This isn’t the first time I’ve linked to the Etsy shop called High Desert Dreams, and it may not be the last, either, unless I somehow fill my house with lamps that look like retro rocket ships and flickering, high-stakes laboratory lights.
But, for today, it’s the nowth time I’ve linked there. You may tell me that nowth isn’t a word. It should be. If that makes you uncomfortable, you can try spelling it nwydd, and we’ll pretend that it’s Welsh.
With that settled, then, treat yourself to a look at the UFO table lamp pictured above. I thought it was a ringed planet lamp; in this I was mistaken. For the nowth time.
Web Urbanist goes retro-futuristic in this short series of city planning visions for five American cities – and one imaginary one.
It’s good to know that – this being the future – we’re all zooming around San Francisco in our (patented!) flying saucers; Columbus will, by now, have floating skyscrapers in a very nearly Retropolitan setting; and Manhattan gets a familiar, multi-tiered layout to accommodate air traffic, cargo hauling, and trains.
Houston (left) will obviously have at least one Hugh Ferriss building. In other words, pretty much what we ought to expect – with one exception. Where are the greenbelts?
‘Cause you just can’t have a retro-futuristic megacity without its essential farmlands, dairies, and orchards.
Cities like this nearly make sense. But if you’re still trucking in your food from distant farming communities then you’ve got some shocking waste of energy. You will also have created two societies instead of one, where the cities get everything they need from the farms and the farms get more or less exactly what they have today.
So get those greenbelts in there. We really need ’em, no matter how many flying cars we have.
I’ve said before that one of the seminal influences on my Retropolis art is the earliest of the Buck Rogers comics, from 1929 on. This makes Wilma Deering the mitochondrial ancestor of all the swell dames in my retro future. (Also of everyone else; but do we have to get technical here?)
Wilma knew all the ropes of the twenty-fifth century by the time Buck woke up there: her inertron jumping belt helped her leap in great, dreamlike bounds because its antigravity made her nearly weightless; she had her own personal rocket ship; and, of course, she had her stylish (but lethal) atomic pistol.
Wilma Deering swung, only because at that time no one would have said “Wilma Deering rocks”.
Go Hero has been turning out some terrific high end action figures based on familiar characters like The Shadow, Dan Dare, and Buck Rogers. I’ve mentioned those here before.
The Go Hero limited edition Wilma Deering is now available for pre-order. She’s a highly detailed figure with a visored cap, bubble helmet, four pairs of hands, and accessories like the jumping belt and ray gun. She’s scheduled to ship in the third quarter of this year and she’s certain to look fantastic while she defends your desk from the unspeakable perils of outer space.
This stunning custom computer case is the work of a builder who calls him/her/itself aio. I happened on it through the 2014 “Mod of the Year” contest at Bit-tech.
Now, I don’t necessarily need a computer case with chromed exhaust pipes and a working cam shaft (!) but I do admire the analog gauges, the fit and finish, and the wow factor, not to mention the sheer virtuosity that emanates from this thing. Click through to the project videos to see, part by part, what goes into it. It’s truly wonderful.
I have no idea what purpose is served by the cam shaft. You can see in one of the videos that its speed is controlled by the knobs, low on the front panel, and I guess it’s possible that the shaft is somehow connected to the speed of the case fans. Or, equally likely, it’s a bit of sophisticated whimsy. Either way, well done!
Hey, remember that gorgeous Winged Victory raygun I posted about late last year? Well, it’s for sale at Resinator Lab.
I know you’re all excited and everything, but when you sit down and think for a moment you’ll realize that there’s really just one person who ought to have it. So do the right thing. Some kind of holiday is probably coming up; my mailing address is available. Just saying.
But in case you’re not that selfless, you can always pick it up for yourself. I’ll forgive you. Eventually. Added to which, you’ll now have a disintegrator gun… and I’m not completely stupid.
Seriously, though, how can this thing not have sold immediately? It’s fantastic.
Here’s an unexpected mini-history of science fiction illustration from the early sixties to the mid eighties: a selection of brochure illustrations for Things to Come, the newsletter and monthly catalogue of the Science Fiction Book Club. The scanned images are available over at The Golden Age.
I called it unexpected, but it’s one of those things that just makes all kinds of sense now that I’ve seen it. The Science Fiction Book Club printed inexpensive hardcover editions of popular and once-popular books with new cover art and sometimes with illustrations. I particularly remember the Mars series by Edgar Rice Burroughs with illustrations by Frank Frazetta. Their monthly newsletters always featured cover art and spot illustrations.
Several of these brochures came through my own mail slot in the early seventies. Book clubs were fraught with tension and excitement: if you forgot to send back the card that opted you out of this month’s top selection (“Man-Eating Orchids of the Stratosphere”, anyone?) then you’d receive the book automatically. This was a business model that probably worked very well.
It’s never occurred to me what a wonderful time capsule these brochure illustrations would make. We’ve got everything here from Virgil Finlay (shown here) through Freas and Frazetta to Richard Corben, George Barr, Michael William Kaluta, Don Maitz, and Michael Whelan.
I still have some of those books, like Philip K. Dick’s Ubik, Zelazny’s Jack of Shadows, and a couple of the Burroughs books. The brochures? Well, no. But thanks to the unflagging scanner of Mister Doortree at the Golden Age blog I can page through the illustrations anyway. And so can you!
Back in the late 1980s one of the most exciting game developers for the Amiga was Cinemaware. They carved out a unique, special niche with a combination of action sequences, storytelling, and puzzles in a series of games that were each based on some kind of movie making from the golden, silver, and (mainly) brazen eras of film.
With titles like Defender of the Crown, The Three Stooges, It Came from the Desert! and Rocket Ranger, Cinemaware had a speedy rise that was eventually followed by a speedy fall. But in between, with ports of their games to all the popular computers of the day, they earned a place in the memories of game players of A Certain Age.
These games have been given new life through remakes, reboots, and reimaginings, largely due to Kickstarter. As a follow-up to last year’s successful remastered edition of Wings, the company is now trying to gain support for this completely rebuilt, expanded edition of Rocket Ranger – the popular “I’m not the Rocketeer!” game that was itself a reimagining of the old serial adventures of the 1940s and 1950s.
The new Rocket Ranger Reloaded pits the same kind of rocket pack hero against the same kind of inevitable Nazis. It’s a brand new version of the original idea, with its dogfights, gun battles, boxing, and rocket research; but in its reloaded form the game will sport completely new graphics, new locations and scenarios, an original soundtrack, and even more retro futuristic gear.
At the basic funding goal of $89,999 there will be versions for Windows and Mac computers. The various stretch goals for the project add support for Android, iOS, PS4, Xbox One and PS Vita.
Digital copies of the game are available for pledges of $19 or more; physical copies start at $55. The project concludes on December 17 and rewards are scheduled for September 15, 2015.
This beautiful ray gun – a contest entry – turned up in my Facebook feed a few days ago, and that led me to the Facebook page and the web site for Resinator Lab.
Resinator Lab, with its battered worktables and laser-scarred parts bins, is lit by vacuum tubes that flicker in a very nearly non-threatening way; it’s the workplace of Rolando Gutierrez, and it’s also the place where you’ll find these fantastic ray guns from the future we never got. If we ever do get that future, of course, you’ll want to have something like these in your holster. Because of those things with an unlikely number of arms, out there in the alley.
At the Resinator Lab web site you’ll find fine examples of retro futuristic weaponry. Some are available fully assembled and painted, while others can be had as kits. You can see the Atomizer Laser kit below.
The site’s gallery page shows some beauty shots of guns built by Gutierrez himself, and some by others.
But it’s hard to beat that contest gun up at the top. What a beauty!
Theres’a a large gallery of Ed Emshwiller covers over at The Geeky Nerfherder. I found them this morning through Charlie Jane Anders’ helpful link at i09.
Emshwiller is probably best remembered for the Christmas covers he used to paint for Galaxy magazine. (In fact I’ve been meaning to do a sort of homage to those for the Pulp-O-Mizer; just haven’t gotten around to it.)
But he painted plenty of covers that didn’t feature a four-armed Santa Claus, and it’s nice to see so many of them collected together.
These are a little too modern for my taste; that might be because some, like the Andre Norton book covers, are things that I can actually remember. But – all questions of anti-nostalgia and decade prejudice aside – there’s some fine work in there.
Once you’re done browsing, you can read a bit more about Emshwiller at The Field Guide To Wild American
The all-devouring scanner of Mister Doortree treats us, today, to a collection of covers and illustrations from Marvel Science Stories. They’ve come to us from the future by way of the years 1938 to 1941.
The well-rounded stable of artists ranges from Norman Saunders and Frank R. Paul to a young Jack Kirby. Each one of them wants to show you brains in balls, women in tubes, gigantic spacemen (in tiny cities), creepy things, and fellas in swell hats.
The least you can do is to go have a look, eh?