Free Reading: Collier's Conquest of Space 1952-1954

Side by side comparison of cover art from Colliers and Galaxy SF
Side by side cover art from "Colliers" and "Galaxy" respectively. Similar 50s era aesthetic.

One of the questions I keep asking myself when it comes to scifi:  What ever happened to rigorous research?  Even many of the science fiction authors today rely on tropes and themese that have become dated and hackneyed.  If you've ever watched an episode of "The Two Johns SciFi Podcast", you would know that one of their primary gripes is with the absence of any science or fact based technology or themes in many stories.  In an interview with Larry Mcaffery in "Across the Wounded Galaxies", William Gibson mentioned that he had a stack of "Popular Mechanic" from which he drew many of is ideas and technical knowledge.  Gibson is no scientist, yet his stories ended up being highly predictive, and the technological concepts he posited were plausable.  I want to promote that kind of exhaustive research.  It isn't necessary for us to be scientist, or even technologists, in order to grasp and incorporate technical concepts into our fiction.  The "science" in science fiction should be more than a backdrop, it should be a character.  While doing some research of my own, I came across this repository of freely downloadable Collier's Magazines detailing the early days of America's rocket program.  Some of the language is dated, and perhaps even a bit jingoistic, but the content was, and remains relevant.  Additionally, the cover art is absolutely awesome.  It's a little hokey, and dated, but the depictions are comparable to a cover of "Galaxy".  Some of the articles sound patronizing to modern readers.  I suspect it's due to the fact that space travel was new, and Collier's wanted to explain things in a way that people would comprehend.  If you are unfamiliar with the publication, I suggest checking out a brief history of it here.  There are plenty of other resources out there for people who want to begin gaining a fact based understanding of space travel.  Sadly many of them are not free, but the ones that are, are quite informative.  I hope you enjoy this little glimpse into the past and perhaps it will inspire you to write about a future that hasn't been dreamt of yet.  Link to pdf versions of the magazine below:

Collier's Articles on Space Conquest