Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Big Shush

Step to the stars, a science fiction novel. Jacket and endpaper designs by Alex Schomburg.

Step To The Stars by Lester del Rey is a working class juvenile.  At least its hero Jim Stanley is working class.  Yes he’s working his way through college, but he works as a mechanic repairing cars.
And eventually, building space stations.
Jim has nothing, and no family, so he gets, somewhat secretly due to the cold war, recruited to work on the first space station in its 1000 mile high orbit.
I guess a lot of kids of that era, the 1950’s, would have loved to be up there bolting and welding girders together to make a station.  Probably one that looked a lot like the Chesley Bonestell paintings for Colliers and Look Magazines.
The station we got, doesn’t look that pretty.  And as much as I am a big fan of going into space I think they were wrong about this. 
Pretty much everyone writing from the 1930’s on, Willie Ley, Arthur Clarke, many others, stressed the need for a space station in orbit.
Maybe there will  be future reasons for one.  Hotels for tourists, medical facilities, etc.  But they are not needed for science.  Automated satellites, etc can do the job. 
And all the money we spent on the current one could have gotten us back to the moon, or maybe Mars.
Well, the story itself is a good one, if not outstanding.  Plenty of adventures and perils.  And an interesting finish in that they are going to go on to build a station in the Clarke orbit for television broadcasts. 
I will have to look through my library at some point though.  I think there is another del Rey juvenile out there that I have read, but it doesn’t come to mind. 
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