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The Dream Machines: An Illustrated History of the Spaceship in Art, Science and Literature

4.8 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0894640391
ISBN-10: 0894640399
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Writer-artist Miller's new book is the most comprehensive history of spacecraft design concepts published to date. Written primarily in nontechnical language, it chronologically reviews the inspirations and scientific breakthroughs that set the course of humankind's exploration beyond the atmosphere. (It may surprise people to find out that the first story postulating space travel was written in A.D. 160 by Lukian of Samosata.) Nearly every page of the book contains black-and-white or duotone illustrations and photos, and there are two additional sections with 16 pages of colorplates. While the key spacecraft that were actually used in programs throughout the world are represented, along with their prototypes, the main focus of the book is on designs that were technologically sound--at least when originally conjured up--but only flew in the imagination. For example, in the section on Project Apollo, there is only one page showing the final configuration, but five pages showing its engineering evolution. Nearly 200 pages are devoted to the "golden age of the spaceship," the years 1946-61 (when Yuri Gagarin made manned spaceflight a reality). There are also depictions of classic fictional spacecraft, ranging from wooden cabinets pulled by birds to the Discovery from 2001: A Space Odyssey. While the price of the book may seem high, much of the material cited can be found only in bits and pieces throughout the body of space-related texts, many of which are long out of print. Further, Miller captures the romance of space travel more vividly than any other writer. Even at more than $100, this book is a bargain. A foreword by Arthur C. Clarke, plus a bibliography, add to the value Elliott Swanson

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 744 pages
  • Publisher: Krieger Pub Co (July 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0894640399
  • ISBN-13: 978-0894640391
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 9 x 11.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #574,321 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Ron Miller (born May 8, 1947 in Minneapolis, Minnesota) is an artist and author who lives and works in South Boston, Virginia in the United States. His current work is primarily the writing and illustration of books specializing in astronomical, astronautical and science fiction subjects for young adults.

Miller holds a BFA from Columbus, Ohio, College of Art and Design. He worked as a commercial artist and designer for six years, before taking a position as art director for the National Air & Space Museum's Albert Einstein Planetarium. He left there in 1977 to became a freelance illustrator and author; to date he has nearly forty book titles to his credit, and his illustrations have appeared on scores of book jackets, book interiors and in magazines such as National Geographic, Reader's Digest, Scientific American, Smithsonian, Analog, Starlog, Air & Space, Sky & Telescope, Newsweek, Natural History, Discover, GEO and others.

Miller has translated and illustrated new editions of Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, From the Earth to the Moon and Journey to the Center of the Earth as well as a companion/atlas to Verne's works, Extraordinary Voyages. He has acted as a consultant on Verne for Walt Disney Imagineering and A&E Television Network's Biography series. Miller's book The Dream Machines, a comprehensive 744-page history of manned spacecraft, was nominated for the International Astronautical Federation's Manuscript Award and won the Booklist Editor's Choice Award. His original paintings are in numerous private and public collections, including the Smithsonian Institution and the Pushkin Museum (Moscow).

He designed a set of ten commemorative postage stamps for the U.S. Postal Service. He has been a production illustrator for motion pictures, notably Dune and Total Recall; and he designed and co-directed the computer-generated show ride film, Impact!

Miller has taken part in international space art workshops and exhibitions, including seminal sessions held in Iceland and the Soviet Union. He was invited by the Soviet government to the 30th anniversary celebration of the launch of Sputnik, and has lectured on space art and space history in the U.S., France, Japan, Italy and Great Britain. He was featured on Hour 25 Science Fiction Radio program in early 2003.

An authority on the work of the famed astronomical artist Chesley Bonestell, his book The Art of Chesley Bonestell received a Hugo Award in 2002; other books have received awards, including a Silver Award for best fiction from ForeWord magazine and the Violet Crown Award from the Writers' League of Texas. His Worlds Beyond series received the American Institute of Physics Award of Excellence. The Grand Tour, has gone through three editions, multiple printings, several translations, was a Hugo Award nominee and has sold over 250,000 copies. It was also a twice a Book-of-the-Month feature selection. Other books have been selections of the Science, Quality Paperback and Science Fiction Book Clubs.

Miller has also had several short stories included in science fiction anthologies.

Miller has been on the faculty of the International Space University. He is a contributing editor for Air & Space/Smithsonian magazine; a member of the International Academy of Astronautics; a Life Member, Fellow and past Trustee of the International Association of Astronomical Artists; an Honorary Member of the Societe Jules Verne (Paris); a Member of the North American Jules Verne Society and a Fellow of the British Interplanetary Society.

Books written or co-written

* The Space Art Poster Book (Stackpole, 1979)
* Space Art (Starlog, 1979)
* The Grand Tour (Workman, 1981; revised edition, 1993; revised edition, 2005)
* Worlds Beyond: The Art of Chesley Bonestell (Donning, 1983)
* Out of the Cradle (Workman, 1984)
* Cycles of Fire (Workman, 1987)
* Stars and Planets (Doubleday, 1987)
* Decalcomania--A Tourist's Handbook and Guide (Black Cat Press, 1987)
* Mathematics (Doubleday, 1989)
* 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (Unicorn, 1988)
* In the Stream of Stars (Workman, 1990)
* The Bronwyn Trilogy: Palaces & Prisons, Silk & Steel, Hearts & Armor (Ace, 1991-1992)
* The History of Earth (Workman, 1992)
* The Dream Machines (Krieger, 1993)
* Extraordinary Voyages (Black Cat Press, 1994)
* BrainQuest (Workman, 1994)
* Firebrands (Paper Tiger, 1998)
* 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (Dorling Kindersley, 1998)
* The History of Rockets (Grolier, 1999)
* Bradamant (Timberwolf, 2000)
* The History of Science Fiction (Grolier, 2001)
* The Art of Chesley Bonestell (Paper Tiger, 2001)
* Palaces & Prisons (Timberwolf Press, 2001)
* Silk & Steel (Timberwolf Press, 2002)
* Hearts & Armor (Black Cat Press, 2005)
* Mermaids & Meteors (Black Cat Press, 2005)
* Velda (Timberwolf Press, 2003)
* Worlds Beyond (eleven-book series, Millbrook Press, 2002-2005)
* Special Effects in the Movies (Millbrook Press, 2006)
* The Elements (Millbrook Press, 2004)
* 13 Steps to Velda (Black Cat Press, 2005)
* Captain Judikah (Black Cat Press, 2005)
* Pathetic Selections (Black Cat Press, 2005)
* Journey to the Center of the Earth (Black Cat Press, 2005)
* The Conquest of Space (four-book series, Lerner, 2007-2008)
* Extreme Wonders: Aircraft (Hylas Publishing, 2007)
* Digital Art (Lerner, 2007-2008)
* Cleopatra (Chelsea House, 2008)
* The Seven Wonders of Engineering (Lerner, 2009)
* The Seven Wonders of the Gas Giants (Lerner, 2010)
* The Seven Wonders of the Rocky Planets (Lerner, 2010)
* The Seven Wonders of Meteors, Asteroids and Comets (Lerner, 2010)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The first surprise for the new buyer of Ron Miller's "Dream Machine: An Illustrated History of the Spaceship in Art, Science and Literature" is that it was published in 1993, leaving the book strangely out-of-date despite being exactly what the spaceship romantic has desired all these years. My library is chock-full of books and magazines on the subject of spacecraft, and I admit with shame to having discarded older books which would now be collectors items because the spaceships depicted in them were "out of date". Something Miller's book emphasizes is that there is no such thing as an idea that is out of date. "Dream Machines" (beautiful title) treats Defoe (1705), Jules Verne (1865) and H.G.Wells (1901) who dreamed of space travel with the same dignity as Tsiolovsky, Goodard and von Braun, who made it a reality. This book's 714 pages are packed with the brilliant, the outlandish, the amusing, the thought-provoking and the real - and the almost real - spaceships which have graced humanity's longing to go "out there". The fan of early science-fiction has a rich field to explore, no less the student of hard-core spaceflight technology. Of special interest are details of the spacecraft which almost made it - the Boeing X-20 Dyna-Soar, the European Space Agency Hermes spaceplane, the Russian Buran, and all the developmental designs which were considered, often discarded, with these never-to-fly spaceships. The impressive hard-cover book is well laid out, with bold-type dates and crisp drawings and a few color pages. There is some confusion about which drawing goes with which text due to minimal captions, but the generous white-space give the pages a friendly tone that allows the reader to go cover-to-cover (if one is so dedicated) or to leaf through looking for technological or impossible gems.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In 360 B.C., Archytas of Tarentum made a model pigeon that flew by flowing steam out its tail. A humble beginning, perhaps, but it's the first entry in The Dream Machines, and it should give you some idea of just how comprehensive this book is. Every rocket I've ever seen or heard of is in here, fact or fiction, and for every one I knew about beforehand there are probably a hundred that I didn't know about until I found this book.

One of the best things about the book is that its contents are ordered chronologically. This lets you trace the evolution of spacecraft from pulp magazine covers to illustrations in popular and technical articles to serious design proposals to prototypes to full production. It gives you a taste of what it must have been like to watch all this happen in the middle of the 20th century, and it's fascinating to see all the designs that never made it off the drawing board. In particular, near the end of the book there are no less than 6 pages of drawings that trace the evolution of the Space Shuttle from a winged bullet launched from a jet-powered mothership to the familiar configuration that finally entered service in 1981. A similar sequence shows the development of the Apollo program spacecraft.

If all of that sounds dry instead of inspiring, you'll be pleased to know that all of those shiny silver rockets from the golden age of science fiction are in here, too. Some of them I hadn't seen since I was a 12-year-old watching old movies on Saturday afternoons, and there are many more that I had never seen at all. Radio dramas, television, movies, even prominent spacecraft from comic books and novels are covered.

The book is over 700 pages long and EVERY two-page spread has at least one illustration; most have three or four.
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Format: Hardcover
Exellent book for any rocket or sci-fi enthusiast. The illustrations and drawings bring home man's facination with the heavens. I have read numerous publications concerning rocketry, and by far this is the best book I have yet to see published to date. I was blown away by the sections, 'The Archaeology of the Spaceship', and 'The Experimenters'. All dealt with rocketry ante-WWII. There are also page after page of NASA concept vehicles that were never flown, including several pages of Apollo and Space Shuttle designs that did not make it to the lauch pad, but yet look like they are ready to just rocket from the page. This book would be a great source of information for those who scratch build model rockets. Color illustrations, 3 view diagrams, an appendix of U.S., Soviet, and international lauch vehicles; what more could one want? If I could only own one rocket book, this would be the book I would chose over all the rest! Buy this book, heck buy 2 and give one to a friend!
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By A Customer on August 20, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Miller's work is truly fantastic. Taking us on an incredible chronology of spaceflight and the fanciful ideas preceeding, we are able to see illustrations, diagrams, and meticulous narration woven together into an incredibly rich experience. If you have any interest whatsoever in space flight and flights of fancy, YOU MUST OWN THIS BOOK!
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Format: Hardcover
I can't believe how fantastic this book is! I got it for christmas and have a hard time putting it down. Considering the weight of this encyclopdiac work that's saying something. Pound for pound worth it's weight in gold or platinum! Only a few notable omissions that I would have liked to see (ie. "The Valley Forge" from Douglas Trumbull's "Silent Running" ) Probably the most amazing relvelation is that many current designs have thier genesis back in the late 40's ! Truly a must have for anyone who dreams or dreamed of interplanetary voyages!
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The Dream Machines: An Illustrated History of the Spaceship in Art, Science and Literature
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Price: $114.13
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