Another Episode in Our Bulbous Future (1931)

JF Ptak Science Books   Quick Post    

I’ve written several posts here on the great science fiction/speculative science illustrator Frank R. Paul, and I am returning to him now with this glorious image of spaceflight commercial services. It appears in Everyday Science and Mechanics, published in November 1931 (volume 2/12), and the great Bulbosity is featured splashily on the cover. The airship was supposed to get its passengers 628 miles into space to complete a one-hour arc from Berlin to New York City, and the image shows us the end of a flight,  the craft slowing above the bay, just south of Manhattan and Brooklyn and north of Staten Island:


Everyday Science_and_Mechanics_Nov_1931_cover bulbous

Image source: Wiki Commons,


And the cross section of the journey:

Everyday Science_and_Mechanics_Nov_1931_text

Hugo Gernsback–the author, editor, creator, publisher, and major force in the history of science fiction–wrote the article, and although many problems associated with space flight had already been at least semi-solved, there was still a big hurdle to go: fuel.  Yes, and the engines that the fuel would power.  There are no specs for the ship, but offhand –judging the portholes to accompany a seat–I’d guess that the ship was at least 200′ long and 80′, and was getting into orbit under its own power. And by the looks of things, there wasn’t much space for the engines that would do that. It seems that Mr. Gernsback was confident that the problem would be solved by 1946.  I know that the facts and figures don’t have much to do with the actual vision, because those are the things that could get in the way of visionary thinking, sometimes. Seems that here there would be no real encumbrances like that here to get in the way of this lovely idea.   

By: JF Ptak Science Books
Via: Feedbin Starred Entries

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