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Pre-War Covers for Novae Terrae, the Magazine of the Science Fiction Association (htspweb.co.uk)
38 points by benbreen 3 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 21 comments

Couldn't help but notice the very modern looking helicopters in the March and June 1938 covers. A bit of digging reveals the first modern (large main + small tail rotor) helicopter was only flown for the first time the following year [1]. But I guess they must have had renderings of this design to base the art on.

[1] https://connecticuthistory.org/worlds-first-helicopter-today...

I look at the August one and remember very similar book covers from much more recently.

I also googled when helicopters were invented and got 1936 for the FW 61. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helicopter And the term seems to have originated much earlier.

Your link says "first practical helicopter", I'm trying to match that up with the rotor and tail arrangement. The Chinook has twin rotors, works, and is a helicopter. I wonder if the fw61 just didn't get it good enough to be practical, at that time.

EDIT1: Further digging has pushed back the date to 1932 for the first helicopter The TSAGI 1-ea with 2 tail rotors. http://www.aviastar.org/helicopters_eng/brat_1ea.php

So it would appear wikipedia is wrong

EDIT2: Ok so the 1-ea is listed under 'first flights'. The FW61 is listed as the first operational, but on it's own page is described the first practical.

So clear as mud.

It does seem there were helicopter shaped things when this magazine came out though.

> pushed back the date to 1932 for the first helicopter The TSAGI 1-ea with 2 tail rotors.

I spotted that one alright - but the entire shape is quite different from the single-tail rotor versions (eg in the second pic down). Still doesn't explain how they came up with the modern design..

Though it seems Igor Sikorsky, who built the VS-300 built at least two prototype helicopters early in the century. Cant find any pics, perhaps they were of the modern design. Or perhaps he was just the first to successfully put it together but the design was well known.

Well helicopters only really came into their own when jet engines/gas turbines were developed. Maybe they were in a similar situation to todays single stage to orbit shuttle designs. The basic design has been static for over 30 years, we're just waiting for a rocket (fuel ?) to come, to make it practical.

I find it quite interesting how even with something as 'obvious' (in the what it is sense, not the inventing and concept sense) as a helicopter, it becomes very hard to pin down the 'first'.

> On August 14, 1932 A.M.Cheremukhin reached altitude 605m. Unfortunately, The USSR at the time was not a member of an International Aviation Federation (plus secrecy, yes!), and this record could not be formally registered.

The artwork looks like it was made on stencil duplicator wax sheets (cf. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mimeograph ), which is almost surely how the fanzines were printed - the most cost-effective way for runs up to a few hundred or low thousands copies back in the day.

I happened to be looking at my school reports/work from the late 80s/early 90s recently.

Some of the sheets seem to be copied. They are from hand written originals, and are in blue ink. I don't think they're carbon copies as they don't have that tell tale haze of ink where pressure was applied, although there is certainly that distinct hue that carbon copies have. Paper seems to be standard.

Could that be from a mimeograph?

Or one of these- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spirit_duplicator

I'm pretty sure this is what I remember my school using during the same time frame.

Yes that looks about right.

The quoted number of copies (30 - 40) would be about right for a class.


Edit: Thanks to retzkek also

Don't think so, mimeograph stencils are typed or drawn on with a stylus so that pressure pushes aside the wax layer and leaves the underlying thin fabric exposed. Then the stencil goes into the mimeograph to make hundreds or thousands of copies. Ink, usually black, did not fade.

There were ancient photocopying processes, including wet ones where individual sheets were hung to dry like laundry. Plus the famous 'blueprints', which were used for large engineering drawings. Maybe your copies are some variation of those, but by the late 80s pretty much everything for regular sized photocopies was dry process with black toner, like we use today minus the digital controllers.


Well I feel old. Not quite Tha old though lol.

Thanks anyway.

Ditto Machine maybe? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spirit_duplicator

I recall still getting handouts from those in the late 80s/early 90s.

The November 1938 cover references "Things To Come"[0] which has an exceptional look.

[0] http://streamline.filmstruck.com/2017/02/13/things-to-come-1...

The URL doesn't work. At least, with an IPv4 in Germany.

its on archive.org - I downloaded it the other day

Thanks :) It was worth the effort.

I saw "things to Come" in the 80s. But I'd forgotten the Samurai-style costumes.[0] I wonder why Wells (or Menzies) went with that. I doubt that it was familiar to many in the late 30s (or even in the 80s).

0) http://www.nodtonothing.com/2018/03/samurai-rebellion.html

"Maurice K Hanson first edited it for the Nuneaton chapter of the Science Fiction League, and then, from #10 (February 1937), for the pre-World War Two Science Fiction Association ... from issue #17 (October 1937) John Carnell and Hanson's flatmate <b>Arthur C Clarke</b> were listed as assistant editors...." http://www.sf-encyclopedia.com/entry/novae_terrae

What amazes me is the depiction of rockets before real rockets existed. The first modern rockets were V2s launched by Germany in World War 2. The man that designed them—Wernher von Braun—went on to build rockets that eventually did take people to the moon.


Robert Goddard from USA was pretty far in rocketry. Nobody in his country was interested much though. But the Germans were...

The Germans had foresaw a strategic need to lob things at a large island with very good air defense systems.

The Americans foresaw a strategic need to carry out amphibious invasions of tropical islands that were great distances apart.

The Germans invested in the technology to lob ballistic missiles.

The Americans invested in the technology to build aircraft carriers and better aircraft.

Considering the state of technology in the 1930s and 1940s they both made the correct decisions for their strategics position.

That's a great reply! Never thought of that, yet it is almost obvious in hindsight.

Yet, Goddard was even ridiculed by New York Times.

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