Dan Dare Operations Manual

dan-dare-bookThere’s now a Dan Dare Pilot of the Future – Space Fleet Operations Manual for devotees of the Dan Dare comic that appeared in Britain’s Eagle magazine during the 1950s and 1960s. The book, which can be ordered from Haynes Publishing, includes —

  • A personal introduction by the Controller of Space Fleet, Dan Dare.
  • A history of spaceflight, propulsion systems and our first steps to the Moon and Mars.
  • Comprehensively annotated cutaway drawings of the principal ISF spaceships, space stations and installations, along with many of the alien craft that Space Fleet has encountered, by cutaway artist Graham Bleathman.
  • Profiles of ISF personnel, and the aliens they have faced over the years.
  • Space Fleet history: a guide to ISF’s missions and Dan Dare’s adventures.

Artist Frank Hampson created Dan Dare

and assembled around him a team working at fever pitch in Epsom, Surrey, to script his stories, design his space-craft and gadgets and bring the character and his adventures to life.

Hampson used family, friends and colleagues to pose up in costumes for photographs which formed the basis of the finished drawn strips.

But it wasn’t pure fantasy, with as much care taken with the science – as far as was known or hinted at at the time – as with the fiction.

A Daily Mail reporter writing about the new book seems to feel Star Trek got credit for a bunch of ideas it looted from Dan Dare –

Indeed many technologies which appeared in Star Trek in the mid 1960s had their first outing in Dan Dare more than a decade earlier. For example, ‘Beam me up Scottie’ became a catch-phrase in the transporter room of the Starship Enterprise.

But the teleportation technology was seen as early as 1950 in Dan Dare where it was called a ‘telesender’ – technology which scrambled and unscrambled atoms to send people vast distances.

Hampson, who died in 1985 aged 66, commented in later life that Star Trek had ‘really cleaned out’ Dan Dare’s technology cupboard of ideas.

Although there’s a reason Hollywood is notorious for thieving other people’s material, and who knows where Star Trek first saw the idea, teleportation was already part of the canon of science fiction by the time Hampson started using it.    

Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Disintegration Machine” (1927) is a story in the Professor Challenger series about an invention that can dissolve matter and reassemble it.

Arthur C. Clarke – said to have been a science advisor for Dan Dare – described a technology in “Travel by Wire!” (1937) that disassembles an object and transmits the information to a receiving device at the destination where it is reassembled out of thin air.

Just how far back can this idea be traced? Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen features the Tarnhelm, a magic helmet which confers, among other things, the power of teleportation. Siegfried makes use of that capability in Götterdämmerung.

I find it appealing to think that coincidence inspired Clarke’s famous quote, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

And I bet Hollywood lawyers have a corollary — “Any idea that can be traced to the public domain is indistinguishable from mine.”

[Thanks to John King Tarpinian for the story.]

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