Childrens' SF book

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Childrens' SF book

Postby SN1947 » Thu Aug 04, 2011 5:33 am

I remember reading a book, during the 1950s, aimed at children under 10. It was about the adventures of a group of space cadets in training scool. I seem to remember there were the sort of stereotypes you would find in books set in boarding schools that were also popular at that time.
The main thing I remember about the book, and which fascinated me at the time, was a game they played called MERCURY BALL. It was played on a small moon with very weak gravity on a pitch that was several square mile in area. The ball was huge, hollow and made of rubber. Inside was a blob of mercury which made its bounce and trajectory unpredictable. I think there were three to a side with goals as in football(soccer) I'm not sure if the players had jetpacks or just relied on their being able to take huge strides/jumps due to the low gravity.
Does anyone have any ideas about or memories of this?
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Re: Childrens' SF book

Postby admin » Thu Aug 04, 2011 7:25 am

This was not a single book but a series, Tom Corbett -- Space Cadet. There were 8 books in the series, but there is a Mercury Ball game in the first book, Stand by for Mars.

The Tom Corbett series was loosely based on Robert A. Heinlein's great YA book, Space Cadet, by way of a TV series. For a brief time in the mid-fifties, Tom Corbett was hugely popular: TV, radio, books, comic books, a comic strip, view master reels, lunch boxes, coloring books, punch out books, cut-out costumes on the backs of serial boxes, Halloween costumes...the list goes on and on. I had most of these, still have some.

Willy Ley, a scientist, was the science advisor for the books (in addition to writing a science column for Galaxy magazine). The Heinlein juveniles, and later the YA books written by Asimov under the name Paul French, and the Winston juveniles edited by Lester del Rey, replaced the earlier view of space as a nebulous realm where clouds, planets, moons, ringed planets, asteroids, flying saucers, angels, and what-not all wandered randomly in an airy blackness, with the more realistic view of planets in orbit around suns. The first movie to have this view was also by Heinlein, Destination Moon. Many popular magazines -- Life, Look, The Saturday Evening Post -- educated the American public about the actual nature of the universe.

The Tom Corbett books can still be read today, but are not nearly at the level of Heinlein, Asimov, and Clarke.
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