(Contributed - by James Gartrell - 02/10/09)
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. Its 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 wont spoil it for you. Youll understand what Im 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 youll 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 thats 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 Jons recollections, about one of my childhood memories.
Those who know me know Im not the best when it comes to memories, but I do have those few that sort of hang
on. There arent 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 youll have a
better understanding of why that dream has a special meaning after youve 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! Im sorry,
Gene Barry is much more impressive than whats 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.
Im 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
(Contributed - by Dick Stafford - 11/16/09)
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:
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 Josies 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 Josies 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 , 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 '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, 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.
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