Monday, December 8, 2014

Pulp Science Fiction - Guys in Helmets

At a thrift sale some years back my wife bought a box of 1950s science fiction magazines.  These are from the Golden Age of Sci Fi, an era where short stories, novellas and even full length novels came out monthly in a batch of competing publications.  The overall quality of these was mixed.  They came out on cheap paper that deserves the designation "pulp fiction".  Some of the stories were masterpieces, others the work of now forgotten hacks.  The advertisements seem almost embarrassing, a mix of Rosicrucians, body building devices, and correspondence courses.

But my goodness, the cover art of these is beautiful.

There are a variety of recurring themes, several of which deserve a brief visit.   First, Guys in Helmets.

Space Helmets seem to be of pretty uniform design.  Remember that this was the early 1950s, long before the first Russian and American astronauts.

Even when safely aboard their ship these Red Shirts (look out, dudes) have on their goggles, head sets and what look like oxygen tanks.

Hmmm, the guy in the yellow space suit seems to have been careless.  You would think that Space Age technology would have come up with unbreakable materials by then.  On the other hand, since he seems to be pink and non exploded, perhaps the atmosphere on this strange planet was not all that bad once you got used to it.

Alien duck hunters.  All Space Men carried some sort of weapons, even if only the stereotypical "Ray Gun".  It helps to remember that the readership of these publications came of age during the War Years and that most of the writers themselves seem to have been veterans.  So I strongly suspect that the design of Space Helmets was an amalgam of deep sea diver's gear and the head gear of dashing fighter pilots.

And if Golden Age Sci Fi seems a bit militant overall, it of course had villains.  Tune in next time for
Commies in Space!

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