Men Into Space: A History

MenIntoSpace_front-500x500Steve Davidson gave a glowing review to Men Into Space by John C. Frederiksen on the Amazing Stories blog. Men Into Space was the late-1950s hard science fiction adventure series that in the eyes of pre-teen Mike Glyer took up where the space exploration episodes of Disneyland left off.

Publisher Bear Manor Media’s description is in synch with my memory of the show’s only season:

Popular actor William Lundigan appeared as the redoubtable Colonel Edward McCauley, who grappled with many of the same problems that real astronauts encountered in their quest to reach the Moon a decade later. It was a somber departure from previous televised science fiction fare, aimed at juveniles, and served up the drama and excitement of space flight in realistic fashion.

In 38 black-and-white episodes, McCauley endures lunar crashes, renegade satellites, runaway space stations, meteor strikes, and colliding tankers, in addition to memorable encounters with feuding scientists, balky subordinates, hostile cosmonauts, and space babes. All told, Men Into Space is a classic slice of 1950s Americana and exuberantly reflects the national obsession with astronautics of its day. It is a must for devotees of the heroic age of spaceflight and early science fiction television.

Davidson praises all aspects of the book, especially its episode summaries —

Where Men Into Space really shines though is John’s presentation of all 38 episodes. With loving detail and an evident encyclopedic familiarity with each one, Frederiksen lays out the action, the conflict, the personalities and the emotion in a page-turning, exciting and completely engaging manner; the closest comparison I can find to his semi-fictional presentation are James Blish’s Star Trek (TOS) episode novelizations.

You’ve sold me, Steve. Dialing my Kindle now…

7 thoughts on “Men Into Space: A History

  1. Not seen by me, because I was overseas, but recalled fondly by any number of friends who saw it. There are DVDs of the series, but they don’t seem to be “legal”.There’s a link or three on Amazon that can get you the 38 episodes. I don’t know what quality is available.

  2. I remember that show — but my parents thought that getting to bed early was more important than filling an impressionable young mind with the mystery and majesty of science … so almost all I remember of Men Into Space is a handful of scenes glimpsed as I was marched past the TV and upstairs to my bedroom. I still haven’t forgotten the sight of an asteroid floating in black space, though, stars twinkling all around, and the stark shadows of crags of rifts dissecting the rocky surface into a Picasso-esque nightmare. Years later, I realized how much it looked like one of my kidney stones… Now we know that asteroids don’t quite look like that — at least not the dozen or so we’ve had a close look at. They look more like potatoes, with the smaller ones tending to have rocks sitting on them like salt on a pretzel. I suppose if an asteroid looking like that had appeared on Men Into Space, it would have been laughed at.

  3. Asteroids may not look like your kidney stone, but I bet you thought it felt like as asteroid while you were passing it.

  4. Robert – I *was* in the country and have vague memories of seeing it.

    Mike – the CT scan of my kidney stone (the fun of the Reno Worldcon) showed a 3 mm long object. Have no idea what it actually looked like since I was living of oxycodone for days and have little memory of those days.

  5. Ask and you shall receive — I was given my largest kidney stone, roughly 1.2 or 1.3 *cm* long and shaped like a potato. It was yellowish white and had a dry, crusty, crystalline appearance, somewhat as though it had been rolled in salt. It was fairly hard, but not so hard that bitty bits didn’t break off in handling. For some reason, I still have it, even though at this point it’s older than most fans you see at a con.

  6. You can add St. Louis fan Michael Fix and me to the list of those who remember it. I clearly remember a situation in which an astronaut was buried in dust on the Lunar surface, and the gas from an oxygen tank was used to blow enough away to pull him out, and a stuck-open thruster on a circular space station which cause rotation fast enough to increase the centripetal force artificial gravity within the station to dangerous levels.

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