We’ve established that, as a kid, science fiction was the theme that appealed the most to me, even if it was a vague sort of science fiction. That is, I loved SF, but it wasn’t like I was a regular viewer of Star Trek or a reader of SF books.
So what about Science Fact? I was born a year before we landed on the moon. Growing up in the 70s and 80s meant living through a funded, active, and popular space program. Surely that had an impact on Young Dave.
It did, to some extent, but although the first manned Moon mission was in 1969, when I was 1, the last one was in 1972, when I was four. So although humans walking on the moon were a very recent concept, and we didn’t know that we wouldn’t to it again for over forty (and counting) years, it wasn’t like these things were that pervasive. I don’t know for a fact, but it seems to me that after the high of 1969, NASA was already experiencing a slump during the 70s. The only evidence I have is Skylab.
I don’t know when or where I got the Skylab pop-up book, but I found it fascinating. Not just because it was a pop-up book, but because it was about people living in space in a space station! For real! Rocketing to and from it, orbiting Earth, living in zero-gravity, doing experiments. It was amazing! And yet, outside of this pop-up book, no one ever talked about it. We had a freakin’ space station that nobody seemed to care about. Instead of the news closing every night with, “Oh by the way, we have a goddam space station with people on it right now,” I heard nothing about Skylab until it fell in 1979.
Maybe it was the Space: 1999 aspect of Skylab, where you are being sold an amazing view of the future but what you get is clunky-looking industrial-grade technology and Martin Landeau. Instead of a majestic spinning wheel or a space fortress we got a metal tube with solar panels. It wasn’t much to look at. Still, it was a space station! It should have been huge!
But it wasn’t, at least not in my eyes. This pop-up book, as fascinating as it was, may as well have been a tie-in to some forgotten science-fiction TV series than a description of an actual thing.
By 1977 my vague science-fiction interest would have a focusing point and by 1980 NASA would also have a rallying point.
When did I get it? The book was published in 1973, the same year Skylab launched. I honestly don’t have the slightest idea when I got it, but it was a regular read for me in the mid-70s.
Do I still have it? I don’t. At some point I must have gotten rid of a bunch of my “kids’ books” and it was part of that, despite being an interesting and well-made pop-up book.