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REV 2.4 - Sun Feb 10 15:56:55 2013

ARA
Saucer Fleet
785 Jefferson Avenue
Livermore, CA 94550
 
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(Contributed - by James Gartrell [Who's Who Page] - 02/10/09)

Saucer FleetBrief:
Jack Hagerty and Jon Rogers newest book, The Saucer Fleet, is just outstanding. Seriously! I could hardly put it down once I started reading. It is every bit as good as the Spaceship Handbook. It’s a different subject, of course, but Jack and Jon wrap up the flying saucers in their own unique veil. The approach to presenting them really is fascinating. We got hints about it in the pre-release announcements, but it really comes to life as you read through the book. I won’t spoil it for you. You’ll understand what I’m saying when you read the book.

The layout of the book is very similar to the Spaceship Handbook, as each saucer presented has some background information provided that gives some insight into the making of the saucer and its reason for recognition. Jon Rogers has also done another outstanding job of providing the dimensions you’ll need to build that favorite saucer. There are some really good ones in there, too.

My favorite is “The Day the Earth Stood Still.” I guess that’s probably because of the impact the movie had on me. Amazingly, I have a better understanding, after having read The Saucer Fleet, of why it had such an impact. While reading the book I was reminded, by one of Jon’s recollections, about one of my childhood memories. Those who know me know I’m not the best when it comes to memories, but I do have those few that sort of “hang on.” There aren’t many of them, but they all have some special meaning. This particular memory was when I was in grade school and having one of our “nuclear” drills. Again, not to spoil things, but you’ll have a better understanding of why that dream has a special meaning after you’ve read the book. Regardless, Jon has done an outstanding job of bringing the saucer to life, both inside and outside with his dimensional drawings and additional footage from the show. Very nice! Klaatu would be proud.

The section on “The War of The Worlds” is another great one, full of fascinating insights into this legendary H.G. Wells story. As much as this story has commanded my attention any time it comes on television, I must say Jack has brought new life to the movie. No, not the new one from a few years ago, the real one! I’m sorry, Gene Barry is much more impressive than “what’s his name.” I never realized how much background information there was. It is an amazing journey Jack takes us on, a great addition to the book.

I’m sure everyone has their own favorite flying saucer. I initially wondered about the selection of which flying saucers to include in the book and which to leave out. Obviously, one specific one I wondered about is the big saucer in “Close Encounters.” It even had enough prominence to get displayed at the Udvar-Hazy museum. How could you do a book about flying saucers and omit this one? After reading the book, though, I understand why. It really is the subject for a different kind of book. Nevertheless, with Sci-Fi greats such as the Terran saucer from the “Twin Earth” serials, the C57-D from “Forbidden Planet,” and many others, the reader will have plenty of great flying saucers to read about and model.

Overall, I must say The Saucer Fleet is everything I expected and more. Each saucer has a great story to tell, and Jack and Jon have collaborated again to produce a really important book for those of us that love those flying machines.


(Contributed - by Dick Stafford [Who's Who Page] - 11/16/09)ARA Saucer Fleet

Brief:
The Saucer Fleet is the latest release from Jack Hagerty and Jon Rogers of Spaceship Handbook fame. This 330 page hard-cover book features detailed information on famous flying saucers depicted on the big screen, television and print, including:

Contents:
The book can be viewed as an adjunct to The Spaceship Handbook, which conspicuously omitted saucers. In his intro, Jack notes that these saucers don't exactly fit there, as they haven't contributed to the history of the spacecraft. But then, neither do items like the Josie’s Spaceship (from Josie and the Pussycats), which was featured in The Handbook. I for one think that they do have their place, even if only in my imagination, since the real world versions haven't panned out (for example, see my post on the Pye Wacket). Be that as it may, I think saucers are cool and am happy Jack and Jon gave us this book. (BTW, I liked Josie’s Spaceship.)

The presentation is similar to that in The Handbook, including: a background section that sets the historical context; a summary of the story; a description of the subject vehicle including a detailed, dimensioned drawings; background on where the authors got their data; and, finally, an epilogue with the author's comments. The whole thing is packed with photos. New to this work, many of the drawings also provide interior details. There are some modeler's notes, but these are pretty much limited to the kits that have been produced.

In his forward, Dr. Phil "Bad Astronomer" Plait says the book is a biography of these shows. It is that and more. To present that biography, the authors first delve into the history and sociology behind the UFO craze, which continues to this day. The saucers in the book were motivated by that phenomenon and undoubtedly did their part to fuel it on. I actually found this to be one of the more interesting aspects of the book. Note that this book is about flying saucers (known entities created by our imaginations) and not UFO's (unknown entities that may really exist, but whose origin is in dispute).

The historical and story summaries were also interesting. One of the cool things was to see how these classics influenced later sci-fi works. There is even an occasional discussion about the real science behind the fictitious technology. I now know what a Hertzsprung-Russell diagram is. And how much energy would be released if the strong force holding your atoms together was abruptly released. Cool, huh? It was also really neat to get a recap of features like I love like The Day the Earth Stood Still and Lost is Space. I'd like to see them again now that I have read the book.

While the saucer descriptions and diagrams were the main thing I originally wanted from the book, they actually were a small part of the whole. There is not much material available on the saucers and what there is is usually inconsistent. The authors performed a lot of photogrammetry and often had to resort to supposition, and extrapolation. It's clear they really did their homework to dig out details about these ships. The results are the most detailed plans available on these saucers. (Actually, that statement may have some supposition on my part too.)

The 'archeological' reports and and epilogues were of mixed interest to me. In general, the detailed analysis of the the interiors of these spacecraft were a bit much. The main benefit of this detail is twofold. First, detailed sci-fi modelers will understand what they are modeling second, scale modelers in general will understand how develop plans from photographic sources. The epilogues also went into more detail on the movies influence, both in terms of the story lines as well as the physical props.

Summary:
I found the book interesting, but mainly not in ways I had expected. I think that it will appeal mostly to sci-fi buffs and fans of the subject shows. The drawings will be useful to sci-fi modelers but many can be used for flying models as well. However, since ours fly upward instead of sideways, the non-symmetrical ones would be problematic. But if you want scale points for your saucer, the book will be very useful.

While I really liked the read, this will have less influence on my building the The Spaceship Handbook and the latter is a better buy for the sport rocketeer. Thus, I'm having a hard time assigning a numeric rating to this book. If you are interested in the subject material, it's a '4'. If the criteria is a direct comparison to The Handbook or Rockets of the World, then the score would be lower. I'm tending not to mix apples and oranges and go with the higher rating.

I hope it says enough to allow prospective readers to determine if this this book is for them. I want to extend my sincere thanks to Jack for sponsoring the "Rocket Family" photo contest, Nick for honchoing it and of course those who thought my Fireball XL5 family was worthy.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

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