Monthly Archives: October 2015

Outer Space Space Music From Outer Space

JF Ptak Science Books   Post 2561


Nothing quite sounds or looks quite so unusual as a forgotten piece of popular culture from a different generation, something that was stretching the boundaries in potentially cringeworthy ways.  Of course everything is removed from context, so the historical/cultural part isn’t immediately neuronally available, though with just a little bit of digging into memory or archives these things would fit the thing nicely in place and time and would recover their sensibilities.

But as stand-alones, these exemplars of outre thinking might do little more than raise a surprised eyebrow to their unexpected appearance.

So, while searching for exotica/tiki music online, I stumbled upon and over “The Spotnicks” (read “Sputnik”), a groovy 1961 Swedish band that I guess was a semi-equivalent to a 70’s hair band, except these guys appeared in space suits there at the hot part of the space race.  And:  they were actually very proficient musicians, though, proficiency (and even giftedness) don’t necessarily a good band make.  Never having heard of them before (I grew up in the era of The Rock and the Roll, though the music never really appealed to me much) I came to learn that the band is still around, and has made 42 albums, and sold 18 million copies of their music, which I would never have guessed to be the case.  So, while the music might not necessarily be the stuff of which memories are made, it wasn’t bad, and the players certainly seemed to have some chops.  (And their movement as they played seems to have come a decade or more before Devo.) 


Is the Dust Jacket Art Better than the Book?

JF Ptak Science Books  Quick Post

The Poison Plague was written by Will Levinrew (William Levine) and published in 1929, and by accounts that I have seen is the birthplace of an early and very competent scientist/detective, Prof. Herman Brierly. I don’t know much about detective fiction from this time period, but I do like this just jacket artwork, and from the little bits that I have been able to find of this novel online I can so far safely say that I like the dj image more than the text.

Books poison plague

The stories for The Poison Plague were evidently serialized in Argosy–here’s an interesting ad for the story, set to appear just a week after the ad in 1922, though it took another seven years for the book form to be published);


How Long Will Oil Last (?) (1919)

JF Ptak Science Books    Quick Post

In 1919, at the end of WWI, The Illustrated London News asked (and answered) the vital

question of the day in the coal v. oil dispute and the feeding of its navy:  which power source will last longer?  The graphic designer displayed the answer right there at the top:  American oil would last about 30 years, while its coal reserves would go for another 4,000 years.  The bigger question though was about the oil production and futures for the rest of the world, which was left unanswered (and unanswerable, smartly).  Its easy to second guess these guys and have a stab and a poke at their predictive power, but we’ve been getting the answers to these questions wrong every decade since then.  Suffice to say that the Brits were doing some strategic thinking on the issue of power supply, which of course is probably the greatest issue in fielding an army of navy (just ask Rommel).