The Other Side of the Sky: An
Annotated Bibliography of Space Stations in Science Fiction, 1869-1993. By
Gary Westfahl. Holicong, Pennsylvania: Wildside Press/Borgo Press, 2009.
A Muscovite from 1928 wakes up in the future realm of Radiopolis, part of a communist utopia that now extends throughout Europe, Asia and Africa. As he learns about this new world, its harmonious social order, and its many scientific marvels, there looms the prospect of a final confrontation with America, the last bastion of evil capitalism in the world. He participates in an apparently successful assault on America, but he and a friend are captured by a remaining capitalist baron who takes them on board "a large airship... a veritable flying city," which can "go above the atmosphere to navigate in airless space" (114). The capitalists hope to "last an indefinitely long time away from this planet" (114), but the need for periodic supplies from Earth means they "are doomed" (115); instead, they decide to blow up the airship with atomic power and, in that way, destroy the entire planet Earth as well. As the protagonist and his friend are blowing up the airship with other explosives before atomic energy can be used, he wakes up, back in 1928.
The episode involving an early space station actually only involves the last three pages of the novel, which is otherwise an uninteresting combination of the scientific utopia and the future war novel. Still Beliayev is noteworthy as the first author directly inspired by Konstantin Tsiolkovsky (Parry's introduction says that Beliayev was a great admirer of Tsiolkovsky), and his book stands with Kurd Lasswitz's Two Planets as an anticipation of the military possibilities of a space station. Beliayev also differs from Tsiolkovsky in seeing some difficulty in maintaining life in space without regular supplies from Earth.
B154. Malcolm, Donald. "The Long Ellipse." New Worlds Science Fiction, 23 (January, 1958), pp. 30-42.
When a ship designed to reach Venus is spotted returning to Earth, five years after the attempt, the General whose son was on board the ship assumes that the ship is a derelict and that all persons on it are dead; nevertheless, he flies up to the Smith-Ross space station to lead a mission to investigate the ship. After waking up in the "hospital satellite, five hundred miles above the Earth" (41), he learns that the ship had been hit by a meteor shower, but that an unrevealed system for suspended animation was used to keep the whole crew alive for their return to Earth.
"In 1971, the first Smith-Ross manned space station was in orbit," and "In 1982, the fourth ship, Ulysses, left Smith-Ross One for Venus" (34)—the pertinent information here in the story's short history of space travel. The space station is hardly important to the story, but there is one sentence of striking poetry: "The spacetaxi buzzed like a mechanical bee into the heart of the great silver sunflower of the spacestation" (37).
C13. "Building a Space Station." Men into Space. New York: CBS-TV, October 14, 1959.
Colonel Edward McCauley leads a crew of men into space to begin the process of assembling Earth's first space station. Unfortunately, as two pieces are brought together, a crewman's sleeve is caught between them, and McCauley is reluctant to attempt to free him for fear that his suit has punctured, or will puncture, causing his instant death. After a rocket bearing hastily improvised rescue equipment must be destroyed because it is on a collision course with their spaceship, McCauley employs a desperate maneuver to free the crewman while keeping his suit clamped shut.
At the beginning of the episode, there is an image of the completed station, a typical wheel in space; in later episodes, it will be referred to as Space Station Astra. The first depiction of the construction of a space station, the episode's process of doing so—sending modules into space, to be put together by astronauts—is not unlike the method actually employed to build the international space station. The most interesting message in the episode is conveyed by its final image, showing that McCauley and his men succeeded only in constructing one small slice of the wheel, and one small portion of a connecting spoke, indicating that the completion of the entire space station will require a large number of trips—which also turned out to be the case in real life.
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