started Mad Men. This is exactly what I look for, a concise visual-historical reference of mid-century advertising. The vast research of lost ads showcases the big push into the space age by aviation companies, U.S. government, and any other corporation standing to make big bucks. Megan Prelinger has done all the legwork and has so uniquely and beautifully taken us on a trip back to space."
—Gay Perello, Prop Master for Mad Men

"The stupendous images collected in Prelinger's Another Science Fiction, wherein American technological lusts and fantasies visit an idyll equal parts Norman Rockwell and Max Ernst, far transcend the narrow window of years cited in the book's subtitle. In the dreamlife of the American mind's eye, we're gazing upon them to this day, still pining to return to the future we left behind."
—Jonathan Lethem, author of Motherless Brooklyn and The Fortress of Solitude

Graphic Arts/Space History • Original paperback • 8 x 11" • 240 pages • Nearly 200 images • $29.95 • ISBN 978-0-78-0-922233-35-9

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"Moon Race ads
had the right stuff."



"It took a lot of mad men
to make space flight sexy."

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