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A review: Spaceship Handbook, Jack Hagerty and others.

This book covers all sorts of spacecraft that never flew, concentrating mainly on famous realistic fictional spacecraft.

I had been dithering over buying this book for some time, and finally took the plunge a couple of weeks ago. It certainly sounded interesting, but the price, particularly once shipping to the UK was added, was a bit scary. Now I have it, I really wish I had ordered it a lot sooner.

The book is a big one, with over 400 pages for the main body, and about another hundred in appendices. It is extremely profusely illustrated with loads and loads of photos and plans, many of them in colour, and the print quality is very high. The plans provided are good with plenty of dimensions on them to help the digital or physical modeller. I think it fair to say that the level of detail is low to medium, but good enough. Good for digital and physical modellers. Care has been taken to show how moving parts work, (such as landing legs or ejectable fuel tanks). This will be particularly valuable to anyone wanting to make an animation.

The biggest focus is most definitely on the pioneers - for example over halfway through the book, the works of Chesley Bonestell are still coming up, (and quite right too!). In fact I'd say that the great strength of the book is the way it covers this early period in such detail, and anyone with an interest in the designs of Chesley Bonestell, George Pal, Werner von Braun, and the Disney space films, will find much there to interest them. The text is very readable, and gives good background as well as comments on how realistic or credible the designs are, and how they evolved.

It's not all from the realms of fiction though, as there are comprehensive sections covering things like the Gemini based Manned Orbiting Laboratory, Venturestar, Nova and Dyna Soar. (Mind you, the inclusion of 'Thunderbirds', 'Tintin' and even "Wallace and Grommet" does throw the balance back the other way again!)

The sheer number of spacecraft covered in detail in this book is extremely impressive, (apparently 75, it seems like more), and I am sure that any spacecraft modeller will find endless inspiration here. Indeed, if you combine this volume with Rockets of the World, to cover the real rockets that flew, and you will be pretty well covered for space projects in general.

It's easily the most inspiration book I have seen, and has me twitching to start making digital models of many of the craft covered, there's enough to keep me busy for literally years here!

Very highly recommended.

Details from the publisher here:
ARA Press

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Comment by Nick Stevens on February 13, 2009 at 11:59am
Well, rockets of the world is also excellent!!!
Comment by Sean Brady on February 13, 2009 at 11:49am
Okay, Nick, you talked me into it, and I`ve ordered it up. The only thing is they were advertising some other great titles which I would love to have .


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